7.24.2014

For Our Baby: Newborn Gowns and Top Knot Hats

I hadn't done much sewing for our new baby this time around.  The truth is, I did a lot of sewing during my pregnancy with Iris and so much of it didn't fit.  I sewed a lot from Handmade Beginnings then, but it's so hard to ensure proper fit when you don't have baby's measurements.  (Though the fit of this dress which I made for toddler Tarikua was perfect!)  I spent hours on these sleep sacks which we never used.  Our babies haven't been great solo sleepers (understatement)  and the sleep sacks were too warm for sleeping next to Dan and me.  Because our baby is due in the middle of the summer, a baby quilt seemed impractical.  I instead opted for these gauzy blankets which I hope will make great nursing covers, too.

After Indigo and I took inventory of what we had, I noticed a shortage of newborn gowns.  I love gowns, mostly for their convenience during middle of the night diaper changes.  And they work so well when the baby is in that newborn frog legs stage where their legs are often curled up.  (Oh, I love that stage so much!).  Indigo and I went thrifting and almost everything we found was either pink or polyester.  I decided to look around for a pattern and make my own.  I used this pattern, with a few alterations.


newborn gowns

Each gown sews up in about an hour.  (I timed it!)  Be forewarned that you are supposed to add a 1/4" seam allowance to the pattern.  It's even added to the center seam (on the fold) which I have never seen before.  I was wary that the fit might not come out right, so I compared the pattern pieces to some of the newborn gowns I own.  I added a 1/2" in width to each of the pattern pieces.  [If you do this, don't forget to add it to the sleeves, too, or they won't fit together correctly.  I learned that one from experience.]  ;)   My babies have all been 8-8 1/2 lbs and grow out of their newborn clothes so quickly.  I want these gowns to last awhile.

The first gown looked a little narrow in the leg areas, especially in the photos of the baby here.   The front and back pattern pieces are completely straight from underarm to hem.

newborn gown in woodland party birch knit

So for my next two gowns, I added an A-line shape to the gown like this.

newborn gown pattern modification

I also added bias binding to the sleeves rather than hemming them.

When sewing knits, I like to use a long straight stitch first, followed by a stretch stitch when I'm sure everything looks right.  I especially like to do this when making something for the first time because my stretch stitches are so hard to rip out.

newborn gown and top knot hat

Being I added extra width to the pattern pieces, I did have to increase the length of my bias binding to about 10".  The front uses more than the back, because the neck curve is deeper.  To apply it, I stretched the binding ever so slightly.  When adding it to the back, I had about a 1/2" of excess binding which I trimmed off.

newborn gown and top knot hat

I like to increase my stitch length when sewing knits, especially when the fabric is thick.  When sewing the bindings to the neckline, my stitch length was almost at 4.  I love the finish of the envelope neckline and it's actually so easy.

envelope neckline


I also wanted a kimono style gown in the mix.  I drafted this based on one of Iris's former newborn kimono style gowns.

kimono style newborn gown

I don't normally sew with pink (I'll call this peach) ;) and this is really a wearable muslin.  I used a cheap, thin knit to experiment, but it worked out well in this case because the kimono front is two layers thick.  If I had used a more substantial knit, it may have been too warm for our summers.

kimono newborn gown

I couldn't resist making a few newborn top knot hats, too.  I used this {free} pattern by Prudent Baby.  These are so easy - I timed it (again!) and each hat took 8 minutes, including the time it took to press the seams really well.

prudent baby top knot hats 
My friend Carolyn gave me the advice to press the heck out of the seam to avoid wavy hems that can be so common with knits.  That works for me every time.

I've had some issues with my hem stitching breaking on my sewn knits, after they've been washed/worn several times.  I've considered trying stretch thread, but it's expensive.  Both patterns instructed that I stretch the knit while sewing.  That seems to be a controversial point when sewing knits.  Some people say to stretch the fabric, others say to never stretch it.  I decided to try stretching it this time and see if my hems hold up better this way.  Do you have any tips for me?

newborn gown

The three non-'peach' knits are seriously amazing!  The Birch fabric knit was especially fantastic, but all three were so great!  I bought them here.

newborn gown in woodland party knit by birch fabrics 
I really enjoyed this project.  It was so special and fun to make these tiny creations for our new baby.  I also think these gowns would make a great baby gift!  So easy, too!

7.20.2014

Another Bohemian Babydoll Dress

I'll be 39 weeks pregnant this week and things around here are getting nesty!  Really nesty.

Bohemian Babydoll Dress

In terms of getting things ready for baby, Indigo has been my trusty sidekick and righthand girl.

Bohemian Babydoll Dress

 She loves to go through baby clothes with me, sort our cloth diapers, and most importantly, ooo and ahhh over how cute and tiny everything is.   It makes getting ready for our baby even more fun!

Bohemian Babydoll Dress

Indigo also worked by my side as I made a few things for my postpartum wellness kit and even helped Dan and me prepare a few meals to freeze.  Do you have any good freezer meal recommendations?  I would love to know!  We found out in April that Tia has a whole slew of food allergies including all dairy products, peanuts, eggs, and bananas.  So it does make things a bit more challenging - it seems like so many freezer meal recipes are loaded with cheese!  Outside of cheese, there are so many great dairy substitutes, but I don't care for that fake cheese.

