Sunday, May 29, 2011

Made a wet bag without a pattern or tutorial

I had this orange PUL wet bag from when our son was little. I was looking through our things, and realized that I probably will need a bigger one this time, since we won't have the first month or two in disposables, and that the littlest ones go through a LOT of diapers quickly.

So I modeled my new purple wet bag on the orange one.

To make it, I found a long zipper in my collection (my collection came from Vogue Fabrics online). I measured the zipper length against a piece of PUL, and folded it over and eyeballed how big I wanted my bag. I added an inch on each side of the zipper for the seams.

To stitch the bag, I attached the zipper on both sides, making a loop of PUL. I topstitched from the front (after attaching it from the back). I attached my label. Then I opened the zipper part-way to use as a turning hole, and lined up the sides. I pinned both sides an inch down from the top (so I could leave the zipper on the front instead of the top of the bag). I stitched down both sides.

It is a bit bigger of a bag than expected, but I have no doubts it will come in handy, but maybe only for longer journeys.
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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pattern review: 241 Tote from Noodlehead

I couldn't resist making this cute 241 Tote from Noodlehead.  The side pockets, and diagonal front zipper/s seemed so cute, and I liked the idea of using a variety of patterns in one bag.

To make the exterior of this bag, I used the leftover bottom of our Ikea curtains as the main body fabric.  It is heavy linen.  I liked the example bags with the strap the same color as the side pieces, so I did the same.  The purple is a corduroy remnant, and the green striped fabric is a fat quarter from Moda Bake Shop.  The side pockets are lined with the green fabric as well.  I used thin fusible interfacing on the exterior pieces.

I used a 7" zipper on the front instead of the 5" she calls for, and only did one pocket instead of two on the outside.  The outside pocket is lined with the purple corduroy, although I like her suggestion to use the top layer of the zipper pocket in the main body fabric so it won't peek through.  Unfortunately, this suggestion was buried far along in the directions instead of in the cutting instructions at the beginning-- and I didn't go back and re-cut.

The only other modification I did with the exterior of the bag was to stitch the pocket lining opposite side onto the seam allowance opposite of the zipper.  I did this thinking that any heavy items in the pocket would cause the bag to bow and hang oddly when full.

The exterior instructions were easy enough to follow and her photos were excellent.  Instead of pinning the side and main body pieces as she suggested, I pinned the bottom of the curve and sewed up from it in both directions.  I wanted to make sure it fit together and matched at the top.  Topstitching around this seam where the side and main body pieces attach was a bit tight around the machine, but do-able.

The darts on the bottom were a bit of a challenge, and only so because I rarely do darts and wasn't sure if I should mark them on the front or back of the fabric, and they were so small that I felt like there was little room for error (the ones I have done in the past have been marked with pins, and these were too small to do that).  I was impressed that the pattern pieces fit together so nicely when stitched.

 For the interior, I decided to use waterproof fabrics.  I am forever carrying snacks, and wanted the lining to be easily washable.  I used some PUL scraps for the main body, sides, and I also added side pockets out of PUL.  I added snaps to these side pockets because they were cut from the exterior pattern (and not included on her pattern), and flopped around a little on the inside.

The interior patch pocket is the corduroy and green striped fabrics from the exterior, and I added a key fob on the corduroy.   To attach the key fob, I cut a 2" by 4" piece of fabric, folded it in half and half again (like the strap but thinner) and tucked in the ends.  Then I topstitched around the whole thing. I threaded it through the key fob and attached it right above the top of the patch pocket using a box stitch.  I attached it there because sometimes I like to have my keys in the patch pocket so they don't get caught anywhere, but I still want them to be in a specific place.

I added a zipper pocket to the other side of the interior, using a 7" zipper and the pocket is lined with the green striped fabric.  I angled it, using the exterior directions, because the main body was too short to handle a 7" zipper and anything shorter than 7" is too short to be really useful to me on the inside of a bag.  Now that I am thinking about it, maybe next time I will do the zipper straight, and after the side pieces are attached.  This would allow the zipper to use some of the width from the side pieces and the pocket's contents would be sure to hang straight and flat.

When constructing the interior, I skipped the darts.  I thought they were too much effort and didn't make a difference in the lining.  She doesn't say whether or not to topstitch the main body and side pieces together so I skipped it, not wanting to pierce the PUL too much.

When attaching the strap, her directions are clear.  I stitched it on instead of pinning it, though, because it was easier for me than having pins there, and straps can always use some extra strength.  I also find that if I do it this way, they are more likely to hang straight.

I didn't follow her instructions at all in connecting the interior and exterior pieces together.  She has you leave a seam in the bottom of the lining and topstitch it closed after, and I HATE how this looks on the inside of a bag.  So instead I tucked the outside (and strap) into the inside, right sides together, making sure the pockets of each were in relation to each other as I intended (i.e. fronts and backs in the right places).  Then I stitched around the top, leaving a hole for turning which was as wide as the main body on one side.  I made sure to go over the straps a few times when I came across them.  I then pulled the bag right side out through the hole.  Then I finger-pressed it and topstitched the bag, closing the turning hole as I passed it.

