Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Adventures in baby food: avocado edition

Beckett's first avocado experience in pictures:
More, please!

WIP Wednesday #23

I'm back again. Last week was a great week of sewing, but it came to a screeching halt when a minor disaster hit my sewing machine. Sigh. Stella's off at the doctor now and will hopefully return good as new very soon, because I've got projects I'm itching to get back to. Anyway, it's Wednesday, so here's your update. (In case you've missed out, I'm following along with Freshly Pieced's W.I.P. (Work In Progress) Wednesday series as a good way for me (and you) to keep track of what's going on around here.)

Completed this week: 
Tutorials(!) for the baby sleeping bag, both a lined "winter" version and an unlined "summer" version. Enjoy (and let me know what you think if you make one)!
A gift set for a friend's little girl, due in about a month. The set included a pinafore, burp cloth, sun hat, and bloomers.

Started this week:
In theory, getting back to finally finishing my Early Bird/Kitchen Window quilt, but in reality, nothing, because, you know, I broke my machine...

On the "to do" list:
A few extra burp cloths
Several more baby shower gifts
A sheet for Beckett's pea pod mattress 
A new bag and mug rug for me

Hope everyone has a great rest of the week. And be sure to click on the button to check out other great WIPs for more inspiration!
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Monday, April 23, 2012

A little gift set for a little lady

Before I broke my sewing machine yesterday, I (thankfully) managed to finish up a baby gift set I'd been working on for a friend who's having a little girl in about a month. The final set includes a sun hat, pinafore, bloomers, and a matching burp cloth.
I originally looked all over for online tutorials for the items, but everything online was sized for a larger baby or toddler, and I'm not confident enough yet in my ability to re-size patterns, especially for babies, to try to adjust them for my needs. So, when Hancock's had patterns on sale recently for $2 each, I found one that included everything by the burp cloth and snatched it up.
The pattern worked out great, and except for the hat, it all came together quite easily. The hat wasn't that difficult to put together actually, just time consuming.
The main fabric for all of the pieces is a pink, yellow, and orange madras fabric I bought at Joann's last year. I love how girly and summery it is without being over the top. The inside of the dress and hat are lined with a yellow print from Mod Green Pod's Free to Grow collection.
I finished off the set with a matching burp cloth because you can really never have too many burp cloths.
Here's hoping the little lady loves it!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A sad day for sewing

Today was a great Saturday. It started with pancakes for breakfast and just got better from there: beautiful weather; hanging out with my hubby, wonderful baby, and friends; and food trucks and Ted Drewe's for dinner. It was also going to be a great day for sewing: some rare free time on my hands, not to mention the hockey playoff game tonight that Matt wanted to watch but which I was free to skip.

After finishing up a gift for a friend yesterday, I even had plans to finally get back to working on my Early Bird/Kitchen Window quilt. I sat down to get started, but when I went to change out my needle, this happened:
 Don't see the problem? How about now?
Yep, that's my needle, broken and stuck in the machine. I loosened the screw that holds the needle in, but the needle was completely stuck in there (something that's never happened before, and I have no idea what caused it). I tried to work it free with a pair of needle-nose pliers, and that's when the bottom part broke off. Matt even got in on the fun but only succeeded in stabbing his finger and pinching his palm between the pliers.

So now it's time to call in the professionals, which probably isn't the worst thing. I've had my machine for almost two and half years now and have never had it serviced, so a check-up was way overdue anyway, but it really stinks that it had to happen today, just when I finally had some time to sew. Sigh.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

TUTORIAL: Unlined baby sleeping bag (Summer version)

A couple of months ago, I made this baby sleeping bag for Beckett based on a product I'd seen online. That baby sleeping bag was lined for warmth, and if you want to make one of your own, you can find the tutorial here. But now that we're moving into the warmer months, I thought I'd make a summer (i.e., unlined) version of the bag as well. This bag uses French seams on the inside to hide the raw edges. Wanna get started?
What you'll need:
1 yd. fabric (I upcycled a muslin swaddling blanket, but you could use a jersey knit, quilting cotton, linen, or anything else that's light and soft.)
Coordinating thread
1/2" elastic (to determine the length, measure around your child's chest and add 1/2"; mine was 17")
Sleeping bag template (for a detailed discussion of sizing and how to make your template, see the lined baby sleeping bag tutorial)

