Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Dream of the Orange Elephants (SHB Sew-Along)

My first little project for the SHB Sew-Along is a sleep gown for Taco. I really loved dressing Taco in sleep gowns as a newborn. The gown bottom makes nighttime changing easy and the convertible mitten cuffs protected Taco from scratching his face in his sleep. When he outgrew the newborn size, I was surprised to find very few in the next size (3mos), which he wears now, and none in the 6mos size.

I loved these Carter's sleep gowns for Taco when he was newborn

The only solution will be to sew them myself. However, I couldn't find any gown patterns in larger than newborn sizes (there's a free newborn one on our SHB Sew-Along Pinterest board). So I ended up using Butterick 5585 view E and altering the bottom to make it a gown instead of little pants. 

View E is the bottom right romper thingy.

This was a really simple alteration.  I traced the front and back pattern pieces, which were designed to be cut on the fold, and then I drew from the bottom of the pant leg to the center fold to make the bottom half a gown instead of pants.  I also added an inch or two of length since I want the gown to cover Taco's little toes.

Front and back pieces.

I also altered the sleeves so that they would have convertible mitten cuffs. But I'll cover that in another post.

Once my pieces were altered and fabric cut, the gown was a cinch to sew. I used strips of bright orange jersey to finish the neck and chose to have it show rather than sew it to the inside, as instructed.  For the bottom hem, I sewed a channel for some 3/8" elastic, which I cut to 14".


I used my serger for just about all of the construction. I hope that that isn't the decision that undoes this project; I think the seams are nice and soft, but baby skin is sensitive. So, it may have been smarter in the long run to take the time to finish the neck in the more time consuming bias tape way - sew one side, flip to inside and stitch again, encasing the seam allowance. We'll see.

The fabric is a cotton jersey print from Riley Blake that I bought at It's nice and soft.

Right now, this is a bit large on Taco, so I decided not to torture him by making him try it on for photos. I suspect that the pattern runs a bit large, but I can't really be sure. Taco is a long but skinny baby.  Overall, I'm happy with how it came out, but we'll see how it does when Taco grows into it.

Next posts: Convertible Mitten Cuffs and a Ring Sling for me!

Monday, April 13, 2015

SHB Sew-Along Inspiration: Sewing for Moms and Dads

I hope you checked out Mikhaela and Cindy's Small Human Being Inspiration posts. Since I'm an incredibly selfish sewist, it's fallen to me to do the inspiration post for sewing for the parents. Goody, goody! This is actually where most of my sewing efforts have gone for the last six months.

Babies outgrow things quickly, so if you want to sew things that you will use every day, best sew things for yourself is my motto. Here are a few ideas:

Diaper Bags (for yourself or a very very good friend)
If you have the time and energy for a big project, a diaper bag is a fantastic gift for yourself or the parent in your life (mom or dad).  I've actually sewn eight - yes, eight! - diaper bags over the years.

Seven of the eight I've sewn.

You can use a pattern that is specifically meant for a diaper bag , or just a pattern for a messenger or tote bag, like the one I used for Phin's diaper bag (Vogue 8990) and customize the pockets and extras. One of the great things about sewing a diaper bag is that you can really customize it for the recipient - the sky is the limit with fabric and hardware as long as they will withstand heavy use and be fairly easy to keep clean.

Diaper Clutch

If a bag is too much, how about sewing a fun and easy diaper clutch or a simple changing pad?

Phin's Diaper Bag and Changing Pad

There are plenty of free or low cost tutorials for diaper clutches, or you can just wing it, like I did.

For the Nursing Mom
Once baby arrives, most new moms have a big need for nursing-friendly clothing if they are breastfeeding. To do over, I would have spent more time sewing nursing friendly clothing before Taco's birth than I did.  I get a huge amount of use out of the two cardi-shrugs that I sewed in the last weeks of pregnancy.

Simplicity 2603

In addition, I've found that any lower cut top pattern can be appropriate for nursing when worn with a plain cami underneath. Knits have a more forgiving fit and, in general, are fairly easy to sew.

V1282 DKNY top; M6552 caftan

One project I want to tackle is a Watson Bra for sleep. I'm more comfortable with a light layer of support even at night. You can get nursing bra clips at Sew Sassy Fabrics, which you could also use to alter a regular bra for nursing. 

