Jun 132016
 

Apologies for the absence here. Having a baby changes one’s time allocation and prioritization. Also, having a baby has changed my body in a way that has made me hesitant to do much sewing for myself – – for one, because those styles to which I have previously gravitated no longer flatter; and two, because my post-pregnancy body has been changing these last (almost)ten months and I didn’t want to invest time in sewing clothing for myself that would only fit for a short time.

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However, my body seems to be stabilizing and I’ve adopted some new style preferences that I feel confident in… And I feel fortunate that loose and flowy shirts and blouses are fashionable these days. I used to always wear fairly tight and form-fitting tops, but after gaining 50 pounds during my pregnancy and not having as much time to vigorously exercise as I did before I got pregnant, I’m just not going to wear such form-fitting things these days.

Anyway, I’ve been wearing my original Tiny Pocket Tank a lot lately and I was reminded at what a quick project it is. Yesterday, while I was putting Milo down for his first nap, I decided to pull out that pattern and some fabric from my stash and see how far along I could get.

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After one of baby’s naps, I made it about halfway through the project. And I made it through the other half of the project by his second nap. (Note, each nap was just 1 hour long, so this is literally a two hour project for me). Fortunately, we had plans to go out to an international food festival that afternoon, so I had Josh snap some photos of me wearing my FO. I am not at all happy with the way I look in these photos (OMG, I have been so dissatisfied with my post-pregnancy hair!!!) but postponing this FO blog entry in order for me to have better photos taken will just mean that I will never post about this accomplishment (see above, re: time priorities).

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Overall, I am very happy with how this top turned out and I am DELIGHTED to discover that sewing is an accessible hobby for me to take back up as a new mom with very little spare time. Naturally, I have a hundred million things that I try to accomplish during nap times, so I have no idea when I’ll be able to complete another sewing project, but the fact that I completed this one makes me feel very proud and excited about sewing again.

This morning, I did pull out a pattern for another loose and flowy top and I identified some potential fabric, so perhaps I will have another sewing FO to show off fairly soon… or possibly not.

In other news, Milo will be 10 months next week and that astounds me! He weighs just about 20 pounds, which is a bit small for his age. However, he has exceeded all of his age-specific milestones and is much more like an 18 month old with his gross- and fine-motor skills and language/cognition. He has been crawling for several months, can pull himself to a standing position, and walk around if he has something to hang onto. He can also intentionally bang things together to make sounds (ie, drumming or using his xylophone) and can pick up small O’s with his pincer grip. He has also shown some indication of understanding language (for example, if I ask him if he is hungry and wants food, while tapping my fingers at my mouth (which is sign language for “food”), he bops his arms up and down, which means “YES!”). Of course, it is well known that genius babies are too busy learning and developing to want to sleep very well, so we still get up every 2 hours all night every night.

Feb 022016
 

I could write a lengthy diatribe about my frustration with baby clothing and accessories.  Not only does there seem to be little consistency in sizing standards across brands but most accessories (hats, mittens, socks) do not fit or stay on the baby at all.  With it being winter, we’ve been struggling to keep baby Milo’s head warm.  I have purchased so many different baby hats and none of them have adequately remained on his head.  I finally decided that I would just sew up a bunch of baby hats, using an old t-shirt of Josh’s for the fabric.

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I drafted the pattern size and basic shape based on the most well-fitting of his store-bought hats, and added some tweaks where I felt necessary.  The major innovation in my baby hat is to make the back longer than the front, with two darts at the back, and the sides swooping down.  I wanted a hat that would cover his ears without coming down over his eyes and cinching in at the back, and that would just stay on his head.

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I am VERY pleased with the result.  I was able to make four hats just like this one out of an XL size men’s t-shirt, using the bottom hem of the body and sleeves of the shirt as the hems for all four hats.  It took me about an hour to draft the pattern and make all four hats.

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The photos above were taken when Milo and I went to visit daddy at the new location for the bike shop he works at.  And below, was when we all went to he Zoo and had one of the better days of encountering animals.  The goats were very friendly (of course, I’m not sure what Milo thought of them).

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Jul 242015
 

I’m on the final stretch of pregnancy and working hard to get everything ready.  My crafting is at an all time low these days – – I am knitting a sweater, but it is all stockinette and I probably work on it for maybe 10-20 minutes each day (usually, I can spend HOURS knitting everyday) – – because there is just so much to do and I have a significantly decreased capacity for how much I can accomplish in a day.  A guy at work is also expecting his first baby and we’ve been talking a lot about how there is just so much to do.  His baby is due two weeks after me so we’re at very similar stages in our to-do lists and we’ve been comparing notes on what we’ve got done and what still needs to be done.

