Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tutorial: baby wrap

I am currently working on the pattern, and hope to get it done.  Thanks for all your interest!

With the adjustment to three kids, I decided I needed a way to have the baby with me other than in the car seat but still allow me to have my hands free to chase the toddler.  
There are lots of different options for baby slings, carriers, or wraps so parents can wear their babies.

This was my cheap, DIY version to create a wrap for less as I didn't want to invest in a Bjorn, as great as it would be to have one!
These are also quick to make.
Mine was less than $2 and took around 15 minutes to cut and sew!

There's lots of different ways to wrap these I'm sure.
I just watched some videos online and have really enjoyed having the option to wear Isabella when she's fussy.  I tried a sling with my first baby, but he was 9.5 pounds when he was born and just got too heavy for my back.  But this little peanut is still light enough to haul around!

So to whip up your own.

So first off you need knit fabric.  
(Most knit stretches from selvage to selvage edge, so I had to piece this wrap.  Yardage below is given for knit that stretches perpendicular to the grain.
If your knit stretches with the selvage edge/ grain, you'll need 2.5 yards and cut it along the grain rather than against it as shown below.)
 I found this thicker knit for $1.00/yd.
The knit was 60" wide so this wrap only needed 1 2/3 yards making it less than $2.00 which was pretty great.
But if your knit is 42" wide, you'll need 2 1/4 yards for 4 sections rather than 3.

1. Fold your knit in half and cut 3 sections 20" wide
2. Take two of the 20"x60" sections and measure 8" centered on one end.  Trim from the 8" marks to the full width of the strip.  Now you have 2 tapered ends, and one center section that's 20" wide.
3. To connect the three sections, sew french seams, hiding any raw edge and securing the seam down flat.
4.  Finish the edge either by hemming, leaving it raw as it won't fray, or I just serged around the wrap and didn't even take time to change the thread to match.

Make them for yourself or for a baby shower gift!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Baby Bedtime Bags


My husband and I stink at swaddling.
Our first baby was 9.5 lb and slept pretty well from the beginning.
Then baby #2 came along.
She would get an arm out and start crying, and we tried dozens of different blankets and ways to wrap or swaddle, 
but she still woke up a lot with her little arms out.  
So this time, I wanted some jammies to keep baby #3 warm in these winter nights
 and help her stay asleep with her arms and legs in a sack or bag.
As I got sketching, I realized I might as well make the sack open on the top and bottom to make it easier to get on and off, 
and make middle of the night diaper changes more accessible.
So I went with snaps on top to allow the big newborn noggin through.
Then I decided the best bottom would be a zipper, rather than snaps.
One quick zip in the dark to shut up the bottom so I can go back to sleep!

These were also great for up-cycling.
Being that Izzie was born in the depth of winter,
I used fleece from the long sleeves of a pullover for the white bag.  
The other two were knit yardage.

The opening at the shoulder is off center so Izzie wouldn't have snaps right under her chin.
It makes it easy to get her in and out of the bag, 
but I've found it's nice to take her arms completely out of the sack when I nurse during the night.  
She gets to stretch her arms and it helps keep her awake to eat.
(We do have her wear a onesie so her arms aren't stuck on her bare skin all night)

My favorite aspect is probably the zipper on the bottom!
My sleep sacks I made for the last baby work well to change diapers,
but lots of times her little feet poked out and I needed to worry about socks.
With this bag the feet are stuck in the jammies,
but getting in there to change all the diapers in the night is so quick and easy!  
Much better than trying to snap a row of snaps half awake!

I ended up using the first three so much I needed another batch.
I was using the fleece from another sweater's sleeves and didn't have enough fabric
for the separate shoulder piece and just did a regular placket with contrasting quilting cotton.
Having used both this past week I think I kind of prefer the contrasting placket over the knit seamed original version.  
Getting the snaps through all the knit or fleece layers was a pain!

So far she does sleep better for me in these bedtime bags rather than regular jammies and that has made them awesome for me!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Baby Blanket: Satin and Minky

Thank you all so much for your well wishes on the baby!  
It was overwhelming to read all the kind comments and I really appreciate it.
She is two weeks old now and my mom has left and things are still going alright, although we have had our moments adjusting.  
RJ's done well and loves the new sister:

Sometimes Ellie's not so sure:
But both are kind of de-toxing from having so much fun with Grandma.
She probably needs a few days from recovering physically from playing so much with my kids!

I'm trying to get in a semi-routine. 
Three kids is definitely an adjustment--for some reason loading three in the car seems much more of a pain than just two!

But on to the project!
 Yesterday I found a few minutes to finish a blanket I'd sewn but hadn't bound during RJ's preschool and Ellie's nap.

