baby pajamas: take 2

So this is my second rendition of the "discarded top becomes baby jammies" thing I've been doing lately.  As I mentioned in the last post, this is my way of learning to sew with knits.  And I'm definitely learning as I go.  

For instance: I got lucky with this pair of tops - they were both from Old Navy, and matched quite well. Except that the striped shirt is a good deal thinner than the solid gray one.  I thought this wouldn't be an issue, but it became one.  Looking at the first pictures again, you'll notice the cuffs at the bottom of the pants.  (Apologies for the dirt all over them - it's a long story.  I have a kid.  That's the short story).  Those cuffs are made from the same material as the pajama top, you know, to be cute and matchy.  Well, they're so heavy they weigh down the rest of the pants, and end up sliding under Lila's feet when she walks and crawls.  Also, I should have made them smaller than I did, so they would fit snugly around her leg instead of drooping there.  It would have looked better too.  

I considered removing the cuffs altogether and doing another lettuce hem, but decided to wait and see if she grows into them instead.  Because, and this just proves how overly critical we are of our own sewing, I put the original store-bought pants on her, and guess what?  Same thing.  Not quite as bad with the drooping, but still, the pants are long on her and slide under her feet, something that never bothered me until I made her a pair myself.  So they'll be a little long for a while.  

Allow me to dissect the shirt next.  I once again used Rae's Flashback Skinny Tee pattern, with great results.  I spoke about this in the last post, gushing about how much I like the pattern.  However, I had a sort of problem with the neck.  I initially was going to finish the neck with ribbing to match the bottoms, but it just didn't work for me.  When I measured around the neck and subtracted an inch, as the pattern says, I came up with a crazy big number.  I remembered reading Gail's skinny tee post over on probably actually that mentioned a similar issue, so I headed over there to reread it.  Gail's recommendation?  Follow the suggested length included in the pattern, rather than using your own measurement.  Which I did.  When I held up the finished neck ribbing (before sewing it on the shirt, smart me!) it looked suspiciously small.  Tiny even.  I tracked down baby and tried to squish it over her great bobble head to no avail.  Lila was not amused.

Here's the thing.  Knits are stretchy.  Some just aren't as stretchy as you need them to be to finish the neck.  Now I don't actually know anything at all about knit fabrics - what's a jersey, anyway?  This is why I'm learning with old shirts, and why I picked out fabrics that had matchy colors without thinking about whether their weight and stretch would pair well together.  But now I know!  Knits are like cheese and wine people!  Cheese and wine.  Except your cheese probably isn't stretchy.  Or maybe it is.  Um, I don't actually know anything about pairing wines either.  Shoot.

My point is, even with the neck issues, I still love this pattern and happily recommend it.  Here's what I did - I hemmed the neck to match the bottom of the shirt.  Just flipped it under, pressed, and sewed in place.  It made for a very nice, roomy, breathable neck that's easy to pull over Lila's enormous noggin.  Oh I do love how the Flashback tee can be personalized in so many ways.  As another example, I cut the seam allowance on the sides of the shirt in half, giving the finished garment more width and room.  I'm wishing I'd given it a little extra length to match the extra long legs on the pajama bottoms so she could grow into both equally.  Next time.  

See the cuffs sliding under her feet?  

And you can see how perturbed she is by that, right?  

I do believe I shall be making more jammies in the future, so be on the lookout.  First though, I have a long overdue baby skirt tutorial to put up, and Lila's first birthday is coming, so you can expect good things related to that.  

Best Wishes!


baby pajamas: take 1

Sometimes I sew just for fun.  Sometimes I sew because I see something that inspires me, and I have no choice but to watch it come to life in my craft room.  And then sometimes I sew because Lila is running out of pajamas that fit her, especially short sleeved roomy ones for the six months of heat that are coming up, and somehow the easily procured big-box store brands aren't going to be good enough.  Mm hmm.  As an added bonus excuse, I've been wanting to learn to sew with knits, and starting with baby pajamas seems like a low-stakes way to jump in.  

