Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Easy Does It

I love my Ergo carrier (I bought it when Laddie was born, and have used it with him and Scout), but I do not love my babies' proclivity to chew on the shoulder straps. This is not a unique problem, as even a brief search for "Ergo teething/drool pads" will show! Tired of either washing my carrier too often (not good for longevity) or having dried slobber (or even spit up... yuck) all over the straps, I decided to make a pair of my own.

I traced the outline of the strap onto some paper, added some seam allowance, and got to work. Using some scraps of Scout's crib sheet/changing pad cover fabric, plus an unused terry washcloth as the backing, I stitched up a quick set of strap protectors. 

These were so simple that I'm wondering why I didn't try this sooner! There are some free patterns available should you need one, but I was happier with my self-drafted version. Now when they got soiled, it's a simple matter of unsnapping the pads and throwing them in the wash.

Sometimes, easy does it best!

Monday, March 12, 2018


It's a never-ending quest -- pants big enough to fit my extra-large baby and his even larger cloth-diapered bum! Poor Scout has been squished into his trousers on more than one occasion. Quite honestly, even without the cloth diapers, his rolly polly thighs make the whole pants thing quite a challenge. And even if I get him into his pants, the waistband rarely makes it up over his diaper!

Happily, roomy pants (usually the European harem variety) have been gaining in popularity. Unhappily, they are generally sold by higher-end retailers. And that's where some wrapping paper, a few measurements, and a sewing machine come into play.

If I had it to do again, I'd have placed the (totally unnecessary) pocket a little higher. Live and learn!)

Some fawn-colored corduroy with a bit of stretch (purchased for another project but no longer needed) seemed just right, so I set to work drafting a pattern -- for the record, there are a number of free or inexpensive harem pants patterns on the Interwebs, but most are for knit fabrics. Besides, where's the fun in having a pattern all ready to go?! Okay, there is a certain appeal to that...

The pattern didn't take long, though, and the whole project came together quite quickly. They were a bit long at first (I tend to overestimate, because I'm terrified of making something that's too small!), but he's grown into them a bit since these photos were taken.

I don't know if Scout appreciates the extra room, but they seem like they'd be more comfortable! I love the baby wale corduroy, too -- soft, but still a bit structured.

I've got some dungarees from a recycled men's sweater underway, and I suppose I should finish those up before the weather turns warm!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Walk (or crawl) a Mile in Your Moccasins

When a couple in our church were about to welcome a new baby to their family, I decided to pull out the leather. Perfect time to try some baby moccasins! I used the Darling Diapers free mini moc pattern, and adjusted it to make a fringed moccasin (with no linings). I used some black leather cord instead of elastic. Hopefully these will fit the little guy they're intended for when he gets bigger -- I can't remember which size I cut out, but they came out a tad larger than expected. They're completely hand-stitched, because I find that to be a much more reliable way of construction. My machine doesn't always like leather...

And now you need a gratuitous photo of Scout's little tootsies. Oh, how I love sweet, sweet baby toes! Granted, Scout's toes are on a slightly larger scale than the average baby, but they're still delightful and squidgy. 

Would you believe that I still haven't made Scout a single pair of leather shoes since his birth? That's something I hope to remedy soon, but... you know how it goes.

Thursday, March 08, 2018


Almost Spring -- after an unintentional hiatus, driven by the flurry of holiday bustle (so much sewing!) and the reality of life with four littles (we've had three birthdays since my last post), I'm feeling the itch to revisit this little space. I think I'd have been back sooner, if there wasn't a feeling of where to start? Or re-start, rather!

But perhaps it's the perfect time to restart, just as the world around me is doing the same. Camellias and daffodils, always the earliest bloomers here, are in a profusion of glory. Flowering trees are abundant, too. We've started walking at a nearby trail that I've rarely explored in the past. A variety of circumstances led me to try it out, and it's been lovely! A paved path meanders around a lake, with little side trails now and then that meet up with the path later on -- perfect for adventurous (or timid!) littles to practice some independence.

If we've brought a book, we'll cozy up on one of the benches and read aloud. Scout takes it all in with his round, blue eyes as his older siblings scamper about. Laddie's usually lagging behind a bit (short little legs!), but his expanding vocabulary makes him quite an amusing companion.

