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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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Custom Plaid Hippo

plaid hippo, by StitchifiedOne of the scariest things about opening an Etsy store is being asked to do custom orders. It is challenging to interpret someone else’s creative vision. And then there’s the whole timing thing — my creations are time intensive, and I’m terrified of getting in over my head. If there is such a thing as high-risk softie-making, custom orders are it for me. Which brings me to the story of a certain plaid hippo.

This little guy has left his mark on me. The little girl’s mom selected a beautiful large scale flannel plaid for a custom hippo. Mammoth flannel is wonderfully thick and heavy, and once it arrived I knew this was going to make an amazing softie… BUT OMG THE PLAID. The plaid freaked me out, guys. It’s beautiful, but it’s busy. So busy! I balanced it out by using creamy white accents, but then there was the issue of pattern matching.

I considered (and even got the mom’s generous okay!) not to match the plaid. I mean, the pattern is large scale, and the repeats are far apart… and we’re talking about matching plaid from the nose to tail. Curved seams! Perfect mirror images! It seemed like an impossible challenge. But the longer I stared at it, the more hesitant I became. It sat on my WIP bench for a week and my indecision tormented me. I turned a lot ideas over in my head, and decided to give pattern matching a shot.

I didn’t think my plan was going to work, so I didn’t take photos to demonstrate my technique. Figures, right? But in the end, I was more or less able to match the plaid across all the seams — and I’m so in love with him. He was totally worth the extra effort, and I think the challenge pushed me to do some of my best work to date. I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking…

plaid hippo, by Stitchified

Those eyes! The little secondary design along his back!

Custom plaid hippo, by StitchifiedAnd if only you could hold him! The combination of mammoth flannel and wool stuffing is the very definition of comfort object. He is waiting to be presented on his little girl’s birthday, but I know that they are going to be the very best of friends!
plaid hippo, by StitchifiedMoral of today’s story: High risk, high reward!  … and an obligatory butt shot! 🙂

Happy sewing!

Linking up with CrazyMomQuilts and TGIFF over at http://www.arabesque-scissors.com/.

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On the work bench: Kenmore 47

Yes, this is another post about vintage sewing machines. Sorry, not sorry 🙂 I know, I know, VSM restoration is threatening to take over the blog. I just can’t stop myself. I love bringing these old ladies back to their former glory. I’ve run out of room, but that didn’t stop me from snatching up this craigslist beauty. She made an awesome surprise for sister in law 🙂

Before + After Front - Final

Before + after back - finalThis is Annette, named after her former owner, “Antoinette,” who was a seamstress herself, and the wife of a sewing machine mechanic. Her husband was also a World War II vet. How do I know? Because among the notions were a bunch of needles stored in an old MRE pouch. I think it was hot cocoa at one point? Hard to say, haha.

Anyway, Annette is a Kenmore 47 (Kenmore 158.470) Kenmore 47, Center locked needlemade by the Maruzen Co. between 1958 and 1962. She is a midcentury modern beauty, featuring a great big retro dial, lots of chrome, and an awesome rose pink and peach paint job. She has a center locked needle for straight stitching (i.e. not left-homing machine) which is rare in a Japanese machine like this one. She will be a great multipurpose machine — equally competent at both 1/4″ and 5/8″ seams.She uses cams for decorative stitching, but does not require a cam for zigzag sewing (genius I tell you!). She is a high shank machine, but she is *not* a “Kenmore super high shank” machine, which is good because she only came with a zigzag foot. Oh, and she’s an absolute TANK of a machine. She weighs around 37 pounds!

Working on this machine has been a true pleasure — it is clear that she was loved and meticulously maintained during her working years. Unlike older Singers with their clear coats and delicate decals, the finish on this machine is tough as nails. She’s basically a car. No fancy cleaners (or hours of gentle polishing!) required. A little Simple Green, Barkeeper’s friend, and some car wax and she looks as good as new on the outside. The insides however, were a bit of a different story. Her straight stitch mechanisms were smooth, but the cam selector was frozen solid. Like, so frozen I was afraid that I was doing something wrong with the selector knobs — there was that little play in the zigzag mechanisms. I picked up a bottle of “Bluecreeper,”which is a super thin penetrating oil that that the VSM community raves about. I started with a few drops of Bluecreeper and let it sit overnight, but it didn’t do Kenmore 47, frozen camstackmuch. So, I did what any reasonable person would do. I doused everything that looked suspect and left it to sit for a day.

