Backpack Madness!

From the sudden increase in toddler backpack pattern sales over the last couple of days, it seems many of you have decided it’s time to sew your kiddo a backpack so they can be stylin’ as they hop off the bus. Be sure to post them to the Toddler Backpack Pool (along with modifications, suggestions, and the fabric you used) so that we can all enjoy your handiwork!

Photo Cred (as with Spring Top Week, I assume that you’re OK with having your picture up on my blog if it’s in the pool; if not, please let me know ASAP!):
1. Toddler Backpack, 2. IMG_0412, 3. Toddler Backpack, 4. DSC_0505, 5. Toddler Backpack, 6. Toddler Backpack, 7. Backpack Front, 8. Front, 9. toddler backpack back view

Posted in backpack

Empire-Waisted Baby Top and Bloomers

UPDATED: This dress did actually end up fitting!  Hooray!

I’ve been dreading this post because I’m afraid I’m going to have to roast this pattern. This is the (so-called) “Easy Empire-Waist Top” from Little Stitches for Little Ones by the amazing Amy Butler. The top is in my opinion, absolutely adorable on paper, which is why I chose to make it in the first place, but it was an absolute nightmare to construct. I’m not sure if I just can’t read pattern instructions without pictures or what, but I kept reading and re-reading the instructions and scratching my head, trying something, tearing it out, trying it again…

Furthermore, I’m afraid it’s sizing is questionable at best, as my rather large newborn doesn’t look like she’ll fit into the 0-3 month size anytime in the next year (hence no baby-in-the-outfit pic, sorry folks). And if/when it does ever fit her, I’m a little concerned about that V-neck. Currently it goes nearly down to her bellybutton, so the Child Decency Police may cite me for a violation unless I can find a baby tank top to go under it.

The bloomers, on the other hand, are too small. They never really fit over my cloth-diaper-butt-baby, although they were also sized 0-3 months. Sad. I think this might be my fault…I may have done the waistband incorrectly, having reached a point where I was no longer actually reading the instructions. I got frustrated when they called for folding under the bottom hem 1.5″ when there wasn’t even that much fabric on the inner leg seam, begging the question: did anyone test this pattern before publication? Or am I just remedial? Because that’s how I felt after spending more time on this outfit than I have on any top I’ve made for myself in the last year. The long and the short of it is that currently this outfit is slated for nursery wall-decor at best. It’s got a high “awwww” factor, low practicality factor.

Fabric: Mendocino by Heather Ross
Modifications: Added elastic casing all the way around the top, shortened arms by 2 inches (didn’t have enough fabric), and shortened skirt by a few (can’t remember exact anymore) inches.

Let me try and redeem myself a little here. I would like to go on the record as saying that Amy Butler is truly worthy of admiration. She not only “single-handedly changed the quilting fabric industry”, but is truly responsible for inspiring my current obsession with fabrics and sewing. If it hadn’t been for her first line (Gypsy Caravan, of which I am still hoarding select pieces), I might never have started sewing all this stuff in the first place. Since then I have obviously become an avid fan of many other wonderful fabric designers (Anna Maria Horner and Heather Ross currently tied for first place as faves), but AB still holds a special place in my heart. I just can’t get behind her patterns as much as her fabrics.

That said, I would love to see/hear about examples of success with this pattern. It’s a shame it doesn’t seem to work for me. It MUST have worked for someone else out there. Besides, I really do think it’s lovely. And since an infant never wears anything for more than a week, maybe that’s all that matters?

My old JCrew shirt = Newborn Hat and Pants!

** Disclaimer: I have actually started sewing a leetle-leetle bit, but I would like to stress that these past couple of projects were sewn BEFORE Clementine arrived a couple weeks ago. Please know that I spend most of my time nursing and napping. And then maybe eating ice cream. OK, and reading blogs. The last thing I want to do is give any new mothers (or anyone, for that matter) out there a complex about their lack of productivity. I also should mention that Mr Rae is on like a month of paternity leave/vacation, which is totally wonderful and a luxury not all new moms have for which I am very very thankful. Right now he is downstairs playing video games while Clementine sleeps on his chest. And I just came back to this post after a starting it a couple days ago and realized that last sentence was still true. Hee. **

This was Clementine’s coming-home outfit:

I made the hat and pants from an old JCrew shirt that was too short and tight and had a white collar too nasty to thrift. I keep forgetting to take before pics of my refurb projects. Here’s a pic of the shirt after I cut the arms off for the pant legs:

I really just guessed at the length of the pants and it turns out they’re too long, but whatevs, it’s not like she’s walking yet, right? Hahaheehee, all of the sudden that struck me as really funny. (Hormones.)

The hat was made with this pattern from Martha Stewart.

I enlarged the pattern so that it was 7 inches across, and made two, one for the lining and one for the outside, adding a 1/4″ seam allowance to the bottom edge. The flower on top is just a circle that I serged all around and then pulled it’s center through the top of the hat seam and sewed in place. Easy peasy!

I love this expression. So funny. That’s how I looked most of my teen years. She seemed peeved that she had to leave the hospital. And who could blame her?

Itty Bitty Dress for Clementine

Thank you so much for all the congratulations! It’s so fun to hear from so many of you all at once, especially those of you who usually lurk! I love seeing so many familiar names; know that I read and appreciated all of your kind words, even if I’ll never be able to respond to them all (and forgive me for not really trying at this point…).

We are having so much fun with Clementine; she’s so snuggly and sleepy all the time. I know it only gets better, but this stage is so much fun too. These are hazy days for us; the time slips by, we don’t know what day it is and there’s lots of napping. So great.

It seemed only natural when I knew I was having a girl that I should try out that baby dress pattern. Finally, a chance to actually TEST it (heh…OK, so I’m kidding; I had made a couple as gifts before). So I made the smallest size with a few modifications:

  • Skirt dimensions: I used 6″x17″ rectangles instead of the pattern specified 9″x18.”
  • Bias Trim: I folded a strip 2.5″ wide in half, sewed it to the bottom hem of the skirt, pressed the seam underneath upward and topstitched it down. This way the folded edge is on the bottom of the skirt and you don’t have to do any hemming.

Fabric: Amy Butler’s Midwest Modern

Pattern: Itty Bitty Baby Dress (and check out The Photo Pool for more inspiration)

Fit: When I wrote the pattern, I said that it was designed “to fit a preemie or small newborn (about 7 lbs) right from birth.” That was a guess. Now while I agree that this would fit a 7-lb baby, I think it would be way too big for a preemie; this fits Clementine just about perfectly right now, and she’s a little over 8 pounds (she spit up about half a pound the first day, having spent about 15 minutes total making her exit from the womb…). I’m not sure it would fit a 9-lb baby, but we’ll see!

The result is a dress that is shorter; almost a top really, so I thought I’d just pair it with a pair of pants. Since it’s summer, the pants never made it on:

Bonnie’s got a nice (free!) pattern/tutorial for super-cute matching bloomers that I’ve been meaning to try; I also purchased her Little Fishies Undies pattern and can’t wait to make undies for Elliot! Right now the sewing machines are sitting dormant; maybe in a few weeks I’ll be able to start sewing again…