I made basically the same blanket for Ellaria, but hers is turquoise.
The blankets are really simple, just a piece of satin backed with minky and bound.
I don't sew or quilt across it, which makes it kind of a pain to line the sides up as satin is slippery and the minky has quite a bit of stretch, so sometimes they end up not completely even and there's a little satin "sag" on this red one.

 Both blankets have an applique initial in the corner.
This time around I used white canvas for the "i" and sewed it to the minky solid side, as the satin was polka dots for Isabella.

Ellie loves hers and has been dragging around this one lately as well.
For kids having the silky satin and soft minky seems pretty cozy.

This red one was quite a bit bigger than the blue one.
Easy to make!
1.5 yards each of the satin and minky
1. Layer both fabrics and trim to make equal the best you can
2. Sew on applique if desired
3. Serge or baste around four sides to keep together.
4. Use 2" double fold bias tape (I made my own using this gadget) and bind edges

These would make great gifts, easy to sew and could customize the initial!

Monday, January 14, 2013

She's Here! Baby #3 born

I had planned to post the final segment on the dollhouse, but ended up going into labor last Tuesday!
I was shocked, as it was 2.5 weeks early and I've never gone into labor spontaneously.
At 4pm I started having contractions and thought "Crap!  I'm not ready for this!"  
As much as I was thrilled to no longer be pregnant, I still had a whole list of things I wanted, or felt like I needed to do before she came.

But she was ready so she came!

We got to the hospital at 9pm after my husband got home from work and arranging for our other kids.
She was born at 11:30 pm, so a pretty quick, routine delivery overall.
I did hyperventilate during transition--which was weird.  I was sitting on a birthing ball and had a monster contraction that lasted forever, and I guess my breathing  got too shallow and fast because all the sudden my arms and hands went numb, followed by my face.  Then they started yelling at me to breathe slower and that helped.  Luckily my husband was behind me and I didn't fall backwards off that birthing ball or something.  I guess whatever happens during birth, I don't want to become a funny story that lingers around LandD nurses for years to come!  So that turned out OK once I decided breathing should be a top priority.

After the monster contraction, transition was actually over and I crawled back into the bed and rolled on my back, as my water exploded all over the bed, splashing onto the doctor and the floor, kind of reminding me of this scene from Coneheads,  Luckily for the doctor, she'd already put on the gown when it erupted.
Then little Isabella was here in 2 contractions and our family went from four to five.

Here's the token "swamp hag" picture.
My friend said once she feels like such a swamp hag right after birth and I thought it was an accurate description of how I feel physically.
Some women look beautiful with right after the birth, but I never have styled hair or makeup. 
 I always I just had a baby a few minutes ago, sweaty, worn out, but full of joy.   
Despite not being a glamour shot, it's one of favorite pictures from having a newborn.
For me, it captures one of the best moments of my life to really hold my baby for the first time.
There's a side of so much relief, physical and emotional that she's here and safe and healthy, then just the overwhelming love of seeing your baby and looking in their squinty little eyes for the first time.
All the months of barfing, exhaustion, discomfort, physical deformity, and pain all become worth it in one moment.
The kids have adjusted well.
We were most concerned with Ellie, but she's been either loving or indifferent, so it's been good.
RJ's pretty excited to have another baby sister, but still mentions the "next baby is going to be a brother".
Mom's not even thinking about a next baby to further that conversation.

Here's the two sisters:

So little Isabella's almost a week old now and we're doing great.
My mom came up the day after she was born and takes care of pretty much everything.

I've recovered physically so much faster this time around.
I usually don't get out of pajamas for weeks, but on Sunday I actually got dressed and did my hair.
So we are doing great and have had such a happy week welcoming Isabella into our family.
We're looking forward to her due date next week because my husband only got the one day off to get me home from the hospital, and had to go right back to work.
He has an entire week off after the due date, which we're all excited for, and another reason my mom saves the day again!
I do have some baby projects I started before she was born and will hopefully finish to post soon...or whenever it feels more interesting than cute little baby hands and feet!

We tried really hard to get a picture of me with all the kids, but this was probably the best in all honesty.
I can't believe I have three kids!
I've just felt so happy and grateful these this last week for the blessing of three healthy kids, and an amazing mom and husband.
We've just been living in this happy bubble of the new baby and family this last week and I hope it continues to last...although I haven't had to take them all with me to a grocery store alone yet.
And I still haven't figured out how to manage three kids alone at church when my husband has to work weekends...but I have a little time to figure out that one.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Doll House Part 4: Finished!

