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Friday, 18 December 2015

Christmas Dresses

Christmas dresses for the baby girls. By Christmas they will be 26 months, nearly 22 months, and 11 months. I loved the idea of having a dress for each of them to wear on Christmas Day. I drew the inspiration from the Melly Sews tutorial for the Fiesta frock with a Peter Pan collar. Thank you, Melly. I made a few minor modifications to the pattern for all three dresses, but in the main, I followed the tutorial.

Read more about how I made the three Christmas dresses.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Toddler and Baby Aprons

I'd been thinking of making for new aprons for the girls, for painting and getting messy. Two of them don't wear bibs a whole lot now, and they've outgrown any of the earlier aprons I made them (see this post).

Find out below how easy it is to make little aprons like these! Also check out this post using a different pattern.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

A Teepee for Christmas

With all the girls coming for Christmas I wanted something to entertain them. This was what we came up with.

Yes, it's a teepee!

I'd been idly wondering how I could rig up a play tent out of some surplus orange curtains in time for the visitation of the grand-daughters at Christmas. We used to hang curtains or tablecloths over the dining table for our own children when they were young, but our current dining table doesn't lend itself to having toddlers crawling underneath and making a den there.

And then my internet searches brought up the idea of a DIY teepee. The curtains were big enough that, with a join in the back, I could make a teepee for our little ones.

Read below how I made it.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Baby Toy Bag

A toy carrying bag and 'Sounds Bag' and toddler rucksack all in one.

A small bag for a baby to contain toys for a journey? Or a 'Sounds Bag' to help develop speech, with numerous small things to find inside? Or a rucksack as a present for a toddler?

My little bag could be all of these, and more. I used the pattern that can be found here, and my blog covers some other tips for making it. But thanks to Indietutes for the pattern and the instructions - even though, as I so often do, I did things a bit differently.

Among other things, I decided it would start life as a 'Sounds Bag'. I think Sounds Bags can have other names, too, like Sensory Bag. The idea is that you have a bag containing familiar objects, and as well as the baby having fun taking them all out and putting them back (a favourite pastime for most babies and toddlers), the activities you can do using the bag can help speech development. But it's also a useful rucksack, and very handy for popping a few toys in to take in the car or on trips. Read more about how to make one below.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Neat Finish to Seams on Two-sided Pre-quilted Fabric

As you may know from my other posts, I am a fan of double-sided ready-quilted fabric for my baby projects. It's easy to wash, easy to handle and sew - and already lined! What more could you want? I've used this type of fabric in numerous projects, especially the cupcakes one and the turquoise one with toy aeroplanes.  These projects, covered elsewhere in the blog, and pictured further down in this post, have included baby sleeping bags, a toddler rucksack, and a playmat. But it could also be used for light-weight quilted jackets or padded trousers, and many other items. If you can find one with an interesting lining, you can also use them to make reversible items.

The only small sewing challenge is finishing the edges, or any seams. It can be hard to get the seams to lie flat (if you want this). You don't want to make any more bulk than you have to, and you may want to avoid a raw edge with the polyester wadding poking out. (Not that it will fray much, but it isn't very nice next to sensitive skin.) In this post, I'm sharing what I've learnt about this challenge.

First, here's what I mean by double-sided ready-quilted fabric. Our local store, Fabricland, has:

...... tartans, shiny, white and black and other plain colours  ....

....children's fabrics.....

 ... and a variety of others including camouflage, fruits, and several Christmas fabrics.

I only wish there were even more designs - or at least, more interesting second sides. Some do have another interesting design on the reverse, but most are plain coloured, including a lot of plain white.

So, how can we get a neat edge?

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Baby / Toddler Salopettes from a Recycled Anorak

(I wrote this originally last February, but now it's October and I'm updating it.)

Baby I is growing out of all her winter clothes, and it’s still only February. She arrived one day in the baby carrier on Mum’s chest, as they'd walked to my house, and her trousers had gradually ridden up, leaving her ankles to get chilly. She didn’t seem bothered, but grandma thought she needed something warmer on.

Most of the shops are now mainly carrying their summer ranges, and it’s quite late in the season to buy clothes she will probably have outgrown by next winter. Seems like a real waste to buy expensive snowsuits to be used for what might only be two or three weeks more of cold weather. She’s got cosy anoraks, so it’s really the exposure for her legs.

So newgrandmawhowantstosew decided to make her some salopettes.

Below, you can find out how I made them. This photo has been taken 8 months later, when they have started to get a bit small. But, as you'll read below, I designed them with room for growth, so I'll now make a minor modification and hopefully they'll do her for at least part of this winter, too.

