Daisy Romper and Bonnet from Thrifted Sheet

I made another sunsuit.  These are becoming my go-to summer outfit the more hot and sticky it gets here in Michigan and they’re easy and fast. I am also pretty excited about this reversible baby bonnet.  It’s been in pattern purgatory for weeks, a little too baggy in back, a little too short at the ears.  But finally I cracked it.  And two bonnets for the time invested in one?  Excellent.

If you missed the tutorial for this sunsuit the first time around, you can find it here.  Although be warned, I’ve already figured out a better way to do the bottom.  Hah. Just have to find time to photo/blog it.

The fabric is from a thrifted sheet.  I remember complaining at one point about my lack of good vintage sheet sources.  My cries did not go unheard; my Aunt Jan who is the Queen of Thrift Store Finds came to my rescue with a stack of awesome sheets.  This pink daisy pattern is so cheerful and summery.  Here’s a peek at the inside (outside?) of the bonnet:

Other randomness for today

  • Baby Pants Pattern: I realize that if I don’t produce a Big Butt Baby Pants Pattern very soon, I’m going to have a mob on my hands.  As soon as I get off this computer I am going to work on it.  I know that doesn’t mean anything concrete, but I thought I’d just mention that, for what it’s worth.
  • Privacy Issues: Some of you may have noticed I’ve randomly started omitting my kids’ names (and faces, usually) in my posts.  I’ve been toying with getting rid of their names altogether. After reading this I get more and more anxious every day that I’m going to discover some creep has taken pictures of my kids and put them on their own website or worse.  The problem is, there doesn’t seem to be much precedent or standard anywhere.  When I was a teacher it was easy: you don’t post pictures of your students online unless you have parental permission.  But now that I’m the parent?  My kids can’t speak for themselves, so it’s my call when I put them out there.  And most of the blogs I read have pictures of their kids’ faces and real names.  I’m starting to wonder if that is that being completely irresponsible?  I struggle with this lately.  And as you can tell I have yet to do anything about it. Bah.

Anyway, that’s all for now.  Gotta go work on baby pants.

The Easiest Robot Garland. Evar.

Some of you remember the Easiest Heart Garland. Evar. and this isn’t going to turn into a series or anything, but garlands are easy to make and fun so I had to share my very very easy peasy paper party garland. It isn’t made of felt like the heart one (but wouldn’t THAT be cute??) and therefore is less durable, but I find with birthday garlands that in fact each year you want to do something new, making the time invested in a felt birthday garland slightly less rewarding.  But don’t let me stop you.

Here’s how to make:
1.  Gather supplies: colored printer paper (mine came from IKEA if you’re looking for these colors), stapler, hole punch, scissors.  Each color you use gives 8 robots and about a yard of garland, so mix colors to make longer garlands or just use one color.

2.  Fold the paper in half three times to make eight sections (unfolded shown above, folded shown below).  The order of the folds is not important as long as you end up with eight equal sections.

3.  Sketch cutouts if needed.  The top corners will need rectangles, the bottom corners need “L”s and the bottom center needs a square.  Personally I think the less exact you are, the cuter they end up. Witness how wonkified they are in that first picture if you don’t believe me.

4.  Cut L’s on bottom corners through all layers with scissors

5.  Cut squares out of bottom center through all layers to make the legs

6.  Cut rectangles from top corners through all layers to make the head

7.  Open up your paper.  The robots will be connected by their arms, legs, or heads but not necessarily exactly like mine if you positioned your folds differently.  This doesn’t matter since you’re going to cut them all apart anyway. Now cut them all apart.

8.  Punch holes for eyes and control buttons

9.  Staple two robots at a time together horizontally by catching each arm with the staple or stapling them together vertically head to foot.

10. Optional: I tied loops of thread to the ends to make them easier to hang, but you could also tape them up or just rest them on curtain rods or fixtures.

Easy, peasy!

Best in Show

It’s too hard to focus on serious sewing when there’s summer outfits to be made for Clementine. 

