Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Mister Mossy

I'm not quite sure if this project falls under "success" or "failure!" A little bit of both, perhaps?

 I've had the free "Miss Mossy" patterns by DROPS in my favorite for ages, and thought that a new baby was the perfect opportunity to try it out (even though the name would indicate that it's for girls -- hopefully remedied by a masculine tweed yarn). But the pattern runs huge! After knitting a few rows, I reduced the size considerably -- even though I was making the 1-3 months size, based on other comments that it ran large. I don't like my babies swimming in knitwear, after all. With Scout due in July, I estimated what a 6 month size would be in ready-to-wear. I also changed which side the buttonholes were on to be suitable for a boy, and added a second row of buttons.

However, two things happened -- I miscalculated how much yarn I'd need, and Scout was not the 7-8 lb baby that I thought he'd be (after three siblings in the 7.25-7.75 lb range, I think I was justified in assuming he'd be at least close to that)! I was already half-way through, so after much hemming and hawing I finished the sweater -- which was the only way to find out if I had enough yarn. But that meant "skimping" on the sleeve area so I'd have enough yarn to finish, and even with that I had to change the neckline finish due to insufficient yarn. The sleeves seem a bit snug, and will probably have to be worn with only a short-sleeve layer underneath -- but then again, the whole thing might be a bit snug by the time it cools off enough for my little guy to wear this!

I might frog it after he's worn it a few times (can't bear to have done all that work for nothing!) and use the yarn for something else. Not the outcome I was hoping for... I could save it in case we have another baby who's the right size to wear it during winter -- but that seems a bit "specific." Fortunately, it was a relatively simple and small project, so it wasn't a huge time investment. Nothing like practice, right? *sigh* Come to think of it, it could make a really nice winter vest.

Overall, I really liked the pattern! I love the understated design, and it's not difficult to knit. I'd love to try it again in future. That'll teach me to pay attention to yardage requirements in future. Also, I really should work on my seaming techniques, since I don't want to knit everything in the round. The yarn is Knit Picks City Tweed DK in "Toad." It's lovely, lovely.

 After a rather stressful project, I needed something more relaxing -- and with three leftover skeins of worsted-weight yarn from my White Pine Cardigan (which I'll get to wear again soon! Yay!), I set to work on a hat and some fingerless mitts. Very rewarding and quick projects! I'll be sharing them soon -- I think the cooler weather has me itching to do more knitting.

Raveled here.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

All Laced Up

"Operation Stashbust" has resulted in projects of various sizes, shapes, and varieties -- for instance, a toasty top for Rosa to wear this fall and winter. 

This cotton "sweatshirt" fabric has seen many incarnations. Originally it was used for Rosa and Laddie's Christmas pajama pants two years ago, and more recently for pajama pants for Little Man. But it was time to get out of the pajama rut, don't ya think?

I'd been toying with the idea of including lace in a "sweatshirt" design, and decided this was the perfect opportunity! I pulled out some Cluny lace from my stash (I'd actually used the ruffled Cluny lace for a skirt years ago, and then harvested it when the skirt wore out), and got to work. I drafted a pattern sloper for a raglan-sleeve top/dress a while ago (which I've used for everything from nightgowns to dresses), so I used that for this top. And, of course, what's a new top without a matching hair bow?

I had to get creative with the sleeves, because after making Little Man's pajama pants I ended up just short of enough fabric to cut them out -- instead, I divided the sleeve pattern down the middle, attached each sleeve piece with a strip of fusible interfacing, used my widest zig-zag stitch to connect them more permanently, and then topstitched the lace down the center of each sleeve. It worked out quite nicely! Necessity really is the mother of invention, it would seem.

To attach the lace to the hem, I marked my hem and figured out where the lace would need to be to have the proper "clearance." I then stitched the lace right-sides-together to the shirt before hemming, and then hemmed the shirt. The result is a normal hem (rather than attaching the lace at the hem line and ending up with either an awkwardly narrow hem, or very little lace showing). I think my lace was stitched on about half an inch away from the edge of the shirt. I don't know if that makes much sense, but there you go!