You'll notice that I haven't suggested a nursing cover. I've pinned several tutorials to our SHB Sew-Along Pinterest board. However, I believe that nursing is normal, natural and, quite frankly, a birthright. While I don't feel like I need to publicly expose myself to make a point, I also don't feel the need to hide under a tent, which ironically draws more attention to the act of breastfeeding. But that's just me; everyone is different. Anyway, if the nursing mom in your life doesn't know what her legal rights are with regard to public nursing, here is a website you can email to her.

For the Baby Wearers
Sometimes as a new mom you need your hands free and you need to hold your baby at the same time. Thank goodness there are so many options for wearing your baby, most of which you can sew yourself. The most comprehensive set of tutorials for making all sorts of carriers - ring slings, mei tais, wraps and more - is on Sleeping Baby. It's truly a treasure trove for the DIY parenting set! 

Maya Wrap (from the Maya Wrap website)

But there are also other tutorials out there, like the one Maya Wrap did, showing how to sew their ring sling (which retails for $80-$100). Both of these sources have ample guidance on choosing appropriate fabrics for safety and comfort. 

Mikhaela and I are going to be ring sling twinsies
I'm going to sew a ring sling for myself and have already received a request for one in a "manly" fabric for my brother-in-law. Oh, yeah, my younger sister is expecting her first baby in mid-August! So, Taco will have a cousin who is close in age. Hooray! Naturally, I will be sewing a diaper bag for her.

Anyway, at the end of 40 weeks, so much emphasis and so much shopping is for baby that it's nice to have something special for the parents every now and again. Plus mom and dad are less likely to outgrow whatever you sew than baby!

Reminder: If you are sewing along, post to our Flickr group and use our hashtag (#SHBsewalong) for other social media!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

So, You're Having a Gender Neutral Baby: Inspiration for theSHBSew-Along

Ha ha! Ok, so you've decided not to find out the gender of your baby-to-be or are sewing for a baby whose gender you don't know or you just want some alternatives to the steady diet of blue or pink that you may be in store for. Where to begin?

Phin and I decided not to find out Taco's gender. So, while I didn't do so much sewing for him, I did a lot of thinking about and shopping for gender neutral baby clothing. The nice thing about baby clothing is that, aside from dresses, baby boys and baby girls wear the same basic garments. In RTW gender is differentiated by colors (blue vs pink), motifs (trucks vs tiaras), messaging (little man vs little princess), and embellishment (lots of bows and ruffles for girls, none for boys.)

My real complaint with gender neutral RTW is that it's pretty plain and there's an overabundance of yellow, green and ducklings. There are loads of ducklings. By sewing, you can easily create fun and special garments appropriate for all babies.

McCall (M4236, M6223),  Butterick (B5583, B5584 and B5585) and Simplicity (S1330 and S2291) all have basic baby layette patterns that include various assortments of basics - onesies, kimono tops, rompers, pants, sleepwear, hats and bunting. Most are very easy to sew.

Butterick 5585
If you prefer, a quick search of the internet will lead to lots of free and indie baby patterns, like this baby gown from Stitched Together.

I'm going to be making a sleep gown like this free newborn one, but in a larger size now that Taco has outgrown the newborn ones.

Cindy, Mikhaela and I have linked to a lot of great free and indie patterns in our SHB Sew-Along Pinterest Board.  Most are really quite easy.

Why stick with green and yellow as the only "neutrals"?  Red, orange, purple, grey, brown, black and white are all at your disposal as far as colors go. Plus there are loads of fabrics with fun prints that would be perfect for either gender. 

Gender Neutral baby

It's always seemed counter-intuitive to me to dress babies in pastels when what attracts them most is high contrast, like black and white, and bright colors. Yet, it's hard to find black and white baby clothing.

If you specifically want baby patterned fabrics, I had lots of luck at - both the multicolored monkeys and the orange elephants are gender neutral.

My haul
However, even basic patterns like stripes or geometric prints that you already have in your stash can make an outfit fun. One of my favorite oneises on Taco is red and grey striped.

This is where, if you have some extra energy, you can really make a garment special. Adding a little embroidery or trim is fun and easy.

