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Sunday
Nov182012

Colorblock Handwarmers

So I have a thing for handwarmers. They manage to keep my hands warm while keeping my fingers free to button tiny buttons, tie short shoelaces, buckle car seats, and let's face it....text. 

Last year I made these little cotton handwarmers for my kids. This year I wanted a new pair of my own, and decided to try the free Colorblock Handwarmer pattern available at the Purl Bee. I have long had a fear of double pointed needles, but I found that this double pointed needles tutorial from Purl was just what I needed to conquer that fear. I printed out the whole tutorial and double checked my needle positions using the color coded needles (genius!!) in the tutorial photos as a reference. By the second handwarmer I had it down. Now I can pull out all of the knitting patterns that I have avoided over the years simple because they have double pointed needles listed in their materials section!

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Wednesday
Nov142012

Handmade Eyeglass Cases + Tutorial

So I wear glasses. I tried contacts, but realized that I actually like wearing glasses better. I don't like glasses cases though. They are usually boring to look at and I resent the space they take up in my purse. So this month I decided to use up some of the fabric scraps left in the bin after sewing up my patchwork journal covers, and make some padded glasses cases that would be cute, light to carry, and compact. 

I sewed several different shapes using different measurements based on an odd assortment of glasses and sunglasses found in drawers around my house. After some trial and error, I decided to sew cases in two sizes: large (for sunglasses and larger eyeglass frames), and small (for bifocals and smaller eyeglass frames). 

Once I got started, it was hard to stop, and I ended up sewing more than 20 cases. They are that easy and fun to sew. I made each case unique by using a different assorment of scraps for the outside, but the general construction is the same. The outsides are all patched cotton, with medium weight cotton batting as filling and a cotton print lining. If you want specifics, then check out the complete tutorial here.

Here are some of the cases in action. We keep a basket filled with sunscreen, keys, chargers and the like in our front hall for easy access. Now I have a burst of scrappy color to great me, and my glasses, when we walk in the door. 

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Thursday
Nov082012

Sewing Through Sandy

So I live in New Jersey, and the last two weeks have been apocalyptic around here. First we had the pleasure of welcoming superstorm Sandy, then we had an earthquake, and last night, a snowstorm. I'm beginning to wonder whether the ancients were right in predicting that the world will end in 2012. Seriously.

By sheer dumb luck my block of homes just over the George Washington Bridge retained power through it all. At first I cooked for ourselves and others, watching the news throughout. Upon absorbing all of the terrible stories of loss surrounding us however, I decided to make better use of our electricity. So of course, when the kids and houseguests were occupied I stole up to our attic and sewed. 

First I filled a box with stacks of handmade lavender sachets (similar to these sachets) made with scraps of fabric from clothing, quilts, and samples.  

Then I focused in on patchwork journal covers. I saw this tutorial over at Stitched in Color a few weeks ago, and decided they would make great holiday gifts. I filled some with lined composition notebooks made of recycled paper for the writers out there, and some with grid paper notebooks for the artists and geeks (I love grids!). You may recognize the fabric scraps used in these journal covers from past projects. 

The sachets and journals will be for sale at The Craft Lounge later this month, along with some other small, inexpensive handmade goodies I have brewing. I know that these items may seem completely frivolous and insignificant right now, when people just a few miles from me need heat and warm water, but I think that even in times like these, handmade matters.

At religious school this weekend my daughter filled brown bags with water, snacks, and a handmade card for people in need. I'm sure that the water and food are greatly appreciated, but I bet that the item in the brown bag that gets the smile is the card with a rainbow and a sun in magic marker on it. 

I (naively perhaps) hope that all of the little items I'm making right now will end up in someone's hand, and like those rainbows and scribbled rays of yellow sunlight, make someone smile. 

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Sunday
Oct142012

KCWC - Day 7 - Hand Knit Scarf

o I've decided to end KCWC Fall 2012 the way I started it - with a hand knit project. This is a scarf I just finished moments ago for my boy Z. It was begun, alongside the colorblock poncho, in the car this summer on a long drive when Z moaned that it just wasn't fair that his sister received all the handknits in the family. 

