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Toy making

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

 

The Velveteen Rabbit

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When I was a little girl my great grandmother sent me and my sister a copy of The Velveteen Rabbit. She also included a cassette tape recording of her reading the book, and a handmade teddy bear for each of us.  That gift stuck with me and has given me a lifetime appreciation for the magic of toys.  Needless to say, the book is a favorite in my household — creepy references to a “skin horse” and all 🙂

So when I realized that my friend’s son was turning three, I knew exactly what to make him. Right down to the pink nose and coal black eyes.

Velveteen Rabbit, by Stitchified

The pattern for this little guy came from Jill Hamor’s book, Storybook Toys. This is the third project I’ve made from this book (other projects are here and here). While I do love this book, the patterns are short on photos especially when compared to .pdf patterns and blog tutorials. The pattern is entirely manageable though; no seam ripper required.

Velveteen Rabbit, by Stitchified

A few notes on construction… His body is a fawn-colored organic cotton velour. Most of the velour parts are reinforced with fusible fleece, except the ears and tail which were left fusible-free for maximum silkiness.  The belly and under-ears are organic cotton sherpa, which I’ve raved about before (seriously tactile heaven, people). He is gently stuffed with wool for superior squish, and weighted ever-so-slightly so that he sits well in the hand (or tucked under an arm).  He is also the first softie that I’ve made on my Featherweight, which seems only fitting since I’m told that was my great grandmother’s machine of choice.

Velveteen Rabbit, by Stitchified

And, of course, a copy of Margery Williams’s book accompanied the bunny to his new home.  I’m told that he was granted a place of honor “in the bed clothes,” which is exactly how I hoped his story would go. 🙂

Linking up with CrazyMomQuilts and Finish it Up Friday.

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School closed. Bitter cold and a roaring blizzard outside. Entire family stuck at home. Our little family of three was able to survive the cabin fever for a few days, but by day #4 my toddler had HAD it.  Her mood that day was legendary, and then she informed me that her Hello Kitties were “super sick and need(ed) a new quilt to get better.”

Trying to turn the tide, I asked her what the quilt would look like. “Rainbows with triangles” she replied. Bwhaha. I hid any sign of my own excitement lest she change her mind — little did she know that this was the perfect excuse to try out my new Bloc Loc Ruler from Christmas.

I let her rummage through my scraps which were conveniently already strewn across the dining room (thank you economyblockalong). I told her to pick one pink, orange, yellow, turquoise, blue and violet scrap.  Being a fastidious creature, it took her one (blissful!) hour to settle on her final color choices.

I followed the cutting directions that came with my ruler (I have the 2.5″ x 5″ finished one) and cut 12 white squares and 6 colored rectangles. Total cutting time? Less than 10 minutes, even with a toddler’s “help” collecting the trimmings.  We drew diagonal lines across each square together (she held the ruler and tried not to poke out an eye with the pencil), and laid a white square on each rectangle. After we had sewn on the pencil line, I sewed a parallel line on the outside corner so that I could save the HSTs. Then we cut, pressed, sewed, and trimmed everything up with the (fabulous!) ruler.

From there the quilt top pretty much made itself. Hello Kitty Winter Sunshine Quilt by Stitchified

I recycled the dozen half square triangles for the backing, which came out okay. If I had to do it again I would space things a little differently, but focus is tough with a three year old audience.  I quilted it with a serpentine stitch, bound it in white, and hid a special Hello Kitty ribbon in the corner.

Hello Kitty Winter Sunshine Quilt

I’m told that the Hello Kitties have made a full recovery, but there are newly reported illness from other members of the stuffed animal hoard.  Oh, and I was barely allowed to borrow this quilt for photos. More than half of the photos have cute little hands or toes in them 🙂

Hello Kitty Winter Sunshine by Stitchified

Linking up with Finish it Up Friday!

2013 Recap

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I thought it would be fun to look back over my finishes in 2013… and then realized that most of my sewing career took place in 2013. Oh well, it’s still fun to look how far I’ve come!