This bag is a bit smaller than it looks in the photos, but it hangs at a nice level and it has so many pockets and is so cute that I am sure it will get a lot of use.  Also, it was really fun to make.  I am looking forward to making another!
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Update: After using the bag, the interior zipper's angle is too odd and difficult to reach when full.  Also, the bag is too small... I will need to print it at 125% for the next one... shown here...
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Too Tight Waistband on Underwear - Problem Solved!

Real conversation with almost 3 year old son:
Me: Why don't you want to wear underwear?  You told me you like the colors.
Him: Too tight.
Me: In the legs, or the waist?
Him: The waist, Mommy. I like the ones you make.

Then it occurred to me that he is used to wearing pants that are loose and soft around the waist, and maybe the Old Navy underwear waistband was too constricting.
So it was back to the sewing table for us.  I recently got lazy/ interested in bags and new baby sewing and decided not to make my growing child an entire stash of 4T underwear to replace the 2T that were now too small.  I bought some Old Navy underwear and they weren't cutting it.

So he and I sat down, and ripped the waistband off a pair of his new underwear.  I replaced it with a piece of lycra, sewn on like his pant waistbands are done (like in this pants tutorial).

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Kids' Cooking Idea: Roasted Vegetables

To make roasted veggies with your progeny, first cut veggies into bite sized pieces.

We do 1/4" circles for root  vegetables like parsnips, sweet potatoes, and Russet potatoes.  Red potatoes get quartered.  Asparagus and carrots go whole.  Onions get quartered.  Cauliflower and broccoli are best if first steamed (we do florets but only because they are easier to eat that way), but can also be used directly.  Beets get cut in half twice, then sliced thin.

I let my son organize the veggies onto the parchment paper covered cookie sheets, and occasionally cut some.  He likes to cut the tops and bottoms off carrots especially.

Then comes the fun part.  He gets the pastry brush and I put olive oil into a small container (I fill a 1/4 cup measuring cup halfway per cookie sheet).  Then he gets to paint the veggies.

Then I sprinkle them with sea salt (we love the red Hawaiian sea salt or bamboo jade sea salt)~ about half a teaspoon per cookie sheet.

Then they go into a preheated 350 degree oven for an hour.

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Car Seat Blanket (for under child) - from Running with Scissors' Blog

I had thought this car seat blanket was a fabulous idea because the blankets we bring into the car are constantly being dropped.
But as soon as I tried it in the car with the little guy, he made a horrendous face and wanted OUT.

So perhaps it is better suited to little babies, like she shows in the tutorial.
Speaking of the tutorial, I found it easy to follow and use.  The only part that was unclear was in the original cutting instructions, when she specifies the length but not the width of the fabric.  It is also really big, so there is a lot of fabric to negotiate around the cutting table and sewing machine.

You can see I used FOE (fold over elastic) instead of binding.  I used flannel on the outside and white microfleece on the inside.  For a baby, a nice improvement may be to make it into a car swaddle blanket by attaching velcro on the parts that fold over, or snaps, or by tucking one end into the other.
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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

DIY BabyLegs from Ladies' Socks

Baby legs/ baby leg warmers/ huggalugs are awesome.  Not only are they good for babies' legs as leg warmers that don't need to be removed for pottying/ diaper changes, but we have been using them as arm warmers on our toddler's arms.  It is cool in the mornings but heats up, so they are great for using with a t-shirt in the morning, then he can take them off "all by self" when he gets hot.  Brilliant!

BUT- at $10 each, they are a bit pricey.  We did well with four pairs, but as toddler "baby arms" they actually get a little more dirty than they did as "baby legs."  Go figure.

This was also quite possibly the quickest conversion I have done.  I followed this tutorial and each pair took five minutes, including getting the camera to take a photo.  I used socks I had been given as a gift and never wore, so I didn't even have to make it to the store.  So easy!  I may have to add this to my infant gift bundle repertoire.

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How to Get Toddler to Wear a Sun Hat

We Loved this Hat

...and have high hopes for this one...

The blue hat pictured here was a consignment store find, Old Navy brand, size 2T, which was purchased when the little guy was around 6 months old.  Its best feature is the velcro pocket in the front, which we put almonds in.  Hence the hat's name, "The Almond Hattie."  It was also semi-lightweight, so he never complained about wearing it.  Why would he, when his snack of choice was always close at hand?

Sadly, he is now almost 3 and the reality is that the hat is too small.  I tried to re-create it and failed.  So I went to Old Navy on the Internet and bought a similar hat.  He refused to wear it because it was too heavy.  I returned it.  Then we went to Target and looked in the kids' section and there was nothing without a crazy design on it.  The infant section had some nice hats, but they were all one size and that size was too small.  The ladies' department had a cute cowboy hat that was a bit big for him and fit me perfectly, so now I was up one hat and he was up zero.  It also had some adjustable plain visors, so I got him a black one (I wear one that is a fixed size and too big for him, so at least now he can have his own).  He will wear the visor if I sneak it on him, but it is a tad too big so falls into his face sometimes.