So, here's my first take.  There are more on the way.  I'm pretty happy with the results.  (Uhm, that weird discoloration all over the pants? That's what happens when you let your kid play in the wet grass before starting your photo shoot.  They're not that way all the time.  They look nice from the time I pull them from the dryer until 3 milliseconds after putting them on Lila.)  However, I think they could have been a little more matchy.  Maybe it's good that they're not though.  I could always use them as actual clothing pieces in a pinch, right?  

Because I'm just starting to learn knits, and because I'm too lazy to try and source good-looking knit fabric, which I hear is no easy thing to do, I used discarded tops I no longer wear.  Here are pics of what I started with:    

So I was initially going to do different pairings as you can see, but I realized at the last minute that I'd lost my maternity weight and still fit into the cute pink top which I loved before it got WAY too tight on me.  So it was a happy reunion, and Lila was outta luck.  Would have been cute with the orange, but instead the orange and white are now mated for life.  Anyway, the white top was a real challenge to work with because of the (if you look really close you can see it) little vent lines running up the sides, which I had to work around.  But I think the buttons turned out cute, and hey, I didn't have to sew them!

Okay, here they are on my model baby:

My, what a life-like baby mannequin I have!  She stands, she sits, she even goes poo!  Yes folks, she was a limited edition - only one ever made.  Can you believe my luck to have gotten her??  :)

Here's a closeup of the lettuce hem on the 3/4 length capris, so nice for Lila now that the hotter weather has arrived:

If you'd like to learn how to do a lettuce hem with your knits, there's a wonderful simple tutorial over at the Oliver and S blog you should check out.  It's how I learned, and it's soo easy to do.  I love the look, and it's great for pajamas.  

For the pajama pants, I felt confident enough to make my own pattern from a pair of pajama bottoms Lila already had that fit her well.  By fit her well I mean that they are still large enough that she'll be able to wear them right through the hot weather and into fall before she outgrows them.  Here's the sketch I did using those pants:

Notice I turned them inside out to get the most accurate copy.  You could easily do this with any simple pattern.  There were no side seams on these pants, and the front and back were mirror images except for the higher rise in back to make room for baby butts.  That made this super easy, since I could cut two of the pattern on the fold (the fold being the right side of the pattern in the pic above), and then just cut the front lower for a proper fit.  So I drew out the general shape on tracing paper.  Then I added extra length for the elastic casing and cut the bottoms slightly shorter to make them capris.  I cut out my fabric.  Finally, I cut the front at an angle to give the pants their shape and rise.  If you're wondering what I'm talking about here, hold up any pair of pants by the top of the sides, and notice the front is lower than the back.  This is to make room for your butt.    

However, I was not willing to try and manufacture a pattern for the top.  No sir.  Not that crazy.  Since the world expert in sewing with knits is, in my ravaged mind anyway, Rae, I went straight there.  Actually it's Rae's Kniterview Series that finally goaded me into trying out knits, so we have her to blame for all of this.  

Anyway, I happily purchased her $10 Flashback Skinny Tee, and I'm just tickled that I did.  Not only did I get a nice basic t-shirt pattern, but she also includes several different finishes for the neck and arm cuffs.  Since it's a long-sleeve pattern, you can cut the length of the arm anywhere you like, for any weather.  I was able to use the pattern easily to transform an adult woman's shirt with holes all down the sides and buttons down the front into a baby pajama top.  I mean seriously, that's a VERSATILE pattern right there.  Will be using it lots in the future.  Like I've already sewn another top with that pattern, which you shall see shortly.  Plus she includes lots of "hints" for success when sewing with knits during each step, so you can't go wrong.  She says the pattern is for someone who already has a little experience with knits, but I did just fine with basically no experience other than having sewn one pair of little knit pants.  But, I've read a lot of her tips elsewhere on sewing with knits.  However, I don't have any fancy equipment to work with - no serger, not even a walking foot.  And the top still turned out well, so I'd say it would work for any person who possesses other sewing experience and some preliminary information about sewing with knits.

Okay, here's some cuteness for you:

Ridiculous yet adorable, no?  I'm sort of in love with these labels a lady named Gail has been known to make.  I've stolen her idea.  I'm sure she wouldn't mind if you did too.  