Finished Quilts Collage 2013

Pictured left to right: Good Fortune Quilt, Seascapes Coin Quilt, Good Fortune Pillow, Hipster baby quilt, Rainbow Jellyroll Quilt, Autumn Tumblers, Pocket Full of Posies Mini Quilt, Summer Solstice Quilt

This year I finished my first twin-sized quilt, and was lucky enough to have it featured in Kate Spain’s newsletter. I think that was my quilty-highlight of the year, and yes, I definitely still dork out when I think back on it.

I made my second coin quilt, and a rainbow jellyroll quilt. There was also a hipster baby quilt, a tumbler quilt, and a throw pillow added in for good measure. The rainbow quilt is still my favorite quilt to date, it is so cheery and happy.

I had fun learning some new FMQ designs, and then dove in to the most difficult thing  I’ve ever made — my Summer Solstice quilt for my sister and brother in law’s wedding. To do that, I learned all about paper piecing, limited myself to solids for the first time, and managed to finish the quilt top *just* before the New Year. That quilt top is the achievement that I’m most proud of this year. I definitely pushed my boundaries, learned a lot, and became a better sewist.

2013 Toys Collage

Pictured left to right: Henrietta Hippo, Momo Hippo, Poppet the wombat, Grammy’s Wombat, Grandma’s Pony, Fred the Dragon, Fenwick the Fox, Pink Elephant (name TBD), and Miss Mousey.

I also started making toys in April of 2013… which lead me to make *a lot* more toys. Honestly, the toy-making got a little out of control. But, hey, all the toys went to good homes where they are loved by children (or in some cases) adults 🙂

And lastly, there were a few miscellaneous projects: an avalanche of zippered pouches, some doll clothes,  a couple drawstring bags, a very special flag, a halloween cloak, and a pair of adorable baby booties. Even though most of these projects were spontaneous, they taught me a lot. Definitely a good way to expand your sewing horizons!

2013 Misc Collage

Pictured left to right: QaYG Zip pouches, simple zipper bags, waldorf dress, drawstring bags, To Boston with Love Project, Wool cloak with velvet-lined hood, and foxy booties.

Phew. Just looking at all of that makes me tired, but no New Year’s post would be complete without new goals. In 2014 I hope to:

  • Learn new piecing techniques (I’m looking at you machine applique!)
  • Learn a new FMQ pattern
  • Quilt the Summer Solstice Stars Quilt AKA my first queen size behemoth (help!)
  • Participate in a Quilt Along
  • Keep improving my photography skills
  • Make more quilts!

How about all of you? What were your most satisfying finishes, and what do you have planned for 2014?

Wishing you a safe and happy New Year!

Linking up!

Year In Review

Lily's Quilts

Deck the Halls!

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Sorry that it has been a little quiet around here. I hit a snag, fell behind, and am desperately trying to catch up on my holiday sewing before next week. Word of advice? Don’t forget your pinky in a closing door. Sprained (broken?) fingers don’t make for happy sewing.

Stubborn as I am, I used the “downtime” to make this little felt ornament. Did you know that you can totally hand-sew without using your pinky finger? True fact.

Hand-sewn felt ornament, by stitchified

I really need to make a tiny present for her to hold, but I don’t think that’s going to happen right now. Especially now that she is happily hanging out on the tree. But if you’re interested in making one for yourself (with or without a present!), you will find the pattern here at Gingermelon. The accessories she includes are amazingly adorable. My only trouble was deciding how to accessorize my mouse! Oh, one pro-tip… the Santa hat doesn’t work well with ornament-style mice. Not even if said Santa hat is adorably reddish-pink/strawberry in color with a white pom-pom.  Ask me how I know 😉

I also got the stockings that I made last year out of storage. It was fun them to see them again and compare them to more recent projects. However, my little one is newly displeased with her stocking and asked me to “take it apart and make it with a fuzzy top like Daddy’s.” Charming. I’m filing that request under “not happening” and “time to learn about disappointment, kiddo.” 🙂
Modern quilted stockings, by Stitchified
Quilted Stockings
On the plus side, I’m mostly healed up and going to spend every spare moment chained to my sewing machine. All my upcoming finishes will be Christmas presents that I need to keep secret awhile longer so no more updates until after Christmas. More updates next week, promise!
Linking up with Crazymom!

 

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I’m not one to keep up with fashion trends, but sewing trends are a totally different story. First it was owls. And now it is foxes. And next? My money is on elephants. Yep, it’s totally elephants.

