I just had to share…

So after much deliberation and research Bob and I are taking the plunge into making something that I think is pretty ambitious (and no I am not talking about the baby!).  I am not telling what it is because I am mean like that, you can bet that I will share it on here after its done, or maybe even in progress, but for now I am just going to leave you with a few hints.

1.  We ordered 6lb of wool from a wool mill in Montana.

2. We took a trip to Jo-Ann’s and were pleasantly surprised to learn that they sell ticking which we bought several yards of.

3. We are going to save at minimum $150 making this ourselves, which is pretty awsome.

It is going to take some time for the wool to get to us but we may start part of the project before it gets here so I may give you guys a little sneak peak before it is all done.  And yes this is a project for the baby.

Woolies!

I have started using all those wool sweaters I got at the thrift store!  I am trying two patterns for the soakers (diaper covers) and made two of each pattern one in new born and one in small.  The photo only shows one of the triangle style pattern (in grey and black stripes) using this pattern as I still have to sew legs onto the small sized ones but both of the other pattern are shown in new born and small in the brown.  You cant really tell in this photo but the grey/black one actually has a little bit of a point to it in the front which in the new born size which I think will work out actually as I am going to either pin or sew the point down to create a bit of an indentation along the waste band to keep it from rubbing on the umbilical cord stump.  I am not sure exactly why the point happened, maybe its because I cut it so that I was using the bottom of the sweater as the waste band and it did not shrink the same way as the rest of the sweater when I was felting it.

I had a few issues with the other pattern but they were all my own issues and not with the pattern.  On the newborn one which is on the bottom I was trying to be clever and again use the bottom of the sweater as the waste band but because it is cut from all one piece I ended up with a regular cut edge at the back which needed to have some kind of waste band so I just stuck one on it and it looks kind of silly but I think it will get the job done.  For the small one which is on the top I sewed it as directed and used a strip of the bottom of the sweater to make the waste band which I sewed on last.  My only issue with this pattern that may or may not be the fault of the pattern was sewing the legs on.  I used the neck of the sweater and had a hard time getting the length the pattern called for to stretch enough to fill the space allowed for the leg holes in the main body of the pattern (I hope this makes since to some of you!)  Any way I ended up sewing the leg holes closed a little more than the pattern calls for so hopefully we don’t have a baby with chunky thighs!

IMG_0009

My plan is to use both of these for a while and see which I prefer.  I think the pattern with the triangle (grey/black) is quicker to make but I may not be able to get as many out of each sweater.  I have a feeling thought that the pattern that I made in brown will actually function better.  As a side note the grey/black one is using a sweater that felted to be much thicker than the brown one which I why I opted to add the extra layer in the crotch on the brown.

I also made some wool pants that will also function as diaper covers (these are referred to as longies in the cloth diapering circles).  These are nice because cloth diapering can create a bulky bottom and this cuts down on a layer of clothing that is not needed.  Plus they are wool which is pretty awesome.

IMG_0006

I used the directions I found after looking at several and I really liked it for several reasons, one the way they have you sew the legs together I think is pretty smart and I found to be very easy, but I liked this one because it was the only one that suggested using drawstring instead of elastic.  Since Baby George is still cooking and I have no idea how big its waist will be I dont know how much elastic to put it the pants so I was a big fan of this option.  As a friend pointed out however you have to be careful with string and babies so when I did put the drawstring in the pants (not shown in this photo) I made sure to put in a few stitches at the back of the waist band to keep it from being pulled out.  I also left the drawstring longer than I think it will need to be since I dont know for sure how big our little one will be,  when the time comes to use these pants I will trim them to the proper length and retie a knot in the ends to keep them from coming unraveled.

Again since I dont have a baby to measure to decide how big to make the pants I pulled out a few pairs of baby pants in a few different sizes to get an idea of length.

IMG_0005

The grey pants are new born, the striped are 0-3 months, and the white christmas pants are 3-6 months.  When I was deciding which sweaters to cut into first I looked for the narrowest sleeves to make the smallest pants and in the case of the newborn and 0-3 months pants I decided to add a little extra length that could be folded up into a cuff if needed, that way if we have a long baby they will still fit.  For the 3-6 month pants the sleeve while much wider (and I actually took them in a little) was not long  enough to allow me to have extra length to cuff so hopefully they will work out.  I have to say that these were super easy to make and I think will work really well, of course I am going to have to wait for a little longer to give them a try!  I still need to lanolize all of these (to make them actually work as diaper covers) but I am going to make a few more wool things first and do them all in one big batch in the bath tub so I am holding off on that for the moment.

