Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Clothes

I made matching pajama pants for Lil Hoot and I for Christmas - because I found some great fabric (Smores from Moda Fabrics by Me and My Sister Designs) and had enough to make us both a pair. Nothing fancy and no real 'pattern' - just found some instructions for how to make them based on what I already own. It was a real learning process and next year's pants will be much better, I'm sure. Plus - I hope to not be sewing them up on Christmas Eve.
I also made Lil Hoot a Christmas dress. Poor girl didn't have a single dress in her closet and I wanted something fun and funky, fitting for her personality (and mine) for Christmas. First I searched around here for fabrics in craft and quilting stores but found nothing...and then it dawned on me - duh - search Etsy! So I found some GREAT fabric (Be Merry by Riley Blake from My Mind's Eye) at Fabrics I Love (Gina is great to work with by the way). Lil Hoot's dress is fully lined because I didn't want any seams to show. It was also my first time to make my own piping and bias tape. I did so because I wanted to use the snowflake fabric from the same line.

My Sister's Purse

Much of what I have been working on since November has been for gifts so I haven't been able to post pictures. Now though...I can! sister's purse. I started off with Made By Rae's Buttercup Bag pattern but quickly made several changes. First, I changed the fold of the pleats. Then, I added the ribbon, omitted the button flap, widened the bag with the addition of the velvet, and lengthened the straps (because my sister is tall). I did the straps how I always do them with the technique I posted previously, added ribbon to the strap and did a decorative stitch on that.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Lil Hoot's Ear Flap Hat

I used this pattern - Drops Hat in 2 threads - with a 100% wool (washable). It's knit with a double strand so it makes a nice thick fabric that blocks the wind and holds in all her heat.
Perfect for chilly morning walks when only her head is poking out from the Moby wrap and fleece jacket. I left off the strings from the ear flaps for now...maybe I will add them later. I haven't decided. It is still a bit big though so if she happens to be in the stroller then it has a tendency to slide over her eyes. I made the larger size on purpose though since the fabric is so thick and tightly knit it decreases the amount of stretch.
Even still, this hat should easily fit until the end of Spring.

In use on a sunny, but windy kind of day.

Many thanks to Forest (and his Momma) who inspired me to knit an ear flap hat for Lil Hoot.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Making Baby Food

This is my current research topic. Lil Hoot will be 4 months next week and just around the bend will be starting 'solid' foods. She won't be ready next week but I'm prepping for her to be ready sometime between 5-6 months. We will be discussing it with her doctor just in case she is ready to start before her 6 month appointment. main source of information has been Super Baby Food but I have also read The Baby Food Bible and several baby food "cook books".

In all honesty, I'm pretty overwhelmed by the amount of information and guidelines. I understand why people decide it's too complex to feed their baby homemade food. But then I think, I manage to feed myself everyday and I will manage to feed her table food as a child, shouldn't I be able to figure out how to feed her as an infant too?

So here are my questions - did you make food yourself? If so, what did you make? How did you start out and when? Please share with me any tips or tricks that I need to know!

ETA: Do you have recommendations for utensils, sippy cups, dishes, storage containers, etc.? Please share!

Thanks in advance!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Before I Became a Mom

Prior to being Lil Hoot's Mom I couldn't truly understand (despite having been told)...

  • the importance of nap times
  • the challenge of breastfeeding
  • how difficult cloth diapering could be
  • being insecure and indecisive so often
  • what to do all day with an infant
But now...

  • I do everything I can to make sure Lil Hoot gets her naps
  • we spent 5 weeks getting breastfeeding right
  • we are still trying to fit into cloth diapers
  • I pray constantly for confidence
  • I could watch her play or sleep or eat for hours
Other things I've noticed...