I re-used the template I made for my winter sleeping bag, but since we're doing French seams on this one, we need to add an extra 5/8" or so to the sizing. Fold your swaddle blanket in half (or if you're using yardage, fold it in half from selvage to selvage). Place your template on top, and cut around it about 1/2" on each side and the bottom and about an inch along the top.
Your two pieces (for the front and the back) should look like this:
It doesn't need to be exact, and the French seams will hide any inconsistencies in your cutting. Now, on to those seams. Place your two pieces WRONG sides together.
See how the elephants are on the outside, not the inside, like they would normally be, if you were sewing two pieces right sides together?
Pin around the sides and bottom.
Before sewing up our bag, we need to fix the raw edges along the top. (Note: This step can also be done before pinning the pieces together; it doesn't really matter.) Fold over the top edge 1/4" and press.
Then, fold the edge over another 1/4" and press again.
Stitch about 1/8" from the bottom of the fold to secure it. Repeat on the other half of the bag.
Now, using 1/4" seam allowance, sew around the sides and bottom of the bag. Press.
Clip your corners.
Turn the bag inside out (this will now make the two sides right sides together) and use a pointy tool (I like a wooden skewer) to push out the corners.
Press again. As long as you press it well, there's no need to pin it again for the next step, but if pinning makes you feel better, by all means, pin away.
Using a 1/2" seam allowance (note the bigger SA), sew around the sides and bottom, enclosing the raw edges inside your new seam. This is how the inside of your bag should look when you're done:
See? The ugly raw edges are all enclosed, which will make the bag last longer and look so much nicer. Now, let's make the casing for the elastic. Fold down the top of the bag toward the inside 1" and press. Pin the fold to secure it.
Stitch around the casing about 1/8" from the bottom of the fold, leaving a 1-2" gap on one side. Attach a safety pin to the end of your elastic.
Insert the elastic in the gap you left in your casing and use the safety pin to pull the elastic all the way through the casing and back out the other side.
Check to make sure the elastic hasn't gotten twisted. Then, overlap the two ends and secure them using a zigzag stitch.
Now you just need to sew everything up. First, stretch out the top of the bag so that the elastic is pulled into the casing and is no longer sticking out. Then, stitch up the gap you left in the elastic casing, and your baby sleeping bag is done!
Happy sleeping, baby!

Monday, April 16, 2012

TUTORIAL: Lined baby sleeping bag (Winter version)

Remember this sleeping bag I made for Beckett a while back? He's still loving his, so I thought I'd put together a little tutorial in case you wanted to make one of your own.
**UPDATE: I've now posted a Summer version of this sleeping bag as well. It's not lined (so it's lighter for the cooler months) and uses French seams to keep the inside looking pretty. You can find the tutorial here.

First, a few things. The measurements below were based on my three-and-a-half-month old son (who's pretty average in size), but the bag is pretty big, and I expect it will fit him for a long time. He's now five months old, and he still has plenty of room left. Also, you can make a bag of this size out of two yards of fabric (one yard for the outside, and one yard for the inside) as long as the pattern on your fabric isn't directional or runs horizontally (from cut end to cut end). If your pattern runs vertically, you'll need a few extra inches. Either way, you'll have some scraps left over.

What you'll need:
1 yd. outer fabric (I used quilting cotton.)
1 yd. inner fabric (I used an old t-shirt because I wanted to save my fancy fabric but still wanted something soft and cozy. Quilting cotton, minky, silk, and flannel would all be good options here as well.)
Coordinating thread
1/2" elastic (to determine the length, measure around your child's chest and add 1/2"; mine was 17")
Sleeping bag template
The template was too big for me to easily make a pdf for you to print (plus, since the measurements really depend on your child's measurements, I figured it made more since for everyone to make their own). But it's really simple. I made mine on a big piece of craft paper. It should be shaped like this (an isosceles trapezoid, if that helps):
I used the following measurements:
Length: 25"
Width at the top: 11.5"
Width at the bottom: 18.5"

I figured out the length and width at the bottom by measuring a sleep sack I had that still fit him (HALO Swaddle Sleep Sack, size small) and then adding a few inches (not very scientific, sorry). The top was based on my son's chest measurement (16.5"). Since I wanted the top to be gathered once I inserted the elastic, I estimated I should add about 6" to the final size of the top (16.5" chest size + 1/2" seam allowance + 6" = 23" total), so half that (since the template is for one side of the bag) was 11.5". (Hopefully, this makes sense. Please feel free to leave a comment or email me if you're confused and want some help). So, to find the measurement for the top of your template, measure all the way around your child's chest, add 6.5, and then divide that number by 2. Once you have that, make your template, and let's move on.

