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Toy making

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!

King Scrappy

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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!

A Round of Fabulous Custom Orders

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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

 

Custom Plaid Hippo

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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/.

New Etsy Shop!

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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!

Friday finishes

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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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Most nights I sit down at my sewing machine and accomplish something. It might be a quilt block, a stuffed animal’s face, a bit of embroidery — some small bit of satisfaction that carries me through to my next stitch-fix. But the past few days? Not so much. I have been wrestling with a new prototype, and I have nothing to show for it. Well, ok, *almost* nothing.

Penguin Prototype, by Stitchified

I have clipped, resewn, redrafted and seam-ripped my way to a more acceptable version of this little guy, but I’m not there yet. And while throwing in the towel is a very appealing option, my husband is encouraging me to push a little bit harder to do right by Mr. Penguin.

And so here I am, futzing around with freezer paper templates. Over and over again until I get it right. This time in bright orange and chocolate brown — Am I the only one who prototypes in increasingly gaudy colors?

WIPMaybe I’ll spend tomorrow distracting myself with a new project. I’ve totally jumped on the La Passacaglia band wagon and have been loving every second of slow stitching. I’m planning to do a small mini for my sewing room. I have to be *the* slowest EPPer ever though, so even the mini might take me years. It blows my mind how folks manage the full quilt!

A photo posted by Jen (@stitchified) on

A photo posted by Jen (@stitchified) on

Linking up with Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday!

A Handmade Christmas

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Santa’s elves were especially busy this year. I entered what I lovingly dubbed the “Bonus Round” of Christmas making, and still managed to finish the very last present just before midnight on the 22nd. In previous years I’ve sewed past midnight on Christmas Eve, so I’m marking this year as a solid victory!

Here we have the Christmas toy line up in an early phase, before some of them had to go in the mail:

Handmade Christmas Toys, by Stitchified

The confetti yeti is the long lost twin of a yeti who now lives in California with my cousin. He is made from long shag faux fur and white fleece using the Confetti Yeti pattern. Working with faux fur should be a four letter word, but it’s done so we’ll use a ten letter word instead — Hallelujah!

The velveteen rabbit is for my niece, who is almost two. I’m sending along a copy of Margery Williams’s book as well (you can find my post with my feelings about this wonderful book here). Her bunny is made of cotton velour in fawn and baby pink; with organic cotton sherpa for his tummy and little cotton tail. I hope she loves him!

The little pink haired doll was commissioned by a close family friend for her granddaughter. I only just finalized the pattern for these dolls (based on a pattern by Jill Hamor of Bybido), and I was thrilled to put this together. More about dolls in the New Year!

The grumpy owl pincushion snuck into the Christmas line up, though he’s actually a belated birthday present. Oh, and he is missing his eyebrows in the photo lineup. He is made from Heather Bailey’s “Edgar Owl and Poe” pattern.  I love this pattern! There are a lot of little parts, but it all comes together in a really cool way. This is my third time making an owl, but my first time adding eyebrows. Here he is with his eyebrows, right before he jumped in the mail.

I love him and was very tempted to keep him! He has since joined my good friend MamaPeaches in her craft cave. Happy Birthday, MamaPeaches!

I also made two outfits for my niece’s collection of Monster High Dolls. At my SIL’s request, I tried to make the clothing a little more, um, modest. Not an easy task because because the whole process made me feel like a crotchety old lady saying things like “when I was a kid…”. Haha! The first dress is a sheath dress in yellow. The second dress (below) is a little halter top number with a vintage-inspired full skirt, and a little taffeta under-skirt to help fill out said skirt.The halter dress even accommodates her wings, so yay! Both dresses are fully lined. If anyone is interested in the pattern, please let me know. I didn’t make a formal pattern, but if there’s interest I could put one together.