I can't wait for the weather to cool down so Rosa can wear her new top -- she's pretty excited about the matching hair bow. And I'm thrilled to have a little less in the stash!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Sleep Light

After the success of my first modified Peanut Swaddler (thank you, Toni, for the fabulous free pattern!), I knew I'd need at least one more. At this point, a load of laundry can't make it through the washer and dryer before it's time for another nap! Scout ends up kind of sweaty with the extra knit layer (though it will probably be perfect for winter), so I used some stash double gauze from JoAnn's for a lighter, cooler version of the swaddler. 

I used the same modified pattern as before (with the extended arm area and additional leg length/room), but enlarged it even more to account for the lack of stretch.

Rather than have either fraying or serged seam allowance on the inside, I sewed it wrong sides together and then bound the edge with a thin cotton bias strip. 

Again, I am totally in love with the 2-way zipper! This one feature blue pulls, because I used the white pull that belongs to this zipper tape on my other sleep sack, and the only other zippers I had in my stash with pulls that would work were both blue. I extended the zipper all the way to the end of the sack (the pattern calls for stopping it before the bottom), stitched over it when I sewed the front and back together, and then bound the edge in bias tape. I then did the same for the neck edge.

 Considering how simple and inexpensive these are, I'm glad I resisted the impulse to shell out for a "real" swaddle/sleep sack (it's amazing how many reviews on Amazon started with "I purchased this in the middle of the night out of desperation!"). Even counting the original cost of the stash materials, the knit sleep sack cost less than $3, and this one cost less than $5. They're also a cinch to make, partly because design and construction are simple, and partly because I'm not as concerned about the final appearance of something that will only be used while Scout is sleeping.

And considering how well they are working, I'm also glad I gave them a shot! I've never had a baby sleep over 7 hours a night at 7 weeks old before (I usually wake up in the morning before he does!), and while that may be partly due to a number of factors (white noise machine, bigger/gestationally older baby, and actually sticking to a [flexible] schedule better than with my other babies), I'm convinced the sleep sacks have contributed.

I love it when a project is immediately useful! Though when I look at the rolls (upon rolls!) in that picture of Scout, I have a feeling I'll be making these a size up shortly...

Monday, September 18, 2017

Out of Doors

There's nothing like a good walk out of doors, is there? Especially on a day that has a hint of fall in the air. Especially with the four dearest little people in my life.

Even in death there is beauty -- decay brings forth new life, literally lifting up the forest floor in its enthusiasm.

Light plays on the water, and then among the leaves -- it was one of the Littles who noticed the reflection of the water dancing on the undersides of the leaves overhead, as we lingered by the lake.

We're studying botany for school this year, so one of our favorite haunts for an outdoor jaunt is also rife with opportunity. "Is that an angiosperm or a gymnosperm? Is this plant vascular or non-vascular? What is botany?" I've always like English, history, and math more than science, so I'm having a good brush-up by teaching the Littles -- another benefit of homeschooling!

We also sighted some dragons (apparently -- I never caught a glimpse, sadly), spent quite a bit of time waiting for Laddie to catch up, and (in Scout's case) had a nice nap.

There's an egret perched in some dead branches -- can you spot him?
With Scout out and my six weeks of "taking it easy" complete, I'm savoring my rediscovered energy and plain ol' ability to move (I was so huge at the end of my pregnancy that I couldn't manage much more than a waddle!). It's going to be a lovely Autumn.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Sleep Tight

With a newborn in the house, sleep has suddenly become a precious commodity! So naturally, anything that can prolong Scout's slumber (better for him and better for me!) is an attractive idea. Sadly, I am quite possibly the worst swaddler in history, and all of my four children have hated having their arms swaddled. Scout, at least, doesn't usually startle himself awake like the others did -- but sometimes when's he restless or trying to fall asleep, he'll flail his arms enough to wake himself up. Scratch mittens helped a bit, but not enough.

