Thursday, June 25, 2009

Soakers and Longies

This photo has fleece and wool longies and soakers. The wool items are made from felted sweaters from Goodwill, and the fleece is made from fleece from the fabric store (okay, mostly from the remnant bin).
Both soakers and longies are great (I would think they would be considered more great by someone like me, who doesn't think the baby will poop in them). They are great because all you need to do to use them is to put them on like pants or shorts and stuff a prefold or folded cloth diaper inside (aka soaker). When the baby pees, you just trade out the wet diaper and leave the soaker or longie on as a cover. They provide just enough wetness protection that the floor will likely stay dry, yet you will notice the baby has gone and be able to change him quickly. They are also breathable, so you don't feel like you are doing a science project on the baby's bum with plastic pants.
Downfalls of both are that you need a high level of confidence to use them. You need to be able to put the soaker into the wet zone fairly accurately, and be willing to get yourself or the floor wet if you mess up. Another downfall is that you need to care for the wool (see #5, washing wool covers), and that fleece is less waterproof than the wool.
I actually used fleece soakers without any stuffing as a bridge to undies for a few days (before I realized that the pee really goes straight through the fleece when the soaker isn't in it). I liked that he felt dry all the time in them. But I digress.
An advantage of longies is that they double as pants in cool weather.
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Baby Underwear

In addition to being incredibly cute, baby underwear are nice in the summer, when being nakey butt just isn't appropriate. We are also using them as a transition into staying dry with something covering the privates. This is because it seems to be easier for the baby to tell us when he has to pee when he is totally naked than when there is something there. It is cute-- sometimes he is in undies and pees, and you can see the wheels turning in his head-- he watches the pee go down his leg and looks at it, then looks at us.
So-- the first photo here is for boy briefs, made using this pattern: I modified it to use fold over elastic (FOE) on the legs and waist. I found that adding a seam allowance like she suggests is unnecessary (probably because of the FOE!). Also, I needed to just barely pull the FOE to get enough stretch at the legs. I made a couple of other pairs of these but pulled them too tight so they are too small.
The next photo is made using Katrina's soaker pattern with cotton, no soaker layer, and modified to cut an inch off the front and back to make it shorter. I like these, but they are a bit long still, and a bit wide in the crotch for this purpose. Incidentally, I made a pair with the same modifications but in fleece and it makes a great pair of fleece undies. Cute, too.
Here is another pattern for little undies: I haven't made it yet but I think the time is coming soon. I don't love either pattern I have for underwear yet, and really want to have a great fit on our baby.
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Cloth Diapers

The top one here is an all-in-one cloth diaper I made for a friend (the bottom green one is a pair of tiny undies I was trying to use as training pants by stuffing the front). This is the front view. The bottom photo is the inside view. I made it using the Little Comet Tails Tightey Whitey Hipster pattern It is PUL on the outside, 2 layers of Zorb on the inside, and single-sided super-soft fleece on the inside. The fleece acts as a feel-dry layer. It closes with velcro.
If I would make it again, I would use 3 layers of Zorb and snaps instead of velcro. Or-- I would make laundry tabs for the velcro.
What I love about all of the free diaper patterns out there is that you can use them to make all-in-ones like this, or diaper covers, or fitted diapers, or pocket diapers. All that changes is which layers are sewn together and where. All of the concepts about absorbency and wicking are the same throughout (see my piddle pad post for a little more detail); it is just a matter of preference of what you want the child to be wearing and how you want to do your laundry.
Speaking of which, this is a great website about modern cloth diapers and how to take care of them
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Training Pants

We have been using training pants since we realized they were thinner and could hold a pee just as easily as a cloth diaper (we stopped using disposables when we realized he had no idea when he was peeing in them or not and they were never not peed in). The thinner aspect really appealed to me because I didn't want my baby to have to learn to move with all that bulk. I also think a baby bum is so dang cute!

Here is a variety of training pants made as "nonwaterproof training pants." They are basically stretch cotton with a soaker layer made of 4 layers of flannel or a layer of Zorb. Lately, I have been making them with 2 layers of Zorb because his pees have a lot more volume than they used to. But-- 2 layers makes them thick, so I have been trending towards using all-in-one diapers when he is going to have a miss (during his morning nap, typically), and underwear or pants with nothing else when I think he looks immodest.

I also love training pants because they are elastic waist so when I take him to pee in a public toilet, then I can change him mid-air and don't need to set him down somewhere.