I did not follow a pattern for the scarf. I really was in the car, so I took some size 8 needles, one ball of Lily Sugar n' Cream yarns in Tie Die Stripes, and red and navy scraps from older projects (all sitting in the bottom of my knitting bag) and got to work. I used a simple seed stitch for the scarf to give it some weight, warmth, and texture. Today, when I wrapped the finished product around Z's neck he promised to wear it all the time. This prompted me to add the tiny 1/2" wide twill tape tab that is knotted to the corner of the scarf. I plan to write his name on it with a fine permanent marker so that it has a chance of returning to us when it inevitably gets lost. 

Before I go today, I want to say thanks to Meg over at Elsie Marley for hosting KCWC this week. The KCWC Flikr page is chock full of inspiring items that really got me motivated to start, and finish, a gaggle of projects this week. It also reminded me that there are loads of wildly creative and productive folks out there in this wide world, and that makes me happy. 

 

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Saturday
Oct132012

KCWC - Day 6 - Summersville Pantaloons

So I know I said that I was done sewing without a pattern for a while, but I lied. 

I made these reversible pants, loosely based on Anna Maria Horner's Quick Change Trouser pattern from Handmade Beginnings. I say loosely based because I tried adjusting the pattern up in size and they ended up way too loose and baggy. I should have taken the fact that B is no longer wearing a diaper into account, but alas, it was late, and I did not. As a quick fix I added a few rows of elastic thread to the hem to turn them into pataloons. Now they are still baggy, but in a more intentional way.

You'll notice that the photos bellow are less photo shoot and more candid. B is eating a muffin and then playing with a robot. No lighting or posing here. Just crumbs and action.

Fabric is all from Lucy Summer's Summersville collection for Moda

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Friday
Oct122012

KCWC - Day 5 - Upcycled Sweatshirt

So I needed a change of pace after finishing the matchy set in all cotton fabrics, and this quick project was just the thing.  lt began yesterday morning with this sweatshirt that I've had for years, but was not quite ready to let go of. I think it's the green - I love green. And the hood - I love hoods. 

So I took the Sewing for Boys book that was open on the floor underneath the sewing table and traced the pattern for the Raw Edged Raglan (I finally realized this is the same pattern as FIggy's Tee for 2 that I love). The sweatshirt is a small, so a size 2/3 was all I could get away with. You can see from the photo bellow that I kept the front pocket and bottom waistband when cutting. 

Mr. B and I both love the finished product. Here he is fresh from a 3 hour nap in the sweatshirt... cozy and cute.

 

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Thursday
Oct112012

KCWC Fall 2012 - Day 4 - Matchy DMK Reversible Pants 

So I warned you this may be coming. Matchy matchy time.

Far left we have the Vivienne skirt, followed by two pair of Dear My Kids (DMK) 2 in 1 Reversible Pants, all sewn with fabric from Joel Dewberry's Modern Meadow collection in his cool stream colorway. I always size down when using DMK patterns, so here we have a pair of 18/24 month pants on my 2 year old, and a pair of 3 yr pants on my 4.5 year old. I also added an extra pocket on each pair, so there are mismatched pockets - one for each leg.

The little ascot on Mr. B is simply the edge of a large fabric scrap that I cut along the diagonal to look like a bandana. I tied it loosely behind his neck and tucked the raw edges under the collar of his shirt. Instant 2 year old sophistication!

The pocket square for Z is a 5.5" square of fabric hemmed on all sides. Perhaps it looks a little silly in the pocket of his t-shirt, but I think it will look smart poking out of a button down or his new favorite jacket. Why should the girls get all of the cool accessories? 

 

 

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Tuesday
Oct092012

KCWC Fall 2012 - Day 3 - Vivienne Skirt + Mini Figure 8 Scarf

So it's day 3 of KWKC and I'm making progress! I've been oogling the Vivienne skirt pattern by Violette Field Threads for a while, and finally finished one off yesterday while all of the kids were busy. Then, with a little extra time on my hands, I made a mini version of Anna Maria Horner's Figuring the 8 scarf with coordinating fabric scraps. My girl is thrilled - she's been coveting my Figure 8 since last year. 

