Saturday, October 29, 2011

Soft and Cozy Flannel for Mama and Baby

It's amazing how many free tutorials and ideas are available for handmade gifts for new mothers and their babies.  Over the past few months, I've compiled a large list of links in my "Baby Gifts" folder in my list of favorites.

Many of the gifts were made from flannel--one of my favorite fabrics!  My favorite place to buy flannel is in the Big Valley at Buchanan's Fabric Store.  The flannel fabric that they sell is a much higher quality fabric than the flannel from the chain store, Joann's Fabric & Crafts.

Some of the fabric from these projects did come from Joanns, but there is an obvious difference in the quality of various flannels. 

This is a large double-sided receiving blanket that I made following the instructions in this blog.  I love the generous size of this blanket, and the two layers of flannel make it perfect for a fall/winter baby. 
This fabric came from Joanns.  I had to make one blanket covered with "I Luv Grandma", didn't I?

I had a enough fabric left over to make this contoured rag-edge burp cloth.  I got the idea for this shape from this blog.
Once I got started with the burp cloth idea, I decided to run with it.  I found this "dog bone" shaped burp cloth online here.  These were my favorite ones, and they were super fast to make.  I simply cut them out, put two layers of flannel wrong sides together and serged the edges. 

This flannel has the words "Daddy's Girl" printed on it.  So cute! 

One other flannel item I wanted to make was nursing pads.  I saw these online, and thought they would be a good way to use up some of these flannel scraps.

In my stash, I found lots of flannel scraps large enough for the nursing pads.  I found a soccer print, a football print, and a Nascar print.  I also had leftover baby prints.  I used a round fabric motif for a pattern and cut out the pads in sets of four.

It is important to use only natural fibers in nursing pads, so I added Warm 'n Natural, a cotton batting, for absorbency.  In this first set of football pads, I added just one layer of batting.  They seemed too thin to be absorbent.  They are now coasters. 

Who can't use an extra set of coasters, right? 

Since making these, I have found a pattern for a contoured nursing pad.  I may try some of those, too.  But for now, these will have to do.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Baby Bait---Come on out!

I may have mentioned a time or two .... or ten... that we are expecting a new granddaughter in our family very soon.  She is due on Sunday, but everyone is ready NOW! 

Today I decided to take matters into my own hands and create some baby bait.  What would entice her to leave the shelter of the womb and venture into our world?  I knew it would have to be something soft and warm and beautiful.

Inspired by one of my Facebook friends who recently made taggy blankets for her twins, I decided on a taggy blanket for our little one.  I may have read that "taggy" is a copyrighted name, so from here on out, I will refer to my creation as a "silky smooth, buttery soft, baby sized blanky with ribbon loops".  Or not.

Here it is ....

This taggy blanket is made with chocolate-y brown, buttery soft minky fabric on one side and pale pink silky smooth and shimmery satin on the other side.  It feels divine! 

The ribbon loops on the edges were made using grossgrain and satin ribbons in various widths and lengths.  Apparently babies like these kinds of things. 

Here's hoping that Aaliyah Cadence hears about this and can't wait to make it her own! 

I was going to blog about burp cloths and nursing pads, too, but it doesn't seem right to showcase this taggy blanket in the same post with items used to sop up breastmilk and baby puke, so I'll save those for tomorrow. 

Here's one last glimpse of today's baby bait.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bottle Bags--Not Another Baby Gift

Earlier this month, I toyed with the idea of setting up at a craft show in November to sell some of my handmade goods.  After stressing for a week or so about how little inventory I had to sell, I decided to give up on  the craft show idea for this year. 

The whole craft show thing wasn't a total waste though since I got several good ideas from friends for items to make and sell.  One of those items is a gift bag for bottled gifts like wine, flavored oils, sparkling juices, etc.

I've made two different styles and like both of them.  The first one I tried is an insulated bag with a handle. 

For this bag, I downloaded this pattern and chose a grapevine print that I bought at Walmart.  I used a tan leafy tone on tone for the lining.  This bag has a layer of batting between the bag and the lining for insulation.  The handle is a nice touch, but this bag while not difficult to make, was not a simple pattern either.  Taking into consideration my time and my materials, I would have to charge approximately $10 for this bag.  That's a higher price point than I was looking for, so I decided to try again.

I found several other tutorials online for bottle bags.  I tried this one next using a Christmas fabric that I bought at Joanns. 

I liked it, but with no lining, it felt flimsy and I didn't like the seams showing on the inside of the bag. 

Since I make lined purses all the time, I figured I could make my own lined bottle bag using the measurements from this tutorial with the techniques from my purse patterns.

