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Hipster Rabbit

Hello hello! I hope everyone enjoyed  a nice break during the last few weeks of summer. 

I think this is one finish where the photos can do most of the talking… meet Hipster Bunny!
The pattern is by Quilt Art Designs. I originally saw this pattern pop-up on Instagram and knew it was a must make for my bunny-loving friend. The designer has so many awesome patterns, so I’m sure this one won’t be my last. I mean, seriously, look at that macaw


This mini was made all from stash, and mostly from scraps. There’s some Kate Spain, Violet Craft, and some text print and pink chicks of unknown origin — a sure sign that it was time to put them into service. I kept the quilting simple with some straight lines and quilting in the ditch.


I’m going to be honest — parting with this one is going to be extra hard. I’ve been planning to make myself a mini-quilt wall, and lusting after mini-quilt swaps on Instagram. Whoops. Hopefully I get to that soon!

Linking up with Finish It Up Friday with crazymomquilts. 

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King Scrappy

We all know that scrap-busting is good for your health, and man, am I way overdue for some scrap therapy. Plus, my scrap-bins are overflowing to the point of embarrassment. Quilts might be a way more effective use of scraps, but I’ve been craving a little toy-making so I decided to make this scrappy fellow.
Before I go any further, I want to credit Missenota whose gorgeous rainbow lion popped up in my IG feed awhile back. So, if you don’t already follow her, you should! She is wonderfully talented and she has an adorable little assistant 🙂 Thank you for the inspiration, Missenota!


You know how sometimes you try something to just to see if it’s possible? Well, I have to admit that this project got a little out of control on that front. It easily took 50 hours to bring this critter to life, and I had to resort to some less than savory techniques (fray check, oh noes!) but in the end? Totally worth it, I am smitten!


The pattern is by Jodie of Vintage Ric-Rac fame, but I complicated the pattern by using quilters cotton (in addition to the recommended layers of felt) for the mane. I used a rotary cutter and an uncanny amount of sealant to prevent fraying, and to my surprise it worked like a charm! Even so, he isn’t exactly rugged. Which is just fine by me because I need a sewing room mascot. He is going to keep an eye on things in the sewing room from a safe and cozy vantage point. All hail King Scrappy!


This guy is full of memories. The gray coating wool is left over from a renaissance costume. The white + black felts and quilters cotton (Heather Ross *and* Tulapink treasures, gasp!) are from the scrap bin, too. I found the vintage mother of pearl buttons (swoon!) and some little accent buttons in my button collection (have I mentioned that my VSM addiction has had the unintentional consequence of creating a vintage button collection?). I will admit to splurging and purchasing deep teal wool for his coat. It’s perfect and I make no apologies. Everything was sewn on my featherweight and I enjoyed every single stitch.

Linking up with Finish It Up Friday. I can’t wait to see what you are all making and how you’re using your scraps this week!

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There’s only one thing better than secret sewing, and that’s secret sewing for Quilty BFFs! My Quilty BFF, MamaPeaches, is just the best. Not only is she fabulously talented, but she *knows* that I needed that purple Kenmore and that extra bundle of Heather Ross. She also had the cutest little boy late last year — his cheeks could slay anybody. So, what do you make for your Quilty BFF and her son? Answer: Something crazy. Something awesome. Something that could only be fully appreciated by a fellow quilter. 

Enter this quilt. This crazy quilt full of 8 matched points and 324 paper pieced triangles. The pattern is Grandma’s Surprise, though it’s really just an amped up kaleidoscope quilt. And because it’s for MamaPeaches, I broke into the bundle of Carolyn Friedlander’s Botanics that I’ve been hoarding for years <3. I really hope it fits the bill!

Organization and time were definitely key to the piecing on this one. I made myself a colorized key and kept the WIP up on my design wall so I could keep track. It seriously took over my design wall for more than a year. I worked on it steadily and secretly for a year, but never rushed. I get imprecise when I rush, and there wasn’t a lot of room for error!

Against my better judgement, I picked the most fantastical of dark tangerines with tomato-red glitter stars for the backing. I love the color drama it created, except somehow I missed photographing it! Originally I planned to quilt this one with stipples, but I had to revert to 1/2″ straight-line quilting to compensate for the orange bobbin thread and white top thread. No amount of bobbin fiddling was going to get the tension right for FMQ. In the end, I’m happy with how the quilting fades into the background and lets the piecing shine 🙂

The backing is all the pop of color that this one needs, though you’ll just have to take my word for it (sorry again!). It’s framed with a simple charcoal gray binding.

Truth be told, this little quilt has been living in my sewing room for months. I’m terrible about getting to the post-office. Sorry Mama Peaches. I’m happy to report that it’s been gifted at long last, welcome to the world little Peaches!

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts and Finish it Up Friday. Happy sewing!

