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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!

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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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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!

Baby’s First Dorm Quilt

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I am so behind on blogging! Thankfully, I’m a little less behind on sewing. Apologies to those who might have seen this quilt top on Instagram, or in Cotton +Steel’s newsletter, like, um, weeks ago.

Baby Hexagon Quilt, by Stitchified

This quilt is for my new baby girl, who is due in just a few short weeks (ahh!). In retrospect, it’s more adult than I intended. I’ve affectionately dubbed it “Baby’s first dorm quilt.”  (And I’ll admit that I have started piecing a second more delicately feminine baby quilt. Babies deserve many quilts, right?).

The quilt features many of my favorite prints from Cotton+Steel’s new collections, which are just gorgeous. I really love everything about their spring collection, but my favorite thing is how easy it is to mix and match between lines.  I started with a Mustang layer cake, and mixed in a few prints from their basics lines and the butterflies from MoonLit. And did I mention it’s shiny? Yay for metallics!

To make the quilt top I used my Hex N’ More ruler and the #delightquilt pattern by JaybirdQuilts. I’ve had the ruler for awhile, but this was my first time using it. It really made cutting and piecing a breeze — no partial or Y-seams! will definitely be using it more often!

Quilt top detail, by stitchified

This is also the first time I’ve pieced on  my featherweight when accuracy counted… which means that my points are far from perfect. It wasn’t easy for me to let the imperfections slide, but I forced myself to let it go.  Practice makes pefect, right?

Next up. quilting and binding before this baby shows up!

Linking up with CrazyMomQuilts and Finish It Up Friday!

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Casige Toy Sewing MachinesMy husband scored a pair of Casige toy sewing machines at the Brimfield Flea Market this weekend. I am ecstatic! They date from the post WW2 era, and are stamped “Made in Germany, British Zone.” Researching the pair has proven surprisingly difficult.  Casige was an extremely prolific toy maker, with over 80 models were made between 1902 – 1975.  With so many models out there, it’s really difficult to track down exactly what I have here. I think the red one is probably a Model #1015, but I haven’t found a good match for the larger silver one. It’s going to make it tricky to find replacement needles!

They came to me absolutely caked in dirt. I’m no neat freak, but honestly they were too dirty to enter the house. I spared you all photos of that hot mess. Honestly, I thought the larger one was tan colored when it was fresh from the fair. Thankfully a few sprays of Tuff Stuff took care of the worst of the grime, and revealed a silver machine (not tan!). Though there’s still *plenty* of cleaning work to be done.

Silver Casige TSMI started taking the larger silver one apart, and let me tell you… it is rust city. I was able to loosen the screws after a long soak in WD-40, but the one on the base plate is still stuck. The chrome pieces are soaking in vinegar to take care of the rust. I haven’t used that technique before, but I have my fingers crossed! I’ve used WD-40 to clean the gunk in the machine head, which has things moving more smoothly.

Casige Restoration WIPThe next question is whether to stick to restoring, or do a full repaint. I usually try to keep things original, but I think the finish on these is too far gone. Which begs the question… if I repaint, do I go crazy with a dark royal purple? Or play it cool with a more vintage appropriate powder blue or something? Hmmm… decisions! What do you folks think? Linking up with WIP Wednesday!

Restore TSM by Stitchified

Spring catch up!

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Yikes! Sorry for the radio silence over here.

In a lovely ironic twist, the very thing that got me started on my sewing adventure is now causing me to take a forced break. Yes, that’s right…  I’m very happy to announce that we are expecting baby #2 this November.  And while I’m eager to welcome this baby into the world, I’ll be equally excited to wave goodbye to the non-stop puke fest that is my life right now. Seriously, this pregnancy has not been easy on Mama.

I have been chipping away at a few projects, but I don’t have much to show for it… and you’ll have to excuse the lazy iPhone photos.

There is this new quilt top in the works for my brother’s new baby girl. I’m going to do this as a half-lone star with a grass-green background. Can I also say that I just *love* Vanessa’s Color Me Happy line?

LoneStar Quilt WIP by StitchifiedAnd I managed to sew up a Sew Together Bag for my hexie EPP projects. Phew. That was a tough project, but it’s such a great finished bag. I’m not entirely pleased with how the hexies got cut off on the outside, but I had to cover a bad mis-measurement. Whoops!

SewTogetherBag by Stitchified

SewTogetherBag by Stitchified

Otherwise, how about a few shamelessly adorable photos from our CSA? Maybe it’s the hormones, but I love the Daddy goat with his baby.

Daddy Goat and Baby

And a tamworth piglet, too:

Tamworth PigletThat’s all I have for now. I suspect the next couple of months will be quiet around here, but I look forward to crafting again and returning to this space. In the meantime, happy sewing to all of you 🙂

Hallelujah! It.is.done!

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I know I’ve said it before, but oye vey! I have not enjoyed this quilt top! Thanks to all your advice and encouragement (and a little #selfishsewing project — more on that later in the week!) I was able to to get it finished. But now it’s done. Done. Done. Done! These elephants are literally made of four letter words — Good riddance little elephants!

Despite the hellish applique project that I brought upon myself, I’m so happy with how it came out.

I’m going to put it away for a week or so while I figure out how to quilt the darn thing. There is a *lot* of negative space, and I’m sort of at a loss. I spotted this paper pantograph called “Animal Crackers.” It looks, um, challenging. And I’m not sure what to make of the whole paper pantograph thing either. So, yes, I need to let things percolate before I figure out where I’m going next.

