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Teddy Bear Evolution

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You guys, I fell down a teddy bear shaped rabbit hole. It started innocently enough with some pretty simple teddy bears for Rare Science a la McCall C5461. If you aren’t familiar with the Rare Bear Program, quilters sew up OOAK bears with scraps and the bears are distributed to kids living with rare disease. They are super easy to make and I encourage everyone to give it a shot 🙂 Rare Science volunteers can do the embroidery & stuffing for you, but I’ve always been too much of a control freak to take them up on their generous offer. It costs me a little more in shipping, but I usually completely finish the heads before I send them to Rare Science for distribution. The work has been wonderfully fulfilling, and one of these days I hope to receive a photo of one of my bears with his/her child. Aren’t they cute, even with just their heads?

But I digress…

This December I needed a couple of emergency teddy bears. I decided to re-purpose McCall C5461 using my preferred materials: enter velour, faux fur and safety eyes! I made two rose gold bears – one in cotton velour with cotton sherpa accents, and one in two-toned rose minky with velour accents. I totally adore both of them and couldn’t pick a favorite even if I had to. I think the velour one has one of the sweetest expressions I’ve ever made – I’m totally smitten!

From there, I sort of got teddy bear fever. I started looking at artist bears and stumbled upon Emma’s Bears. Her work is just amazing! If you aren’t familiar with her art, you should absolutely go check it out! A lot of the techniques she uses are new to me, which is equal parts terrifying and exciting 🙂

I decided to order one of Emma’s teddy bear kits to get started. Frequent readers won’t be surprised that I went with a rainbow-tastic faux fur, haha. 😉 I also purchased her “Lyric” pattern because I’m a sucker for pandas.

I’ve sewn a lot of softies at this point, and even a fair number of bears, but this teddy bear was full of new challenges. For one, he is less of a children’s toy and more of a collector’s item. He has German glass eyes, fully jointed limbs, and a fully-jointed head. I added black shading around his eyes with silk fabric dye, and little white felt pieces along the lower edge of his eyes. I carefully clipped back the fur around his muzzle so he has puffy cheeks and a defined snout — high risk, high reward on that maneuver! Lest the quilter in me feel left out, I also employed some fussy-cutting skills to cut around the indents in the lilac fur (previously of purple plush guinea pig fame).

I am pretty damn pleased with how the he turned out, but I’m even more proud of the journey I took making him. It feels good to find new new challenges, and push myself outside my comfort zone. He will be a permanent resident around here, but I don’t think my bear making journey is over. I had entirely too much fun making him and can’t decide whether or not to add a collector’s section to my Etsy shop. I do love to make kids smile, but don’t adults deserve a little fluffy indulgence, too? 🙂

Happy sewing, friends!

Linking up with CrazyMom Quilts for Finish It Up Friday. I can’t wait to see what you’re all making!

2017 Recap

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2017 was a tough one for me. I found myself diving into sewing pretty hard — a necessary escape during these difficult times. I feel exceptionally fortunate to be able to express myself through sewing, and even luckier to use my art to help support the causes I believe so strongly in. All of which seems particularly important in our current cultural political landscape.

Social Action

Here are a few of the social action pieces I worked on this year, I hope to continue this type of work through 2018!

I had the pleasure of refurbishing a couple of vintage machines, including this green Necchi, for NuDay Syria’s “social business” program. My machines joined many others and journeyed to Lebanon and Turkey via container ship. Now they are setup for community use by Syrian refugees. Not only are these amazing women able to generate an income using the machines, but the machines also provide psycho-social support. NuDay Syria recently shared a photo of the machines in use and it brought tears to my eyes — I’m so honored and proud to support these brave and courageous women.

I also dusted off my knitting needles to make a pussyhat wearing doll to benefit Eyes on Refugees‘s auction.The money she helped raised will benefit several refugee families who live in my area — what an amazing organization!

And last, but not least, I made a few Rare Bears for the Rare Science Foundation. I started working with them in early 2016, and it continues to bring me great happiness. This duo of one of a kind handmade bears will go to children living with rare (“one of a kind”) diseases.

Quilts

We also welcomed quite a few new babies into the world this year. Celebrating these births with quilts brought me so much joy. A few minis snuck in to the mix, too. The two matching quilt tops are still works in progress for a pair of twins due in February, hopefully I’ll finish them soon!

Toys

And then there were the toys, oh fabulous the toys. My Etsy Shop had it’s busiest year to date, which is pretty exciting stuff. I’m humbled by the support of the sewing community — thank you for turning one of my passions into a business! These are a few of my favorite makes from my shop.

I also made a few teddy bears (finished just this week!) and fell down a bear-making rabbit hole. Just look at these sweet faces! Expect to see more bears in 2018!

2018 Goals

No recap would be complete without a few goals for the new year. I find myself continuing to struggle with photography and consistency with blogging — so that’s where I’m going to focus my 2018 efforts.

Wishing all of you a merry and bright holiday season and a Happy New Year! Also linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts!

Quilts For Pulse

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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!

Introducing Nexus Moon

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I’m still on a blogging-hiatus, but I just couldn’t resist playing along with the other makers in the 6 Weeks of Softies contest. If you haven’t checked it out, you should! There is such an amazing showcase of talent going on over there. Thank you to the organizers and sponsors for putting together a great lineup!

My entry was made with a very special girl or boy in mind, but more on that later. Meet Nexus Moon — She is a one of kind unicorn who loves dance parties, reading books under the covers, and cuddle time.