Training pants are really great because they hold one missed pee, and you can make then with a feel-wet liner (flannel or cotton), or a feel-dry liner (fleece or microfleece or suedecloth).

I use this pattern, for the most part:

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It took me a long time to find a bib pattern that fit and that I liked. We didn't even really have any that I liked enough to trace! I finally found this one ( and used style "A." I modified it to have flannel on the front and terry on the back. I used fold over elastic (FOE) to bind it and resin snaps to close it. You could use velcro, though, to keep it closed.

After a few tries, I got a little creative with some flannel scraps (and lace notions on the girl baby gift bib, right), and quilted them together before putting the whole thing together.

I am going to use this pattern a lot, and am looking forward to re-fashioning old worn-out clothing into bibs (especially the back of jeans!).

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Smock Bib

This is the back of the smock bib I made out of flannel.

Here is the front.

Here it is, made out of PUL.

He is ready for action!

Notice that both versions are made with fold over elastic (FOE) as the binding. If you made it with something that didn't fray, like fleece, you could skip that. You could also cut your own binding or use store-bought binding. The FOE supposedly does not wick (i.e. it keeps the moisture out).

After using these, we learned that flannel is not the best material to use alone for a bib. Wet things go right through. I was thinking of lining the middle section with terry. PUL makes a great bib; food slides right down.

Here is the pattern I used: The only modification is that the cuffs at the arms are a little tight. After making the first one of these, I modified it to make them a little wider. The pocket is amazing at catching food, and having different neck width settings is great at keeping the goodies from sliding down (it stays nice and tight).

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Thin Diaper Cover

This is a diaper cover for prefolds. It is made using the Chloe Toes Side Snapping Cover Pattern (yes, it is purple because it was made as a gift for a girl baby-- there she is, above). It is made out of purple PUL with white fold over elastic (FOE) to bind and elasticize. The snaps are resin snaps, and I put them on using hand-held snap pliers ( This is the front view.
Here is the back view.

Lastly, here is the side view. You can see the snaps better from this view. This is the pattern:

I am including a diaper cover on this blog because we found the diaper cover extremely useful when the baby was younger. We use a lot of thin cloth diapers (plain, one layer cotton Gerbers -- because we change him after one pee. This is so he doesn't get used to the feeling of wetness and notices when he is wet. The theory is that it helps enforce the feedback loop of pee makes me wet and uncomfortable if they never sit in a wet diaper (or as rarely as possible).

When he was really little, we took him out in disposable diapers and used a cloth diaper at home. But then our confidence got higher is using cloth outside of the house when we realized how easy it is to use a cover like this one. The PUL is really thin, so he could still wear clothes without getting a huge bottom (like he did in our fleece diaper covers).

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Lightweight Pants With Training Insert

I love the new trend towards covering up babies with clothing rather than sunscreen. The problem is that the clothing needs to be light enough to keep the baby from getting too hot.
These pants are my solution.
They are made of lightweight cotton.

In the middle of the pant, I added a soaker (made of 4 layers of flannel and lined with PUL, but you could use Zorb instead of 3 layers of the flannel). The soaker is loose, and sewn in at the waistband in the front and the back of the pants. This is so you don't see the seams.

You could modify this idea by putting snaps on the soaker and making a number of them to snap in and out of the pants.

I got the idea from the wool-in-two pattern here, and used it as the soaker shape. I used this pants pattern: I decided to sew it in instead of snapping in and out because the pants are so thin that they invariably get wet with a pee miss, and I like to use a lot of the items I am making (funny reason, I guess, but true).
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Friday, June 19, 2009

Elastic-waist Baby Pants

These pants are nice and loose and have a hidden waist seam. They are really easy to make and look good on most babies (I have made and given away some pairs of them as well). This pair is made out of swimsuit material, which makes surprisingly cute and functional baby pants.
This is made out of a maternity dress that never quite looked right.
I started making these pants because there are some places a baby needs to wear closed-crotch pants to. They actually fit over diapers, or can be worn alone.

The ones made out of terry are great for after swim class, when he is not quite dry but a little bit cold.