The results were just what I was hoping for!  For my first one, I used the grapevine fabric again pairing it with a gold vine fabric for the lining. 

Here it is again.  All of the bottle bags that I looked at were tied with a length of ribbon.  I fully intended to use ribbon, too, but I found that I had no ribbon that coordinated with any of the fabrics I wanted to use. 

That's when I thought of making a fabric tie.  As soon as I tried it, I liked it better than the ribbon.  The tie coordinates with the lining and is stitched to the back of the bag to hold it in place. 

Here's one I made using a fall print with a leafy lining in fall colors.  This would make a perfect bag for a Thanksgiving dinner hostess gift. 

My friends who gave me this idea recommended making bags for various seasons and in various theme fabrics. 

This snowman print is a winner for Christmas and winter.  I  love it with the black lining and tie!  With these lined bags, there are no exposed seams inside the bag, and the double layer of fabric makes them feel sturdy and substantial.

The last one I will show you is this one in an Americana theme.  My sister requested this one for a friend of hers who is celebrating her 60th birthday soon. 

I am selling these lined gift bags for $8 each, and they make any gift personal and special.  These are so much prettier than a brown paper bag, and these can be used over and over again.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cat Lady's Autumn Tote

Question:   What can  you do when someone buys you a T-shirt
                   appliqued with trick-or-treating cats?
Gray shirt sporting an autumn cat scene
Answer:    Have your friend turn it into an autumn tote bag!

At least that's what my cat-loving friend did.  Her daughter bought her this cute T-shirt because of the adorable applique, but my friend didn't think she would get much wear out of this long sleeved shirt. So she decided to have me turn the applique into a panel for a tote bag.  We've done this before with cat appliques, but not with an entire scene from a shirt. 

As soon as I thought about the project, I knew that I wanted to use a pattern that was simple.  I didn't want any pockets or straps or zippers on the purse front that would disrupt the appliqued scene.  I chose this pattern:

 This pattern, Baja Traveler, designed by Penny Sturges doesn't look like a simple design, but if one ignores the instructions to divide the front panel into three pieces, it is a simple design.

Normally, I put a pocket of some sort on the outside of a purse, but this time, I decided that clean and simple would be best.

After I'd cut away the Tshirt from the scene, my next step was to decide which fabrics I would use for the body of the tote bag.  My friend didn't want a bag that looked especially Halloween-y, so I tried to go with more of an autumn look. 

The gray backround fabric, however, did not lend itself to being used with most of my fall prints.  You can see in the picture above on the left that I chose fabrics that would pick up the brown and black elements in the embroidered scene.  I also wanted to use a bit of orange, but not too much orange.   

The "orange" that I chose in the picture above right, is actually more of a dark red or rust color.  I like it.  It picks up the pumpkin color without screaming "Halloween!"

My next step was to "build" the front of the purse.  I ironed fusible interfacing to the backs of each piece of fabric before I sewed them together to give stability to the piece, especially important for the knit t-shirt fabric.

I used just a narrow strip of the rust/orange fabric directly under the picture.  To keep that little piece of fabric from flipping up, I used the decorative blanket stitch to secure it to the bag front.  This makes it look almost like ribbon.

The next decision was zipper or snap closure, and I opted for a magnetic snap, mainly because I wanted people to be able to see some of the lining fabric.  I did make a velcro closure for one of the interior pockets so that my friend would have a safe place to carry money or important cards.

The lining fabric matches the orange/rust trim on the front of the bag, and the interior pockets are cut from the black basketweave fabric that flanks the appliqued scene.

Here's a shot of the back of the bag where I used the main fabric for the large portion of the bag back.  I used a coordinate to that fabric to make the handles. 

The orange ribbon-like trim is repeated on the back of the bag, too. 

Overall, I'm quite pleased with the final bag.  I hope my friend likes it since she hasn't seen it yet.  I love combining fabrics, so I enjoyed the creative process involved in making this autumn tote. 

An autumn tote bag that any cat lady would love!

Dresses: mixed fabrics for fall fashion

This summer, I got out all of my old smocking patterns and designs.  I was having a great time looking through everything and planning dresses for the great-granddaughters.

I decided that I would make back to school smocked dresses for Makaila and Kyra, our greatgranddaughters who are four and three years old, respectively and both attend preschool. 

Smocking takes time, and soon it became apparent that I was not going to finish the back to school dresses in time for back to school.  Not this year, anyway. 

My back up plan was to make them dresses that are not smocked.  The only request from their mother was that the dresses be identical.  It seems that the nightgowns that I made for them one year at Christmas time were a source or arguments since one nightgown was pink with turtles and one was white with cows.
These are the matching nightgowns for their dolls.
For these fall dresses, I chose a basic pattern with a buttoned yoke and long sleeves.  The dresses were easy to put together and fun to sew.  I didn't want them to look plain though, so I chose two different fabrics:  a floral and a coordinating stripe.  These two fabrics are from the Heidi Grace collection at Joanns.