Which means, right now I’m all about celebrating the quilt top finish. Woohoo! And one last photo to commemorate the finish 🙂

Elephants On Parade WIP, by Stitchified

Happy Sewing!

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(Why yes, I *am* still procrastinating about my economy blocks. Shhh! Moving on!)

I wish I could take credit for the idea behind my latest WIP, but I totally can’t. But first, a little back story… my husband’s cousin is expecting her first child in April. She designed a beautiful elephant-themed nursery on Pinterest, which among other things features Zoology by Michael Miller. Not that I was stalking her or anything 😉

I was feeling a little intimidated/uninspired since I’ve never designed a quilt with so much (unconscious) input from another person. Let’s be honest, usually I just decide what I want to make for someone and then I do it. Hehe! So, I scanned the internet hoping for inspiration to strike and stumbled upon this amazing quilt entitled “Dare to be Different” by Grapes and Hearts.  Once I saw her gorgeous patchwork elephant, I knew exactly what to do! Except I’ve never appliqued. No time like the present, right?

To start, I chose an elephant silhouette from a free-to-use clipart site (legit licenses comfort my inner legal geek). In keeping with the nursery’s color scheme, I limited myself to the colors in the Zoology print: pale gold, light blue, white, and two grey tones. After I pulled my fabric, I applied my Heat N’Bond to my fabrics and cut out my little elephants. Yield six happy elephants!

It wasn’t until  I tried to adhere the elephants to my background fabric that I ran into some serious trouble with the Heat N’ Bond. For some reason, it didn’t take well. The patchwork elephant was especially disastrous — look at his poor little feet swaying in the breeze! I ended up breaking out my perma-gluestick and sort of winging it with the applique.

Layout: Elephants on Parade!

I’m several applique sessions in to the quilt top, and I’m only half way there. Sort of a bad time to realize that applique isn’t my thing, huh?

Elephants On Parade WIP

So that’s what I’m (stuck!) working on this week. If anyone can share a pro-tip to help me through the last couple elephants, I would be *hugely* appreciative!

Linking up with Freshly Pieced and WIP Wednesday!

Edit to add: I have the nicest readers, thank you for your advice and encouragement! Several of you graciously pointed out that it was unclear what type of applique this was — eek! I should know better than to mix late nights and cold medicine with blogging! So, to clarify… Yes, this is definitely raw edge applique. And, yes, I was extra silly and choose to combine a satin stitch (I thought it might hold up better?) with a pretty detailed silhouette (what can I say, it was pretty!). In retrospect, that was both overly ambitious and a total rookie mistake. But on the plus side, I won’t swear off all future applique… at least not quite yet!

And here’s a little detail shot so you can experience my horror second hand. 🙂 

Elephants on Parade WIP, by Stitchified

 

 

 

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There hasn’t been as much sewing as I would like lately, but I am making progress on my Economy Blocks!

The first forty-nine …

Economy Block WIP by Stitchified

Met up with another nineteen …

Economy Blocks WIP by Stitchified

And I have two dozen more cut and ready for sewing. This is definitely getting out of control.

But I keep finding new favorites that push me to make more. And more!

 Economy Block Favorites by Stitchified

One thing is for sure though — I am in desperate need of a design wall!

Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced!

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I was enjoying a very relaxing New Year’s morning catching up on my blog reader and instagram feed… until I came across the new #economyblockalong. The next thing I knew, I was scrambling downstairs to cut up fabric before 8AM (even though it was my turn to sleep in). Luckily for me, my husband knew better than to question the flurry of early morning activity, and left me to my insanity.

I followed Rita @ RedPepperQuilts’ tutorial (here) for five inch (finished) blocks. She recommends over-sizing the blocks and then squaring them up as you go, and let me just say, I am a *big* fan of that technique. It keeps everything neat and tidy, and totally feeds my OCD tendencies. Which may be why I finished sixteen blocks by the next afternoon. Can you say possessed?

economy block along

I had planned to stop at sixteen squares, but I caught the economy block bug in a bad way. Once the first sixteen were done I dove right back in to my stash. Nothing was safe — fat quarters, yardage, and even my coveted Heather Ross went under the rotary cutter (Briar Rose, not Kokka. Let’s not be completely crazy!).  

Before the weekend was over I had cut up another fifty squares and have been sewing them up through out the week.  I’ve been a long time admirer of scrappy quilts, and I’m so excited to finally have a stash that is capable of producing one. And also a little horrified. I’ve been sewing for 18 months now, which begs the question — where the hell did all this fabric come from? Yikes!

Economy Block Along

 I’ve never participated in a quilt along, but it was one of my goals for 2014. I’ve had so much fun playing along on instagram and admiring everyone else’s creations.

Of course, there are some of my blocks that I like more than others. Like this one, featuring the little rabbit from Good Night Moon. How perfect is he floating in a lime green frame? And I was also pleasantly surprised to find Momo’s Oh Deer! playing so well with Kate Spain’s flowers. Who knew?

 Economy Block Along

If you’ve somehow avoided the #economyblockalong, I encourage to give in to temptation and join in the fun! Each block is a little fabric adventure of it’s own. So much fun! And besides, it’s stash busting. It’s good for you!