I made a few sleep sacks for Laddie way-back-when, using a self-drafted pattern based on the Zipadee-zip design. They worked beautifully, but they were quite worn out and I wanted to try a different design this time. I really like the Love to Dream Swaddle UP, and I've been intrigued by the Woombie. So when I came across Toni's Peanut Swaddler Pattern and Tutorial, I had to give it a shot! I had a super-soft long sleeve knit shirt that had been in my stash for ages, just waiting for this project. 

Okay, my version may not look a lot like Toni's -- the most significant change being the top design. Scout sleeps with his hands up most of the time, so I wanted to give him that option (and my experience with the Zipadee design was that just having fabric to "push" against was soothing enough for Laddie; he didn't seem to need his arms close to his body). I reshaped the top of the sleep sack pattern, and added a fair bit to the bottom -- mostly in length, but also a bit in width -- to accommodate my massive "little" guy. 

I did omit some of the nicer finishing touches (such as the fabric behind the zipper, and the little handy tab that comes over the top) because I was:

A) Lazy
B) Not wanting to invest a lot of time when I wasn't even sure if Scout would like it
C) Willing to be careful not to snag my child's skin in the zipper
D) All of the above

Did you guess D? Yay! You win! I'd pat you on the back, but since I can't you'll have to administer your own prize. Fortunately, the "bare" zipper hasn't been an issue (though I might go the extra mile on a future sleep sack, because it's a nice extra touch and I'd like to try it).

By far, though, the best part of this tutorial was Toni's fabulous guide to making a 2-way zipper out of 2 one-way zippers! It took some finagling (actually, a lot of finagling -- I tried and tried, got quite frustrated, and finally figured out that I had to tug on the zipper a certain way to get that 2nd pull on), but in the end I got both zipper pulls on. Mind. Blown.

If you wanted to use this idea for a bag, just reverse the directions -- now you have a double zipper that opens in the middle!

In case you haven't changed a baby's diaper in the middle of the night lately, a 2-way zipper is life-changing because you don't have to take off the whole sleep sack. Just unzip from the bottom, pop those legs out, and take care of business!

My one caveat to Toni's instructions would be that you only need one long zipper -- zippers are usually priced according to length, so buy one long zipper for the sleep sack, and then the shortest zipper with an identical zipper pull (identical is important) because all you need from the second zipper is the pull.

I'm still amazed that the double zipper works -- and I've had no issues with the zipper doing anything wonky, like pulling apart when it's not supposed to. Here's another bonus shot of the bottom with the reversed pull:

Happily, Scout seems to like his new sleep sack! He definitely seems calmer and more content, and considering that he's managed several 8 hour stretches before 8 weeks old, I'm considering this a win. So much so, in fact, that I made a second sack in gauze (sweaty baby!), and will probably make another soon. Because spit-up happens, y'all...

Monday, September 11, 2017

A Bevy of Bibs

I've been burning through my stash like a crazy woman (because I am one! Ha!), making all sorts of oddments from leftover yardage. Laddie now has three much-needed pairs of pajama pants in an obnoxious black-and-cream stripe knit. I call them his prison pants! Little Man got a pair of red "sweatshirt" knit pajama pants, and two pairs of pajama shorts in red and green with a white mustache pattern -- also very necessary, considering that most of his pajama bottoms are at least two sizes too small. But I had enough of the red mustache fabric left (leftovers of leftovers!) that I thought I should use it for something. I decided to fashion a bib from it. In fact, bibs have been the destiny of several of my pint-sized scraps -- especially those with patterns suited for little pints!

The pattern is just a simple template traced from a bib I was given when Little Man was born. I'd used that bib all the way through Laddie, but it was really just too tattered to use again! 