Halter Dress for Monster High Doll, by Stitchifed

And the last of the toys include three little mice, who are pincushions to a few of my in-laws who are aspiring sewists! The pattern for these came from Love Patchwork and Quilting. Once they have pins in them, they can double as hedgehogs. Here’s an extra picture of the three of them ready for wrapping 🙂

Pincushion Mice, by Stitchified

DoubleGoosed Mini, by Stitchified

I even made a few things that weren’t toys! There’s this lovely mini quilt, which is a wall hanging for my mom’s office. I love this pattern (double goosed by Jeliquilts!) almost as much as I love Cotton + Steel, so it seemed like a good combination. I had a lovely time piecing this one – just some mindless stitching while I watched The Great British Baking Show on my iPad.

OMGMagicDreamCloud, by Stitchified

I also made a very special blanket with Nani Iro and wool batting. I am officially calling this blanket a “OMGMagicDreamCloud Blanket” because it is truly all of those things. If the materials weren’t so very very pricey I would make one for myself (and maybe make it three times as large!). I ordered the fabric way in advance from Japan, and almost panicked when I wasn’t able to find the wool batting online with Amazon Prime. I managed to find a package and get it delivered in time, but it was awfully close! If you’re interested in making your own OMGMagicDreamCloud Blanket, you can find the tutorial here.

 

Coarline Wristlets, by Stitchified

And last, but not least I threw together three Coraline wristlets for my daughter’s Montessori teachers. Swoon patterns are fantastic, though for me, there is always a little bit of a learning curve — I am not a bag maker! These came out just fine, though I did struggle with a wonky zipper on the first one I made. Sometimes it’s good to stretch yourself — I always learn a lot when sewing one of Alicia’s patterns!

 

Quilted Baby Lovey, by Stitchified

Even my oldest daughter got into the holiday making and sewed the baby a new lovey. She pieced the quilt top all by herself (seriously!) and backed it with some minky. I did handle the rotary cutter because she’s not allowed to use that until she’s 21! I also took care of the quilting and put the binding on, but still! Not bad for a freshly minted five year old!

Phew! As you can see, it was a very handmade Christmas over here. I loved making this year’s presents, though I am a little glad that crunch time is over.  Now it’s time to settle in with a nice scotch. Happy Holidays!

Linking up with Finish it Up Friday!

Playing catch up

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Hello hello, my poor neglected blog! It’s been too long and I have so much to catch up on! I’ve had a very busy and productive couple months, even if I wasn’t able to keep up with it here on the blog. I did manage to take some pictures along the way though, so for this week’s Finish It Up Friday let’s do a quick recap… let’s see…

Birthday presents were made. Yes, that is totally a guinea pig in purple faux fur. Because, why not? I’m happy to report that he delighted my 8 year old niece.

Guinea Pig, by Stitchified

Late baby quilts were finished for our newest (and last!) addition. This one went right from the dryer on to the baby, so all my pictures are of it in use. Oh well, who doesn’t love chunky babies on their quilts?

Flying Geese Quilt, by Stitchified

My best friend from college welcomed an adorable little boy, and I made my first ever baby quilt for a boy! I’ve been hoarding these fabrics from Birch Fabrics for years now, and I was so glad to put them to good use. I’m particularly proud of the quilting on this one, check out those tiny quilted stars!

Boy Baby Quilt, by Stitchified

And there was this character, who my youngest cousin is entirely smitten with. Actually, I am too. He is now affectionately known as “cousin Melvin.” He was finished in the car enroute to his new home, so please excuse the odd background, haha!

A new pincushion was made… and then my oldest designed a stuffed animal version (pictured right). She had a blast, and those color choices? Hilariously awesome. Plus, that face is pretty priceless 🙂

Owl Pincushions, by Stitchified

Another good friend welcomed a baby girl, which was the perfect excuse to use some scraps. You know you love someone (and their child) when you dip into your Heather Ross stash!

HST quilt, by Stitchified

Phew, ok, I think those are all my major makes. Feels good to get caught up, thank you!

I also have some fantastic news to share, though I’m going to hold on to it for a bit longer. It will help encourage me to get back into the blogging habit. Update to follow!

Happy Sewing!