I have been busy!

I come from a long line of women who are excellent seamstresses and knitters, I have not ever been one of them though.  I took the obligatory Home Economics type class in school but beyond that I have not done much sewing since I was young.  When I was about 10 years old my grandmother gave me a sewing machine, a doll, and a whole set of doll dresses in different stages of completion from sewing on a button to having the pieces cut out but not sewn in any way.  My dad helped me follow the instructions to finish all the dresses and I learned a lot, most of which I didn’t use again and forgot.  I have always wanted to sew though, but with clothing being so affordable generally I just felt like I had other more worth while things to do.  Now I am having a baby, and boy are baby things expensive!  So I am trying to teach my self to sew again using that same sewing machine my grandmother gave me all those years ago.

These projects started when my husband and I sat down after my baby shower to figure out what we still needed to get for our bundle of joy and were shocked at the price it all added up to.  We are going to cloth diaper our baby for many reasons least of which is that Bob has severe psoriasis and as a baby it was exastrobated by disposible diapers, we have decided to plan that our baby will inherit his skin issues and have it be a nice surprise if it does not.  We have been given some cloth diapers and picked up a few second hand as well but we still needed covers and wet bags (bags with a plasticky lining called PUL that you put soiled diapers in until you wash them).  We had planned on using wool diaper covers and Bob asked me if I thought I could knit some instead of buying them.  I hesitantly said I would give it a try but in the back of my mind was the green scarf I started knitting for myself about 5 years ago that I work on a little every year but have never finished.  I decided to look into other options and found that you can turn old wool sweaters into diaper covers so the next day I took a trip to the thrift store and cleaned them out of 100% animal fiber sweaters.

I have not had a chance to make any diaper covers yet but one of the sweaters I got was perfect for something else I had planned to make a wool sleep sack, and given its boxy shape and my very rusty sewing skills I thoguht it would be the perfect way to start my sewing refresher.  Using safety pins (which unfortunatlly are almost the same color as the sweater and so dont show up very well) I did a rough outline of where I wanted to sew and gave it a quick zig zag hem and then trimmed the seams.

sweater to be turned into sleep sack IMG_0004

I still need to add some shoulder straps to the top of what was the neck hole and will soon keep our babies’ chest and torso warm but I think it turned out pretty well.   When all is said and done I am hoping it will look something like this.

Today I tackled another project, a wet bag.  I want to have one large one to hang in the bathroom and several small ones to keep in the car, diaper bag, etc.  I started with one of the smaller one since I am using fabric samples I bough a Jo-Ann’s a while ago and I bought a larger amount of adorable fabric for the larger wet bag.  Since I have never in my life sewn a zipper onto anything I was actually pretty nervous about it and figured the project with the least amount of fabric was the best one to start on so if I messed it up I would have waisted less.  Except for not having an iron accessible to flatten my seams and a little issue with my knee peddle on my sewing machine sticking which caused my bottom seam ( and of course my only exposed seam) to look a bit wonkie but my zipper was sewn on with out incident and I am pretty proud of it.

wet bag #1

But my most proud sewing moment was today when I was sewing on three little buttons.  You see my grandmother Millie was a veracious knitter, I can hardly remember a time in my childhood when she didn’t have knitting needles in her hands.  I think that is one of the reasons it took me so long to realize that she was blind, she was always doing something that it seemed to my child’s mind only a person with sight should be able to do.  I was lucky enough to grow up with all kinds of hand knit sweaters, gloves, and hats and when Bob first asked me to try my hand a knitting the wool covers I immediately thought of her.  Unfortunately she passed away the summer before Bob and I got married but shortly before she died she returned to me one of my baby sweaters that she had apparently borrowed to study and try to copy along with her attempt at copying it.  She told me that at my age I would start having lot of friends having babies and that I could use to as a gift at a shower or something, but I kept it.  When she died I was very glad that I had done so and so I dug it out when I started packing my hospital bag the other day and realized that it still needed buttons added to it.  So today I got to finish the baby sweater that my grandmother started, it was a kind of surreal moment for me.  My baby will be able to wear a sweater my grandmother knit just like I did, in fact it will be coming home from the hospital in one.

Millie's sweater

Project reveal time!

My last post talked about how I have been felting wool blankets I have picked up at thrift stores by washing them on hot in the washing machine and then putting them in the dryer until they felted as much as I wanted them to.  No you get to see what I am doing with the blankets and boy is it saving us a TON of money while also being very green and making our nursery safer.

