Friday, 26 December 2014

Busy Book or a Quiet Book

As my little boy gets closer to turning one, he is becoming harder to occupy quietly in places that require some sort of calm and quiet such as church and long car trips. In order to help entertain him, I decided to create a sort of quiet book.
Searching the Internet for ideas was pretty overwhelming. I had no idea that the concept of a busy book or a quiet book was such a popular one. There were literally thousands of different ideas, some more difficult to make than others. It was hard to make a start with so many ideas to choose from.
The pages that I have created are much simpler than many I saw and better suited to a child under two.

Materials That I Used:
-White cotton quilting fabric
-Medium stiffness calico
-Felt in a variety of colours
-Fabric scraps
-Assorted buttons, bells, belt buckles etc.
-Press snaps
-Embroidery thread
-Assorted ribbons

To begin I cut 6 rectangles of the white fabric and the calico measuring 20 inches by 12 inches. I backed a piece of calico onto each white rectangle to add stiffness and support. I then marked down the centre of each rectangle to create 12 pages 10 by 12 inches. Then the fun began.

Page 1: Match the Crayons
This page includes a pencil case that zips up and 5 coloured felt crayons to match up. The crayons Velcro onto the page or can be safely stored in the pencil case. Each crayon is a double layer of felt blanket stitched together for strength.

Page 2: Button On Flowers
The concept on this page is very simple. The flowers are backed with felt for stiffness and finished with blanket stitch. They can be removed from the buttons.

Page 3: Zip Up Tent
The tent is made from felt with camouflage colours for added interest. The tent zips up the centre and when unzipped reveals a little felt person. The star beads and aeroplane buttons add some texture to the night sky.

Page 4: Bead Abacus
This page features ten rows of beads increasing in number from 1 to 10. The strings are held in place with knots and several lines of stitching hidden underneath the black frame. This page was difficult to put together, but the end result is quite pleasing.

Page 5: Dress the Teddy
This page has a felt teddy wearing a vest and a nappy. The vest fastens with press studs and the nappy closes with velcro. Again, this page was a little tricky to assemble as I was trying to keep the layers of clothing free from each other.

Page 6: Stick on Caterpillar
This caterpillar's body segments Velcro to the page. Four of the segments have legs that stretch out when pulled. The body can be assembled in any way and the little button butterfly's add some interest to the page. Again, all the felt is double thickness and blanket stitched around the edges.

Page 7: Buckle Up Bag
This is a simple page featuring a simple buckle. The bag opens and can hold small items.

Page 8: Christmas Gifts
This first Christmas themed page has three presents with ribbons that can be tied. The largest present unties to allow the present to open. Inside the present are a variety of interesting buttons.

Page 9: Christmas Tree with Baubles
This second Christmas page has a tree with clip on baubles. I have also sewn on small bells to add some interest and sound to the book. The clips are pretty tricky to undo, so it may be some time before my son can use this page.

Page 10: Worms in the Field
This page has a ploughed felt field and a tractor with a Velcro backing. Ribbon 'worms' pull back and forth through eyelet holes.

Page 11: The Barn
I love this page. The barn is made from red felt, edged around with blanket stitching. Inside each barn door farm animals are waiting to be discovered. It was a simple page to make, but very effective!

Page 12: Do Up the Shoes
This last page features three different types of shoes to do up. A laced shoe, and two different types of Velcro fastening shoes. All the shoes are made from felt and carefully stitched for strength.

Finishing the Pages
I finished off the pages by putting two pages right sides together and stitching around the edges, leaving a place to turn them through the right way. Once the pages were turned through, I stitched around the edges to finish them neatly and hold the shape of the corners.
Once each leaf of the book was completed, I stitched it into the cover of the book by sewing down the centre of the leaf (on the line down the centre of each double page marked out at the start).
I did find that my sewing machine struggled a little with this step as I had such thick pages. But we got through!

The Cover
The cover of the book is made from three different colours of cotton fabric with a heavier fabric sandwiched in between the cover and lining for some strength and stiffness. The book closes with a velcro strip and has handles for easy carrying.

I honestly couldn't be happier with the finished product. It looks great, is finished neatly and is very entertaining for my son. Certainly a very time consuming project, but a worthwhile one. Hopefully it will get lots of use and help us out in those moments when some quiet is needed!

Christmas Quilting (Table Runners)

Now that Christmas has been and gone, here are some of the long awaited Christmas sewing projects that I have been working on. I decided to sew Christmas presents this year and what could be better than Christmas themed quilting. Not much in my opinion.

I haven't got much to say about them... I found some quilt block patterns online and made them up from there. The pictures don't really do them justice, but I am very happy with the way they turned out.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Shorts for the Boy

Not a very exciting post this time. I finally got around to making my boy some new shorts. All his little 0's were getting pretty small (and even some of the 1's). Now he has two new pairs and I honestly can't remember where I got the pattern!