It's taken me a long time to post this, I guess I'm still getting things back to order after the holidays, and trying to nest and get ready for the baby (due in 3 weeks).
I was worried it might not happen, but did end up getting the doll house itself finished in time for Christmas morning!!
Previous doll house posts:

I wish I could say it was a magical moment when Ellie saw it and she flipped out.
But her Christmas morning was spent lounging in the princess chair her dad got her and eating candy.
She was so excited about her own pack of tick-tacs, she wouldn't put them down, so trying to open gifts one-handed turned into her brother opening most of her presents.
She did take a look at the doll house, put her tic-tacs in a bed, then picked them up and went back to her little couch.  So this may be something she plays with more as she grows up, (hopefully) which I kind of expected.
Maybe our next daughter will love it. 

So the details!
The intricate stuff on the exterior was mentioned here, where my mom saved the day.
My favorite element on the exterior is probably the rounded front door.
A total pain to design around, as both sides had to meet up to make the arched doorway, and in the end it's not that functional.
But it just so cute to me, and has proved useful to throw lost little pieces in the house when I'm too lazy to open the drawer!

There's a chest latch near the top to close the doors and keep them shut which makes it nice when moving it.
It was gold, so I spray painted it with gray Rustoleum Hammered.
You can also see the dentil molding I added to the front, as the space between the shingles and the tops of the windows seemed too bare.

 My mom cut extra windows and window sills which I just glued to the sides of the house for extra detail, along with the rounded little windows at the back.

The gray wood for the front half of the roof, front door, and drawer front were upcycled from my neighbor's fence they tore down last summer.  The back roof of the house was just the same 1x8 pine boards used for the rest of the build.
I was pretty excited when I discovered a new stain by Minwax:
Minwax Classic Gray stain
It was only available in the quart size and only at Home Depot in my area.
It's a really opaque stain when you apply it, half way between paint and stain in my opinion.
But I really liked the results.  I was planning on painting all the wood, but was so glad to find real stain because paint can chip off, but stain becomes part of the wood and is more permanent.
It also allows the natural wood grain to show through rather than covering it up.
More info on the door if you care:
I cut fence boards into the thin strips, then glued and clamped them to a 1/8" hardboard scrap.  Once dry, I used my table saw to trim off the vertical sides, then just hacked away the top in pieces to get a curved shape with the miter saw. Any jagged corners along the curve were sanded smooth.
The tiny hinges are from Lowes, and the door knob is from a cheap pack of Ikea baby knobs I had in my stash.
I used a magnetic cupboard catch to help it stay closed, but to allowing it open easily if the kids forget to open the door before they unlatch the big doors.

 Probably the smartest two elements in the design were the casters on the bottom which make the house mobile.  It gets shut and placed against a wall when not in use, then pulled out and opened to play.  Having the front half open so wide kind of made it necessary to roll it around easily.
The casters have locks to secure the house to make it safe, as Ellie has used it more for a ladder to climb than a house to play with lately.

Then the drawer is so nice for all the accessories, furniture, and dolls.
It's just one big drawer, but I added the dado cut in the drawer front to mimic a double drawer since it was so wide.  The hardware are the original handles I removed from my birthday dresser I refinished in 2010 spray painted gray then a light coat of white to contrast the gray wood a little.

The back of the house is just a large piece of 1/8" thick hardboard, stapled into the frame.

I was going to focus more on the interior of the house with the final post in the series about the furniture and decor, but you can see here how the design has the little seat or ledge in the front, also stained in the minwax gray.
The walls of the inside are a mixture of  fabric or scrapbook paper mod-podged to the wood.  A few walls were painted.
The top attic floor was stained to look like hard wood floor.
Then I used two squares of vinyl tile ($0.89 each) for the small side rooms (light gray) and the kitchen with the dot walls has vinyl as well.
The remaining floors were all painted. 

This was a long project. 
I started planning it in October, then would set it aside for a few weeks, then get going a little here and there.
I did need help from my mom who cut all the windows, basically anything impressive was my mom!
Then my husband did help me make a few cuts on a big, heavy, sheet of 3/4" plywood I couldn't do myself, and he helped me hang the doors.  My first try by myself ended up with the doors not lining up in the center and one couldn't even close all the way. 

The cold weather and getting fatter being pregnant dragged it out, but now it's done I'm really proud of it.  I just hope it lasts!  I'd like to have it around for years and years, and we'll just see how it holds up.  So far it's not getting too much use, but hopefully Ellie will get more interested as her attention span hopefully grows.
One afternoon RJ did set up all the furniture and people in it and closed the doors, telling me it was a surprise for Ellie.  She woke up from her nap and he carefully opened the doors for her-- she grabbed the little pots and walked off in search of her sippy cup.  
I think we both felt let down little Ellie stinker!
So I guess we'll keep trying and for now some neighbor girls have been able to play with it!


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