First I want to preface this post by saying I was raised by artist drop out hippies so I blame them at least partially for my mistrust of some commercially made products.  I am sure I also got my thriftiness from them too as I remember my mom’s response when I wanted to buy something often being, “Why don’t you try to make that?”  It was usually very frustrating but sometimes resulted in something much nicer than we would have bought (shhh dont tell my mom I said that!).  Any way when I started looking into things we would need to buy for the baby and setting up a green nursery I came across some rather compelling reserch linking fire retardents and other chemicals to SIDS.  This left me a bit weary of the commercially available piddle pads and baby sleep wear as well as crib and bassinet mattresses.  We are still trying to decide what to do about a crib mattress as the one we think is safest is quite expensive, but after getting a beautiful wicker bassinet on craig’s list for all of $15 I decided I could totally tackle the project of making a mattress for it.  I had already decided to get wool diaper covers for our cloth diapers and when I was registering for baby things for my shower saw that some companies are making wool piddle pads since wool is naturally fire resistant and there for does not have to be treated with the nasty chemicals that other bedding is so I decided to try my hand at making a wool mattress.  I was originally going to make a canvis mattress cover and stuff it with wool stuffing but after emailing back and forth with a company that sells wool stuffing was concerened that it would start out to soft to be safe and then compact into something that would be to hard to be comfortable.  It was also still going to cost a bit more than I really wanted to spend for something that the baby will only sleep on for a few months at most.

One day I was at one of our amazing local thrift stores (I am sure you will be hearing alot about them on this blog) and saw a peach colored 100% wool blanket.  I think I paid all of $3 for it and took it home and put out a plea on facebook for tips on felting it.  Low and behold it was much easier than I thought and after running it through the washer on hot with a little wool wash and the dryer on hot about 5 times it came out thick and cushie.  I also ended up with a nice sized bag of wool lint that I can use to stuff some toys I have been wanting to make so that was an unexpected score.  The blanket went from about 80×85 inches to 60×75 inches.

felted wool blanketI thought that I would probably need to make about 4-5 layers to get a mattress the thickness I want and then I would make two more layers to act as piddle pads over that.  I read a very good tip when it comes to piddle pads and sheets which is to put two layers on so if there is a diaper explosion in the middle of the night you just have to pull off the soiled sheet and pad and then there is a clean one underneath and you can go back to sleep after changing the kid.  I also waited until after my baby shower because we had registered for a bassinet that attaches to our stroller and I wanted to make pads to use in that if some one was kind enough to gift us with it and they were.

To make the layers of the mattress I simply measured the length and width of  the bottom of the wicker bassinet and cut out several rectangles the right size.

photo-11

I then placed them into the bassinet and traced the shapes of the corners and cut those (some more successfully than others).  I did have to remeasure at one point as my layers of blanket were geting tall enought htat the bassinet was widening to the point that there was a gap between the mattress and the bassinet which is not safe for the baby as it could get its face stuck in the gap and sufficate (although you arent suppose to have babies in bassinets after they are strong enough to move around much so it wouldnt be as much of an issue in this as it would be in a crib).

photo-13

When I was done I was satisfied with the thickness.

photo-22

I also made sure that the mattress was soft enough to be comfortable for the baby but also firm enough to be a safe place for it to sleep.  As you can see I was pressing hard enough to turn my finger tips white but not compressing the blanket layers all that much.

photo-19

For the piddle pads for the bassinet that goes on our stroller I just removed the mattress and traced it onto the blanket and cut it out which worked perfectly.

bassinet pad for Britax B-Ready piddle pad

I also had a fair amount of scrap left over and think I will cut some out to use as changing pads.

photo-20

After I packed all the wool up into the bassinet Mr. Boots decided to give it his seal of approval.  The yellow thing in the bottom left corner is the 30 year old foam mattress that the wicker bassinet came with.

Mr. Boots

I still have to lanolize the layers and piddle pads and am trying to decide if I want to make a canvas cover for the mattress or just do a simple baste stitch around the outside to help keep the layers from shifting around when we have to change the sheets.

If you are unfamiliar with lanolizing here is a great video that tells how to do it.

I have another pale blue wool blanket that I am still working on felting that I am going to cut up to make into crib mattress piddle pads.  I also just got back from another favorite thrift store where I bought them out of 100% wool sweaters to make diaper covers and hopefully a few wool sleep sacks but more on that later!