For the skirt and scarf I used an assortment of fabrics from Joel Dewberry's Sweet Meadow collection in the Cool Stream color pallete.  To the Viviene skirt I added vintage buttons, choosing a larger, simpler selection because I know that this skirt will be worn and washed often. I like the rustic, not-too-girly effect that the large brown buttons and plaid have on the small floral print. 

To make a smaller version of Anna Maria's Figuring the 8 scarf I took leftover fabric pieces, stacked then on top of each other, and cut 10" wide strips. Then I sewed the 10" wide pieces together (and topstitched seams for strength and detail) until they measured 60" long. I followed the Figuring the 8 tutorial from there.  The whole process took about 15 minutes. 

 

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Monday
Oct082012

KCWC Fall 2012 - Day 2 - Happy Accident Pants

So I warned you about the pants...and here they come. No pattern here. Just leftover corduroy and ticking fabrics, a request for large pockets, and a perception that our 4 1/2 year old Z is a tiny boy. You see, these pants were meant for Z, but they are way too small. So small in fact, that with minimal tweaking they fit 2 year old Mr. B perfectly.

My bad. Tomorrow I return to pant patterns, even if just as a guide thank you very much.

Today though, I embrace these pants as a beautiful mess. Not exactly what I intended, but great in the end despite myself. 

 

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Monday
Oct082012

KCWC Fall 2012 - Day 1 - Hand Knit Colorblock Poncho

So it's Kids Clothes Week Challenge (KCWC) time again over at Elsie Marley, and I have decided to participate as motivation to finish a knitting project, and get crackin' on the fall clothes promised weeks ago to my kids that have somehow, someway, not been made. I must warn you that this week will be heavy on the pants, because, as explained in my Pants Parade post, my boys need something warmer on their bottoms this fall. Hopefully though, it will not all be pants pants pants - I plan to spice things up with some snazzy accessories (pocket square anyone?) and a ruffly skirt for my girl to keep things interesting. 

To start KCWC fall 2012 off right this morning I finished up a knitting project that looked like this most of the summer. 

It's the Color Block Poncho from Barefoot Knits by Christine Schender and Paula Heist, as viewed from the dashboard of our minivan, where it sat for many a day this summer as I knit a few rows here, a few there. Today, just in time for the first real chill to set in here, I sewed the seam and blocked it before heading out to Manhattan for lunch and a walk with the kids. 

The pattern calls for 3 different color yarns, but instead I chose to alternate stripes of Lion Brand's Cotton Ease in stone and charcoal for a more neutral, sophisticated look. I also shortened the pattern a bit, knitting only 15 color blocks before finishing. Overall, this piece was the perfect simple knit to carry around this summer. It required no assistance from knitting gurus or YouTube searches for pattern clarification, and no frogging or cursing. Now that it's fall I can see that the simplicity that I adored in the knitting pattern somehow communicates itself to my daughter. Without fuss she slipped the poncho on as she walked out the door with her book under her arm and has not removed it since. It's so nice when after all those hours of knitting I see something worn with ease and laughter. Just so nice. 

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Friday
Sep282012

Pirates Blankets of Different Stripes

So I made a resolution this past spring to use only fabric already in my stash for all new projects. I've stayed true to my resolve, and my stacks of fabric are in fact shrinking, especially my stack of boy-appropriate cotton prints. Using only what I have has made me think about what and why I buy. When I received a custom blanket request last week I was surprised to discover that among my scant options were different types of nautical/pirate themed fabrics. Nautical prints seem to be a preference of mine - who knew? Lucky for me the person requesting the custom order shares my taste.