Taco's Trample Herd bibs and onesies

Urban Threads has any number of great gender neutral machine and hand embroidery patterns. Just browsing their kids & babies section is excellent inspiration.

Urban Threads Dinos

Sublime Stitching is another source for fun hand embroidery patterns. Ottobre also has some great free ideas on their website. When it comes to motifs, you really are limited only where you, yourself  decide to draw a gender line. I think that gender neutral is more a frame of mind than an aesthetic.

Anyway, whether you are sewing gender neutral clothing or not, I hope you will share your plans if you are sewing along on our SHB Sew-Along Flickr group.  Most of all, I hope this gets you excited and not stressed about all the easy and fun projects available, even if you don't have more than 10 minutes a few times a week. Speaking of which, Phin and Taco have gone for a walk on this beautiful day, so I am heading to the Craft Lounge right now. Happy sewing! 

Monday, March 23, 2015

B is for Baby, S is for Sew Along!

If you read either Cation Designs or Polkadot Overload, then you probably know by now that Cindy, Mikhaela and I are teaming up to lead the Small Human Being Sew Along.

Our goal: to get ourselves back into the sewing swing of things in a non-stressful and fun way while our babies are, well, still actually babies. And since it seems like there is a mini baby boom in the sewing blogosphere, we decided to get a few prizes and see who might want to join us. We've even got an official badge thanks to Mikhaela!

Yay, badges!!!

In fact, we have a warm weather version, too!

In the Northeastern US, this is brazenly optimistic!

Not bad for three sleep deprived new mamas, eh?

The Fine Print
The official guidelines are here.Grab a button below, holler that you are in and you are all set!

The gist is that we're taking a pretty broad approach: sew something - just about anything big or small - for your baby or baby-to-be (0-12mos). Sew more than one thing if you want! Don't have a baby of your own? No problem! Sew for someone else's baby - your niece/nephew, godchild, grandchild, fairy godchild or for a charity like CareWear, a nationwide network that provides handmade baby items to hospitals.

We have a few categories for prizes: baby clothing, baby toys/accessories (toys, blankets, bibs, etc) and for parents (diaper bags, nursing apparel, etc). If you want to be eligible for our awesome prizes from Ottobre and Oliver & S, just be sure to enter during the official sew along dates - in April! 

How could I not want to sew for this cute little face?!?!?

Since group sewing is more fun with a group (duh!), let us know you are sewing along by leaving a comment here or on Cindy's or Mikhaela's blogs (and your plans, if you know already). You can post photos of your makes on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #SHBsewalong, or post to our Flickr group. At the end of the month, we'll also post a call for links if you want to link to a blog post with your items.

I went on a little fabric binge at

I have two projects planned for the sew along - one for me and one for Taco - and, along with Cindy and Mikhaela, will be doing some inspiration posts along the way. I may even have a little tutorial to post if all goes well with my sewing. 

Stay tuned and join in! Grab your button - in either winter or summer flavor - below!

grab button for Clio & Phineas
<div class="clio-phineas-button" style="width: 300px; margin: 0 auto;"> <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"> <img src="" alt="Clio & Phineas" width="300" height="300" /> </a> </div>

grab button for Clio & Phineas
<div class="clio-phineas-button" style="width: 300px; margin: 0 auto;"> <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"> <img src="" alt="Clio & Phineas" width="300" height="300" /> </a> </div>

Monday, March 16, 2015

Donna Karan Nursing Top

Apparently, Monday is my day for posting! So this week, I'm sporting another non-nursing/non-maternity top that a minor tweak has made perfect for nursing. Really, why stick to "maternity" or "nursing" clothes when I can make fun things like this that I'll be happy to wear nursing or not?

This is V1282, a Donna Karan cowl neck top. Like my last nursing make, this is a pattern "encore" for me - I first made it about 2 years ago (here and pictured below left). As much as I loved the first version, it never found a steady place in my wardrobe for some reason.  My new version, however, has already been worn twice in two weeks.

Original on the left; encore on the right.

You may recognize the fabric from this maternity dress. I had about a yard leftover, which was perfect for this top. The only change I made to the pattern, aside from adding a little wiggle room at the hips, is that I didn't sew the center of the cowl up as high, which you can see compared to the original. This necessitates wearing a cami underneath for a layered look, but makes the top perfect for nursing.