Very busy day but wanted to share one of my projects

My mom is flying in tonight for my baby shower on Sat. and so I have been super busy getting ready for her to come as well as trying to get enough rest (is there such a thing as enough rest when you are pregnant?  I have not been able to get enough ever it seems!) but I wanted to show you a project I have been prepping for.  I have several DIY things planned for the nursery but one of them requires a fair amount of felted wool.  I was luck enough to find a 100% wool blanket at the thrift store (my town seriously has the most amazing thrift stores!) for $3 but it was sale day so it was I think 30% off.  I have lots of crafty friends so posted a request for an easy way to felt it on facebook and decided to give just washing it in hot water in the washing machine and then drying it on hot several times a try.  Luckily I had some wool wash/shampoo so I put a couple cap fulls in each wash and over the course of a few days put it though the washer and then dryer.  It ended up shrinking about 10 inches each way and getting much thicker.  I measured it for what I want to use it for (that will be revealed in my next post) and decided I really needed another blanket.  I headed out to the thrift stores again and found one that I was pretty sure was wool but it didnt have a tag and I was not sure it was 100% wool or a blend.  I took and gamble and got it for $8.  I came home and did some googling and found this great video talking abut hot to tell if your blanket is 100% wool or not, and mine was!  I am currently felting the new blanket and will post about my project when I have some photos to share.  Are you curious what it is?

Making progress!

Bob is almost done painting the nursery and it is looking so great!  I am super excited to see it done and get the furniture that is temporarily being housed in our kitchen/dinning room back in there!  I have been working hard the last week or so to have clearly defined areas to put things away as well so that when our little one arrives and we are functioning on very little sleep it will be (hopefully) much easier to keep the house tidy.  I will admit that I am very good an organizing small spaces but when it comes to a whole house I get overwhelmed easily and so things usually end up getting shoved where ever they will fit.  Well no more!  We are lucky enough to have two wonderful built in closets in our hallway with three drawers and three shelves each so that has been a big help in finding a home for everything and then getting rid of what we cant find a home for.  I will admit that it is still a work in progress and there are still some stacks of things waiting to be delt with in the hall (and possibly the dinning room table) but I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel to getting this project done!

A good motivation for me getting this done is my mom coming for a visit next week for my baby shower.  Not only do I want to have a tidy home while she is here but I also want to have a tidy home to bring baby things home to so that it does not just add to our disorganization.  So far I think we will be done on schedule, although I realized the other day that we are going to be super busy next week right before my mom gets here so I don’t have quite as much time as I had thought…

Also last week my sister-in-law took this photo of me while we were out thrift store hopping.  I was hoping to have a nice one with me standing against the brick wall of the Opera House downtown but the shadows f the wall and my black shirt made it so you couldnt really see the baby bump very well.  I will have to go back earlier in the day sometime wearing another color and try again, but until then here is my latest belly bump photo.

belly bump late Aug.

Progress on nursery

SO I spent the day going through stuff that was in the closet of what was Bob’s and my office and is now Bob’s office and the nursery.  I had the closet pretty well stuffed with stuff, books, art supplies, and other random crap so it has been a big job.  I have it all emptied (except for one top shelf that I think is going to have to stay my territory as I really don’t know where to put the stuff that is there) and started putting things that we have for the baby into it.  Now the hall way in front of the nursery is pretty full of stuff and there are a few stacks of things on the floor of the nursery that I have to find homes for but I feel pretty good about the progress I made today.

I also finally got around to washing some of the things we got at the half off day of the consignment sale I mentioned in the last post.  Our biggest prize from that trip was a set of children’s china made by non other than Tiffany & Co. that set us back a whole $2.50.  I also got a darling china doll of Peter Cottontail which is perfect for our woodland theme nursery.  I don’t like the nurseries that have a very commercial theme like Pooh or Disney Princesses or whatever but there are defiantly a few touches of Peter Rabbit (and even Pooh) in the room as I am a sucker for the stories as well as a bunny lover so the doll will fit in quite nicely.  It to only cost $2.50 so I don’t feel to bad about spending money on something that can really only sit on a shelf.

When the nursery is a little more presentable I will take some photos and post them.

The Baby Blues

No not those kind of blues.  So far I have been a very happy pregnant lady, except for when it comes to trying to find gender neutral clothing.  Since we are not finding out the gender of Baby George (and also because we are thrifty and would like to be able to reuse baby clothing for future children) we are trying to find clothing that does not scream, “I’m a boy!”, or “I’m a girl!”  This is apparently not as easy as one would think.  Luckily I am a girl and I love blue and pink so we have gotten a few blue outfits that will probably confuse some people into thinking we have a boy wether we do or not, but oh well.  Almost all of the clothing we have gotten has come from thrift stores, mostly because I am cheap but also because when I walk into baby clothing stores and see a wall of pink floral and a wall of blue trucks I get irritated with baby clothing designers.