About 24 hours later, I nudged the zigzag arm and OMG.IT.MOVED, leaving behind a nice bit of golden fossilized oil. A few more drops of BlueCreeper and the zigzag mechanisms were moving freely. Lucky for you readers, I memorialized that moment with a photo! But seriously, it was so gratifying to get her moving again. I also used Bluecreeper in all the oil ports to flush the gunk, and followed that with BlueCreeper’s new SMO. Now everything turns smooth as glass, like even smoother than my vintage Brother. I’m officially a BlueCreeper convert, and plan to treat all my other VSMs to a day at the BlueCreeper spa.

Kenmore 47, top opened

Annette is missing some extras — her cams (Kenmore B type), and her attachments (save a buttonholer that was thrown in with the notions) were no where to be found. Bummer. It was also time for a new belt, a new pedal, a new power cord, a new light bulb, and a new bobbin tire so I ordered those from Sew Classic… only to realize that her bobbin case was broken, too. A few other items jumped in my cart on the second order, but that’s a blog post for another day. Luckily, I picked up this machine and cabinet for $35, so having to spend a bit on extras isn’t a huge deal. I think this little restore will come in around $100 (ok, maybe $150), which isn’t too bad given what a great machine she is. You cannot buy a machine of this quality today, and even if you could it would cost a fortune.

Kenmore 47, cam door open

LKenmore 47 cabinet, restoredastly, there was the cabinet. The sad, albeit original, Sears cabinet. You know how I love to save things, but this one nearly ended up in the trash. It is not solid wood, and the laminate was in *bad* shape. It was peeling, bubbling, permanently stained with grime, and even gooey in places. Ew. Plus, the legs were shot and in need of serious repair. I can’t bring myself to paste a picture of its hideousness here, but if you absolutely must, you can check it out at this picture (and that’s AFTER a serious cleaning, so gross!). This was a rare instance where a paint job was completely necessary. My dear husband adopted the cabinet and did an amazing job refinishing it and rebuilding so it could, um, stand. He power sanded the heck out of it and primed it with a tinted oil primer before painting. The high gloss black is seriously fantastic. New hardware was obviously a must as well. A gold star for my partner in crime for an awesome job and for helping us divide and conquer on this project. Thanks to him, we totally made a gifting deadline <3

Kenmore 47, restored by Stitchified

And so there you have it, folks. One newly restored Kenmore 47 in rose pink nestled in a sleek black and chrome cabinet. Totally drool-worthy. I absolutely adore her and saying farewell is going to be hard. I already got the stink eye from my husband when I mentioned how hard it would be to part with her, so there’s no turning back now, haha. I’ll get to visit her in her new home, and I’m happy to gift her to an aspiring VSM sewist 🙂 Here’s to another 50 years of sewing for Miss Annette! Linking up with Finish it Up Friday with CrazyMom Quilts!

(I can’t help but casually mention that Miss Annette has a twin sister, the Kenmore 158.48 in lavender/lilac. I’ll be fanatically hunting one, I mean, um, “keeping an eye out” for one to add to my personal collection. Shhh, don’t tell hubby!)

 

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Squee! I have so many projects that I’m excited to be working on, and it’s causing me to bounce back and forth between things (read: not making good headway anywhere!). It’s not the most efficient way to work, but I’m having too much fun to care.

A photo posted by Jen (@stitchified) on

After launching my Etsy Shop, I decided to get back to some neglected projects. Project #1? A long overdue baby quilt for my friend’s daughter. I’m so embarrassed that this “welcome to the world” gift is quickly turning into a “Happy Birthday” present. I designed this herrringbone pattern to use up  the scraps from my partial lonestar burst quilt, though it’s taken a lot longer than planned.  In hopes of making some headway, I brought this project to MamaPeaches’ house last weekend for a mama play date. Best.time.ever. Fabulous friends + simple piecing + featherweight + her gorgeous sewing cave is pretty much my new definition of heaven.

This baby quilt will (hopefully!) be my first quilt that is done entirely on vintage machines — so far all the piecing has been completed on my Featherweight or on my fabulous vintage Brother. I just adore the vintage machines and find myself choosing them over my big Janome more and more.   

Economy Blocks WIP, by Stitchified

I’ve also been working on a layout for my Economy Blocks. This project was started during a trying time, and I added a block to it (almost!) every day throughout the ordeal. Just looking at the blocks is a powerful reminder of both me and my family’s journey over the last two years. I just need to bring myself to add another 100 blocks so that it’s queen size!

And lastly, I started restoring this amazing White Vibrating Shuttle III treadle machine that my stepmother picked up for me last summer.

A photo posted by Jen (@stitchified) on

At just $5, this thing was a total steal, but it’s been my most difficult restoration yet. It was missing the vibrating shuttle and bobbin, and tracking down replacements has taken months of dedicated internet sleuthing. I was able to find a shuttle stamped “White” on Etsy that looked like the drawings of VSIII shuttles, and took a chance — thankfully it fits perfectly. Then, after spending hours (and hours!) looking at photos on eBay, I snagged a single White long bobbin. (Dorky restoration note: Unlike Singer long bobbins, White long bobbins have a hollow core, which makes them distinct enough to pick out of a lineup of say, a hundred ebay listings.)