  • I never wear shoes
  • My back always aches
  • I'm the first to clean up bodily fluids - poo, pee, puke, you name it - and the last one to get the chance to eat
  • No matter how hard I try, I never make it to bed early

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Make-shift Mobile

Lil Hoot's room has been void of anything other than necessities until recently. Once she started sleeping in the room for naps I decided that it would probably be nice to put some things in it for her to look at, especially when she decided that she wanted to talk herself to sleep in her crib rather than have me soothe her to sleep. So I finally got the artwork done that I'd been planning for about 8 months (I'll post on that later) and decided to find something to make a simple mobile.

We had some stuffed animals left over from her pack 'n' play which came with a play gym that she never liked so I swiped those, bought a wooden star and sunshine at Michael's, painted them with some Folk Art paints and strung it all together with a cheap ribbon from Wal-Mart. It's not the fanciest and it does lean a bit to one side, but she thinks it's fun and spends a bit of time babbling at the animals. I'm sure glad she's not too picky!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Puppet Time!

We noticed some time ago that Lil Hoot will pay attention to our hands acting as puppets even without having a real puppet. I started searching for puppets, and not dinky little finger puppets, no I wanted a real hand puppet. I figured it couldn't be too hard to make one and I haven't had any luck finding one in a store so.... I searched the net for how to make a puppet and found this great tutorial on eHow - How to Make Puppets Of course, I added my own touches and changed a few things based on the materials I had available. The first puppet is certainly a bit...uh..."special", but the first one is always the worst one and Lil Hoot isn't picky. The second puppet I had a better idea of how things come together. I was a bit more careful and just generally took more time to make things symmetrical.

Matt had fun voicing the puppets!

Lil Hoot wasn't sure what to think, but she likes the orange one's hair.

Now, I don't think these puppets will work well for toddlers or kiddos - they're held together primarily with hot glue and the mouth is cardboard. If I want to make a more lasting puppet then I'll have to do some more tweaking.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Lil Hoot's Boheme Sweater

I just finished up this sweater - Boheme. I used the 6 month size pattern but my gauge is tighter than hers so it's smaller than intended, which works well for me since Lil Hoot is on the tiny side. I followed the pattern word for word until the bind off. I didn't want to do a picot edge so I searched the internet for a crochet scallop and did that instead. I had the the dragonfly buttons in my stash and had been dying to find something for them!

Lil Pink Kimono Sweater

I knit up this kimono sweater for Lil Hoot in case there were some chilly Spring mornings. However, we moved to Missouri so quickly and it was a rather hot June here so she had no need to wear it. Until last Sunday, when it was a very chilly July morning. To my surprise and delight it's actually still a bit big on her even though I knit it to the newborn size specifications. It looks as though she may still be able to wear it for awhile.

We tried out her other pair of baby booties this week too and, contrary to everything else, they're too small. Actually, they're just too short. Since she has her daddy's long, skinny feet and toes she's going to be needing longer socks, shoes, etc. Only problem about that is they tend to be too big around then, so I guess there will probably be a need for me to make her some more booties and soft-soled shoes for awhile!

I really didn't make too many things for her before she was born. She's slowly growing into the things I have made, so I'll post them from time to time. I'm still crafting here and there, sometimes because it's needed - like curtains for our kitchen - and sometimes just to take a little break from housework and baby raising - like a new fall sweater for Lil Hoot.

Friday, May 15, 2009

How I Became Queen of the Seam Ripper

I have been saying for quite some time now that I would start sewing up some cloth diapers. I researched the possibilities, knowing that I wanted something close to a Fuzzi Bunz or Happy Heinys pocket diaper. While on Ravelry I got a suggestion to try which is run by a work-at-home mom (WAHM) and fellow Raveler. So I priced our the diaper kits as well as buying a pattern, fabric and notions separately and it seemed like it was going to be just as much (if not more) to purchase those items myself (don't forget shipping) and I'd still have to make all the fabric cuts, pre-wash the fabric, cut the notions to size, etc. (Here's the DiaperKit comparison.) Now, I did all this back in January or so, thinking that I would start sewing when it got closer to baby's arrival - perhaps in March. As the time came to order and start sewing though, I kept putting it off. In all honesty, I have been incredibly intimidated by this project - it involves something I have been avoiding for quite awhile now - elastic.