Best Wishes,


Baby Bows Baby Doll: Pattern Review

You know what's great about this doll?  When your baby almost instantly outgrows those infant clothes and hats and shoes you so tediously and lovingly made for her, you'll have an excuse to put them on display.  You can dress up a baby doll that won't puke or pee on those lovely garments.  And you won't look like a weirdo keeping infant clothes out long after baby's outgrown them, since they'll be on her doll.  Don't you love that?  

Oh, and you get a very cute doll too!  Or like five, if you can't stop making them like me.  (I gave the rest away to nieces and nephews).  Okay, so here's the link to the page with the FREE pattern and instructions on how to make the "Baby Bows" doll.  Free is good!  The website, Judi's dolls, is geared toward serious doll makers more than general crafty types, but has a few free and simple patterns that anyone could make.  And I believe this pattern comes in a teddy bear version too, which looked cute but I've never tried making.  I originally stumbled upon this doll on Skip to My Lou, though it's almost impossible to find it there anymore, even using the search bar (which is also hard to find...).  However, Cindy has a cute little cloth diaper pattern that works perfectly with this doll, and I've made several of them.

When I made my collection of dolls (it was a couple years ago, before I had Lila), I made several changes to the pattern.  The original has ears, and I made the first doll that way but then decided it was more work than it was worth, so I left them out when making the others.  I also used a light tan soft flannel for the body, since that's what I had a lot of on hand at the time, though the instructions called for using craft velour or another knitted fabric with stretch.  I think the dolls turned out fine with the flannel - still nice and soft and squishy - but the craft velour might hold up better over the long run, since it has more give.  

Another change I made was to sew the arm and leg seams, rather than tie them up with a string into bows.  I guess this invalidates the point and the name of the pattern, but I liked the look better, as well as the way they functioned.  Also no bows to get lost, or ingested.  You can see from above that the pattern is basically two body shapes sewn together around the outside seams, so it's pretty simple and fast to make.  I also used BIC mark-it markers with ultra-fine tips to draw the facial features and eyes, as opposed to using gel ink and felt circles as the pattern instructed.  I just free-handed them on after completing the doll, which was a little nerve-wracking, but they all turned out fine.

Here's my favorite thing about this pattern:

It's reversible!  How awesome is that?  The front side is the "awake" side, and the back side is the "asleep" side.  All you have to do is take off the hat, flip the hair to the other side, and put the hat back on to secure.  If you wanted to get creative, I suppose you could do a happy/sad doll, or a boy/girl doll, or whatever.  I really love patterns that you can easily customize, don't you?  I've made these dolls with red hair, as boy dolls, with different colored eyes, etc.

Here she is in all her glory:

And she's sporting the infant sun hat I made for Lila (from the Purl Bee - more on that in a future post), as well as Rae's Itty Bitty Baby Dress, also made initially for Lila.  (Again, you'll see more on that in a future post.  By the way, I met Rae in person a few months ago, and she's SO friendly and funny. Just thought you'd like to know :)   I've also put various pairs of Lila's baby shoes on her, though she's barefoot in these pictures.  And I've made little diapers for these dolls too, though they were all sent to nieces and nephews.  I do believe you could use preemie disposables and they would probably fit.  

Here are pictures of the original from the pattern: 

So you can see how different you could make your own doll with just a few changes.  I obviously really like this pattern, or I wouldn't have made so many of them.  But I have to admit that Lila's a bit young, or maybe just too much of a tomboy, to care about dolls.  Her main goal when handed it is to find out how best to break it down into as many small pieces as possible - the hat, clothes, and shoes come off, and she ends up getting swung around by her hair. (The doll, not Lila.  What were you thinking?).  I blame this on her father, who is an engineering type that took stuff apart as a child.  Bad genes, I tell you. (I jest. We try not to be overly princessey around here).  