And the trip is not complete without a visit to some of the lake's reptilian inhabitants! A few invariably slip off to the safety of the water when we approach, but the rest are remarkably still. Even when my children are lobbing sweet gum pods at them...

I have such a backlog of sewing projects to share that I'll probably have to pick the highlights to share over my next posts. I never feel like I have much time to sew, but when I look back I realize that I've managed to finish quite a few projects over the past few months. I think that's more to do with years of experience increasing my speed than my having hours of leisure time! We've managed to (finally) complete a few furniture projects around the house, which I hope to share, too.

But now I'm off to mediate between some bickering hens. As if I needed more creatures to "mother!"

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Mister Mossy

I'm not quite sure if this project falls under "success" or "failure!" A little bit of both, perhaps?

 I've had the free "Miss Mossy" patterns by DROPS in my favorite for ages, and thought that a new baby was the perfect opportunity to try it out (even though the name would indicate that it's for girls -- hopefully remedied by a masculine tweed yarn). But the pattern runs huge! After knitting a few rows, I reduced the size considerably -- even though I was making the 1-3 months size, based on other comments that it ran large. I don't like my babies swimming in knitwear, after all. With Scout due in July, I estimated what a 6 month size would be in ready-to-wear. I also changed which side the buttonholes were on to be suitable for a boy, and added a second row of buttons.

However, two things happened -- I miscalculated how much yarn I'd need, and Scout was not the 7-8 lb baby that I thought he'd be (after three siblings in the 7.25-7.75 lb range, I think I was justified in assuming he'd be at least close to that)! I was already half-way through, so after much hemming and hawing I finished the sweater -- which was the only way to find out if I had enough yarn. But that meant "skimping" on the sleeve area so I'd have enough yarn to finish, and even with that I had to change the neckline finish due to insufficient yarn. The sleeves seem a bit snug, and will probably have to be worn with only a short-sleeve layer underneath -- but then again, the whole thing might be a bit snug by the time it cools off enough for my little guy to wear this!

I might frog it after he's worn it a few times (can't bear to have done all that work for nothing!) and use the yarn for something else. Not the outcome I was hoping for... I could save it in case we have another baby who's the right size to wear it during winter -- but that seems a bit "specific." Fortunately, it was a relatively simple and small project, so it wasn't a huge time investment. Nothing like practice, right? *sigh* Come to think of it, it could make a really nice winter vest.

Overall, I really liked the pattern! I love the understated design, and it's not difficult to knit. I'd love to try it again in future. That'll teach me to pay attention to yardage requirements in future. Also, I really should work on my seaming techniques, since I don't want to knit everything in the round. The yarn is Knit Picks City Tweed DK in "Toad." It's lovely, lovely.

 After a rather stressful project, I needed something more relaxing -- and with three leftover skeins of worsted-weight yarn from my White Pine Cardigan (which I'll get to wear again soon! Yay!), I set to work on a hat and some fingerless mitts. Very rewarding and quick projects! I'll be sharing them soon -- I think the cooler weather has me itching to do more knitting.

Raveled here.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

All Laced Up

"Operation Stashbust" has resulted in projects of various sizes, shapes, and varieties -- for instance, a toasty top for Rosa to wear this fall and winter. 

This cotton "sweatshirt" fabric has seen many incarnations. Originally it was used for Rosa and Laddie's Christmas pajama pants two years ago, and more recently for pajama pants for Little Man. But it was time to get out of the pajama rut, don't ya think?

I'd been toying with the idea of including lace in a "sweatshirt" design, and decided this was the perfect opportunity! I pulled out some Cluny lace from my stash (I'd actually used the ruffled Cluny lace for a skirt years ago, and then harvested it when the skirt wore out), and got to work. I drafted a pattern sloper for a raglan-sleeve top/dress a while ago (which I've used for everything from nightgowns to dresses), so I used that for this top. And, of course, what's a new top without a matching hair bow?