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I need another sewing machine like I need a hole in my head. But, I think this video of my oldest is all the justification I need:

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If this machine could talk, she would have quite the story to tell. I found her on craigslist for $110 — making her my most expensive VSM yet. It’s difficult to find hand crank sewing machines here in the US so I didn’t feel too guilty for paying a premium for her. This particular machine has a few bonus features that aren’t found on more common Singer models, too. For one, it has a stitch-length lever (not a knob!), which includes a reverse (!!!). This machine also has an ejection button for the shuttle, which is super cool.

The gentleman who sold her to me said it belonged to his grandmother and then his mother, both of whom were “master seamstresses.” He insisted that it was a Singer, but lucky for me, it is not 🙂 Of course, realizing what *it is not* is quite different from knowing what *it is,* ha! After hours (and hours) of scanning photographs, I tracked the machine to Germany and then finally identified its manufacturer. As it turns out, this machine was never made for the US market and must have been carried across the Atlantic by one of its previous owners. I am so fortunate to own such a treasure!

This Vibrating Shuttle (VS) hand-crank machine was made by Bernhard Stoewer AG, around 1907-1910. The machine was probably badged, but the decals with the badged name are long gone. Similar machines can be found here: http://www.needlebar.org/cm/thumbnails.php?album=181, http://www.sewmuse.co.uk/german%20sewing%20machines%203.htm, and http://tammyscraftemporium.blogspot.com/2009/11/1910-bernard-stoewer-treadle.html. I suspect that the badged-name may have been removed deliberately during WWII because the surrounding decals are undamaged. The first two photos here are before shots, and they make her look better than she did.

Restoring this machine was challenging to say the least — some parts were broken and the finish was quite damaged. If this machine had a wooden lid, I’m afraid it’s missing too. Unlike other Stoewer bases, this one doesn’t have brackets to support a lid, so maybe it’s not missing? Regardless, it’s evident that the machine spent several decades, if not the the last century, exposed to the elements. Perhaps as a result, the clear-coat was completely shot, though the decals were mostly intact.

To the previous owners’s credit, the machine was well oiled, but that oil also acted like a magnet for dust and grime. She did turn, but she couldn’t make a single stitch and I don’t collect expensive doorstops. I cleaned her as gently as I could (sewing machine oil and soft rags!), but the only thing holding on to the decals was grime … and the grime had to go.

After an overall cosmetic cleaning, I began breaking her down. Where possible, I removed the inner workings and cleaned them with very fine #0000 steel wool and rubbing alcohol. Um, and a metal pick because the grime was stubborn. The rest of the inner workings were cleaned in place using the same method, but I was super careful not to get the rubbing alcohol on the painted parts of the machine. Then I flushed all the oil points with Blue Creeper, and gave her a nice drink of sewing machine oil. The shiny bits were polished with my Dremel and Mother’s Mag & Aluminum polish. The wooden base was restored with Howard’s Restore-A-Finish, and then a generous amount of Howard’s Feed-N-Wax. Hm, that’s like one paragraph of explanation for 140 hours of work! I had mechanic’s hands for weeks!

I had to leave my comfort zone quite a few times on this restoration, including:

  • taking apart the tension assembly
  • repairing/reshaping the tension spring
  • removing the entire presser foot assembly
  • removing and disassembling the hand-crank
  • removing the spring from the shuttle bobbin
  • fabricating new parts (more on that in a minute).

Even when I’m armed with service or adjuster’s manuals I’m wary of those tasks… but um, guys, there’s no adjuster’s manual for this machine. Hell, I didn’t even have a user manual (I do now, please email me if you’re in need!). I used manuals for the Singer 27/28 and Singer 127/128 for reference, but, I digress. My overall tactic was pretty simple: I took a hundred million photos as I went along, and somehow I managed to put things back together correctly. I am not going to ugly-up the place with working photos, but if you’re in need of WIP photos please send me an email!

Thanks to my set of Chapman screwdrivers, I was able to prevent further damage to the screw heads, many of which were partially stripped. PHEW. I don’t know about you, but I never want to track down a replacement screw for something that was machined in Germany over one hundred years ago.

Once everything was cleaned and oiled, I turned my attention to the missing thread guide on the face plate. I bent a cotter pin to match the shape of the missing guide, and used a high heat glue gun to attach it to the backside of the face plate. I was so afraid that the repair would be an eyesore, but it looks fine. You really can’t tell from the front, and it isn’t half bad from the back either.