Nexus Moon, by Stitchified

She was made in a silky royal purple corduroy accented by a plush white velour blaze and under-body. Her hooves are made from soft genuine leather and slightly weighted. Her horn was painstakingly crafted from sparkly fabric (seriously, you should see the pile of reject horns that failed to turn correctly). Her mane is an all natural bulky weight wool yarn in variegated purple. Her seams are triple sewn so that she is truly adventure-ready. And, like all my toys, Nexus Moon is stuffed with 100% clean carded wool and filled with “hugs” from the preschooler in residence.

Nexus Moon, by Stitchified

Nexus Moon was adapted from Jill Hamor’s “Vintage Horse” pattern.  In addition to the sparkly unicorn horn, I’ve also modified her hooves, muzzle, legs and mane.

Nexus Moon, by Stitchified

I’ve also included a few details and embellishments for maximum play-ability. She is sporting a removable bridle made from sparkly silver ribbon and iridescent purple flowers. She can be dressed up or down thanks to her fully reversible saddle…  One side features crystal gemstones in a sea of “morning glory” peppered cotton. Un-snap the saddle to turn it over, and presto, her saddle becomes a coordinating floral print from Rashida Coleman’s Koi Collection.

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Regular readers know that I adore sharing my softies with children, but Nexus Moon has an extra special job ahead of her:  She is being boxed up and donated to a soft toy drive to benefit children in foster care, sponsored by Sew Mama Sew. I couldn’t be more thrilled to share her with a child who needs a little more magic in his/her life. I know Nexus Moon has fabulous adventures ahead of her; and I can’t wait for her to meet her new best friend!

Nexus Moon, by Stitchified

 

Cannot Escape the Plush

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I’ve been on a fabric diet, and I can’t seem to stop making softies. Not that I’m complaining, but I swear this sudden deluge of fluff was unplanned. I promise to get back to quilting soon. I have my first all-solids quilt planned and can’t wait to start!

But, back to this little foal (donkey? mule?)… My original inspiration came following the news of Moore’s devastating tornadoes. I had really hoped to find him a home there, with a little boy or girl who might appreciate the comfort. Try as I might though, I couldn’t find anyone who was able to find him a home — which is completely understandable. Handmade toys are a bit of a niche thing. As it turns out, hospitals generally won’t take stuffed animals either because of the infestation risk. Ah well, lesson learned.

At any rate, on the face of it, this seemed like a pretty easy project. The pattern came from Jill Hamor’s book Storybook Toys Sew 16 Projects from Once Upon a Time Dolls, Puppets, Softies and More . (As an aside, if you haven’t checked out her blog,  you should. The eye candy is amazing). The horse is my favorite project in the book. I just love his vintage look. In fact, I loved this horse so much that I decided to make a very similar horse in royal purple (Jill’s was navy blue).

Well, as it turns out, I’m still a bit of a novice at toy-making.  I really struggled with this pattern, and there are quite a few imperfections in this guy. For example, you need to hand stitch the head gusset around the muzzle first (as seen in the top right picture in the mosaic) because that curve is a little too intense for a sewing machine to handle on its own. Not to mention the fact that I was also fighting the mane and ears that were tucked inside.

Well, I’m too impatient for that kind of artistry. His crooked head just goes to prove that, ha! Luckily for me, his crookedness translated into “aw, the horse is tilting his head.” Phew 🙂

I also decided (a little too boldly!) to modify the pattern and give him three dimensional feet (it calls for the legs to come together as a two-dimensional seam). I used some of the techniques outlined in Stuffed Animals: From Concept to Construction to draft his foot pads. You can see my template in the bottom right photo above (it’s the light blue circle). Man, those little hooves were fiddly! The footpads were small and required sewing through 5-7 layers of wool in places. Not easy, but I’m glad I made my way through it… though only somewhat successfully. One of his hooves came out tiny and stunted, see it up there? He’s been affectionately dubbed Nemo ever since.

Nemo’s legs are stuffed with cotton batting scraps to give him enough structure to stand on his own. The rest of him is stuffed with squishy wool. I’m happy to report that the firm stuffing job went a long way in correcting his stunted hoof. His mane is wool yarn, and his hooves are 100% wool felt. Nemo’s saddle was made from Kate Spain’s Good Fortune collection for Moda. His saddle includes a metal snap (new trick for me!), so it can come on and off as needed.
As for his fate? My mom insisted on taking Nemo herself, so he’s going to make a not-so-surprise-birthday-present for her tomorrow. I know he’ll be loved there, and I’m pretty sure that she will take good care of him 🙂

And now I’m going to swear off curved seams and 3D construction for awhile. For real this time!

Boston You’re My Home

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To Boston With Love
I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting, but I still don’t have the right words to talk about what happened in Boston this April. Marathon Monday has always been a joyous holiday in Boston, and now some part of that has been changed forever. More humbling still is the fact that any other year, or even just a different time of day, and it could have been me or any number of my friends and family standing at the finish line.

My heart breaks for the lives lost and it aches for those whose lives have been changed forever. But for me it’s important that I fill the heartache with goodness and love — and refuse to reward evil with fear and hatred.  In these situations it is especially healing to make and give, and that’s what I spent the majority of the day doing. It was cathartic and ever so therapeutic. Appropriately, this is the first block that I designed entirely myself — this one is straight from the heart.

I am so thankful to the Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild and Amy Friend for organizing this lovely tribute. I cannot wait to see the flags hanging proudly at the MFA.