When I sew blankets, I do so in batches for my Etsy shop and The Craft Lounge. This time was no exception. Per my custom order, I made a pile of blankets, burpies, and bibs from Cloud 9's organic Seven Seas collection. I love the whimsy and the neutral colors present in the prints I chose from this collection. They are soft and simple, and they make me smile. They also possess the same simple hand-drawn/illustrated quality that I appreciate in Lucy Summer's Summersville line of fabric and Creative Thursday's Ric Rac Rabbit line.

Also nautical, but quite different are the organic cotton Viking prints from Timeless Treasures. Why did I buy these prints? I did not think about it until now. I suppose I like these fabrics because they are bold, and swashbuckling. And I knew that if all else failed my boys would love an entire wardrobe sewn with this map inspired fabric. I am off to cut patterns for more pants for the boys right now actually...I think some of this fabric will be in the mix! I plan to participate in Elsie Marley's Kid Clothing Week Challenge, this October 7-14. If you have a child to sew for I highly recommend KWKC. It's inspiring.

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Monday
Sep172012

Handmade Nap Mat Roll Up

So Z is heading off tomorrow morning for his first full day at Pre-K, and much to his chagrin, the laws of the great State of New Jersey require that he take a nap at school. For naptime, the school that my kids currently attend recommends nap mats, or rolls that the children can set up, nap on, then roll up and store themselves. Of course I could have purchased a nap roll that fit these requirements, but instead chose to make one at the very last minute/this weekend.

As a guide for this nap mat roll up I used the Roll-Up Nap Blanket tutorial posted over at Sew 4 Home. The fabric is all cotton flannel, with one bag of crib sized high loft batting for filling the mat, and a bag of fiber fill for the pillow. Though I found the tutorial easy to follow, with great photos and clear instructions, I made a few changes. First, I chose to use one fabric (blue flannel chevron print) for the nap mat part of the role, and found that 2 yards was the perfect amount for the job. Second, instead of using fleece edged with bias tape for the blanket, I constructed the blanket with two layers of soft yellow chevron printed flannel and gave it a simple rounded edge. No rough edges and scratchy surfaces here. Third, I used 1" synthetic webbing instead of 2" cotton webbing for the handles. I didn't think light colored cotton webbing would withstand months of use on a preschool floor and in my washing machine!

After a test drive (Z slept soundly in his nap roll, on the floor, all night through), the finished roll hangs in the front hall ready to head to school in the morning. So Z's ready for a full day, but man am I going to miss him...

Friday
Sep142012

Pants Parade - Part 1

So about a month ago my 4 1/2 year old son came to me and said he needed to talk. It sounded quite serious, so I immediately stopped and gave him my undivided attention. I'm so glad I did. You see, my son Z had noticed that there was a problem in his closet. It was, as he put it, "a problem of things not being equal." He went on to explain that while he has an adequate number of shirts  ("a alot actually Mom"), there is a major shortage of pants. To fix the inequality he requested that I make him, "some crazy pants and some comfy pants",  to wear, "when shorts are too cold."  

After fininshing my Echo quilt, I took a short breather, cleaned out my sewing room and then made piles of boyish fabrics already in my stash. I decided that "crazy" and "comfy" could be achieved without buying any new fabric or patterns. Then I spent a day tracing patterns. So far, I've made three pair of pants, two of which fit. 

The first in line here are a pair of Dear My Kid's 2 in 1 Reversible Pants made with some of Denyse Schmidt's DS Quilts Collection fabric for Joann's. I used this exact pattern to make Z's pirate pants, and Dear My Kid's wide crop pattern for these tie front shorties for my daughter. I can always rely on DMK patterns to be easy to follow and quick to sew. I love a simple, practical pattern where fabric choices shine. As you can see from the photos Z loves them too. The plaid is the perfect complement to his new favorite jacket. 

Second in line are these Kickin' Back Sweats from Sewing for Boys. When I cut the pattern for these pants they looked enormous, so I brought Z in for sizing and ended up re-tracing a new pattern using the 2/3 size with a 4/5 length. Then, per my son's request, I cut 1 1/2 inches off of the top of the pattern to make the waist lower, and moved the pockets way up for greater accessibilty. 