So, here it is mid-May and I finally placed and received my order. I can't say enough good things about Amber and I ordered on Monday and by the end of the week 10 diaper kits were in my mail box. I emailed her about one small issue, received a response almost immediately and it's corrected.

I chose to get the "Small" size since we expect to be in flux for most of the "newborn" stage and don't plan to cloth diaper until we get settled in. I requested both "scraps" and instructions since I'm a first timer. Their website also has tutorials for sewing elastic and creating a pocket diaper rather than an All-in-One. I ordered 9 AIO kits and 1 Pocket kit, just to see the difference. I think I will have to buy more elastic in order to convert all the AIO kits into Pocket diapers, but we shall see.

I read the instructions - three or four times - then watched the video tutorials on elastic, then watched other video tutorials on elastic, then started sewing on the elastic and fabric scraps. It was not pretty. I stitched, then ripped, stitched then ripped, probably half a dozen times until I got it to look somewhat "normal". Then, for the first step on the diaper - the elastic on the "pocket" portion at the back of the diaper. It's sewn within a fold, yet another challenge, but I managed. A few "easy" steps later (straight stitch on the hook'n'loop, hem the edges, etc) and I was back to the velcro - for the legs. I thought it would be easier since it wasn't to be sewn within a fold. Boy was I wrong! I stitched and ripped each side 2-3 times until it came out mostly even. Word to the wise - do NOT change anything from one side to the other (duh). The stretch in my elastic came out slightly different from one leg to the other because I was more comfortable by the time I got to the second leg and was going a bit faster on the machine. Unfortunately a bit faster meant a bit off from the other leg - oops! But by that time, I was d.o.n.e. ripping seams!

And now...PICTURES...keep in mind - this is a first effort...

Here it is all closed up.

And here it is open - note the pocket at the back where it gets stuffed. There are also two tabs on each side so the hook tape will be secured to the loop patches next to it while in the wash and prevent any "velcro chains" or fuzz build up in the hook tape.

I am also making up the "soakers" (stuff that goes inside the diaper to soak up the 'mess'). The kits come along with fabric for sewing those as well. I did one on my machine with a flip/top stitch method, but it's a pain so I'm going to wait until I can use my grandma's serger and just do one overlock stitch to hem them up - MUCH faster and easier (so long as I can figure out how to thread the serger).

And now...on to diaper #2...

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Both my brother and I had small pillows that we loved. I found the corners of mine to be quite chew-able - this was back in the day before "taggies". So, I naturally assumed that baby Hoot should have a pillow as well. I know it will be awhile still before it can be used, but I found some fat quarters that were just perfect for a pillow case!

I decide to purchase a pre-form pillow since they tend to hold shape better than one I'd stuff myself. I made a plain pillow case using some cotton broadcloth I had on hand for a protection layer. Then I used two fat quarters of this fantastic owl fabric that I found at Home Ec Workshop. It's about as simple of a project as you can get I think! It's overlapped in the back to form an easy on-easy off pocket style pillow case. Plus, I have a few scraps left over for some future embroidery plans!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Baby Shoes & Burp Cloths

I have been collecting sewing patterns for quite awhile now but have put off starting any sewing projects. I kept telling myself not to make a mess with sewing stuff until the house was packed. Well, the house was packed and I had a baby shower coming up so I decided to tackle some of the new patterns I discovered. (Thanks to the ladies on Ravelry mostly.)

First, I made up a set of four burp cloths -
From Projects

I read this pattern to get ideas but quickly made up something I preferred. I didn't like the idea of the raw, frayed edges. I prefer a cleaner look and I didn't like the thought of baby spit up on a frayed edge (ew), so I decided to try two things - a top-stitched edge and bias tape. I used a shaped burp cloth that I had on hand for a "pattern" and just traced it onto the flannel. It would be better to trace onto paper but I didn't have any of the right size on hand, so my cloths weren't as symmetrical as I would have liked. Those that I sewed wrong side out, flipped and then top-stitched went very quickly. It's very simple.