Perhaps in another year or so she'll be more interested in dolls.  However, the nieces and nephews that I've sent this doll to were older, and they played with them in a much kinder fashion.  They had a little bin they kept them in, all nice and tidy, along with their clothing and diaper changes and other accessories.  How sweet is that?  Nothing makes an Auntie prouder than to see her handmade toys being loved and cared for.  

So go ahead and make one!  Even if it's for a future child that doesn't exist yet. :)

Best Wishes,


Mother's Day

So in case you didn't know, because you live under a rock or something, Mother's Day is this Sunday!  Are you excited?  I know I am, because it's my first as a mom!  Well, actually since I was quite pregnant at this time last year, this is really my second, but you know.  

Anyway, enough about me.  Let's talk about my mom!  Specifically, how awesome she is.  She's the kind of mom that, when you're feeling down, sends you bars of dark chocolate and a box of chamomile lavender tea.  Yeah, she's the best.  She's always calling me just to chat, and no matter what's going on in my life, she's ready to listen.  And sometimes I think about how she raised all four of us kids and somehow managed to not kill us all.  Actually she didn't kill any of us, not even one. :)  

So I wanted to do something nice for her on Mother's Day.  She totally deserves it.  I wasn't sure I could pull off everything I wanted to do and mail it in time, but I did!  So let's go over my Momma's gifts this year.  (No worries, she doesn't have internet so she won't see this and spoil the surprise.  I know!  No internet!  I could get away with anything on here with no parental supervision....)

Because I have Lila now, I wanted it to involve her in a cute sort of way.  So I decided to pretend that everything was from her to her grandma.  That way the three separate elements sort of make sense together.   Like the three of us.  So, first, the framed picture of Lila.  That was obvious and easy, and didn't require any work on my part other than to pick out the frame I thought my mom would like best.  However, I want to tell a story about the photo itself, if you'll indulge me.  

It goes like this: my very good friend Melissa entered me into a contest at the beginning of the year, which I won.  (Yay!  I've never been entered into a contest by a friend like that before, much less won!)  What I received was a free photo session with Debbie Koehler here in the metro Atlanta area, as well as a ton of free prints.  Allow me to brag about Debbie.  She is Wonderful.  I'm serious.  She's not only friendly and personable, but she's awesome at what she does.  Lila's photos turned out fantastic.  I'm not even being paid to say that!  I was just so pleased with the session, the storyboard Debbie created for me, and the quality of the prints.  You can check out her work here.  So that is how I came to have the incredibly sweet picture of Lila in a tutu, which I knew would be perfect for my mom for Mother's Day.  End of story.  (But not end of blog post - read on...)

So that was the easy part of Mom's gift.  Next I needed to work on a card.  I had this idea to make an accordion card and include several little wallets from the photo session.  I did just that.  For the front of the card, I used an alphabet stamp set and simple black ink on lavender card stock.  Lila's name means purple in German, so it was a play on that, and of course, it's signed from Lila to her grandma.  I thought about stamping out "Love Teresa and Lila", but I figured my mom is savvy enough to know I had a hand in all this.  

Here's the inside, featuring those wallets.  I attached them using those clear sticky-backed photo corners you can get from the scrapbooking section at JoAnns.  Since there's no adhesive actually touching the photos, if my mom wants to remove them for long-term storage in an album, she can.  

And this is the back.  When I developed this project in my imagination, I knew I wanted it to have some sort of ribbon closure.  Since Lila's learned to push shopping carts around stores as a means of walking (she can't walk by herself yet, only with some wheels) I was indulging her in JoAnns.  And rather serendipitously Lila pushed the cart down the aisle which contained these little metal tags with adhesive backs.  They were perfect!  I just knotted the ribbons to keep them from slipping through the holes, and mounted it on a lavender square to match the front.  

This is what the back looks like with the ribbon tied up.

And finally, the butterfly painting!  A couple months ago, I came across this pin on Pinterest, and I knew I would be making one myself.  This is everything I love - colorful, simple, beautiful, personalized, and handmade (or footmade, he he).  What grandma wouldn't love to get this from their grandbaby?  