I have been doing heaps of other sewing too... but details still to come (after Christmas).

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Elaina's Dress (Baby Blouse and Pinafore)

This sewing project was somewhat inspired by my love of Christmas and the wish that one day I will experience a cold, winter-y Christmas just like is depicted on all the Christmas cards.

Another dear friend of mine recently gave birth to yet another little girl. Where are all the boys, people? Anyway... I couldn't help myself and I've designed and sewn another cute baby girl's outfit. Since this baby girl lives in Wisconsin, USA... a place of marvellous, white, winter Christmases and cool spring weather, the dress has a decidedly festive look.

Inspired by little winter pinafores on Google images, I drew up a pattern. Pleated baby dresses are really easy to draw up. All I used was a plain overalls front and back pattern in the correct size. Using folded paper to create the pleats, I simply drew the pattern shape over the top and cut it out. When the paper is unfolded, the pleats are included in the new pattern. Obviously I made other changes to the pattern to create an A line shape in the skirt of the pinafore and make sure that the fit will be correct.

I cut the pinafore in a teal and black checked wool fabric. Hopefully the wool will help to keep baby Elaina warm. The front pleats are finished with little pearl snaps. The same pearl snaps are used to fasten the shoulders of the pinafore.

The baby blouse was much less simple to make. I had a pattern for a baby shirt but whoever loved it before me was a little careless with some of the essential pieces (like the shirt back and front) and they were no where to be seen. So using the sleeve and collar, I drew up the pieces for the body of the shirt. (My pattern making course really has come in handy!) The blouse is cut out of a very fine poly-cotton and trimmed with lace around the collar and cuffs. I'm pretty pleased with it!

The overall outfit is very sweet... and took a long time to make. I wish it was for my own baby. Alas... no girl child here. I'm afraid by the time I do have a girl... if it ever happens... I won't have the time or energy to make such cute clothes for her! Anyway. Enjoy your Christmas present baby Elaina!

Dress back view
Completed pinafore

Monday, 10 November 2014

Maddi's Dress (McCall's 5791)

I have been doing heaps of sewing lately, but I can't post any of it yet as it all falls under the category of Christmas presents.
However, another lovely friend of mine recently gave birth to a beautiful little girl... so I've made another cute dress. One day the dresses will be for my own baby girl. I hope. In the mean time, I'm enjoying sewing for all the other little girls around!

This time I used McCall's pattern 5791. The pattern is sized small to extra large, but a small is for a baby around 3-6 months. I'm guessing the larger sizes might fit up to a 3 year old. The dress has a short waisted bodice and ties at the back. There are a variety of sleeve and collar options to individualise the dress. The pattern also includes gathered panties (which I didn't make at this stage).

I found some cute red and white print that I had in my fabric box and bought some white rick rack to use as a trim. I also used press studs instead of a zipper in the back. I think the finished look is very sweet. I just hope the bold pattern doesn't over power the little girl!

Over all, the pattern was simple to use and provided a straight forward sewing project.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Premature Christmas Longings...

So I succumbed this morning and put on some Christmas music. I made a huge effort this year and I don't think I've listened to anything Christmas-y more than once or twice all year! For those who don't know, I'm a huge lover of all things Christmas... always have been and probably always will be!
I just want to take this moment to say that The Piano Guys Christmas album 'A Family Christmas' is fantastic! Who could avoid feeling cheerful with such light and bright music playing? In fact, I highly recommend all their work!
It will be our first Christmas with our little boy this year! That makes me more excited than ever. I hope that one day he will love Christmas time as much as me. Even though he is going to be a hazard to our decorations this year, I'm sure we will still be able to put up some beautiful things!

Christmas is such a time of wonder and beauty for me. Wonder that God became a man, born in such lowly conditions. Wonder at the reason He came and enormity of His gift to humanity... life. Reconciliation with God. Forgiveness. Peace.
Beauty in the decorations and excitement. Beauty in the traditions that I grew up with. Sitting around the tree on Christmas Eve in the candlelight, singing carols and reading the Christmas story as a family. Beauty in the joy of giving and receiving gifts and expressing love for each other. Beauty in good food and the enjoyment of the wonderful life that we have!
Ahhh... Christmas. Still two and a half months away.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Baby Overalls (Burda 3022)

I'm sure that by the time my son gets to preschool, I will have tried out every single overall pattern on the market! Here is another one... much more successful than the last!

Burda 3022. I picked this pattern up at the Lifeline Bookfest for a dollar. Someone had pre-loved it, but thankfully all the pieces were intact. I chose to make the short overalls (B) with a few adjustments to make them less girly.