If you sense a Lego theme in the photo below (Crocs and pockets), it's no mistake. I knew the fabric on these pockets would make these pants an instant favorite, and I was right. This morning Z fished them out of the laundry to wear for a second consecutive day to school. He hasn't noticed yet, but the Let's Play Blocks fabric is from the same Kokka line as his seat cushion

So 1 crazy + 1 comfy pair of pants that fit. That makes a grand total of four pair of pants now hanging in Z's closet. Enough to fix the closet "problem"? I think not. That's why the title of this post has a Part 1 attached. I know I'll be back with more...

 

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Sunday
Sep022012

Echo Quilt Finished!

So it's official, my one quilt summer is coming to an end. In the past weeks, in between an entended road trip through New England and a wicked summer cold, I have managed to complete my Echo quilt - hurray! 

Using Kyoto 50/50 Bamboo Cotton blend batting and cream colored cotton thread I quilted continuously within the zigzags of solid neutrals. Then, to add some reinforcement, I quilted 1/4" outside of the seams that fall between the zigzags as well. 

For binding I went with a thin dark edge to frame the mutted colors of the quilt. Instead of adding another print to the mix, I stuck with the same lovely crosshatch pattern of Alexander Henry's Heath fabric that I chose for the back of the quilt. The center of the quilt back is Heath in the metal, while the binding is Heath in chocolate. When viewed closely, I like the way the finer lines of the Heath crosshatch go with the bolder lines of the Echo basketweave prints. 

 

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Thursday
Aug092012

Echo Quilt Progress

So I'm moving along with my Echo quilt at a steady pace. I completed the front and back, and I tried, really tried to take some interesting photos of it this afternoon. Unfortunately my attemps at draping the quilt coyly over a fence, and taping it to a brick wall with adorable washi tape failed. So here we are, left with some shots of the driveway, and one kinda arty pic of some details held up to the window. I promise to do better next time!

 

 

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Thursday
Jul262012

A One Quilt Summer

So I had big plans for this summer in my sewing room. I have fabric for multiple quilts all piled upon teetering towers of sloppy sketches and bookmarked quilt patterns. I have ideas that keep me awake at night, but no time to bring them to life in the light of day. The sun and the water beckon the children to go outside, and my four year old's new favorite phrase is, "Join us mom. Just join us." There is no way to resist this request. So I join them. And I decide that this summer will, in all likelihood, be a one quilt summer. And that's ok.

I am cutting, placing, and stitching the very first squares of my singluar quilt. It is intended for me and Mr. T, so I chose fabrics that I think I will love without regret for a long while: Lotta Jansdotter's lovely Echo collection and a couple of Purl Soho's pre-cut spectrum bundles in the Muslim colorway. When I first purchased these fabrics, I had no idea what would become of them. My only hope was that I had enough of each pattern and color to do what I wanted once I figured out what that was. Then I saw this photo of Kathreen Ricketson's Garnets and Gold quilt on Pinterest and had my "Ahah!" moment. 

Now, in odd moments of quiet summer sewing the Echo prints and solid cottons are coming together piece by piece. 

*Note: The Garnets and Gold quilt pattern can be found in Kathreen Ricketson's book Little Bits Quilting Bee.

 

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Friday
Jul062012

In Threes Sweater

So this is the summer of the minivan for our family. So far we have taken two summer road trips, and have two (even longer) adventures by minivan coming up. Lucky for me, Mr. T doesn't mind driving while I knit, catch up on reading, and hand out snacks.  

The result of our most recent extended car trip was an outsized version of Kelly Herdrich's Ravelry pattern, In Threes: A Baby Cardigan. The yarn is Cotton Ease by Lion Brand in Turquoise, with contrasting bands of Lake. I say that my version of the sweater is outsized because I made it for my soon-to-be-7-year-old, though the pattern is sized for for 0-6 months through 5T. I was able to do this simply by adding stockinette rows before the bottom garter bands because our girl (as you can see in the photos bellow) is quite slim, and the finished cardigan only buttons at the top, allowing a free and easy fit. 