After two months on the work bench she’s fully restored and in full working order. My daughter is learning to sew and becoming increasingly independent on this machine. She’s working on some improvised quilt squares and it’s just amazing to see her work through the piecing on her own. I’ve also used the machine myself for making my niece a leather purse — I put a low-shank teflon foot on and away she went! The top-stitching really was lovely… until I couldn’t fit multiple layers under the presser foot 🙂

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Overall, I’m thrilled with the functionality of this machine and her place in history. It is clear that this machine was heavily used and central to someone’s livelihood, but she wears it well. I do wish that I had been able to do better by her cosmetically. If I win the lottery, she might become a candidate for a custom paint job. Maybe she would enjoy her new lease on life in royal purple with silver decals?

 

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The right tool for the job

I treated myself to a set of #9600 screwdrivers from Chapman Manufacturing for my birthday, and I just have to take a moment to sing their praises. I should have purchased a set for myself ages ago! These tools are such an improvement over the enormous collection of screwdrivers I had amassed (read: stolen from the garage and squirreled away in the sewing room). But, before I go on, I’d like to add that these are all my own unbiased opinions. I don’t have any affiliation with this company, other than my new love-affair with their products 🙂

What makes me so giddy about screwdrivers, you ask? Well, these bits are engineered to properly fill the screw slot. You can see a great visual of this difference on their website, here: http://chapmanmfg.com/pages/insert-bits. The bit shape means that 1) it transfers the force more effectively to the screw 2) less force is necessary to turn the screw and 3) it is less likely to damage the screw head. Those three things are so so important to vintage machine restoration, but I think any sewist could benefit from them. So many of my VSMs came to me with damaged screws — heck even my modern machines’ show some damage from repeated assault with a traditional screw driver.

When my set arrived I jumped for joy because, well, *pink.* But then I got down to business and put it to the test. There is one machine, a little Singer 20 clone by GRAIN, that I have been working on for over a year. It has remained frozen despite my best attempts with penetrating oil and a hairdryer… until now. I combined the right bit + the “midget ratchet” and pop! I was able to remove the stubborn screws with ease, and without damaging the irreplaceable screws. From there I was able to give it the rough cleaning it so desperately needed. I’m happy to report that the machine is turning freely now, and awaiting her cosmetic spa-day.

And the icing on top? Chapman is a woman-owned company, and their tools are American Made from American Made materials. They’ve won multiple Green Circle Awards from the DEP. Their grounds are even a NFW certified wildlife habitat. And there are cats and the cutest dog in the shop! That’s a lot of icing in my book 🙂

And if you’ve read this far, thank you for bearing with me through my dork fit. Every once in awhile you come across a tool that revolutionizes things, and they deserve to be cheered on. And if you’re interested in purchasing your own set, I found mine here: http://chapmanmfg.com/collections/slotted-flathead-sets/products/9600-starter-slotted-bit-set.

Happy sewing (and tinkering)!

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Rainbow Unicorn Goodness

I’m going to let you all in on a little secret… I grew up with the real life Mary Poppins. It’s true! And yes, she’s just as wonderous and fantastical as you might think — I’m so fortunate to count her and her husband among my nearest and dearest friends.

So, you can imagine my excitement when I learned that they were expecting their first child. I cried happy tears, and then I got to work because this child needed the most amazing of quilts. Requirements included whimsy and rainbows. All the rainbows.

I plotted. I toiled. I stressed. I had a whole secret pinterest board dedicated to ideas. Seven months went by, but none of my designs really stuck with me. And then! It finally hit me — rainbow unicorn! BECAUSE OF COURSE RAINBOW UNICORN. Luckily for me, Kristy at QuietPlay had the perfect pattern.

In the flurry of sewing that followed, I choose a dark charcoal gray for the body, and the brightest of rainbows for the mane and tail. I also pulled two metallic fabrics for maximum sparkle: The background print is Whisper Stars from LizzyHouse (swoon!), and a silver Cotton + Steel for the hooves and horn.

I knew I needed to expand the 25″ unicorn block, but I was afraid to mess with its awesomeness.  I don’t like traditional quilt borders, and floating a 25″ square in a crib sized quilt created a vast expanse of negative space.  It stared me down from the design wall for at least two more weeks while I obsessed over a solution. In the end, I decided to offset the square with a few flying geese and a square in a square block. I added the extra flourish on just two corners, and I’m pretty pleased with the effect.

In the negative space, I quilted some wavy shapes that are somewhat similar to a topographical map. The unicorn’s fur is FMQ stippling, and the flying geese are hand-quilted in matching floss. The quilt is backed in a soft squishy flannel, and bound in dark charcoal.

I’m happy to report that the quilt has been put to work. Tummy time and childhood memories, here we come! 🙂

Linking up with CrazyMomQuilts, happy sewing!

 

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Hello blog land!

So I had another unplanned blogging hiatus. Whoops. I assure you that I’m still sewing up a storm. If you miss my ramblings, please come join me on instagram! I’m so much better about sticking photos up there!