Fabric: Red Letter Day by Lizzy House + White Linen

Patterns: Seaside Sundress (upsized for 12-18 mo/shortened to make a swingy top) + Big Butt Baby Pants (shortened again to make capris…bloomers would have been cuter but I have to protect those pudgy little knees)

The only question now is: would this be cuter with pockets?

Guest Blogger: KellyLeaSews’ Maternity Top Tutorials

I know many of you couldn’t help but notice the amazing maternity tops made by Kelly in this years’s Spring Top Week competition. Her green maternity top was one of the Top 60 finalists and earned a ton of votes! Since I’ve been doing alot of baby posts around here lately I decided to invite her over to show us how she modified the Spring Ruffle Top (and the Mendocino Sundress) for maternity wear.  Welcome Kelly!

I made these first two tops using Rae’s awesome Spring Ruffle Top tutorial. I didn’t modify the width at all, I think you will find that there is plenty of room without making any changes. When I hemmed it I left the front at the original length (20″) and cut the back about an inch and a half shorter. That way, when I put it on and my belly pushes it out, it all still falls at about the same length. To cut the length, I folded the shirt in half with the side seams together and made a mark 1 1/2″ up from the bottom in the center of the back panel, then I sketched a line with my chalk from that mark, down to 5″ past the side seam on the front panel. I cut it along that line and used a rolled hem on my serger to finish it off. Post-baby I plan to take it in on the sides as shown in Rae’s tutorial, and even out the length.

This one has some more modifications, but is still based on the same pattern. I thought gathers would make a better “belly bubble” and I think it worked well. There are instructions at the end of Rae’s tutorial for making gathers instead of pleats. The first thing I did was take out 3″ from the width of the back piece so that it would lay better. From there I sewed the shirt just as instructed in Rae’s tutorial, and then went to work on the bottom. (Make sure if you are finishing off the seam allowance on the sides that you don’t cut any of it off yet, you will make a side vent where the bottom band ties later, and you will need the full 1/2″ of fabric in the seam allowance on that side.)

I left the front at the original length (20″), which seemed a little to long at the time but as my belly has gotten bigger it fits really well.

I took a lot off the back, about 6 1/2″. Try it on before you cut it, and mark where you want the back to end, keeping in mind that the band will add another 2″ to the length.

To cut the length, fold the shirt in half with the side seams together, then measure 6 1/2″ (or your measurement) up from the bottom in the center of the back panel. Then sketch a line from that mark, down to a couple of inches from the center of the front panel. Make sure your line starts out sort of flat for the first couple of inches so that when you open the shirt back up you have a curved line in the back and not an inverted V.

Next I made the little side vent where the bottom band ties. Open the side seam up 4″ from the bottom, and fold the seam allowance in 1/4″, then again 1/4″ and press. Then top stitch about 1/8″ away from the edge, and finish the top of the vent with a zigzag stitch set at 0 for the stitch length.

To make the bottom band: measure around your hips where you want it to lay, and cut two lengths of fabric, each piece equal to 1/2 of your hip measurement plus an extra 24″ to allow for bow tying cuteness. To make it the same width as the top band, cut it 5″ wide. Sew the two pieces together at the ends using a 1/2″ seam, and press the seam allowance open. Fold the band in half lengthwise (wrong sides together) and cut the ends at an angle, then sew them together for the first 24″ only on each end, using a 3/8″ seam allowance. Next turn it right side out and press, folding one side of the unsewn part of the band 1/4″ toward the inside. Then gather the front and back panels of the shirt so that they are each equal to 1/2 of your hip measurement, starting the gathers 2″ from the side seam and ending 2″ from the opposite side seam. Attach the band the same way as the top chest band (step 7 in Rae’s tutorial), matching the side seam of the band with the side seam of the shirt (the shirt should fit in the “pocket” that was made by sewing the first 24″ of the band together- if not, adjust the gathering that you did on the shirt). As I attached the band, I continued sewing to top stitch all the way around the band; I did the same with the top chest band.