My favorite parts of the sweater are the yoke, and the garter detail that extends from the armpits down to meet the garter bands at the bottom. Though this was a very simply garment to knit, those details make this sweater look special to me, and I love a pattern that is simpe to knit, but looks hard! Why not?


* The uber-wrinkly polka dot dress peaking out from under the sweater is a halter neck dress that I made 3 years ago using Whole Grain Baby's Halter Dress Pattern. After a lot of hard wear and some dribbles of green paint on the front, it remains a summer favorite. 

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Wednesday
Jul042012

Outside Oslo Quilt Finished

So I finished the Outside Oslo quilt off and shipped it out to it's new baby owner. 

I must admit that I did not think too much after my last Outside Oslo blog post before going ahead and quilting by machine. I knew that hand quilting wasn't really in the cards for me this summer with 3 little critters home, so I went for a minimal quilting plan of vertical lines and frames that fit the pieced pattern. I am far from the most experienced quilter, and knew that bold thread would accentuate my every stitichin' mistake, but I chose turquoise and red thread for the front of the quilt anyway. Though my lines are far from perfect I like the extra contrast the quilting provides on the front, and look forward to seeing all of the puckers and extra texture that will result from use and washing in between the lines and squares.

For the back of the quilt I went big and simple. I love slashed backs, as you know from this quilt, and went with coordinating cream thread so that the quilting would not complicate the back's slashed simplicity. 

Before shipping this quilt off I had a moment of pause. I have moments like this all the time when everything is labeled, bound, locked, and loaded, and I wonder (sometimes aloud) if it's good enough to send. Then I reminded myself that it's just a quilt. A sandwich of fibers that have been woven, printed, dyed, cut, arranged, sewn, re-sewn, and bound. So simple and yet so complex. Just a quilt.

The home to which this quilt is going is full of people special to me. I hope they like it. 

 

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Thursday
Jun142012

Sewing with Ric Rac Rabbits

So I mentioned in my last post that I purchased some new fabric for baby season. I showed off some new Summersville items, and now it's on to some blanket, bibs and burpies sewn with the Ric Rac Rabbits fabric line by Creative Thursday. Creative Thursday's Etsy shop has long been a favorite of mine, and I think the color palette in this latest fabric collection is spot on. Turquoise and red together - hooray! Pink, grey and thank you for black. Why are there so few patterns printed with black for babies? Hasn't anyone noticed how dirty little critters can be? Black and grey make so much sense, and they do a great job of keeping these dancing bunnies from being a little too sweet in my opinion. But who am I kidding. Everyone loves bunnies (and owls)... 

I may have pushed the bunny cuteness factor a bit far myself with this particular custom blanket. I just couldn't resist when I realized that the little girl for whom this blanket was intended has a last name that begins with a "B". Can you blame me? It called out for felt appliqued bunny ears. I sewed the felt applique very simply, as described here, and I am happy to report that they were a bit hit in their new home. I'm off now to search for inspiration for a new quilting project. My first stops are Pinterest and Flikr. Where do you find inspiration?

 

 

 

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Tuesday
Jun122012

Sewing with Summersville

So its baby season in my sewing room. Babies are being born to friends and loved ones all around, custom quilt requests are rolling in, and gentle nudges from my friends at The Craft Lounge regarding low inventory have been received. All together, baby season sends one main message to my brain: BUY NEW FABRIC NOW.

There are so many lovely new favorite fabric lines out for children right now, that it was hard to narrow down my selections as I shopped (online of course). A clear choice however is the Summersville line, by Lu Summers for Moda. You can buy directly from Lu's Etsy shop, or at any number of other online fabric shops. I selected the stack below from the wonderful Sew Mamma Sew!, and shortly turned into the three B's: blankets, bibs, and burp cloths.

As a major bonus, the Summersville line goes perfectly with my Outside Oslo quilt. I am really looking forward to sewing scraps from this batch of baby B's into the back of that quilt, and possibly into a doll or pillow alongside Oslo scraps. Scandinavian inspired fabrics unite!

 

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