If you decide to make some of these footprints of your little ones (and you should!) then I have some advice for you.  Four pieces of advice:
1) Buy extra canvases.  See the top two prints in the above photo?  Not so great.  They will probably get painted over and reused for some other project.  (The bottom one is for us to keep).  
2) Be prepared.  If your baby is too little to take instruction (and aren't they all) then you'll want to have everything ready and lined up just as they are waking up from their nap.  Lila was still in her sleepy and relatively tame mode when I made these.  I put her up in the highchair with snacks and sippy cup and toys, and she let me have my way with her feet for five minutes.  (I swirled the paints around on a dish with a paintbrush and then pressed her foot onto the plate to get it on her foot easily.)  Have the soap and water and paper towels lined up too.
3) Paper plates.  The two prints above would have turned out more like the bottom one if I'd used a paper plate to get off the extra paint before using her as a stamp.
4) Roll with it.  Use the outside edge of the foot as the starting point and roll the foot onto the canvas, being sure to press the toes down too.  Just like when they take your fingerprints in jail.  Calm down.  I'm kidding, I've never been to jail.  Just the Army.  They take your prints in the Army, and they do that roll thing.

If you'll notice, in the bottom print I didn't paint in a butterfly body, just the antennae.  I like that look best, and wish I'd done it with the others.  But I see more of these in my future, in other color schemes.  I originally had the paints lined up to do some prints in aqua and light green, but quickly realized that would be impossible.  By the time I was finished with these and then cleaned up her feet, the golden window of opportunity was gone, and she was in Rocket mode.  She's a handful, that girl, but I love her that way.

So what are you giving to your mom for Mother's Day?  If you're a mom, what's the most memorable gift you've received?  I'd love to hear about it!  

Best Wishes,


Free Pattern: Chunky Monkey Baby Bib

At long last!  The free pattern and instructions for making your very own Chunky Monkey Baby Bibs have arrived!  These cuties are fun to look at and quick to sew up, and would make a great handmade gift for a baby shower.  What's different about the Chunky Monkey Baby Bib is the WIDE shoulder coverage to protect those cute baby outfits, and the STRONG Velcro closure so your little monster can't tear it off in the middle of a meal. (What - doesn't your baby do that?  No?  It's just my sweet Lila?  Sigh.)  All you have to do is click on this link to get your free pattern and instructions.  (The link will take you to a printable copy of the pattern in Google Docs, so no need for PDF software.  Yay for that!) 

In the pattern you'll find several variations for the bib - the Chunky Monkey size, as seen above and in this post, and the Less Chunky size, for smaller babies just starting to eat solids.  You'll also find instructions for sewing them with or without bias tape.  Plus, as a special TV bonus, I've included the applique shapes I used so you can try them out too if you like!  

A few notes: when printing, please set margins to zero, or as close to zero as you can get.  Also make sure you aren't scaling the image size at all - it should be at 100% when you print.  If it's smaller, so will be your bibs.  If you need a refresher on how to sew with bias tape, or want to learn, go here.  

If you'd like to sew the hot air balloon applique, you can use the circle shape I've included for the balloon.  Then use a zigzag stitch to create the basket shape underneath, and connect the basket to the balloon with a straight stitch, as you see below:

Try to do a better job than I did!  See that wonky basket?  Not well engineered.  By the way, this was the first Chunky Monkey Bib I made, and I thought I'd just speed things along.  I decided to sew the bias tape all in one step by placing it around the bib and sewing close to the edge, catching the back at the same time all in one step.  It turned out okay, but I didn't like the look.  So on the others I did it the "right" way. But if you were wanting to knock out five or ten bibs quickly, you could go ahead and cheat like that.  They wouldn't probably be gift-worthy, but for your own little rugrat, why not?  That's how they sew the store-bought ones.  Just sayin'.  

Okay, I'm totally excited for you to try out the pattern, so let me know when you do!!  If you have any issues with your printer or other questions, email me at teresamarie1979 (at) gmail (dot) com, or ask in the comments.  And when you finish your bib, leave a comment below and let me know how they turned out!

Best Wishes,


cRazY ugly crochet ball

"Hmm," you're thinking.  "What's up with the title?  This doesn't seem so ugly".  