Anyway, here are a few quick and easy things that I sewed.  Breast pads, wipes, and burp cloths.

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The breast pads were the most time consuming project of this bunch, but still very quick and easy.  I bought 2 yards of diaper flannel (which cost $1.50 per yard) and found a small bowl to trace circles approximately 4″ in diameter.  I cut out the circles and layered them six layers deep, sewed them together, and trimmed the edges.  Magically, I made 9 pairs of breast pads, 18 total.  MONTHS ago, I had written about how I thought that sewing reusable breast pads was probably one of the easiest things that I could do, and I think this was correct.  And it was actually a fun project, just listening to some music and working on these.  A friend gave me a box of disposable breast pads that she no longer needs and I’ve compared the size of these as well as compared how they fit when wearing, and I’m happy to report that they are very comparable.  These ones are actually softer, though I have not yet tested their absorbency.  There are free patterns available for breast pads, many of which include darts for better fit, but for my personal body type these fit just fine.

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Another project that I thought would be super easy to make was burp cloths, though I have since learned that many people just use cloth diapers (which I have a large stash of) so I’m not sure how necessary this project was.  However, I hear that babies are very messy, so having a large supply of wipes and cloths is probably a good idea.  These cloths I made from used receiving blankets that I found for super cheap and some random leftovers of quilting cotton that I had in my stash.  I made two different sizes because I started out using a tutorial (for the smaller size) and then wondered if I might like some larger ones as well.

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And finally, wipes.  As I was buying stuff for baby, I bought a package of reusable flannel wipes (the one at the right, with the castles and ponies) – – and when I received them, was sort of aghast at how they were simply a cut piece of flannel with serged edges, and cost about $1 per wipe.  The package only had 15 wipes and I realized that I would need a lot more wipes and that I could make them for a fraction of the cost.  So I bought some more flannel, in what I think are cuter prints, at $2.50 per yard, cut into squares, and zig-zagged the edges.  Easy peasy!

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So, here I am these days.  Today I am 37 weeks along and baby could come at any time, tonight or four weeks from tonight.  At this point, we’re pretty much ready for baby to arrive (I have an appointment tomorrow to have the car seat installation inspected) and then we’re totally ready.  However, I still have a lot to do at work before I’ll feel good about going on maternity leave, so I’m hoping baby stays put for another week or two.  Also, right now I’m considered “early term” so it would be nice for baby to wait two more weeks and be “full term” (though “early term” is just fine).

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And while I’m posting a blog, I’ll throw this pic in.  I finished knitting this sweater about a month ago and never got around to posting about it.  I have a pattern 95% written for this but I doubt if I will ever finish it.  My brain is 100% focused on baby and getting ready for baby that trying to write a knitting pattern is just not computing in my brain.  Oh well.  I love the finished sweater, however, and have been wearing it pretty much exclusive to all my other sweaters.

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Anyway, I doubt that I will have any crafting projects to show off until baby arrives.  As always, I’ve been posting updates over on my personal weblog so if you’re curious about what’s going on, there are way more details than anyone would want to know about over there.

Until later…

May 252015
 

I whipped up a maxi skirt this weekend.

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I drafted the pattern based off a store bought maternity maxi skirt that has been fitting me perfectly and this one, likewise, fits great.  The fabric is a medium weight knit that I had in my stash.

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There’s really not much about this being a maternity skirt… stretchy fabric and a high waistband.

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I hope to make many more of these.  Maxi skirts are the perfect pregnancy attire — they are flattering, fit over my belly, and are COMFORTABLE.  They are also a good pregnancy sewing project, as they are quick and easy to make…  I’m busy enough getting ready for baby and mentally preoccupied with childbirth, breastfeeding, sleep strategies, etc., that I appreciate my sewing straightforward – – nothing complicated or time consuming!

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Anyway, I’m just barely entering the third trimester and I cannot believe that I still have three months to go; it seems like an eternity.

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May 102015
 

I had intended to make this for the #SHBsewalong during the month of April, but got sidetracked after I started the HUGE project of moving my craft room to the basement to convert it into a nursery.  Because I’m a little OCD when it comes to organization, I took that opportunity to completely reorganize and inventory my crafting supplies, which took the better part of a month.  At this juncture, most everything is moved down stairs, so I can now get some sewing in, even though the space isn’t finished being setup.

Anyway, I made this sleep sack from some very soft fleece I had in my stash and using the pattern for McCalls 4236.  I made View A in size Medium, hoping that it will fit baby when he’s 3-6 months next winter.

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This View has some attached mittens that I thought would be a must for cozy winter hibernation.