Finding the missing parts gave me the push I needed to start cleaning the machine. I’m pretty sure she was sitting in a barn for a significant portion of the last 125 years — there was a lot of straw hidden in the cabinet and the whole thing is FILTHY. I’ve only just begun to remove the grime, but I’m making good progress. It’s so gratifying to shine her up.

I put together a little demo of the process, but first a quick before picture of the area I was working on:

A photo posted by Jen (@stitchified) on

And a super gratifying video showing the grime coming off (not shown the 10 minutes I scrubbed the area with Qtips!):

A video posted by Jen (@stitchified) on

And a shot of what I’ve done so far on the backside:

White VS((( restoration, by Stitchified

Yeaaah, I still have a long way to go. And I still need to tackle her moving parts… and then there’s the cabinet. Oh, the sad dried out cabinet. She’s been around for around 120 years (last patent date is 1890!), so I figure she can wait a few more months for a proper restoration job. 🙂

Oh, and for those interested, I do have a few new additions in the works for the Etsy shop.  I’ll announce the postings on IG if you want to follow me there.

Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced!  Eek, I didn’t realize that WIP Wednesday is on a two month break. Linking up with some new link parties and looking forward to visiting some new friends and their blogs!

 

and Handmade Tuesdays

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New Etsy Shop!

Hello blog land! I am so excited about today’s post! You see, I’ve been keeping a little secret from you… but I’m finally finished and ready to share for Finish It Up Friday. I can’t wait tell you all about what I’ve been up to!

It has taken way more work than I could have imagined (read: branding, one billion hours of CPSIA compliance research, and spreadsheets galore), but I am thrilled to announce that I have opened an Etsy shop. Much like the toys I have made for friends and family here, my shop specializes in vintage-inspired soft toys with a modern twist. As I’m sure many quilters and fellow fabric snobs can appreciate, I’ve chosen some amazing natural fibers and textiles to use in my toys. It’s such a pleasure to sew with them!

Etsy Announcement

A big part of my inspiration came from a doll I made using Jill Hamor’s book, Storybook Toys. These dolls are really something special. To me, they manage to combine a certain timeless beauty with the appeal of a Waldorf Doll. I also love the customizable nature of these dolls — every girl (and boy!) should be able to have a doll that looks like them.  Being able to offer such a thing is so important to me. I will say that these dolls take an absolutely astronomical amount of time to make, but I just love the end result. I hope you do, too!

The dolls also have an adorable unicorn friend, which is a  modified version of Jill Hamor’s horse.  Don’t the dolls and the unicorn make an awesome duo? I can’t stand the cuteness!

Doll and her unicorn, by Stitchified

I’ve made a few other creations for my shop, but I don’t want to spoil all the fun by posting them here. Please swing by https://www.etsy.com/shop/StitchifiedToys to check them out!

Happy Sewing!

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Friday finishes

Ironing Board WIP, by StitchifiedAfter years of dedicated service, my ironing board cover was pretty sad looking. Nothing like spray starch, interfacing gunk, and burn marks to make an iron cover feel loved, right? Truth be told, I meant to make a new cover ages ago and picked up some canvas at IKEA. But the project was pushed to the side, and the old cover got progressively (and impressively!) worse and worse.

New Ironing Board Cover, by Stitchified

But, no more! Check out my shiny new ironing board cover! The entire project took just a few hours thanks to Amanda Jean’s tutorial. Threading elastic through the very long casing is no picnic, but the finished product seriously makes me happy every time I use it! And, yes, I know that choosing white canvas for my cover was a brilliant move. It is sure to wear well, and that bright white will definitely hide the inevitable stains. Ingenious decision making, really 🙂

Vintage Inspired Penguin Plush, by StitchifiedBut my biggest victory this week came in penguin form. As some of you know, I have been struggling to finalize a penguin prototype for weeks now. I was inspired by a vintage pattern by Pamela Peake, and after a complete overhaul, I am finally happy with my version. I smoothed out some of his lines, and rounded out others — playing up the vintage charm while giving him a modern update. Now he is plucky and perfectly chubby in all the right places. Huzzah!

A trio of penguin prototypes, by StitchifiedMy better half has adopted the earlier prototypes (read: he won’t let me toss them!). So, I’m happy to report that they will live out the rest of their lives with us and the littles. We’re becoming a regular Island of Misfit Toys!

Linking up with Finish It Up Friday!

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