I did make a "sample" cloth for our own use. I took it as a chance to try out machine quilting and try my hand at the bias tape. I read quite a few online tutorials before my first attempt but it really feels like something that will just take some practice. Thankfully, the picture doesn't show the many flaws in my sample burp cloth and, eh, it's just something to protect my clothes from spit up anyway. I also had enough batting left over to turn some old flannel I had on hand into two more burp cloths and a small changing pad. Those are still in the works.

Then, I made up a pair of Baby Kimono Shoes -

From Projects

This was something entirely new for me and I was delighted they came out as well as they did. Unfortunately, I do not have access to a serger (nor any idea how to use one), so I had to get creative with overstitching the seams. It meant the seams were still a bit unfinished for my taste, but it's fairly well hidden. They take just scraps of fabric to complete, but do require a fair amount of patience on my part. I tend to prefer larger projects and find the small size to be rather tedious. I love the final product and ended up with enough scraps to make several pairs - perhaps someone else would be interested in a pair? I haven't attempted any alterations to the pattern but do have something in mind to try next time!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Knitted Stuff - Booties

It seems this blog fell silent just as I started it. Partly because the house "stuff" took over my attention for about a month and partly because I had only gender-specific projects going. I will post the gender-specific projects as they get worn or as I think of it after baby Hoot arrives. In the meantime, most of my at-home hours are spent putting together a pregnancy journal. I don't feel that scrapbook pages share well via pictures (seriously, pictures of pictures?) but I'll sneak a few pictures in here once it's compiled.

As for gender neutral knitting, there's a reason you all aren't seeing much knitting or even much mention of knitting. I seem to have lost my knitting mojo during this pregnancy - something I certainly didn't expect. I have started probably a dozen projects, only to rip them out. In fact, the two pairs of booties shown here were ripped out before I finally got to the end result. There has been some conjecture over why this is the case, but I mostly chalk it up to my sudden indecisive nature and a change in my knitting guage that is throwing me out of whack., finally, are two complete pairs of booties.

Pattern - Grandma's Favorite Baby Booties
*available at Crazy Girl Yarn Shop

Pattern - Cuff Booties
Simply Baby by Debbie Bliss
*if you live in Iowa City, the book is available at the library

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cooking with Kids - Monkey Bread

I love cooking with Lil Hoot. Yes, cooking with kids takes longer, makes a bigger mess and can often yield more unpredictable results, but we have already made so many fun memories and have so many great pictures. She actually started in the kitchen with me just before her first birthday. Our first recipe together - Monkey Bread!

I am certain that the reason I choose Monkey Bread is in no small part because of my fond memories of making Monkey Bread with my grandma as a kid. We may have only made it once - I really don't know, but I loved the name, the process and the end result so the whole thing sticks in my mind. We used canned biscuits and cut them up, but since I have a fondness for making things entirely from scratch, I used this Monkey Bread recipe from Smitten Kitchen.  You can, of course, just substitute canned biscuits, most recipes I have found call for 2 cans, usually Grands! biscuits (which are by far the best of the canned taste-wise).  I might have bought a bundt pan just for the purpose of making this bread.
I have little to add to this recipe, she's incredibly detailed, but here's our experience...

First, Lil' Hoot was only a year old so I made up the dough during her nap and let it rise so it would be ready for her to help afterward.  If you have older children and are just using biscuits then grab the kitchen scissors and let 'em help with the whole process!

Second, if you do choose to make the dough from scratch - I did not own a stand mixer at the time and I did mix it all by hand, totally doable.  It is better that it be slightly wet rather than slightly dry (as I found out later).
Third, who needs a fork?  Prepare for butter everywhere.  Prepare yourself that your child will eat plenty of butter and sugar throughout this process.  We just dipped the pieces in each bowl with our fingers.

Fourth, she does note this in her recipe - taking it out a smidge earlier is better than later otherwise you get a dark (rather tough) crust.  Personally, I found the glaze can make up for some dryness though.