These dresses are identical except for the buttons.  One dress has orange buttons, while the other dress has pink buttons.  I certainly hope their are no fights about that!

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Cupcake Diaper Bag

Cupcake print diaper bag for Aaliyah

 Last Saturday, Justine's mother-in-law hosted a surprise baby shower for her.  I've had this diaper bag finished for a few weeks, but I haven't posted any pictures of it because I didn't want Justine to see them.  Justine actually picked out these fabrics which are Heidi Grace coordinates from Joanns.  I love the colors together, and I'm very pleased with the way it turned out. 

I used this Purse-O-Nalities pattern from
Palm Harbor pattern company.   When I first made this pattern a couple months ago, it reminded me of a carpet bag.  I thought that it would make a cute diaper bag with those side pockets, and I was right. 

This pattern does require more fabric than any other tote that I make which is why it is also the most expensive tote that I make and sell.

Because this particular bag is for Justine, and she just happens to have a very special place in my heart, I added some extra details that I thought she would especially appreciate. 

 On the inside of the diaper bag, I added a gathered pocket that is divided into two sections.  The other side has a larger flat pocket that is also divided into two sections.  A small pocket on one end of the bag is the perfect size for a pacifer or smaller items.  And the other end of the bag sports a removal bottle holder which is perfect for a baby bottle or Mom's water bottle.

I can only imagine how harried Justine might be when trying to juggle her busy life with baby, so I added a swivel hook on a short strap for the elusive pacifier or for Justine's car keys.

 Here's a closer view of the front of the bag which is pleated and trimmed with the contrasting fabric.  Those elasticized side pockets will hold bottles or cups.

The zippered pocket on the outside of the bag is a feature that is included in most of the Purse-O-Nality patterns, and I love it!  Justine could safely carry her wallet or checkbook or any other valuable items safely in this zippered pocket eliminating the need to carry a diaper bag and a purse.

Here's a shot of the matching changing pad that I included with the diaper bag.  I found an online tutorial for this project, and I like the way it turned out, too. 

Here's the happy mama opening her presents at the shower.  It was a beautiful shower, and she got tons of lovely gifts! We are all looking forward to the arrival of the little princess.

Stay tuned for more handmade baby gift ideas!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Diaper Bags and National Sewing Month!

I learned just yesterday that this is National Sewing Month.  I'm excited to have a whole month dedicated to my favorite hobby.  

To celebrate National Sewing Month, I plan to do even more sewing than usual.  Of course, it helps that NSM coincides with my increased orders for purses and my ever growing list of items to make for our new granddaughter who will make her appearance next month.  (I hope her parents are giving her the bedroom with the biggest closet.)

The happy "parents-to-be"
Now, back to sewing ....  This past week, I tried a new pattern for a diaper bag.  No, not a diaper bag for the new princess in the family, but a diaper bag for a friend of mine to give to a new little guy joining her family next month. 

I love the way the bag turned out.  It is large enough for most any new mother's needs.  My friend chose the fabric herself.  The airplane print is perfect since the new daddy is a pilot.  I love the way she chose to have me mix the stripes with the print and accent with the blue handles.

This is the pattern that I used, Simplicity 2713.  It's a nice pattern, but I learned something by using this pattern.  "If you want to make a bag, use a pattern designed by a bag maker."  That's what I learned.  The tissue pattern pieces and the instructions made this pattern much more complicated than most of the patterns that I use.

Like all the bags I make, this one has pockets on the inside.  The pocket you see in this picture is a large pocket with a gathered top and a velcro closure.  This pocket is big enough to hold a travel package of wipes or a diaper. 

The pockets on the other side of the diaper are smaller, and would be perfect for smaller items.

I do love the side pockets on this pattern.  They are big enough to hold a bottle or cup.  I love the stripe fabric that is ruffled.  Oops!  Did I say ruffled?  I mean gathered since boys don't do ruffles.

The top of the bag has a zipper closure which I love.  That means that if the bag falls off the car seat or is being investigated by a crawling infant, the items in side are secure--unless the infant has mastered zippers.

This final picture is the back of the bag which sports two smaller pockets.  All in all, this is a cute bag that I would be happy to carry if I needed a boys' diaper bag.  I hope the recipient likes it and gets a lot of use from this one!

Would I use this pattern again?  Probably not.  But I would not hesitate to adapt some parts of it and incorporate them into patterns that I use and love.