Last night I sat down to sew on my Brother Select-o-matic, and I was reminded how much I adore this machine. Every time I use it I fall more in love with it. It is smooth, consistent and reliable — every damn time. It doesn’t throw fits. And it makes the most charming and satisfying purr when its running. Seriously, it’s my sewing nirvana. I also get a fair number of emails about this gem of a machine, so I think it’s time for a little update.

The most common question I get about this machine is “hey, how can I take the darn top off?” Such a good question. The machine is sort of a puzzle box, so let’s start with a diagram:

Diagram
Now the trick:

  1. Set the Indexer Knob to zero (do this by turning and holding the Switch Over Knob to the right while you manipulate the Indexer Knob)
  2. I also think it helps to put the Stitch Selector Knob at #1, but perhaps I’m superstitious.
  3. Once those knobs are set, the Indexer Knob will release itself so it can be removed
  4. Twist the top of the Indexer Knob while holding the bottom/flatter part still. It should screw right off.
  5. Now unscrew the top screws which are holding the top on. It should look something like the photo to the right. –>
  6. Now lift the top up. How about that?! Now you can clean the cams and make everything spiffy and new! And here’s a sneak-peak at what you’ll find under the hood…

Next most common question: where can I find replacement parts? Good news here, folks. This machine was based on the patents for a Singer 15 so it’s super easy to find reproduction parts. Happy little list with links below: 

And the best part about publishing my dorkiness for all to see? Readers are kind enough to send me photos of their machines! Thank you for sending your photos and letting me share them!

This is Lindsey’s beautiful Brother Select-o-matic HZ3-B1 in beige/pink and gunmetal gray.   

Allison from https://www.allisondillard.com/ shared these photos of her Riviera branded machine:

   

If you have a photo you’d like to add, please send me an email or post a comment. I’d love to share more of these beauties!

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Herringbone Quilt

Herringbone Quilt, by StitchfiedWell, this one took a lot longer than expected! I started this one back in March (!!!), and the recipient is now over a year old. So, yeah, I’m running way way behind on baby quilts.

I designed this quilt to use up a jellyroll that I had leftover from my niece’s quilt. I cut 7.5″ x 2.5″ strips, and (over cut ) 7.5″ x 1.25″ strips of white, and combined them in a herringbone pattern. I squared up after each white strip, so that the white strips finished at a half inch. All the squaring up helped to keep things straight(er), but made for slow piecing… and some unintended exercise! Sit to stitch, stand to press, walk to cutting table to trim, repeat.

I had every intention of quilting this one on my vintage machines, but I just couldn’t get the lines straight enough. I tried a walking foot and one of several vintage quilting feet, but they really couldn’t compete with my Janome’s Accufeed. Some day I hope to master quilting on a vintage machine, but in the meantime, I’m very glad that I have my Janome as backup. If you have any tips for quilting on a VSM, I would love to hear them!

Happy sewing!

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Quilts For Pulse

Boston Pride 2016This May we took our family to celebrate Boston Pride. We spent that rainy Saturday afternoon huddled under an umbrella with some of our closest friends, and watched the Pride Parade pass by in a flurry of rainbows, high fives, and hugs. I was reminded of my first march in the Boston Pride Parade back in 1998, and found myself reflecting on the progress that I have been so fortunate to witness.  Admittedly, there is still much progress to be made, but in those hours we celebrated one another. These are just a few of many happy photos that we took on that day.

Boston Pride CollageVery early the next morning, news broke of a massacre in an Orlando night club. We were out of town that day so I didn’t hear the news until late that night. But as the details emerged and the true nature of the crime was revealed, I found myself utterly broken.

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Months have passed since this tragedy, and words still fail me. But, thanks to the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild, I was able to put my hands to work in those first raw days and weeks; to be a small part of the change I want to see in the world. I am so very grateful to the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild for organizing the #QuiltsForPulse quilt drive, and for giving me the opportunity to help mend some hearts (including my own!). It has been wonderful to see these rainbow messages of love and support pop-up across the internet.Quilts for Pulse Sew-in

A few friends came for a sew-in at my house, and helped to piece our quilt top. None of them had pieced a quilt block before (let alone paper pieced!), and I am so proud of them for tackling something out of their comfort zone. A special thank you to our husbands who distracted the children while we sewed.  For the quilt label, I included a quote from Lin Manuel Miranda’s Tony’s speech, who I feel said it best:

“And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love, cannot be killed or swept aside… Now fill the world with music, love, and pride.”

quilts-for-pulse-quilt-top-by-stitchifiedThis is one finish that I’m especially proud of. Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts, happy Friday!

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A Round of Fabulous Custom Orders

Do my customers have good taste, or what? These were so fun to bring to life. I’m so grateful for your support, thank you!

Custom Unicorn, by Stitchified Custom cloth doll, by Stitchified Custom elephant, by Stitchfied

 

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