And, in keeping with tradition, we made this Monkey Bread to take to a family gathering at my grandma's house.  She helped me make the glaze and I know we added some extra vanilla but I don't recall how much.  The glaze isn't too picky, just add a little bit at a time until you get it to the point that you like it. 

Then serve and enjoy!  Happy baking and don't forget to include your kids.  They learn valuable life (and math) skills while bonding and making memories that everyone will love for a lifetime.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Nursing Cover

The cover is actually almost square, it's just skewed in the photo because of the boning and the sofa.

After I saw a few of my friends using a nursing cover, I got the idea to just make one myself. Realizing that this was just a big rectangle with straps, I set out on an internet search to discover dimensions and what made the "stiff neck" piece (corset boning). I took some inspiration from the covers I found on Etsy - Nursing Covers. And found a step-by-step instruction here - Breastfeeding 123.

Being one to never follow a pattern word for word - I altered the size of the cover for two reasons - the size she gave was too big for me. Also, I wanted to use the fabric I had left over from the diaper bag, which has a definite pattern and turning it sideways looks funny. Mine is approximately 24"x 26".

I also didn't like having the back of the fabric exposed and since both my fabrics are lightweight, I decided to stitch them together and flip right-side out, rather than just hem around the edge of one piece of fabric. I tend to have straighter edges this way also. Plus, this means the only visible hems are at the top edge. I did one line across the lower edge of the straps, under where I inserted the boning, and one across the top of the fabric to confine the boning and add double support to the straps.

I also cut the straps way down. I didn't like the construction of her straps, so I made straps the same as how I made them for my bag, only without any added "stiffening" fabric or interfacing. The tutorial I use for straps is here - Sew, Mama, Sew.

Since I had everything on hand except the corset boning - I spent only $1.36 for this cover.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Diaper Bag

For me, preparing for the arrival of Baby Hoot includes crafting. Sometimes it's practical and money-saving, other times it isn't money saving but comes with the bonus of being personal and handmade. The first completed project is actually for me. I had more than enough of this fabric in my stash and set to work on making the large diaper bag pattern I have on hand.

Thanks also go to my friend Bekah, who has the first bag made from this pattern and was willing to be a guinea pig by allowing me to make one for her. I made a few modifications from the pattern this time, though it looks almost identical from the outside. The fabric I had in my stash, so I only had to purchase the interfacing, matching thread and a packet of snaps (about $8).

The straps are narrower and slightly shorter since I am shorter and have small hands. At the suggestion of a fellow crafter I used a fusible interfacing to stiffen the fabric rather than the duck cloth (thick canvas) I used previously. This bag probably isn't as stiff, but it's lighter and easier for my sewing machine to handle. I had only used fusible interfacing once prior to this project and it was not a successful adventure. This time around though I was better prepared with the suggestions of a much more experienced crafter, my own failed experience and much more detailed instruction. It still took a few tries and I almost gave up, but eventually I found the right pressing style, speed and temperature to make it work.

I replaced the velcro pocket closure and zipper top with a snap side closure and top closure. I have found that I tend to use and prefer snaps. I thought this would be easier as well, but sewing them in took more time than velcro and probably the same length of time as a zipper. I re-inforced the snaps with a plastic grid backing, which increased my frustration a bit but I appreciate the extra stability. The bag is large enough to have used more than one snap as a top closure, but because it's mine I chose to only do one snap.

I also added two more inner pockets, one sized for a cell phone and the other for keys. I tend to use the pockets of my current purse for these items and know that I will appreciate having these additional pockets.

As you will notice, it is a LARGE bag and while I like big bags, I do think it's too big for running errands. It is my intention to use this bag for extended outtings and overnight trips, as well as our trip to the hospital. Only time will tell how satisfied I am with the final product, but for now I'm glad to have started my collection of homemade baby items.

PS - For those of you that noticed, I have made a pair of baby booties, but I decided I don't like the final product so look for that yarn to show up in a different project later.