I interlined the bibs with a thin cotton quilt batting -- but really, flannel would be a better choice, as these are a tad on the thick side. They were quick to put together, though, especially using a snap press for the closure. 

I did take time for a detail or two, though -- such as the little bow-tie on the mustache bib (completely impractical, but too cute to resist), or a little pocket on the reverse side of the "anchor" bib, below:

I had some woodland fabrics left from Laddie's activity gym, so I put them to use:

I did end up doing a bias edge on this bib -- the reverse is a blue linen -- but it was
too much of a hassle to repeat. Right sides together, turn, and slip-stitch close is
much easier!

It's early days for these, since Scout probably won't be starting solids for another six months or so. But at least when it's time. He'll be covered. Quite literally...

Friday, August 25, 2017


I started this top about two months ago, wanting to experiment with some nursing friendly styles -- sure, you can just pull up any ol' knit top, but why not try something new? I cut it out using my self-drafted knit top pattern, making the necessary changes for a criss-cross top. However, I quickly halted the project when I realized that there was no way I could fit the top properly with a baby bump (and I strongly suspected the top would be too small until I'd lost a fair bit of baby weight). And I'm glad I waited! This top required a ridiculous amount of tweaking. In fact, after sewing up the side seams I wondered if it would ever be wearable. I'm going to blame the fabric, which is a not-very-stretchy slub knit. But it was only $1 a yard at Wal Mart, so I suppose I can't really complain!

This was going to be a basic top, with sleeve tabs as the only real feature. But as I tweaked, other details appeared. A pleat here, ties there, and a back "bow" to top it off. In the end I'm happy with the result. It works well for nursing  it's quite comfortable, and I like the style. I think I'll like it even better when I've shed a few more pounds of baby weight. *wink* I'm using it with a "half cami" -- a regular camisole that I cut off at the midriff to wear with low-cut garments -- but it would work with a nursing tank, too (the two that I have are on the thick side, so not ideal for layering under a top like this).

Besides all that, it was quite therapeutic to get back to sewing -- though I forced myself to deal with several mending/alteration projects that had piled up first! Now that they're out of the way, it's time to tackle the stash once again...

Monday, August 21, 2017

Hope Springs Eternal

What do you do when you're massively pregnant or very newly postpartum? Apparently, if you're me, you buy patterns for garments that you won't be wearing any time soon...

It all started when I came across Sew Over It's "Penny Dress" in my Pinterest feed. I absolutely love the design of this dress! It's so simple and lovely -- and it's actually nursing friendly without any modifications. I'm not completely impractical.

But then I also came across the "Eve" dress... Again, nothing groundbreaking here, but it's such a lovely dress! And the wrap styling should be nursing friendly? A camisole (maybe even a "half" camisole) would make it plenty modest for my taste. So I added that one to my shopping basket, too!

And then I saw "Nancy," too! Not particularly nursing friendly, but the perfect style for my favorite combination of tunic + leggings. And it is at least postpartum friendly, right?

I thought my pattern binge was over, until I came across the "Rosa" dress from Tilly and the Buttons the other day (I suppose I was continuing my British pattern theme?). Oh me, oh my! A shirt dress with absolutely perfect shaping? I was skeptical, but the Pinterest gallery convinced me. Any dress that can look great on a variety of body types is a winner (I'm in love with this one!).

By the by, I find it very helpful to check out galleries or even do a Google search of a pattern before I buy it -- it can be very revealing to see what the "average Jane" looks like in a particular style, and several times has saved me from what probably would have been considerable regret.

So now I have four new patterns to try (unheard of for me, as I'm usually stingy cautious about purchasing patterns), and all I need now is twelve or so yards of fabric and absolutely no obligations for about a month. Don't worry, I have a newborn, so that's entirely within the realm of possibility... *wink*

But hope springs eternal, you know!