I am still deciding how I will modify this one after the baby comes, when I cut it off to even out the length it will be pretty short. I think I will add either just a plain white band or ruffle to make it longer, and not fitted at the bottom.

This one is my favorite, it is super comfortable and I find myself wearing it a lot. I used the Heather Ross Mendocino Sundress pattern, available for free on her website. The only thing I modified was the length; I have made three of these- one the original pattern length, one knee length and this top and I like them all. There is enough room for a rather large belly, I am 30 weeks as of this writing and still have room to grow. I will continue to wear this one long after the baby comes!

So that’s it! I hope this is helpful to the expecting moms out there. If you have any questions I would be happy to answer them, just leave them in the comments for this post.

Kelly was 30 weeks pregnant when she wrote this; however, it’s been about a month since I asked her to guestie and she’s getting closer to the end of her pregnancy.  You can leave comments or questions for Kelly and she will answer as time allows.

Thanks so much Kelly!  I hope you moms who are expecting will be able to make some cute summer tops of your own! 

The other member of our family (hint: he’s green)

My kids are both in love with Kermit.  Baby C has make-out sessions where she smothers him with hugs and kisses.  E talks to him like he’s a member of our family.  The other day he demanded that I make Kermit a Dry Pants Chart too. 

So sometimes I let him have a snack.

Have a great weekend!

Posted in at home

Baby Sunsuit Tutorial

I’m guest blogging for the Baby Bonanza over at luvinthemommyhood today, where I’m introducing this sunsuit tutorial.  If you’ve just come from there, welcome!  If not, you can go see a few more pictures and read my new-baby advice over there if you’d like.
C hates grass, not her sunsuit

It finally cooled off here in Michigan.  Last week it was so hot and humid I thought it was mid-August. I got the impression C would rather go naked than wear anything, so I made this little sunsuit for her.

The fabric is Far Far Away double gauze by Heather Ross. This fabric couldn’t be more perfect for baby clothing.  It’s lightweight without being too flimsy, incredibly soft and breathable.  And the sunsuit itself is so easy to make I thought I’d make a tutorial!

The tutorial works from your baby’s measurements for a custom fit and has a snap closure at the bottom for easy diaper changes.  I’ve also included the measurements for a 6-12 month size if you’d rather not measure your baby or are making one for a gift.  The shirring (gathering) at the top and legs is done by putting elastic thread in your bobbin and is a popular technique that I’ve seen all over the place for the last year.  I’ve included a few links at the end of the tutorial where you can learn how to shir (is that a word?) if you haven’t tried it before. Shirring did NOT come easily to me (4th paragraph) so make sure you take some time to learn how to do this before you commit to this project.

You’ll need at least a 1/2 yard of fabric, two buttons or snaps for the straps, and three snaps for the bottom closure.  That’s all, let’s get started!

All text and photos are the intellectual property of Rae Hoekstra; you may link to this tutorial as long as you give proper credit, but do not copy content for distribution.  Thanks!

Note: I’ve included small pictures to take up less room, but you can click on any image to enlarge if you need a closer look.

Step 1:  Measure your baby (these don’t need to be exact, over the clothes or diaper is fine)
Measurement A: around the chest right under the armpits
Measurement B: start from the base of the neck right where it meets the shoulder and measure to the crotch, right where a onesie would snap.  This will help you take into account the length of your baby.

Step 2: Cut out fabric

You’ll need two rectangles out of your fabric.  The width should be [Measurement A – 1″] and length should be [Measurement B + 4″].  For a 6-12 month size I cut 16″x19″.  Take a moment to find and mark the center of the top edge of each panel.  This will make attaching your straps easier later.

You’ll also need a 2″ strip for the straps as long as Measurement B.  Cut this in half to make two strap pieces.  So for the 6-12 month sunsuit I cut a 2″x19″ strip.

Step 3: Cut out circles on bottom
Draw a semi-circle in the center of the bottom edge of each of your rectangles.  Make it 1″ high and 2″ across.  It does not need to be exactly circular, but do your best.