The creature on the front is an elephant, though I’m not sure if anyone but me can discern its elephant-ness.

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I decided to affix snaps up the front instead of a zipper, as per the pattern, because I thought it would be handy to be able to open the sleep sack from either end – – from below, to make diaper changes quick and easy, without having to take off the whole sack.

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In pregnancy news, I’ve made it to 26 weeks and I feel HUGE.  Below is my view looking down (taken at 25 weeks, so I’m even bigger now).  People at work say things to me, such as, “You’re tiny!” but I think they’re not being honest…. Josh is better at validating my feelings of hugeness.  I’ve gained about 20 pounds so far and it blows my mind that I still have about 14 weeks to go.   Another thing that blows my mind is that I was looking at preemie viability statistics and, if baby were born today, he would have an 80% chance of surviving outside of the womb.  That statistic actually gives me a lot of peace of mind… obviously, I want to carry him to full term.  Anyway, I’ve actually finished knitting a sweater that I’m working on a pattern for (!!!) and I’m hoping to get that nicely photographed soon, which will mean that I might have some nice photos of my pregnant self, rather than downward-looking selfies from my phonecamera in my cat-hair covered pajamas.

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Apr 112015
 

This morning, I whipped up a taggy crinkle toy for my little baby BOY!  Yup, this week we found out that we’re expecting a sweet little baby boy and I am so happy and excited.  I know I would feel just as happy and excited if baby were a girl, but it feels so much more real to know either way.  Anyway, we are over the moon!

So, the taggy crinkle toy.  This took about 30 minutes from start to finish.

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Here are all of my supplies.

  • Two fabrics (jersey, for softness, and because I had scraps in my stash that I wanted to use up, with high-contrast patterns.
  • Ribbon
  • Plastic crinkle material – – this is actually a washed cereal bag that I fished out of the recycle bin
  • Felt to match the fabric – – to just add a bit more squish to the toy

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I matched up my felt fabric and jersey and pinned the cut up ribbon to the outside of one side.

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Yay, blurry photo!

Sandwiched everything together.  Note that the plastic crinkle material needs to be sandwiched on what will be the inside of the toy (I actually did this wrong and had to rip the whole thing out).

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Then sewed three of four edges, trimmed edges, carefully turned the work right side-out, and handstitched the open edge.

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Lessons learned – – if I were to make one of these again, I would add more taggies and maybe make them a bit shorter.  I also didn’t add taggies to the end that I handstitched but I didn’t have enough ribbon material for anymore taggies, so whatever.

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Apr 042015
 

Today I sewed my first creation for the SHB Sewalong, two “Ultimate Catch-All Baby Bibs.”  This was a super fast and fun project to work on – – I finished both bibs in about 40 minutes.  The fabric is Babyville PUL from Joann’s and I believe the snaps are also Babyville brand. I had originally bought this fabric and these snaps because I was planning on sewing my own cloth diaper covers, but I have since lost interest in that project.  Fortunately, there are a lot of things that a person can sew for baby using PUL, like say, baby bibs.

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I think the catch-all pocket is pretty cool.  The bib can be worn without the catch-all pocket deployed, just as a flat bib, but two quick snap clicks create the nice pocket.  The bib is double sided (both sides PUL for easy cleaning).  The neck seems a bit small too me, but I compared it to a McCall’s pattern for a baby bib and it seems comparable.  As I am a complete newbie when it comes to baby, I have absolutely no idea how many bibs a person needs, but I figured that two would be a good start.

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Tomorrow, I’m hoping to sew up another items for the sewalong.

 

Mar 222015
 

I am so happy to have finished this dress, just in time for spring dress weather.  The pattern is Simplicity 1653, which is for a faux wrap knit dress.  I bought the pattern a few months ago, when I was on the hunt for patterns that would be suitable for both maternity and non-maternity wear.  The fabric is a knit from Mood and is very soft and amazing to have next to skin.

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I was excited that this is for a faux wrap dress because there is absolutely no way to have a wardrobe malfunction.  Though, since it’s not a real wrap dress, I don’t think it will work as a nursing dress, for after baby arrives.  Win some, lose some.

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Oh, here I am wearing my brand new maternity leggings!  I’ve been hesitant to buy much in the way of maternity clothes, because I’ll need mostly hot weather clothing, but right now I’m still wearing cool weather clothing.  But maternity leggings are basically normal leggings with a long super stretchy waistband, and I think that I could basically live in maternity leggings for the rest of my life… so comfy!

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Here’s the back of the dress.  Obviously, I didn’t bother trying to match my pattern across seams.  In hindsight, I have no idea why there is a seam across the back.  If I ever make this dress again, I will omit this seam.