And as luck would have it, my niece is going through an elephant phase… and asked for a friend to keep her Momo Hippo (now affectionately named Hippo-y the Hippo) company.  Now that she is a full fledged kindergartner, her tastes have shifted to the girlie side — purple, pink and yellow. Well, say no more little lady. This is a phase that Auntie can get behind for Christmas presents.  

I knew I wanted a beautifully light, almost silvery, pink velour for the main body fabric.  I also knew that Aneela Hoey‘s style would be a perfect match for the feminine, but slightly retro vibe that I was going for. But which to choose? Posy or Sew Stitchy? I pulled the fabrics and stared at them for days.  It wasn’t an easy choice, but the pops of red in Sew Stitchy won me over in the end. The little hexies are sweet, but they also provide some good contrast against the velour.

Next I reinforced all my fabric with fusible fleece and light interfacing, traced my templates, and cut out my pieces. Fast forward four hours later… and my Ellie Elephant from Funky Friends Factory was ready for sewing.

I won’t go into a bunch of detail about the pattern, other than to say it was well written and comes together very cleverly. Especially the tusks. Better yet, by the end of the holiday weekend I had one less holiday gift on my To-Make-List. 🙂

Handmade Elephant, pattern by Funky Friends Factory

Handmade Elephant, pattern by Funky Friends Factory

I had way too much fun making this elephant, and see more elephants in the near future! 

Fenwick the Fox

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My sewing machine has been in the shop for a little over a week, and I’m desperate for a sewing fix. At first I tried being proactive. You know, getting ahead on my cutting and cleaning up my fabric stash. Well, I cut all the remaining pieces for my Summer Solstice Quilt, and then I cut out enough tumblers for a totally unrelated quilt. I even put in some time on my hexagon project, but I wasn’t feeling it.

At some point in my sewing-deprived haze, I stumbled upon Gingermelon — an amazing etsy shop full of hand-sewn dolls and animals. About thirty seconds later I purchased the Fenwick the Fox pattern and had it printing. Desperate times call for desperate measures, friends.

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I won’t lie. Sewing a toy by hand took awhile, but it was the best kind of sewing — full of intention and anxious anticipation to see it all come together. I used 100% wool felt in various colors, and hunted high and low for the perfect matching embroidery thread. His eyes are 7.5mm safety eyes, secured with an extra scrap of wool on the back. I used a black and gold applique needle which I think made all the difference in my stitching. There’s just no way I could have gotten in all the nooks and crannies with a standard craft needle.

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Honestly, I had my doubts when he was sitting in a pile of pieces. There’s something really unsettling about a pile of appendages, heh. But, I am thrilled with (and pretty relieved by) how he came out.  My favorite part? His threaded joints! This was my first time using joints, and they are so much fun! The moving parts definitely introduce a whole new level of play, which is sort of a problem since he’s a little fragile. I see many more jointed toys in my future, though probably plastic or button joints for the stability. I do have a toddler, after all.

The pattern itself is top-notch. There are so many thoughtful details (the pocket on the vest!) that really make the design. On a more practical level, it is a dream to sew up and comes together easily. The pieces fit together perfectly, and the instructions/illustrations are also exceptionally clear. In fact, there was *no seam ripping* involved on this guy. Definitely a personal first.

Oh, and lastly, did I mention that he has a cute butt? Because… check it.

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No doubt, this project is exactly what the doctor ordered. Except now I have to figure out how to spend the next 5 days while I wait for my machine to come back. Ugh. Soon!

Linking up with Finish It Up Friday!

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I’ve had a best friend since I was 14 months old — my (almost) twin sister. Like me, she’s more than a little nuts. Except, unlike me, she applies her talents to help those in need; spending her days as an NP in palliative care (you can google it, I’ll wait). Yeah. So, as you can imagine, my sister has the occasional bad week. Which is amazing to me because if I had to manage the care plan for seriously sick and usually terminally ill patients, every week would be a bad one… and let’s just say that would equate to a LOT of beer.