We hit pay dirt in the men's department at Target, though.  The hat pictured here (sans pocket) came is two sizes, so the smaller one just fits.  It had an adjustable strap the little guy made me take off, and a neck strap he also made me remove.  He made me add an almond pocket with a snap instead of velcro.  It works a little less well than I had imagined and hoped it would.  The pocket is a little wide to keep the almonds in all the time, and the snap is set pretty tightly and is a bit hard for him to do without help.  BUT he keeps it on for periods of time, which is an improvement.  Plus, it is adult sized so if he gets used to it, we won't have to get him another hat. Ever.

The moral of the story was here somewhere... ah, yes.  The almond pocket.  That is the way we get our child to wear a sun hat.  Now we just need to perfect the hat itself...
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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pregnancy and Babywearing

Wearing your baby or toddler during pregnancy is possible.  There are some modifications that are recommended to keep the pressure off of the growing uterus.
30 weeks pregnant using an Ergo
Using a soft structured carrier like the Ergo, Scootababy, Boba, and the like is possible using the back and hip carries.  With these, the waistband needs to be below the uterus.  I found these to be most comfortable (especially the Ergo on the back), although my stamina for carrying my toddler is much less than it used to be, since he and I are both growing.

30 weeks pregnant using a homemade Mei Tai
Using a Mei Tai is another alternative, especially if the baby is low in the belly.  A modification of the traditional rucksack carry is to tie the waistband and shoulder straps above the abdomen instead of below.  This shifts most of the weight to the shoulders, which gets a bit heavy for me (and my 35-lb child), but may be more comfortable with a lighter child.
17 weeks pregnant using a Scootababy

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Monday, May 9, 2011

Maternity Bathing Suit Bottom/ Bikram Shorts - Waistband Remodeling

So this is a pair of Athleta boy shorts' bathing suit bottom. I have had them for while, and they never quite fit right-- the waistband was too tight and the rise too long. Making them into maternity bottoms is the perfect fix.

To do this, I cut off the tight top piece of elastic (about 3/4" elastic). Then I chose a piece of lycra and measured it to fit the waistband without a stretch (knowing the shorts fit tightly enough to stay up on their own!). I cut this piece 5" wide.

Then I folded the additional piece in half, and matched raw edges with the material facing down and right sides together. I used a stretch stitch to attach it, then faux-serged the edges with a wide zig-zag off the edge. Then I folded it up and stitched two lines of straight stitching on the new material side to help it match the original shorts (they were done with all double-stitching).

Viola! I can wear these to swim... or for Bikram Maternity Shorts!

p.s. After trying these at Yoga, I am so excited about them.  It is so nice to have shorts that fit and don't need to be adjusted after every asana.  Maybe there is logic behind maternity clothes...
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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Expandable Market Tote (not a fabric basket)

I had originally meant to make a fabric basket.  I found a few tutorials online and measured where I wanted it to go, and settled on this tutorial from the Stitchin' Chicken. It took a while to make the pattern the right size (for an 8" by 16" basket) and settle into making it before I realized I didn't have thick enough interfacing to make it stand up tall.  I had thought a few runs with the iron would suffice, but was wrong.

So I decided to make my basket into an expandable tote bag.

Since I had already closed the top, I made straps and attached them to the exterior of the fabric with a box stitch (had I intended to do this project, I would have hidden them inside the seam from the start).  I also added a snap to the center.

I added a cell phone/ credit card pocket on the outside with a snap.  Had I intended to do this project from the start, I would have added a zipper pocket into the lining, and put the cell pocket on the interior or exterior, and added a key fob.  But I didn't want the stitching all over the place, so went simpler with the pockets on this bag.

It is expandable because of a snap on each side.  The snaps are placed an inch in from the side seams and an inch down from the top seam.  Having these snaps also give the bag a bit more form when closed.

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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Innovation: Bath Time is not part of Bedtime Routine

I have read about those babies and children; you know, the ones who sit in the bath and it helps calm them down.  The ones whose bath signals a time to be calm and relax, and the end of the day is near.

My child is not one of them.  At 2.5 years old, bath has always been a fun activity.  Or, more than fun, it has not been calming.  Some nights there is a struggle to get in, then he has fun and it is a struggle to get out.  Then he is revved up for whatever is next.

Yet we persevered.   Everyone said to bathe as the first step of the bedtime routine, so we did.


Switching bath time to other times of day, even to before dinner if that is the only available time, has been great for us.  He can play and play, and take advantage of the energy burst that the bath gives him.  We also don't have to skip it if we are running late or he is exhausted (it has always seemed counterproductive on those nights anyway).

Yesterday afternoon, it was HOT (86 degrees), so we took a bath in a bucket outside.  He spent the time shrieking and running in and out of the "tub," hiding a toy under the bubbles then finding it again.

If you try it, let me know how it goes! Pin It


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