To cut your outer fabric, fold it in half from selvage to selvage. Place your template on top, and cut out two pieces (for the front and back).

If you're using yardage for your inner fabric as well, repeat the previous step. If you're using a t-shirt like I did, it's a bit more complicated unless you have a really big t-shirt.
I used an old t-shirt of mine (size medium), so there wasn't much wiggle room in terms of fabric. First, cut out one side of your bag from the back of the t-shirt (unless you have a really small t-shirt, you should have just enough room here if you're using the same measurements I did).

For the other side of the bag, we're going to have to do some piecework because the front of the shirt isn't as long as the back (because the neck scoops down). If you don't like the look of this, use a really big t-shirt or yardage instead, but since this is only the inside of the bag, which hardly anyone will see, I wasn't too worried about it not looking as nice as the outside.

First, place the template on the front of the t-shirt so that you're cutting out as much of the template as possible while also leaving as much fabric intact as possible. To do this, I scooted the template as close to the side as I could. Make sure the bottom is the part of the template that doesn't fit (so the piecework will be hidden at the bottom of the bag, not visible at the top). Now, cut out your template.

Next, cut a large rectangle out of the remaining t-shirt fabric. It needs to be at least as wide as the bottom of your template and at least as tall as however much fabric you're missing from the bottom of your piece.

Pin this piece to the bottom of the short piece you cut from your template, right sides together. Using a 1/4" seam allowance, sew the two pieces together.
Press. Lay your template on top of the newly attached piece, and cut your fabric down to size to match the template.
If you feel so inclined, top stitch the seam allowance down to reinforce it and reduce bulk. When you're done, it should look like this:
Okay, now that we have four even pieces, let's get to work. Take your two outer pieces and lay them right sides together. Pin around the sides and bottom, then sew them together using a 1/4" seam allowance.
Clip your corners.
Turn the bag right side out and press.
Now, lay your inside fabrics right sides together and pin along the sides and bottom. Sew them together using a 1/4" seam allowance, leaving a 3-4" hole in the bottom for turning. I like to mark this with two pins to remind myself to stop. (NOTE: If, like me, you're using a t-shirt with a design on it, and you don't want to see the design when the bag is finished, the inside of the t-shirt will be the "right" side of your fabric. In other words, pin the pieces together so that the design is visible on the outside. If you do this, when the bag is finished, the design on the t-shirt will be hidden between the inner and outer layers.)
Clip your corners and press. Next, place your outer bag inside your inner bag (so that the right sides of the inner and outer bags are touching and the raw edges at the top are even).
Align your side seams and pin around the top edge.
Using a 1/4" seam allowance, stitch around the top edge of the bags. Press. Pull the outer bag through the hole you left in the bottom of the inner bag.
It should look like this when you pull it all the way through:
Push the inner bag back inside the outer bag and press well.
Topstitch around the top of the bag. For sturdiness and because I liked the way it looked, I chose to use a double topstitch.
Now we're going to make the casing for our elastic. You need to leave a 1-2" gap in your stitching so you can insert the elastic in the next step. I like to mark this with two pins to remind myself to stop.
Stitch a line around the bag 7/8" down from and parallel with your topstitching.
Attach a safety pin to the end of your elastic.
Holding firmly to your safety pin, reach through the hole in the bottom of your inner bag and then up between the inner and outer layers until you find the gap you left in your elastic casing. Use the safety pin to guide the elastic through the casing and out the other side.
Once you've made it all the way around, your elastic should come out the other end and look like this:
Check to make sure your elastic isn't twisted anywhere, and then overlap the two ends of the elastic and sew them together using a zigzag stitch.
Now you just need to sew everything up. First, stretch out the top of the bag so that the elastic is pulled into the casing and is no longer sticking out. Then, close the hole in the bottom of the inner bag using an edgestitch. Finally, on the outside of the bag, stitch up the gap you left in the elastic casing, and your baby sleeping bag is done!
Stay tuned for a tutorial for the summer (i.e., unlined) version of the bag)!
 Hope your sleeping bag works this well, too:
Goodnight, baby.