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So, to break her understandable funk, I devised a crafty plan to make my very sensible sister a doll. A pink one. No, wait. A pink *fluffy* one! Oh, even better? One that incorporated this lustrous pepto-bismol- pink and puke-green faux fur I have had in my possession. Chalk it up to colors she is quite familiar with in her chosen profession? 😉 

Everything was going according to my plan. I found the perfect pattern — Confeti Yeti, by NimblePhish patterns. I cut my pieces. I even had him almost entirely sewn together (yes, he is he. He told me so). I named him Bizmo, after his PeptoBismol coloring. And, then, the toddler who *never* cares for my handmade toys stole him off the ironing board. Here he is pictured just moments before the kidnapping occurred. Poor guy never saw it coming.

Pre-kidnapped Bizmo

I thought if I played it cool that Bizmo would find his way to the post office the next day. But I was SO wrong. Instead he has gone every where with us for the past week, including the fabric store — where I was shamed into admitting that I had created him. Purposefully.

So Bizmo, now named “Mommy Doll,” will be staying with us “always and forever.” Which means that my gag gift totally backfired on me. Or did it?

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Bizmo 021

I pulled out my camera one morning before school, and snapped up a few photos of the happiest toddler in the world. I quickly sent the photos to my sister and told her the tale of her Bizmo doll — bad week blues were cured within seconds 🙂

 

Linking up!


And Finish it Up Friday with CrazyMomQuilts!

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You may be familiar with the now classic “sleeping baby dragon pattern” by Naomi @ NimblePhish. You can find sewists selling dragons made from the pattern in the $100 range all over the place on Etsy and Facebook. I love the pattern, and hope to make it one day for an adult recipient since the appendages are all sewn by hand (using a ladder stitch or button joints). The resulting dragons are gorgeous, but I would fear for their safety if they ever met up with my two year old.

So, you can imagine my excitement when I heard that NimblePhish was introducing a new toddler-friendly dragon, “Doughnut.” Unlike his older brother, Doughnut is entirely machine sewn in a single structure (except the wings). I picked up the pattern in a heart beat, and pulled out some dark purple cotton velour that I had been holding on to. About twenty-seconds in to pattern cutting I realized that cotton velour is a delicate beast, so I applied fusible fleece to each piece (for the record, that step takes forever!). Then I added a few splashes of corduroy in lime green and orange for contrasting details. Finally, I ended up with a beautiful pile of pieces.
And then came a sewing extravaganza, which actually took place a few weeks ago before our home renovation projects. The sewing went smoothly once I got his feet sewn on in the right direction, but I would certainly consider this little guy an intermediate level pattern. There are some tricky seams, and generally very little detail or explanation. But, that said, anyone with modest sewing experience (or a lot of drive!) could make their way through this one.
Even though I finished his “skin” awhile ago I wasn’t able to stuff him until now, thanks to the arrival of new eyes from 6060 and a new batch of wool stuffing. Unfortunately, while I was stuffing him I realized that something was funky. As you can see, he is a little slimmer and a little taller than the pattern picture. My best guess is that I misinterpreted the cross-grain/length-wise symbols on the pattern pieces, and ended up putting the stretch in the wrong direction. Easy enough to do since I was also compensating for the nap direction. But still, argh. Add in the fact that he is/was intended to be a special birthday present for an amazing friend’s son next week? Double argh.
I debated sending him to the Island of Misfit Toys, but thought better of it (for now!). I’ve been assured that he is presentable, just different than planned. 
 
Even so, I decided to add a little more personality and charm where and if I could (read: I lay awake for hours trying to figure out ways to redeem him) So, I fashioned a snap-on diaper for him, and made a cut-out for his tail. I also added sleepy eye-lids, which are a feature in NimbleBit’s other patterns. And lastly, I added a little bling to his under-wings in the form of dark purple silk. I had to hand-baste the wings before machine sewing, top-stitching was a @%&$@$ challenge, and the silk didn’t photograph well, *but* it feels lovely. I think little hands will love it. But for my sanity’s sake, I’m never ever sandwiching (real) silk and cotton velour together again. I promise you that much.
But for now, he is done, though I might decide to pin his ears down. I am probably going to vacillate between exiling him to the Island of Misfit Toys and giving him as a gift about a dozen times between now and next week.  It stinks when you work on something and it doesn’t come out how you expected. Especially when it’s a gift for someone special. I’m hoping that he’ll grow on me if I just step-away. Step away! 🙂

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!