I remember watching a film in my collage human sexuality class that had a baby in it that they dressed up in pink and then showed people interacting with the baby, they then took the same baby and dressed it in blue and did the same.  The every single person interacted very differently with that baby depending on what color it was wearing.  When the baby was wearing pink (i.e. female) they cuddled it close and spoke to it in soft voices, when it was wearing blue (i.e. male) they held it a bit further away from their body and used a more teasing but firm voice.  So basically even when babies are brand new we are still trying to fit them into gender roles of one kind or another and I cant believe that that will not have some affect however small on how that child turns out. We are not going to go to the extreme of some parents I have read about who keep their child’s gender a secret but I really don’t care if people cant tell if Baby George is a little girl or a little boy.  If they ask I will tell them, but I don’t really see why I have to dress girls in frufru outfits or boys in t-shirts with monster trucks and jeans.  Bob and I don’t dress like either of those stereotypes so why would we dress our children like that?

I am sure I will get some flack for putting a girl in blue, and I may even put a boy in purple (oh the horror!) but my preference is greens and other colors that don’t scream out our babies gender to the world like it is a defining part of who our child is, because wont be.  Now, this does not mean that I wont ever plan on putting our child in a pink dress or whatever the male equivalent of that is (what is that these days? it seems so much more ok to put a girl in overalls with a puppy on the front than to put a boy in a dress), however that will not be our everyday go to outfit.

End rant.

Well I am really feeling pregnant now…

I am 6 months pregnant now really starting to feel the difference in my body.  It seems like for so long I just felt like I had an extra burger or Thanksgiving dinner (and looked it mostly too) but now I definatly look pregnant and wow just in the last week do I feel pregnant!  The other night when I tried to get out of bed to go to the bathroom (which is a common occurrence) it took me way to long to roll over because once I got onto my back I could not shift my center of balance enough to roll onto my other side to sit up.  Yesterday we had to get some work one on our car so walked to the nearsts shopping center to kill time and I swear I have to visit the ladies room at least 10 times in the hour and a half that we were out!  I always thought the having to pee every 5 minutes while pregnant was a bit of a joke, now I know better!  I have also stsrted having some fun lower back pain but excpet for a few days ago have managed to keep it mostly under controle by sleeping with lots of support.  Unfortunatly this means that my poor husband is being slowly pushed out of bed with the mountain of pillows I have to use to sleep every night.  He is mostly a good sport about it but it makes it pretty hard to cuddle at night like we enjoy doing and that makes us both kind of sad.

We are closing in on the home stretch though and I am getting a little freaked out about how much we still have to get done and aquire before our little one makes his or her appearance into the world.  I found out about a really great sale that is happening in towns surrounding us around now though and we were able to get in for a preview before most shoppers as first time parents last week in Folsom and again this week in Sacramento.

Just Between Friends is a group that sets up consignment sales all over the country for a weekend and people bring in baby, kids, and maternity things they are looking to sell and so its like a huge multi family garage sale in one spot.  We got some amazing deals last week and were able to check off a few things we wanted for Baby George that normally cost between $40-60 and spent $8-18 on them as well as getting some other great things for $6 or less.  They also have a half off sale on the last day but we felt like we got good prices on the things we wanted and didnt bother going back to that one on half off day.  We went to another one last night and while we didnt get any higher priced things we did get a nice amount of stuff that we got great prices on like fabric books (we are big books lovers in this family and I love the idea of just throwing the book in the washer when it has been suficiently drooled upon) a set of maternity PJs, some to die for soft sheepskin booties to keep Baby Georges little toes warm in our drafty old house, and some other goodies.  We may go back to this one on half off day as it is only 20 minutes away.  These trips have helped me feel a little calmer about the quick approaching baby but we still need to get a decent cloth diaper stash, a car seat and a crib mattress.   Any way if you have kids or are expecting check out the website above and see if there is a sale in your area, it looks like they have them in the fall and spring and they are a great way to stock up on things.  There was a huge amount of children’s clothing which I am proud to say I resisted looking at (it was not easy), games, furniture, strollers, etc.

 

Photo on 8-23-13 at 10.58 AM #2 Belly on 8/23

 

Some people have asked for a photo of my belly so here is one I just took.  I am hoping to get some nice ones taken this weekend in a pretty setting but right now this is the best I can do.