Cut out your circles from both the front and back rectangles.  This is where the snap closure will go.

Step 4: Make arch pieces for snap closure
Whenever you have snap closures you need to reinforce the fabric so the snaps won’t tear through.  Using the semi-circles as a template, trace another semicircle along the edge of a new scrap of fabric (4″x8″ is big enough).  Then draw another semi-circle 2″ outside of the first one.

Cut two of these arches out:

Step 7: Sew snap panels to main panels using 1/4″ seam
For the front, you’ll place the arch so that it’s right side faces the right side of the front panel.  For the back, place the right side of arch to wrong side of back panel.

Step 8: Clip and flip.

Clip seam, then turn and press the arch to the other side of the panel so that the right side faces out.  Then press under the raw edge along the top of the arch.

Step 9: Add snaps
Mark location of snaps with marking pen, one exactly in the center and the others 1.25″ away on either side.  Measure this carefully so that your snaps will all line up nicely.  UPDATED:  Try and get your three snaps placed in a straight line if possible. Since my double gauze stretches a little it didn’t really matter for me but for those who are using quilter’s cotton the snap closure will be a little wonky unless you can get the snaps to line up.

I use a snap pliers because I find it to be an easy way to apply snaps, but you could also use sew-on snaps.  Another way to do the bottom closure would be with buttons and buttonholes, but that seemed a little fussy for me. I purchased my snap press at my local sewing chain store, but here’s an etsy shop where you can get the kits online for about what I paid for mine.  You can also get fancy snap presses for even more, but this works just fine for me.  I used size 15 snaps.

Each half of a snap has a ring with teeth that goes through the fabric to hold it in place:

Put one ring and half of the snap into the pliers:

then position pliers over markings (make sure the ring is on the wrong side of the fabric) and press the two sides firmly together.  The finished product looks like this:

Step 10: Sew down the snap panels
Using a zigzag stitch, tack down the edges of the snap panels.

Step 11: Sew back and front together and finish edges
Using a 1/4″ seam, sew the side seams.  Pink or serge so seams won’t fray. To finish the top and bottom edges, I turned under 1/4″ twice and sewed down, but you could also do a rolled hem with a serger or by hand.

Step 12: Shirring the legs of the sunsuit.
Using elastic thread in your bobbin, sew two rows along leg openings starting at one snap panel and going toward the other. I sewed the first row 1/8″ from bottom and second row 1/4″ from bottom.  I backstitch a couple times at the beginning and then just turn the fabric around when I get to the other side and go back, then backstitch a little again at the end.  (please consult a shirring tutorial if you have never done this before!!! see below for links)

Step 13: Shirring around the top of the sunsuit
Sew 6 rows 1/2″ apart to create a band of shirring 3″ wide at the top of the sunsuit.  For newborns you may want a narrower band of shirring, say 2″, and for older babies you may want to go wider (3.5″-4″).

Start at a side seam about 1/2″ from the top edge.  Sew parallel to the top edge, cross the other side seam and keep going across the back.  When you get to where you started, steer the presser foot to sew another row 1/2″ below the one you just did and just continue until you have enough shirring.  You won’t have to lift your needle or stop sewing so this part should go very quickly. You are essentially sewing a spiral around the sunsuit until the height of the gathered portion looks good to you. A closeup is shown below so you can see the seam where I started and ended (the red stitching is the elasticized stitching).  It looks a little wonky but it doesn’t have to be perfect since it will gather up anyway.

Here’s what your sunsuit should look like now, more or less:

Step 14: Make Straps
Go to my Easy Strap Tutorial to see how I made my 3/4″ wide straps.  I put buttonholes in the ends but you could also use snaps here.  Another option would be to do a pair of ties at each shoulder.

Step 15: Attach Straps
I measured and marked 3.5″ inches from the center mark (with the fabric stretched out) on both the front and back of the sunsuit.  Sew the buttons to the back first.  Button the straps in back, and safety pin the straps to the front and try it on your baby to check before sewing them down.  I think I had about 1/2″ of excess on the end of each strap which I just tucked inside and sewed under when attaching the straps.