This week I was thinking about how major changes to my wardrobe/style have accompanied all my major life changes - high school uniform to jeans and concert tees in college, to first job suits as a young adult, to really crafting my own style as a married career gal in my 30's, and now new mom on maternity leave. In addition to the change in my identity and lifestyle needs, the normal, healthy physical changes caused by pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding means that most of my clothing doesn't fit at the moment - physically or emotionally. And while I have some insecurities - like will my leather jacket ever fit again? - I'm trying to embrace the new and use it as a springboard to expand and experiment with my style rather than seeing limitations. 

Easy knit tops have never been my thing, but I really like this top. I see it as a good segue between the old and new - very much my style, but also practical for the here and now.

What are your thoughts about changing style and life changes?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Three Month Baby-versary Gifts From the Herd

When I announced my pregnancy, the Trample Herd immediately decided they needed to shower the baby-to-be with gifts.

They put me to work embroidering some baby basics - onesies and bibs - with Trample Herd inspired animals.  They wanted Taco to have wearables that represented them. Naturally, it was Dragon the Hippo and his sidekick, Milkshake the Cow, that instigated the whole thing. 

I worked on this on-and-off while pregnant and since Taco was born, and I even embroidered the giraffe while in labor. This is still an ongoing project. I need to find a bunny pattern so that Hopscotch can be represented.

All of the designs are from Urban Threads. I'm not particularly skilled in the embroidery department, but with a few simple stitches, these came out very cute.

And now Taco can wear the herd right in time for his 3 month birthday, which they are very pleased about.

And Milkshake the Cow jumped over the moon.

I can't believe it's been 3 whole months since Taco was born!  He has officially passed the 4th trimester and is now an infant instead of a newborn.  He has doubled his weight, learned to laugh and coo, and in the last week has started holding his head up and rolling from his tummy to back during tummy time. It's amazing. But what's even better is seeing the beginnings of Taco's little personality.  He seems to have Phin's laid back, calm attitude - nothing is a big deal. And he's chuckley. He seems to be a happy and social little guy.

Now, I'm not going to lie and say that he is sleeping thru the night and that parenthood is a picnic. He isn't and it isn't. But I think we are doing pretty great for a new little trio and figuring things out. And now that Taco's attention span seems to be growing, it is easier for me to begin getting back to some semblance of normality. On Wednesday I went to the gym for the first time and then on Friday Taco was happy to be in his carrier long enough for me to bake. So, I hope there is more of that to come.

Anyway, here's a shot of each embroidered item.

Dijon the Giraffe

Dragon the Hippo

The Trample Elephants

Milkshake the Cow

Sriracha the Dragon

 Next up: A knit top for me or a new hat for Taco, depending on what we can get photographed!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Will this Winter Ever End? Or Chili Booties

If you follow me on Instagram, you saw my solidly mediocre darning skills on display when I fixed these booties that I knit last year. Since the originals have been worn so often they got holes, I decided to knit myself a similar pair for this winter.

These are my new "Chili" booties, a free pattern from DROPS Design (DROPS 131-43) that you can find here. I knit them up in leftover Cascade 220 Superwash yarn from the Tree of Life Blanket I made for Taco.

Once you decipher the instructions, which are rather hazy, the pattern is very easy.  Essentially, the Chili bootie is a very simple sock, knit from the top down and with a very easy cable pattern down the center front. Since they are knit in a worsted weight yarn, they work up lickety split.

I wish I could recommend this pattern to first time sock knitters as an easy way to learn the basics.  Alas, the instructions are just not user friendly and rather confusing. I had to draw on my knowledge of sock knitting to figure them out. However, the booties themselves are very cute now that they are done. The cable pattern really is rather pretty.  I'm sure this pair will get just as much use as last year's booties.

Worn over striped socks. ha ha ha

It seems like this winter will never end. I've been reminding myself that each day is one day closer to spring. It's a bit hard to get out with such a little one, although Taco and I walk just about every day it isn't snowing or icy. This winter that means there are a lot of quiet days around the house. At least I have some new booties to keep my tootsies warm. 

Next up, a little embroidery project for Taco.