I had to get creative with the sleeves, because after making Little Man's pajama pants I ended up just short of enough fabric to cut them out -- instead, I divided the sleeve pattern down the middle, attached each sleeve piece with a strip of fusible interfacing, used my widest zig-zag stitch to connect them more permanently, and then topstitched the lace down the center of each sleeve. It worked out quite nicely! Necessity really is the mother of invention, it would seem.

To attach the lace to the hem, I marked my hem and figured out where the lace would need to be to have the proper "clearance." I then stitched the lace right-sides-together to the shirt before hemming, and then hemmed the shirt. The result is a normal hem (rather than attaching the lace at the hem line and ending up with either an awkwardly narrow hem, or very little lace showing). I think my lace was stitched on about half an inch away from the edge of the shirt. I don't know if that makes much sense, but there you go!

I can't wait for the weather to cool down so Rosa can wear her new top -- she's pretty excited about the matching hair bow. And I'm thrilled to have a little less in the stash!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Sleep Light

After the success of my first modified Peanut Swaddler (thank you, Toni, for the fabulous free pattern!), I knew I'd need at least one more. At this point, a load of laundry can't make it through the washer and dryer before it's time for another nap! Scout ends up kind of sweaty with the extra knit layer (though it will probably be perfect for winter), so I used some stash double gauze from JoAnn's for a lighter, cooler version of the swaddler. 

I used the same modified pattern as before (with the extended arm area and additional leg length/room), but enlarged it even more to account for the lack of stretch.

Rather than have either fraying or serged seam allowance on the inside, I sewed it wrong sides together and then bound the edge with a thin cotton bias strip. 

Again, I am totally in love with the 2-way zipper! This one feature blue pulls, because I used the white pull that belongs to this zipper tape on my other sleep sack, and the only other zippers I had in my stash with pulls that would work were both blue. I extended the zipper all the way to the end of the sack (the pattern calls for stopping it before the bottom), stitched over it when I sewed the front and back together, and then bound the edge in bias tape. I then did the same for the neck edge.

 Considering how simple and inexpensive these are, I'm glad I resisted the impulse to shell out for a "real" swaddle/sleep sack (it's amazing how many reviews on Amazon started with "I purchased this in the middle of the night out of desperation!"). Even counting the original cost of the stash materials, the knit sleep sack cost less than $3, and this one cost less than $5. They're also a cinch to make, partly because design and construction are simple, and partly because I'm not as concerned about the final appearance of something that will only be used while Scout is sleeping.

And considering how well they are working, I'm also glad I gave them a shot! I've never had a baby sleep over 7 hours a night at 7 weeks old before (I usually wake up in the morning before he does!), and while that may be partly due to a number of factors (white noise machine, bigger/gestationally older baby, and actually sticking to a [flexible] schedule better than with my other babies), I'm convinced the sleep sacks have contributed.

I love it when a project is immediately useful! Though when I look at the rolls (upon rolls!) in that picture of Scout, I have a feeling I'll be making these a size up shortly...

Monday, September 18, 2017

Out of Doors

There's nothing like a good walk out of doors, is there? Especially on a day that has a hint of fall in the air. Especially with the four dearest little people in my life.

Even in death there is beauty -- decay brings forth new life, literally lifting up the forest floor in its enthusiasm.

Light plays on the water, and then among the leaves -- it was one of the Littles who noticed the reflection of the water dancing on the undersides of the leaves overhead, as we lingered by the lake.

We're studying botany for school this year, so one of our favorite haunts for an outdoor jaunt is also rife with opportunity. "Is that an angiosperm or a gymnosperm? Is this plant vascular or non-vascular? What is botany?" I've always like English, history, and math more than science, so I'm having a good brush-up by teaching the Littles -- another benefit of homeschooling!

We also sighted some dragons (apparently -- I never caught a glimpse, sadly), spent quite a bit of time waiting for Laddie to catch up, and (in Scout's case) had a nice nap.

There's an egret perched in some dead branches -- can you spot him?
With Scout out and my six weeks of "taking it easy" complete, I'm savoring my rediscovered energy and plain ol' ability to move (I was so huge at the end of my pregnancy that I couldn't manage much more than a waddle!). It's going to be a lovely Autumn.