You’re finished!  Put sunsuit on that baby, photograph, ooh and ah!!!

Shirring Resources
Here are the places I found good shirring information.  I’m sure there are many more but this will give you a place to start:
Pretty Ditty’s Shirring Tutorial
Portobello Pixie’s Shir Madness Tutorial (link is on right side of blog)
MADE’s Summer Vacation Dress and Shortie Pattern (lots of great variations there!)
Craftstylish Shirring Tutorial by Cal Patch
Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross

Sometimes I amaze even myself

So I was working on a tutorial for luvinthemommyhood’s Baby Bonanza this weekend (it’ll be up on Wednesday, sorry to tease), and I needed to make straps.  I hate making straps (as in ties on a hat or drawstrings or purse handles, etc).  It’s always something like “fold the fabric in half and then tuck the ends under and sew it shut” in which case you see the stitching, or “sew it inside out and then try and figure a way to turn it right-side out”, something that always leaves me sticking pencils and other sharp objects through my fabric and screaming. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve sewn a ribbon inside the strap and then had it pull through the seam as soon as I started pulling. 

Not this time.  This was so easy it blew me out of the water.  I don’t know why I never done it this way before, and I’m certain I can’t be the first person to discover this, but honestly I’m feeling pretty brilliant right now so if you’ve done this your entire life just keep your yap shut.  OK, kidding. sortof. 

So here’s my Easy Strap Tutorial.  (click on images to enlarge)

Step 1: Cut your strap fabric.  The finished strap I needed here was 3/4,” so I cut it 2″ wide.  Your finished width will be =[Starting Width – 1/2″ / 2].  Two straps are shown here because I was making a pair.  You only need one piece of fabric for each strap. 

Step 2:  Fold strap in half lengthwise to find the center.  Place a safety pin along the fold near one end, with the head of the safety pin facing the other end.  Note: the width of the safety pin needs to be pretty small compared with the strap width since you’ll sew it inside the strap in the next step; for very narrow straps you will need a very small safety pin.  

Step 3:  Fold the strap in half lengthwise so the pin is covered by the fabric.  Line up edges.  If you want a finished end, sew across the end of the strap nearest the pin with a 1/4″ seam.  Turn needle at corner and continue sewing the entire length of the strap with 1/4″ seam, leaving the other end of the strap open.  Clip corners at finished end.

Step 4: Push pin towards open end to turn the strap right side out.  You can stick a tweezers or other sharp object into the strap to help push the corners out if you want. 

Step 5:  Remove pin and press strap flat.  If you want the other end of the strap finished, tuck those raw edges under and press.

That’s all.  Easy, peasy.

Bunny Ruffle Capris

I’m still working to fulfill my goal of making more outfits than Baby C will be able to wear this summer, haha. My latest effort from the baby-sewing dept, Bunny Capris:

I know they practically look like shorts here but try and remember that C is a cloth diaper baby.  The fabric is Riley Bunnies by Anna Griffin (and hey look it’s ON SALE at Fabricworm right now…full disclosure: FW was one of my STW sponsors but I do not receive any sort of compensation for mentioning the shop, just trying to provide you with a place to get it).

The pattern is my Big Butt Baby Pants pattern (not yet published, that’s just another picture) for cloth diaper babes which I chopped off to make capris.  Oh so clever.  Those of you who have been begging me since forever to make it available will be happy to know that these capris put it one step closer to publication.  Still, tweaking that panel on the back so it’s just right is proving to be a bit of a challenge.  When the panel gets wider, the legs have to get narrower, blah blah.  These are size 12-18 months so they’re a little big on C, who will be a year old end of July.

Since the top I made these to go with had a nice demure ruffle over the sleeve, I decided to add them to the bottom of the leg…and then, well, I went a little crazy:

The result is a little over-the-top, even for me, but it’s cute and hilarious so we’re keeping it.  I’m still waiting to see how these wash up; knit ruffles definitely shrink up when they are washed so I’ll keep you posted.