Monday, 28 September 2015

A Quilted Baby Sleeping Bag

More quilting – a baby sleeping bag. (Just in case you thought the heading referred to  quilted baby!)

I wrote here and here about making cot quilts for baby cribs and cots.

After making my third baby cot quilt, I also had a few of the quilting squares left over, so I decided to experiment with a diamond pattern (actually just squares used on the diagonal).

Sewing a diagonal pattern needs more squares than a straight rectangle. You can work it out mathematically how many more, if you want to! I found I needed about 15- 30% more, but it all depends on the shape you are making. My original plan was to make a long rectangle, on the diagonal. 

The idea was that I would have a lovely long patchwork strip that I could use to make a nice little gathered skirt for a baby girl.This failed, as you will see below, but I ended up with a very nice baby sleeping bag. You can find out how to avoid my mistakes, and make a quilted sleeping bag (or just a sleeping bag) for a baby, below. 

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Finishing a Baby Quilt

Here's how to turn a quilted material into a baby quilt.

In my last blog, I showed how to make the quilted material (Stage 1). Of course, if you wanted to, you could buy some material ready-printed in a quilt design - but it wouldn't be the same!

I also referred to the very useful You Tube videos from Jenny of Missouri Star Quilt Company that helped get me started. 

Here's where I got to in the last blog.

Read more to find out what to do next!

Baby Crib Quilts

Baby crib quilts

Well, of course, it started with one. But by the time the first quilt was made, granddaughter No. 2 had arrived (earlier than expected), and by the time HERS was made, No. 3 was on the way. (I have two daughters, and at one stage they were both expecting.) So the first two quilts, above, were made in quick succession, with the third one a few months later.

These were all made with ready-cut squares, a wide border, some polyester batting, a backing, and a lot of double fold bias tape. But they weren’t difficult, and if you’d like to know how I made them, and how you could make one, too, read on below.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Dungarees and Rompers for Girls and Boys

I've titled this 'for boys and girls', because most types of dungarees, romper suits and trousers work just as well for either. So though my pictures in these posts will nearly all be little girls, most of the trouser-shaped clothes will suit boys as well. In any case, dresses and skirts are not so practical for crawlers or bottom-shufflers, male or female.

In this post, I've featured one particular design, but below that, I've also reviewed some other patterns, mostly free on the internet.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Postscript to Onesie and T shirt Dresses - and Shorts!

The best laid plans of mice and men .....

In my last post, I wrote about some ideas for baby dresses, especially the type which is based on a babygro or onesie, and mentioned some of the free patterns I've used or adapted.  All the outfits I wrote about earlier went well, with this one exception:

So I'm now prompted to write again, as I've now remodelled this one into a couple of other outfits. Instead of one dress, my granddaughters A and a now have between them a T shirt and shorts, a onesie, and a baby skirt.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Onesies and T-shirt Dresses

I've found a few patterns for T-shirt dresses on the internet, and, as I had some T-shirt material, I decided I would make one each for the girls.

The idea of a baby's T-shirt dress is usually that you attach the skirt part to an existing onesie, encasing the raw edge of the skirt top in a fold in the onesie. Two problems with this for me. Firstly, it shortens the onesie by the amount of the fold - about an inch or so. Secondly, it would be difficult, without the model being present, to work out exactly where the waistline should go. 

So for two of my versions, I made the skirt part separate, using some of the T-shirt fabric to form a waistband. This does have the advantage that if, say, there is an accident with the onesie, you can still use the skirt with a clean onesie. (Or vice versa.) And the skirt can kind of find its own level on the baby's body, so no problem of knowing where the waistline is.

However, I didn't actually use an existing onesie for any of them, because : (a) I didn't have any onesies  to spare and (b) doing that wouldn't use up my T-shirt material. So for two of the outfits, I started by making my own envelope neck onesie - easier than I expected.

I found a number of useful free patterns on the internet for onesies and T shirt dresses. As I almost always do, I found myself using several different patterns to create my own. Some were too small, others didn't have the neckline I wanted, and all of them provided something useful to help with the making up of the garment. Here are my reflections on some of these patterns, as well as the resulting outfits.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

A Pirate Costume

I got a request from my daughter to make Baby I a pirate costume. She will be wearing this to a wedding in August. (What kind of a wedding? Well, a pirate wedding I assume!)

