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2015 Recap

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2015 has been an amazing year for me — we settled in as a family of four, slowed our lifestyle down as my husband transitioned into becoming a SAHD, and spent more time being mindful of the things that matter. I feel so incredibly fortunate!

I was also pretty productive this year on the sewing front, especially towards the end of the year. There were quite a few quilts:

Quilt Collage 2015, by Stitchified

A hexie quilt for a friend’s son, my first legit mini quilt for my mom (hi Mom!) using Cotton +Steel basics and a doublegoosed pattern from jelliquilts, a scrappy HST and patchwork quilt for another friend’s daughter, and a scrappy flying goose quilt and delight quilt  for my youngest.

And there was a plethora of toy-making:

2015 Toys, by Stitchified

A unicorn plush for SewMamaSew’s soft toy drive, twin confetti yetis, a fluffy purple guinea pig, a parliament of owls, doll clothes, a velveteen rabbit, a group of mice, and even some baby toys. I also perfected my pattern for cloth dolls, based off a pattern by Jill Hamor. More on that in the New Year!

There was even a little bag making in 2015, thanks to some last minute teacher gifts.

Coarline Wristlets, by Stitchified

But the biggest sewing accomplishment in 2015 was absolutely my new sewing room. It has revolutionized my hobby in ways I couldn’t have imagined, and I credit it with my year end productivity. I also rounded out my sewing machine collection with a vintage zigzag machine, and while I cannot say my collection is complete… I can say that it is closer to complete 🙂

As I was looking back over my year of sewing, I realized two things: 1) I kept my sewing machines busy and 2) my blog was entirely too neglected. It’s always a compromise: spend what little free time I have writing and editing vs. jump right into sewing. But at the same time, I’m so glad to have this blog as a written record of my creations. So, that’s going to be my big goal for 2016 — more consistent blogging! Other goals for 2016 include:

  • Improved photography – a close family friend was kind enough to give me a lesson. I hope to put his tutelage to good use!
  • Get back to my Economy Block quilt
  • Finally quilt my sister’s wedding quilt. Does that mean I have to learn to use a long arm? I don’t know, but it’s time to decide!
  • More sewing with my oldest – She has a few small projects under her belt and is getting more independent with the machine. I’m looking forward to more mother-daughter sewing days.

How about all of you? What were your favorite finishes in 2015, and what are you planning for 2016?

Linking up with Crazymomquilts and wishing you all a safe and happy New Year!

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

 

Blogging break

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We welcomed a happy healthy baby girl in mid-November, and waved buh-bye to a hugely difficult pregnancy with hyperemesis. We couldn’t be happier!  I’m still sewing when I can (read: in five minute increments with a baby strapped to me!), but blogging just isn’t happening between work and home. Kids have these “needs” like eating — pretty selfish, really. Haha 🙂

I’ll be back to the blog once things settle down here. In the meantime, please follow me on instagram @stitchified. I would love it if you came by to say hello!

Baby Girl

 

Craigslist Treasure!

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I have been lusting after a Singer Featherweight for awhile now. Before Friday I hadn’t even used one, but that didn’t stop me from falling 100% in love with them. It’s the whole package — quiet, lightweight, hardworking, and gorgeous. Plus, hunting one has given me an excuse to stop at every yard sale, antique store, and flea market known to man 🙂

Patience is not my strong suit, and waiting it out for the right one has been stupidly tough for me. I came close to ordering a very nice, but very expensive one, over the internet more than once. And then I was tempted by one in an antique store while I was doing my holiday shopping. The one in the antique store was nice, and it was even reasonably priced, but I felt like I could do better.

I’ve honestly been trolling craigslist for a Featherweight for a year now without much luck. Lots of folks who don’t know anything about the machines, but want to sell them for top dollar.  And then, Thursday night… Boom! A featherweight for sale in the next town over, for a great price and reportedly in working order. Beyond that, there wasn’t much info included in the posting, but I spoke with seller and felt confident purchasing the machine. My (wonderful! amazing!) husband picked up my featherweight while I was at work the next morning.

And there was an unexpected, but glorious bonus when I got home — my new baby still has its original scroll-work face plate. Singer used the scroll face plates early on in production, but many of them were “upgraded” to the more common striated face plate over the years. I am *thrilled* since I personally prefer the older version.

Here is what she looked like fresh out of her case:

Featherweight fresh out of the box

Not too bad, right? She was in really good shape on the outside, but her insides definitely needed some TLC. She was super clackety though she did sew a nice stitch. So, I set to cleaning her up with the help of the amazing resources at the Featherweight Factory,  Nova Montgomery’s site, and, Singer-Featherweight, and Featherweight221.

First I gave her a good de-linting. There was so much dust and lint packed in there! Like, there was practically a felt pad under the needle plate. See for yourself…

Featherweight dust under the needle plate

Next I took the chrome pieces off (bobbin case, needle plate and face plate) and gave them a half hour soak in boiling hot water + scoop of Oxyclean. Once they were out of the bath, I dried all the pieces with a hair dryer to prevent any rusting or trapped moisture. I had thought the chrome was shiny before the soak, but it came out gleaming!

Featherweight without face plate

While the chrome was soaking, I hit the insides with some WD-40. And by some, I mean a ton. See how the pistons (is that the right word? I have no idea!) are all goldish-brown? Well, that’s not patina. That’s fossilized oil and dirt.  Yeck. I let the WD-40 soak in, and then scrubbed with an army of QTips until one came out relatively clean. Same thing for the bobbin area and underneath the machine. And then I generously oiled everything with sewing machine oil.

Then I gave her a post-clean test drive. She sounded a lot better after her spa treatment, but there was a strange clicking sound.  A little trial and error confirmed that the noise was coming from the bobbin.

A little more research (I heart the interwebs) pointed to the needle plate as a possible suspect. There are two metal brackets on the underside of the needle plate (called the “Bobbin Case Position Springs”) that form a channel for the Bobbin Finger to rest in. If the gap between the metal brackets gets too big, then the Bobbin Finger bounces around in the channel instead of being held in place. Bouncing around = noise. The solution? Use a screw driver to push the little brackets back out. Easy as pie! Except I forgot to take a photo.

Tightening the Bobbin Case Position Springs definitely helped, but there was still a small click coming from the bobbin. I decided to follow Leo’s instructions to remove the Bobbin Case Base (this took some courage!). I expected to find a stray thread or something, but instead I found a sticky glop of goo. Lovely. And lucky you, I didn’t forget to take a picture!

Featherweight inside the rotary hook

Gross, right? But once I reassembled her, she ran perfectly. I really can’t get over how quiet she is, and I haven’t even been able to grease the gears/motor with lubricant yet.

I still have some work to do to restore the body, but I need to pick up a special cleaner and some wax for that. Even so, I think she looks better already… and she certainly sounds better!

Featherweight restoration in progress

 I ordered a quarter-inch foot for her (there are no markings on the stitch plate!) and I hope to do a lot of my piecing on her. I can’t wait to get better acquainted with this little lady!

 

 

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!

Stitchified.com (whaaat?!)

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I have a new blogging home, and it’s on my own domain! So exciting!

This whole hosting thing proved to be a little more challenging than I expected. But things definitely got a lot easier once I moved my hosting to BlueHost. Who knew that a host mattered so much? In all honesty, my dork pride is a little wounded. But, hey, the site is up and running, and that’s pretty neat. I hope to do some more site updates, but for now I need to catch up on some neglected sewing projects. To the sewing machine!

And because there’s been NO sewing this week, here’s a gratuitous picture of our CSA from last weekend. Fall has officially arrived!

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