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Yeah… I guess I don’t have much to say about this dress except that I’m pretty happy with it.  Because there is not seam across the waistline, I anticipate being able to wear this as long as the fabric is able to stretch across my belly.

Oh!  I don’t think I’ve shown off my haircut yet.  In a fit of hormonal duress, I took some sewing shears to my hair and tried giving myself some layered bangs.  I think they turned out pretty okay.

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Feb 142015
 

I’ve finally finished the baby blocks that I started about three months ago!  Considering that I made 48 blocks, I’m sure any reasonable person would think that a titch excessive but I’d prefer to have too many blocks than too few.

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I first found the idea for these blocks on Pinterest.  Naturally, now that baby is on the way, I’ve spent a lot of time browsing baby and toddler crafts and Pinterest and my ‘queue’ of things I want to make overfloweth.

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The instructions that were included with the original pin that I saw for these blocks, unfortunately, weren’t very good.  They basically suggested that you cut upholstery foam into 4″ cubes, cut fabric into 5″ squares (0.5″ for the seam allowance on each side), sew 6 squares of fabric together to form a fabric cube (leaving one side unsewn), squish the foam cube into the fabric cube, and handstitch the unsewn side.  VOILA!  A perfect baby block.

Of course, my blocks are FAR from perfect.

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The first problem I ran into was cutting out the upholstery foam.  The Pinterest tutorial suggested that one can simply use ordinary scissors  for the job.  Nope.  One does not simply use scissors to cut upholstery foam!  I ruined several pieces of foam attempting that.  Upon further research, I learned that a much more successful and precise approach is to use an electric carving knife.  I then embarked on a journey to find such a device at a thrift store and, lo and behold, found one for just a few dollars at only the second thrift store that I went to.  And I was equally delighted that cutting the foam using an electric carving knife was also successful.  Hooray!

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The other problem I encountered from the instructions was in cutting the fabric with a 0.5″ seam allowance on each side, resulting in a fabric cube that was the same size as the block.  After I cut out ALL of the fabric and sewed together my first fabric cube, I squished in the block and found that the fabric was much too loose and floppy. I removed the foam from the fabric and resewed all of the sides, so that there would be some negative ease, and that worked much better to fill up the block.  I later found an Amy Butler sewing for babies book wherein she has a pattern and instructions for blocks, and she likewise recommends negative ease.

This meant that I had to sew all of my fabric sides with a 5/8″ seam allowance (which was just a lot of wasted fabric).  I also chose to trim the excess with pinking shears.  And of course, handstitching was a great opportunity for me to make that final edge look bad.

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So yes, these blocks are not perfect.  But they are soft and squishy, with some different colors and patterns of fabric.  They can be stacked in many different ways, matching colors and patterns, or not matching.

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And one of the joys of building blocks is always knocking one’s creation over into a big block heap.

As a kid, I loved playing with blocks… so of course, anticipating my own baby is an opportunity to recreate some of my favorite childhood moments.

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Dec 282014
 

After finishing my winter coat project, I had planned to sew a nice blouse but instead found myself gravitating towards patterns for knit dresses.  I have, after all, been wearing a lot of knit dresses this winter, with wool tights, boots, and of course a handknit sweater (or two).  So it made sense to make more of what I’ve felt like wearing.

This is M6697, a knit pullover, biased, and flared dress and I thought it might be a good way to use some of my stashed knit fabric.  I’m mostly happy with my fabric choices – – the purple fabric is probably a heavier weight than would be ideal for this dress and it doesn’t drape perfectly (it also can get rather clingy against my wool tights despite my wearing a slip underneath) and the flower fabric is a bit too flowery, even for me.

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Happily, this pattern was very quick and easy!  I could have easily started and completed it in one evening, but I spread it over two days instead.  Cutting out the pattern pieces and then the fabric was definitely the most time consuming part of this project.  And now that my pattern pieces are all cut to size, making another version of this dress will be a breeze!

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Overall, I’m very happy with the fit of this dress.  I cut a size 8 in the top part and then graded out to a 12 in the hips.  I should probably not admit to the internets that I didn’t make a muslin or do any fitting and didn’t even try it on as I sewed… instead, I sewed the entire dress and then threw it on to see how it fit.  I also want to mention that I’m very pleased with the shape of the neckline – – it’s just perfect for me.

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I will definitely be making another version of this dress.  On the pattern envelope, one of the drawings features this dress in gradient fabric colors, starting with the lightest color on the bottom corner and getting darker all the way to the opposite shoulder.  That sounds appealing to me, as does simply using more subdued colors.