Bohemian Babydoll Dress

I also organized my fabrics


and have been working on some small sewing projects which have been on my (imaginary) To-Make list for forever but got buried.  Literally (by fabric) and figuratively.

bohemian babydoll dress

This week is Kids Clothes Week and I hope to sew few things for our baby before my lovely sister-in-law and niece come to stay with us on Thursday for a long weekend together.  They live in Cambodia but are here in the US for a couple of months.  We can't wait to see them!

Bohemian Babydoll Dress

In my effort to keep up with my girl who is growing like a weed, I made another Bohemian Babydoll Dress.  Unlike her sisters, she's not on the receiving end of any hand-me-downs, so it's harder to keep her closet adequately stocked with mama-mades. :)

bohemian babydoll dress

This dress is fast and easy and Indigo wears her first version all the time.

bohemian babydoll dress

I made both dresses in Nani Iro double gauze.  I love this fabric!  It isn't quite as soft and floaty as the other fabric for whatever reason, but it's still so nice.  It's called Woodblock Pocho Garland in Mustard and I got it here.

Bohemian Babydoll Dress

I altered the sleeves again.  I had misplaced the sleeve that Dan drafted for me, but I looked at this photo and was able to easily re-draft it.  I finished the edge with a zigzag stitch which makes it fray a little.  I like that.

Bohemian Babydoll Dress

I love the curved bodice!

bohemian babydoll dress

And look!  No closures!

Bohemian Babydoll Dress

I also love the asymmetrical hem.  This pattern is definitely one of my favs!

Bohemian Babydoll Dress

And with that, I better get back to nesting.  Or at least dishes and laundry.  There are always those.  

7.14.2014

A summer recap and some stuff we like

School may be out for summer for everyone else, but one of the benefits of homeschooling is that you can make your own schedule.  That means for us, school is back in session.

swim team

 We took most of May and all of June off but decided to do school in July.  We then plan to take August off when the baby arrives.  I'm due at the end of the month, but my shortest pregnancy was 40 weeks and 6 days, so we're thinking the baby will most likely make her grand entrance in August.

swim team

This summer I am officially guilty of having had over-scheduled us.  Or at least I over-scheduled me.  :)

swim team

The three big kids swam on our neighborhood swim team.  Until the public schools got out in June, that meant three separate evening practices most weeknights because they were all in separate age groups.

swim team

We had to make Iris give up her afternoon nap because otherwise she would be up until midnight (literally).  Yet, as a fourth child and one who has been carted around all over the place, she has also learned how to fall sleep anywhere.  During the last part of swim practice Iris looked like this at least half of the time.

sleepy head

sleepy head



sleepy head
 
In June, the kids' swim practices switched over to the morning.  I also signed the kids up for four weeks of (fun) afternoon summer school classes.  Then they had five weekend swim meets.

swim team

So, yeah, that was a little much for my liking.  Even the kids said next year they'd prefer not to do summer school and swimming at the same time.  They enjoyed it, but it got tiring for them, too.

Duly noted.

swim team

One of the best parts of my day was the evening which we spent reading.  We read for about an hour and a half each night.  I'd read 30 minutes with Tia at bedtime, then I'd listen to Indigo read for 30 minutes, followed by a 30 minute read aloud with Jude and Indigo.    Indigo is really into Mr Putter and Tabby books right now.  For our read aloud book, we read D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths.  In Waldorf education, Norse mythology is introduced in 4th grade but Indigo was really into it, too.  We were all pretty sad to get to the end of that book and the illustrations were amazing.  Next up - Robin Hood!

swim team
 
Jude and Indigo also really love listening to Sparkle Stories. Their favorites are the Martin and Sylvia stories. 

swim team

 Most nights I fall asleep to one of the guided relaxation audios from this Birth Relaxation Kit.  I've had what I like to call 'pregsomnia' here and there and listening helps me fall asleep quickly.  Also, it usually helps me get back to sleep if I wake up during the middle of the night.  I've slept well most of this pregnancy.  The audios are also meant to prepare you for birth (a form of hypnobirthing).  I can't comment on this specific program yet, but I enjoyed the discussion on it here and here.  I did different birth hypnosis audios to prepare for both Indigo and Iris' births and I think it helped.  When I think of hypnosis I think of that Gilligan's Island episode where the Professor swings the gold watch and repeats something like "You're getting very sleepy".   But it's nothing like that.  It's just guided relaxation exercises.  :)

swim team

 One of the audios from the kit is called "gentle sleep" and Jude loves it.  He has a hard time falling asleep at night (always has) and this really helps.  I also bought him this essential oil diffuser which works amazingly well and also the light changes colors.  It kind of reminds me of the horse of a different color from the Wizard of Oz. :)  Jude and I really like this lavender oil and this blend called Calming the Child.  I've used essential oils with him since he was a toddler, but essential oils in general give Dan a headache so we have to use them sparingly.  Only one or two drops in the diffuser go a long way.  Jude's bedroom is upstairs and when I used three drops Dan could smell it downstairs.  But if you're looking for something to aromatheraph-y your house, this diffuser would be it.  And it makes your essential oils last forever.