Here is the pattern I used:
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Split Crotch Pants

So I read about split-crotch pants and decided I needed to give them a try when I found what looked to be a super-easy pattern to make them. It was as easy as it looked, and my production began.
What is really great about split-crotch pants is that the baby stays warm, even his bottom. You can give him as many pottytunities as you want/ you think he is telling you he needs, and not worry about constantly pulling pants up and down. You just hold him and make sure the crotch is open when his legs are open over the potty.
This penguin pair was my favorite.
I guess leaving him shirtless defeated the purpose of staying warm in the pants!!??!!
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Piddle Pads

This was the first piddle pad. It has fleece on the top from JoAnn's remnant bin, a cut-up towel in the middle, and vinyl like would be used for an outdoor tablecloth on the bottom. The fleece is to keep the baby feeling dry-- it "wicks," or takes the moisture from the top and away. The towel is to hold the moisture-- it acts as a soaker layer. The vinyl is to keep the moisture away from the floor. It is bound with old boxing hand wraps that I didn't like for boxing class. To make it, we (Aron helped with this one) quilted the materials together, then added the binding afterwards. We did it upside-down so we could follow the lines of the vinyl pattern. It has been a great play mat because the vinyl is heavy and makes the mat stay in one place (this worked until the baby got mobile! oh well). It did not work as an under mat for sleeping because the vinyl smells funny and doesn't breathe.

This mat is a sleeping mat. It is fleece, then terry, then PUL. PUL is a breathable waterproof material that is commonly used in cloth diaper-making. This was made in two stages-- one to sew the fleece and terry together, and one to add the PUL. The PUL is rolled over the top and sewn from the top. This looks nice, but makes for a hard edge when sleeping on top of it.

This mat is also a sleeping mat. It is made of fleece, terry, and PUL. This fleece is quilted together from scraps from other projects. It was made in two stages as well. The first stage was to sew the fleece and terry together using a turn and topstich method. The second stage was to add the PUL. To do this, I ironed a hem onto the PUL (it sticks to itself when ironed). Then I sewed it just inside the edge of the other piece. It works, but would be better if the waterproofing went all the way to the edges! But it is nice to sleep on, and doesn't hurt when you end up rollong onto it in the middle of the night-- the edge is nice and smooth.

If you are thinking of making a piddle pad, you need three layers. Fleece works well as the wicking layer, as would microfleece or suedecloth. The absorbant soaker layer could be terry, flannel, or Wazoodle makes a fabric called Zorb which is highly absorbant and thin. The waterproof layer could be PUL or vinyl or anything else you could think of. Sleeping pads tend to be smaller than play mats or naked time mats. It helps to quilt the mat so the soaker doesn't move around. Ideally, you would quilt it before sewing the absorbant layer on, since seams often compromise the waterpoofness of waterproof materials.
Since making these mats, someone showed me this website. They make cheap pads, and their seconds are supposedly quite nice: by Picasa.
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EC in Action

Henry was 3 weeks old here. We started doing EC ("Elimination Communication" aka infant potty training or Diaper-Free Baby) when his circumcision cut healed. With our next baby, I want to start even earlier. It is so rewarding to catch his elimination, and helped us realize how much he was paying attention from early on.

In this photo, he was 4 months old. By then, we were catching almost all of his poops and many pees.

We practice EC when we are not at home as well. This was in Mendocino, when Henry was 9 months old. You see him watching his stream.

This is in Hawaii at 9 months. It was around 8 months that we started to consider him "potty trained," aka a graduate. We still have 2-5 pee misses per day, but he is definitely aware of his needs, which is our goal.

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When practicing EC, it is a lot easier to pay attention to the baby's communication when he has a naked bottom.
Because of this, I started sewing items to keep him warm and to keep our house clean! My first project was a piddle pad for the bed which ended up being a terrible bed mat but a great play mat (it was too heavy for the bed). The next project was split-crotch pants. My renewed interest in sewing and my childhood idea of "Nicolle's Originals" grew out of this renewal.
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Life's A Dream and Bonaire Trip (2007)

In April/ May of 2007, we spent nearly a month on a friend's boat named "Life's a Dream." This was our last trip before starting to make a family.

We met a friend and crew, including his son, in Trinidad and Tobago and had planned to travel with them for a month and end up going through the Panama Canal.

After island-hopping for a few weeks around the Caribbean, we ended up on Bonaire. After one SCUBA dive, we were hooked! It was glorious! So we left the boat and stayed in a studio hotel for 10 days, diving and relaxing.

It was a great trip, and the perfect end to our child-less days.

Our friend's son is still on the boat and is chronicling his journey here:
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Wedding! (2006)

Here are Aron and I at our wedding! This was in 2006.
It was a great event and I ended up with a great husband.
Lucky me.

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