Handmade for Baby

It seems like forever ago that the very lovely and talented Charlotte Rivers contacted me about contributing to her new book.  Aside from feeling incredibly flattered that I had been asked, I initially felt quite overwhelmed.  The festive season was fast approaching, meaning not only were the kids on holidays and wrecking my house, but extra and later shifts at work were frequently popping up.  We had scheduled for the kitchen to be ripped out straight after Christmas in anticipation of renovations and had started ripping up our floors.  Coupled with the fact that I had had zilch experience with anything to do with publishing and no idea what was expected from me, I thought long and hard.  But only for about two minutes.  Of course I would!  How often do these opportunities come by?  Jump in!

It meant a few late nights, lots of emailing back and forth, wrangling children I had never met for photos and a couple of afternoon naps while my husband took charge of keeping the kids out of my way.  With everything else happening about the place at that particular time, I did at least at one point, wonder if I had perhaps bitten off more than I could swallow, and whether my kids would still love me when it was all done.  One-o'clock-in-the-morning finishes at work, followed by two hours of editing photos and writing instructions, only to be woken early in the morning by excited children ("What are we doing TODAY??!") doesn't make for happy times at my house.

BUT....the finished product arrived at the door yesterday, and all that has been long forgotten.

'Handmade for Baby' is an absolutely delightful book with contributions from crafters all over the world.  All the projects are for babies aged 0 through to one year old, but I think many of the crafts can be used to make gifts for older children, too.  Easy-to-make projects which use knitting, crochet, papercrafts, printing on fabric, photography and of course, sewing, are all included in the book which is full of gorgeous photos and illustrated step-by-step instructions.

I have two sewing projects in the book - this star wand rattle...

....and this dress-up party crown.

However, even if I weren't a contributor, this is exactly the sort of book I would buy if I found it at a bookstore.  So many of the designers and bloggers that I have stalked followed for years took part - Sanae Ishida, Pink Brutus Knits, Aunty Cookie, Delia Creates, StraightGrain and Paper + Cup Design, just to name a few.  I really do feel quite humbled to be included in such a talented bunch of people - like I'm one of the cool kids, finally.  Wow.

So, whether you're pregnant yourself, or looking to make something for an up-the-duff friend, seeking out a baby-shower gift for a crafty mother-to be, or you just like looking at little hand-crafted things and cute kids, you should definitely check out this lovely book of crafts made especially for babies - I don't even have a baby, and I want to make them ALL.

(A big thanks to Charlotte and all involved at Rotovision, my adorable models Nevaeh and Taylah, and my awesome and always-supportive husband, who kept the children out of my hair and alive, for which I'm guessing they will be forever thankful.)


Work in progress - winged romper.

I'm working on this little romper with optional wings. I'm hoping to set up shop later in the year, selling a few bits and pieces. That's why things around here have been so quiet - sorry. This little suit is still in development, but I'm liking it so far.


A romper from shirt sleeves.

I found an awesome men's shirt from the op-shop in my most favourite shade of grey.  I had in mind that I was going to make Sophie a blouse and after I sliced the shirt up every which way, I somehow burnt a big hole in the back with my crappy excuse of an iron.  Oops.  My fault, I should have bought a new iron weeks ago.  The thermostat on this one is a bit emotional - sometimes barely warming up a couple of degrees after being switched on, and at other times it's over-enthusiastic and agitated for no good reason.  If it were human, it would be my twin.

The leftover sleeves gave me enough fabric to make this baby romper.  I made this using Simplicity  3508, which is a reprint from a 1950s pattern (I'm not sure if this is still available, but you could try your luck on eBay or Etsy). This will remain unworn for the foresee-able future as I don't know anybody who is pregnant nor small.  Which is probably just as well because although this is tiny and cute, it's not perfect.  I'm going to practise this one a bit more and make some changes.  Especially to all those buttons.  And buttonholes.  Moan.   Making buttonholes is like the worst thing ever.

I have another similar sized shirt in my stash and I'm thinking I might have another go.  Maybe I could get two rompers out of the next one?  I might try that on a day I'm feeling a bit clever, but not before I buy a new iron with a better attitude, I think.


Shoulder button top.

This top is a sample from a pattern I drew up based on something I saw in a children's fashion magazine.  I figure this is a great design for summer or in winter to layer over a long sleeved tee.  This one is actually made from cotton sheeting and is prone to a bit of wrinkling.  I'm thinking next time I'll try a light denim or a light wool check for cooler months.

The bloomers were made from some fabric leftover after I made this.

I've been thinking a bit more lately about putting together a small collection of clothes and selling them online.  Even though I have a husband who runs his own business, I have remained blissfully unaware of the requirements and responsibilities of running a small business.  I'm kind of regretting that now and doing some research on the inter-web, and asking friends in small business what to do.  But, they don't seem to have any idea either.  Etsy?  Big Cartel?  I'm definitely not one to sit at a market stall all day, so online's the preference.  Any suggestions, tips, do's and don'ts would be very helpful and much appreciated :)

I'll have a bit more time for sewing now this one is starting kindergarten in a couple of weeks.  Can you believe it?  She turned four about a week ago. 

She has been working those dimples of late and spends ages in front of the bathroom mirror watching them appear and disappear by moving her 'magic face'.  That's good, because she is going to require a truckload of cuteness if she thinks the behaviour she's been exhibiting at home of late is going to swing with the Department of Education.  The school holidays and the excitement of having her brother at home to play with (whether he likes it or not) has been making her just a tad over the top.

I will miss her terribly, but I'm so excited for her.  My big girl.  *blub*


Clownie romper.