And that's sweet of you.  Yes, it's not so bad.  In fact, I went ahead and made three of these balls from a pattern I found on Martha's website.  You know, THE Martha, no need for a last name there, am I right?  (Sadly the internal link on her website leading to the pattern is broken.  So no link for you!  You can search "crochet baby blanket and ball" to find it, and ignore the blanket part as I did if you like.  Perhaps it'll work for you.  The website that is.  If not, here's a link to another, different pattern that should give similar results, though I can't speak for it, not having tried it out.)  I even went ahead and put a jingly bell inside the ball above.  To make it more attractive to Lila.  Takes a lot to catch and hold that girl's attention, you know.  

"Oh, this one's not so bad either," I can hear you say.  But, what you don't know is:

AGGHHH!  Those two are one!?  Yes, one lumpy, dumpy, frumpy, frankensteinian mishmash trying to pass as a ball.  And it's huge.  In my defense:  1) I was trying to use up leftover yarns and had no idea the finished product would end up so big, requiring three different yarns to finish it  2) I have no idea what I'm doing  3) I didn't read through the instructions thoroughly before starting, or do a test swatch to check my sizing.  Nope.  Just plowed right on ahead with this one.  Wasn't going to let some silly instructions get in my way.  So I can't blame Martha for this.  This was all me.  

But behold!  The child is not frightened by the ball.  She plays with it, even.  She likes the jingly sound.  She doesn't care that it's not really round shaped.  Children.  So accepting.  

Of course, now you are wondering, "where are the other two"?  Well, I'm not one to let defeat stop me from trying again, as you already know from this post.  I decided I wanted to make this ball right, and now that I knew I needed to size it down a good deal, and had actually finally read through the instructions, I felt ready.  I mean c'mon.  It's supposed to be a tennis-ball-sized baby ball.  How hard can that really be?

So here's ball #2:

And you can see how much closer to the actual ball shape I managed to get.  I'm choking on my own sarcasm.  In my defense:  1) I have no idea what I'm doing.  

Rereading the instructions, I realized I missed the all-important step of increasing the ball size by stitching two single crochets into each stitch from the initial round.  Such a simple mistake.  Well, I decided to again just plow ahead and finish the monstrosity I'd started.  Again, I didn't have quite enough of either yarn to finish, so it ended up a stripey egg football mess.  Oh well, I put a squeaker in it, and baby likes it.  

Because I have an iron will, upon giving it some thought, I decided once again that I would see the completed, correctly crocheted ball if it killed me.  It didn't kill me, but I did have to go grab a new skein of yarn, having run out of the ones I wanted to use up.  So, here we have attempt #3:

Hey!  We have a winner!  It's a ball, folks, a recognizable round ball.  This time, I sat quietly alone and closely followed the directions, unlike the first time when I was sitting in a coffee shop chatting with the other ladies of the knitting and crochet group, or the second time, when I was trying to watch Lila and crochet at the same time.  On this ball I took my time, and had lots of experience to build from.  I mean I'd already made every possible mistake, so this time I was golden.  And this little ball received the disemboweled innards of a cat toy that the dogs tore apart.  Which is why we don't keep cat toys in the house anymore.  But it makes a lovely rattley sound thanks to those innards.  

And here are the Three Stooges together.  Lila has three new squishy squeaky jingly toys to play with.  

I have to mention that the instructions suggest these would make a nice cat toy, as an alternative to the baby toy.  Nuh-uh.  As the dogs did not immediately try to shred them, they are in fact not cat toys.  Proof?  Look at Mr. Tom Tom.  He has no interest.  And I have to say that even the "normal" ball is too large for a cat.  Just what type of cats is Martha keeping?  Tigers?

Sweet sleepy baby.  Just woke up, and mommy puts her to work.  It's a sweatshop life being the daughter of a crafting  mom.  Endless photo shoots, hours spent trudging through the fabric store, clothing changes every time a new outfit is sewn....  But, every now and then, she gets a new toy out of the deal.  Wuv you Lila. 

Best Wishes!