swim team

What have you and/or your kids been into this summer?  I'd love to know as we'll have our summer Part 2 after the baby arrives. :)

swim team

7.06.2014

Three More Cosi Swimsuits

Having sewn a grand total of five Cosi swimsuits over the last two weeks, I could see how this could become a bit of an addiction. ;)

cosi swimsuit

There is something so satisfying (and gratifying!) about sewing a swimming suit.  For one, you can make something that uniquely suits your child.

cosi swimsuit

Lately Tarikua has had a thing for zebras.  We want to encourage a family-wide love for all things Ethiopia, so while I am not normally a fan of animal prints, I made an exception for this swimming suit.

cosi swimsuit

It was totally worth it.  She absolutely loves it!

cosi swimsuit

I bought the zebra fabric here at the Fabric Fairy.  I bought the material for these swimsuits there as well.   I was really happy with their fabric!  All three felt durable, though I can't yet attest to how they will hold up long-term.  

cosi swimsuit back

I added a ruffle in the front and color-blocked the back in watermelon.

cosi swimsuit back

For Indigo's second swimsuit, I chose View A with the ruched center panel.

cosi swimsuit

 I bought the peacock colored fabric here and the watermelon colored fabric here.  FYI - that second swatch is not a good representation of the actual color.  Ordering online is such a mixed bag!  I find that oftentimes the online swatches looks significantly different than the real-life version.  Anytime I get a "Why did I order this?" feeling when I receive fabric in the mail, I look back at the online swatch and almost always it was a misrepresentation of the fabric color.  But in this case, it worked out for the best because I actually like this color better than the online swatch.

cosi swimsuit

 Another strange thing with this fabric is that even though the website said the peacock and watermelon fabrics were the same weight, the peacock felt sturdy and substantial, whereas the watermelon felt delicate and light.  It's the softest fabric - just amazing to touch, but also looks like it might snag easily.   I'll be very curious to see how they hold up, particularly the watermelon.

cosi swimsuit

 I was so happy with this suit and the fit was really great.  Indigo loves it, too!

1A2A4226

I sewed all of my girls' swimming suits with the halter straps.  My older girls love it and Iris is able to put it on by herself.  She always ends up getting tangled up in swimming suits where the straps cross in the back.    With this swimsuit, it's so cute to watch her pull the previously tied halter straps over her head.   They're stretchy enough that it works, too.

cosi swimsuit back

I sewed all of these swimming suits on my sewing machine, not my serger.   I haven't had much success sewing knits with my serger.  I prefer to use my sewing machine.  I like to sew all of my seams with a longer stitch first (size 3.5ish), then I test for fit, and later go back over the seams with my machine's stretch stitch.  You could also use a zigzag stitch.

When I added the elastic, I found it essential to baste it in place using a long straight stitch before turning it to finish my hems.  I kept the elastic inside the fabric by 1/8" or so, just to be sure that the elastic was completely encased by the fabric when I turned it in.

cosi swimsuit

My friend Inder gave me the tip to stretch the elastic more around the back (booty) leg openings.  That resulted in a really great fit in the back.

cosi swimsuit

After using both regular elastic and cotton swimwear elastic, I found I prefer the swimwear elastic.  Mostly because it felt softer and thinner.  With the regular elastic, I was having some trouble with my double needle skipping stitches while topstitching, maybe because of the thickness.  My topstitching went smoother with the cotton swimwear elastic.  I also found it helpful to use a long stitch when topstiching (4.0-4.5) because otherwise the thickness of the elastic + swim fabric made the regular sized stitches teeny tiny.

cosi swimsuit

After I topstitched the swimsuit top and leg openings, I found it helpful to press the elastic areas, covering them with a pressing cloth.  They usually got stretched out during sewing and this helped them look normal again.

cosi swimsuit

This swimsuit came out a little big.  It surprised me because I made it in the same way as I made the zebra version above which fit perfectly. I think the difference was due to the stretch of the lycra.  But it's okay, she'll grow into it.  :)

cosi swimsuit

I love the charm of the leg frills - one of the 7 pattern options!  This one is View C and I bought the fabric here.

cosi swimsuit

These swimsuits don't require much fabric at all.  I have quite a lot left over of the watercolor abstract (Iris' fabric here), the yellow stripe, and the zebra print.  If you are interested in making a swimsuit in any of these three fabrics, I'd be happy to mail one of them to you on a first come-first serve basis.  Just leave me your email address in the comments and tell me which one you'd like (unless the account you're commenting from links to your email address).

cosi swimsuit

During the Cosi pattern tour (July 7-18), Suz is offering a 15% discount on the Cosi pattern with the coupon code: COSITOUR15 .  That means you can get the pattern for under $7!   Which I would highly recommend, because I really, really love this pattern!