More projects from the scrap pile.  I ran up this little romper from a piece of floral fabric I had left over from this dress  that I made some time ago.  There wasn't quite enough to make something for Sophie, but still a substantial enough remnant to make something.  I'm not sure who this is for yet, but I'm sure somebody I know will be having a baby at some point in the future, or know of someone else who will.  Not me, though.  No way!  That horse has well and truly and gladly bolted.  Phew.

My obsession with all things circus-like is an influence here.  The clownish frill around the neck is made of a grey and white cotton seersucker, bound with self bias and left with a raw hem.  I was sort of experimenting at the start  and didn't have the inclination for time consuming niceties such as hemming ruffles.   But as I was making my way through it, I was having fun watching it all come together, and did in fact start paying more attention to detail toward the end.  Too late for the neck ruffle, though.

It buttons at the back with two vintage buttons  (the top one is concealed by the frill), and opens at the crotch with snap fasteners.  The type you hammer on. That was a first for me, and I was surprised how easy it was.  Noisy though.  I was hammering away and my husband yelled, "What ARE you doing in there??"  "I'm making a baby romper!  Derrrrrrrr...!"

This is such a light little suit, it would be just fine on it's own in the summer months, but I can see it worn over tights in the cooler weather and topped with a cosy cardigan and cute knit hat.  I really wish I had a little baby to put this on and photograph - awwww,  too cute!  I really miss being able to dress Sophie in teeny, sweet clothes (not that she's ever been that teeny).

 And I really love this autumn-ish floral and am quite disappointed that I'm almost completely out of it.   I possibly have enough left to make a doll and some scrunchies, but that's it.  That's sad.


Scribble day

There's not been much to report of late, except that today is the start of the school break and I am over it already.  And it's hot. We have busted out the drawing things and a roll of paper and are partaking in a bit of art therapy.  I have been back to the brown paper table about two dozen times myself already today, trying to get my happy back.

However, I'm thinking Cameron might need a roll of his own.  He is a very quick and prolific doodler and is able to draw at one metre a minute, thereby muscling in on my patch of happy-making space, which is not on when I'm already snippy.

But I guess it doesn't really matter, because Sophie just scribbles all over my drawings anyway.  Her story is that she's making them 'look better'.

Hooray! - my own little editor.  What would I do without her?


Gingerbread houses

I remember a few years a go, I tried to put together one of those three dimensional gingerbread houses.  I didn't make the gingerbread myself, but instead bought a kit from Ikea (of all places).   I don't know why, but I stupidly picked the most hottest and clammiest day over the Christmas break to try and stick it all together.  I very quickly discovered that royal icing is rather like me in the humidity - overly temperamental and a hag to work with.  Needless to say, the two hours of effort I put into trying to recreate the magical image on the box resulted in a failure of colossal proportions, a Tupperware container full of gingerbread shards and me vowing never, ever to make another one, ever.

Fast forward five years and can you guess what I'm making?  Cameron likes to gift his classmates something every year and we were looking through my cutters and these were about as Christmas-ish as it got (besides stars, but they are ho-hum because I make them ALL the time, apparently).  So gingerbread houses were the go.  But this time, without those two extra pesky dimensions.

Anyway, check these over and spot the mistakes.  As you can see, my mad (sad) piping technique needs some work, and I'm quite sure some of Cameron's friends will be scratching their heads and thinking, what the heck are THESE supposed to be??  Cameron took great care and skill in placing on the coloured bobbles and pretty silver things, but that's where the care and skill ended, I'm afraid. 

 I think, as a cookie decorator, I make a pretty good dressmaker, or anything else for that matter. 


Bubble pants

If you're a regular visitor, you'd know that Sophie owns hundreds of pairs of home sewn bloomers, but I wanted to try to make some that were a bit different than her regular ones.  These are one of the test pairs I've run up, based on a pattern from this book.  I say based, as after the initial run through, some of the pattern pieces needed a bit of re-drafting, which is NOT a fault of the book, but rather somebody's round tummy.  Sewing would be a whole lot simpler if my girl was a more standard size.

I had some black linen left over from a previous project and managed to get the main pieces of the shorts cut from it (after some jiggering about).  The pockets were cut from a fat quarter of quilting cotton I bought years ago when I had a thing for spots.  Everything matched up really well, which is not always an easy thing to do when you're working from your scrap pile.

Of course, these took a bit more time than one of my standard run-them-up-in-an-hour stick-elastic-thorough-all-casings efforts, but the construction is really simple, and they look much more polished.

Actually, these took a lot longer than they should have.  Ten days, approximately.  This included the initial ones, the pattern drafting, the procrastinating, etc.  I just wasn't in the mood.  I have been having a bad run with the sewing machine of late, and have just had to get up and leave it be for days at a time.  I get phases like that.

I really love that the pockets can be made out of a scrap of eye catching fabric you might love but not have any other use for.   In addition, the pockets themselves serve as a wonderful cache for all sorts of treasures.  Sophie had been wearing them for an hour before I managed to grab the camera and take these shots.  After taking photographs, I changed her into long pants and found inside these ones some stickers, a half-eaten cracker, two buttons and a texta lid. 

I may be inclined next time to redraft the pockets (again!) into panels that extend the entire height of the shorts.  If she managed to collect that many trinkets in the space of sixty minutes, there's no telling what might end up in those pockets after wearing them for an entire day.  I would not be game to check.  Other than that, though, these are great, if you have a child-sized child (if not, it's easy enough to widen the shorts panels and pocket, and adjust the waistband and leg binding to fit).  I want a pair!

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