Baby I is 15 months old, but, being tiny, is just moving from 6-9 month clothes to 9-12 month clothes. So I figured that by August I could aim for roomy 9-12 month clothes. Having tried out some of the finished items, I think they will fit her just fine. I've left in plenty of elastic in case last minute adjustments are needed.

Here's how I made them, so you could copy some of the ideas if you wanted to. Overall, the only cost was the socks, I made everything else out of bits I already had. However, if you wanted to reproduce the leatherette waistcoat in a similar material, and you didn't have anything you could use, then that might be a small cost.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Some Tips for Making Clothes to Grow with Baby

Tips for making clothes to grow with baby

I was brought up to think in terms of clothes that were designed for growth. My mother had lived through clothes rationing and shortages, and her approach to life rubbed off on me. I think it’s quite sad to make children’s and babies’ clothes, which you’ve put work and love into, only to have them outgrown in weeks.  By the time they’ve been through the wash and made their way back to the drawers or cupboards, they may only get a few wearings.
So here are some of the ways I try to extend the life of little garments. I have made dresses, dungarees, onesies (babygros), rompers, trousers - and all with the idea of allowing the baby to wear them for longer. Below, I describe many techniques which could be useful. Although some of these may be obvious if you are used to making baby clothes, one of them, the extendable dungaree bib, is my own invention, so you may not have seen it before!

So for some ideas about how to make clothes last longer, read on!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

A New Baby Towel, and Easy Dribble Bibs

In an earlier post, I wrote about how I made the Christmas towel for baby A out of a bargain towel. I'm please to say it is still going strong. I used the second of the two bargain towels I bought to make a hooded baby towel for her cousin, baby I, for her first birthday. Baby I had a blue one:

I had some pieces of towelling left over when I made the baby towels. I made these into simple dribble bibs. Easiest things in the world to make, and they make great gifts. A new Mum can never have too many dribble bibs, and they are so easy to make.


Monday, 23 March 2015

Washable Playmat

I wanted a nice soft playmat for the visiting babies, which would be washable and easy to store. So I came up with a very easy to make mat. Tutorial below!

It's square, and has a long strap attached so it can be rolled up for storage. The baby gym  we made can stand on it, or it's big enough for the older ones to sit on with their toys (and a place of refuge for them to come back to after they have toddled off). It would also double as a spare quilt or blanket when one of them needs a rest.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Baby Gym

Baby Gym - A few ways to make your own

Our latest 'baby gym'

When our little grand-daughter was coming to stay, we wanted a baby gym to entertain her. It had to be simple, and also transportable.

When her mother and auntie, our daughters, were tiny, their Daddy had made them a very sturdy baby gym stand. Here's one of our daughters enjoying the very thing!

So we wanted to be able to provide something that wouldn't cost the earth, but would provide plenty of safe entertainment for the baby.
Below, I will write about how we made the Mark 1 version for our own daughters, other nice examples of home made baby gyms I found, and finally, how we made our latest versions for our grandchildren.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Using DIY Motifs and Appliques

Recently I wrote about how to make your own motifs and appliques - see this post 

On this post, I'll give some of using them.

For lots of ideas, read on.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Making your own Motifs and Appliqués - a Tutorial

Babies' and toddlers' clothes are so much nicer with finishing touches like motifs and appliqués. So are wrap-me-up towels, blankets, and dribble bibs. But they are expensive. 

How did I get to the point where I decided to go the DIY route? It started when I had already spent quite a bit on motifs. Hand-sewn things are fun to make, but are also good value, until you spend a fortune on motifs - and the thing you've spent money on falls off in the wash! So here's my advice: (a) use sew on ones, not iron on, and (b) make motifs yourself, as I show below

Iron-on v sew-on motifs

First, some reflections on purchased iron-on motifs. Yes, in theory, “iron-on” is so much less work – you just iron the motif on. Well, if you can get them to stick, good on you. If that’s the case, and you’re happy to pay for iron-on motifs, you probably don’t need this article.

In my own experience, they just don’t stay on. Baby’s and children’s clothes go through the wash LOTS, and get tumble-dried within an inch of their lives. Off come the motifs. And probably disappear into the plumbing. After we lost the cute little bunny on my first grand-daughter’s pink dress (see here), after just one wearing and wash, I vowed I wouldn’t use iron-on again. Well, actually, I did use some, as I had those I’d already bought to use up, but, Reader, I SEWED THEM ON. And that’s not easy, because you are sewing through the hard glue. After that, I thought I would go for sew-on motifs.