Overall a great pattern. It was easy to sew and came out really well. Again, when they say loose-fitting, they really mean it! I did take these overalls in under the arms as well, but had no other pattern related problems. If you like loose fitting, then it could be left as is.

Instead of adding the cute ties at the knee, I cut the legs really short and and put elastic around the hem. The effect is a very cute romper. More masculine for my boy. I recommend this one... sadly I don't think you can still buy it!

Baby Romper Suit (Burda Kids 9462)

I recently went to Spotlight and got excited about their $5 sale on all patterns. One of the many patterns that I picked up was Burda Kids 9462 for cute, puffy baby rompers. It looked simple to make and cool for summer wear, so I cut it out and got sewing.

As I was sewing I did think the pattern looked rather full, but that was mean to be the style so I kept going. Mistake. I should have tried it on my little boy before finishing off all the edges.

If I were to review this pattern and give it a rating, it would get one star. Not only is it way too full, but the legs sit wrong and the crutch is too short for the width sizing. I eventually cut off the legs, shortening them and resewing the side seams to make the romper narrower. I also took it in under the arms to get a better fit.

With all my alterations, the romper is still loose fitting (as it is meant to be), but not so loose fitting that the baby will get lost inside. It still isn't a great garment altered. I wouldn't recommend it or use the romper pattern again. Maybe the combination girls set would work out better?

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Making Playdough

School holidays are over again. Sigh. Back to my normal routine again. Anyway...

I thought I would be clever and make my little boy some play dough to enjoy a few weeks ago (been so long since I have done any blogging!).
I found an edible... or should that be non toxic... recipe online and made some up. Perhaps it would be better for us if it was edible because that is all my monkey wanted to do. Never mind. I put it in the fridge and will bring it out again in a month or two for another try!

Lovely new playdough!

One of the only moments he wasn't stuffing it in his mouth!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Painting with Baby

I've been wanting to try painting with my little boy for a while now and decided that today was the day. Father's Day is approaching and I want a cute painting to give my husband from his boy.

I researched some baby safe (edible) paint recipes and whipped up some paint at the end of his nap, ready for playtime. This is the basic recipe:

- 1/3 cup plain flour
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 10 drops food colouring

Simply mix the flour and water together in a bowl with a whisk. Add more water until you reach whatever consistency you desire. (The recipe is merely a guide). Once the mixture is smooth, add the oil for a nice shiny paint or leave it out if you want!
Divide out the mix into several different cups and add a different food colouring to each one. I found that you need to add quite a lot of food dye to make a strong coloured paint. I used yellow, red and blue.
Once the paint is coloured, just pour a few drops onto a piece of paper and let baby become the artist!

The texture is perfect for finger painting and dries quickly in the sun. I masking taped the paper to his high chair tray to stop him from scrunching it up. The paint cleans off of clothes easily enough and isn't tasty enough to encourage much finger licking. As this was our first painting experience, I did need to show baby how to begin. Once he got the hang of playing in the paint he made some lovely pictures. Perfect for Father's day!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Baby Proofing the House

Since my little boy began to crawl I have been spending my days chasing him away from all the things that he is not supposed to be touching. So after some experimentation, we have come up with some good ways to keep him away from power cables, off the stairs, away from the hanging blinds and out of the garden.

Power Cables

We tried taping them to the floor, blocking them with other objects and finally masking taped them to the skirting boards. No more cables for baby to chew!

Hanging blinds

 We tried saying 'no', putting them in a box on the floor, hiding them behind other stuff, and finally put the box up on the kitchen cabinet. Success.


We tried the standard baby gate but as our stairs protrude beyond the wall, two steps were always available for climbing and falling down. With this handy baby fence, we can fence off all access to the stairway.

Garden Beds

We tried active supervision, but he just moves too fast these days. So we bought some fencing wire and some stakes and fenced off the garden for good. No more eating potentially poisonous plants.

Sadly, there are still so many other things he shouldn't be touching; books, grass (the eating of), dvd player, heater, lamp etc. Things that can't easily be removed unless we want to live in an empty house. I guess the active supervision will be continuing for a long time yet!

Friday, 15 August 2014

Baby Boy Overalls

I happened to pop into Spotlight the other week just for something to do and they had a half price fabric sale and all patterns for $5! Who could pass up an opportunity like that? Certainly not me.
I came home with only three patterns and two pieces of fabric (thanks to my little boy for saving me money by protesting about the shopping trip)! One of the patterns is a cute little set of clothes that included a very simple pattern for overalls.
Over the last week and a bit I have been putting them together... not that they should take that long. A solid hour and a half should have done the trick. Thanks again to my boy for helping me spread out the fun of sewing over a whole week! Here he is looking extremely cute in his new overalls! I love that boy!