Have you seen the price of motifs to sew on (and iron on) to baby’s and children’s clothes? They can be anything from around £1 to £3 – and even more.  I had bought teddy bears  and puppies for baby blankets, rabbits for dresses, butterflies, ducks, letters, trains, balloons – you name it. Then I realised that sew-on motifs are very easy to make, and can cost you practically nothing per motif other than fabrics etc that you may have around. And they don’t take that long, either. So this is how I do it. And so can you!

Thursday, 19 February 2015

My Sewing Room

I was very inspired by See Kate Sew’s blog In  on her sewing room – how neat it is! So I thought I’d do a post on mine. Of course, hers is a professional sewing room, and she is lucky to be able to have a dedicated room.

My sewing room doesn’t look much like a sewing room really. That’s because it is also:

....... A guest bedroom (with en suite bathroom)

....... A TV and entertainment room

....... My craft corner

....... Our overflow library

....... a playroom for grandchildren – or at least, storage for their toys

....... our Gym and Pilates room (and occasional dance studio)

....... An overflow for things that my daughter can’t squeeze into her flat

And the en suite bathroom is also the laundry room, so this room also functions as a drying and airing room.

So – it’s not really a Sewing Room. It’s so mutli-functional that we just call it ‘the back room’  - imaginatively, as it’s at the back of the house.

But I do do most of my sewing in here. I have to clear things away and pile them up, so I can do my cutting out on a cutting mat on the floor. I store materials and patterns and haberdashery, just like Kate does, and a corner of the room is more or less dedicated to my sewing and my two sewing machines. But my room doesn’t look like hers!!

Here you can see my cutting mat, medium size ironing board (wonder where the small one went?), my fabric storage, my drawers of haberdashery, patterns box, and one of my sewing machines. 

Like Kate, I have an old-fashioned type of metal-drawered cabinet for haberdashery - so useful, though mine was new, off the internet. Each of the 12 drawers is labelled with its contents.

Here's the coloured threads drawer:

Though having seen Kate's thread racks, I may get some myself - if I could find somewhere to hang them. Then, below, one of the Ribbons and Trims drawers .....

And motifs and appliqués ........

(In a later post, I will write about DIY motifs.)

In the picture above, you can see one of my two sewing machines. This is my small simple light-weight Janome (only about 5 or 6 kgs., so I can carry it around with me). It's the one I use most often as it stays out on the table. It was intended to replace my much-loved and ancient Frister and Rossman which weighs about 40kgs. I may be exaggerating a bit, but I can no longer pick it up without help. Even my husband struggles if his back is feeling dodgy. It's purely the weight of this machine that made me think of replacing it - it works like a dream even though it's over 45 years old. It also has all the functions I need - forwards, backwards and side to side (zig-zag), plus a really good zipper foot. Easy to thread - what more could you want, except one that can actually be lifted on to the table without causing a hernia or broken foot?

However, although you can't see it, the dear old F&R is still there, under the table behind the fabric boxes. It wasn't long before I realised that my neat little Janome, a bargain from John Lewis, is more prone to tangling in the bobbin area, and its zipper foot is inferior to the F&R. As far as I can work out you can only use it to the left of the needle, and you can't actually sew very close to the zip (or the press-studs, or cord), it is fixed. So the F&R is there for when I need it. (And can find someone with the strength to lift it.)

Thank you Kate, for inspiring me to write about my sewing room, too!

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Bride and Groom Cake Topper and Pattern for Bride's Outfit

Bride and Groom cake topper - 2007

When my daughter announced her wedding to her lovely Mauritian boyfriend, I started to look for bride and groom cake decorations. However, I could only find couples who were either pink-skinned (both of them), or dark brown-skinned (ditto). What is more, the dark brown-skinned couples appeared to have been made out of the same moulds as the pale skinned couples  - so they didn't have the right sort of features at all.  Since my daughter is a brown-haired English rose, and her (now) husband has an Indian Mauritian mother and a Creole Mauritian father, I decided I would have to make the cake decoration couple myself to get something vaguely authentic. In this blog, I give enough detail for you to be able to replicate all or part of the designs!

Thursday, 15 January 2015

A Hooded Baby Towel for Christmas

Whilst shopping for presents for my two grand-daughters, I saw some lovely hooded towels in our local department store. Just the job, I thought - until I saw the price - £35.00! However, the same store had a less than half price sale on some good quality white towels at £9.00 each. So I bought two, and set about making hooded towels. (I'm well aware that if I'd tried a bit harder and had more time, I could have sourced towelling by the metre which would have been even cheaper, but I didn't.)

You can read below how to make one yourself.