Thursday, September 21, 2017

Sleep Light

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 18, 2017

Out of Doors

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 15, 2017

Sleep Tight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 11, 2017

A Bevy of Bibs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 25, 2017


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

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

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

Monday, August 21, 2017

Hope Springs Eternal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But hope springs eternal, you know!

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

(Big) Blessings

I've been absent from my little corner of the Interwebs longer than I intended -- the truth is, though I had a few projects to share, I was just ready to have my baby. And if past experience were any indication, I was due to deliver any day (my first three were 12, 16, and 16 days early). Sixteen days before my due date came and went. So did twelve. One week before my due date and all I had to show were a handful of Braxton Hicks contractions (which I'd never experienced in previous pregnancies). When my due date came and went, I already felt two weeks overdue and the word "induction" was introduced to my consciousness. I felt huge and incredibly uncomfortable, and a cashier asked if I were having twins! Finally, finally, a full week after my due date, it was time. 

Contractions started suddenly and violently, less than five minutes apart. We called the midwifery center, grabbed a few last-minute essentials, and hopped in the car. By the time we reached the ER to be admitted, I was feeling a bit "pushy." Up to the room, and a few contractions later it was time for our little guy to make his appearance. My midwife was great, coaching me through and encouraging me. My husband always seems to know what to do (namely, just being there when I need him, and letting me squeeze his hand as tightly as I can!). Pushing was harder than I remembered it being with my second and third babies, but in reality it wasn't that long. In fact, the entire labor was just under an hour and a half from start to finish! Granted, at my last appointment I was over half-way dilated and almost fully effaced -- so I didn't have that far to go. 

The midwife and nurse commented on how big he was, and after we'd had an hour or so of "just us" the nurse came back to weigh, measure, and clean him. She guessed over ten pounds, my husband guessed ten even, and I guessed nine-and-change because I couldn't fathom him being any larger than that. Imagine our surprise (shock, rather) when he tipped the scales at a hair over eleven pounds! No wonder I'd been a bit... uncomfortable... over the past few weeks! All of my previous babies were seven pounds and some odd ounces -- though they'd been increasing a few ounces in size each time, and I jested at Laddie's birth that the next baby would be over eight pounds. Well, I was right!

It's so good to finally have him here, our little "Scout" (as he'll be called on the blog). I still call him "little," even though the nurse had to go grab the size 1 diapers to replace the newborn diapers she'd had ready. I'd been concerned about the possibility of a c-section if induction was required, but as it turns out his large size was actually more of a risk. I am so grateful that labor was so swift, and that we didn't have any issues with shoulder dystocia. I'm also grateful I had no idea how big he was before the birth -- that would have been intimidating, to say the least!

After three very similar births, Scout has certainly changed things up -- I realized in those last agonizing weeks that I'd never had to wait for a baby before. All three of my older children had arrived before I really expected them to. Guess what? I'm not good at waiting!

But I'm already enjoy some of the "perks" -- for instance, Laddie was always congested, and required frequent suctioning for the first several months. In fact, I could never let him cry it out, because he would become so congested that he could barely breathe. There's a strong possibility that's related to his arriving 16 days before his due date. Scout, on the other hand, hasn't need any help in the respiratory department. Being "Large for Gestational Age" carried a few concerns (big babies have their blood sugars checked before their first twelve feedings), but Scout passed all of his checks with flying colors and seems perfectly healthy. And no, I didn't have gestational diabetes -- in fact, my blood sugar was exceptional when I was tested! He's just... big.

Every baby is a blessing, but I can honestly say I didn't expect such a "big" blessing from the Lord! I'm trying to rest and recover, basking in the newborn snuggles -- it's such a fleeting season (and one of my favorites). It's such a joy to see Scout's older siblings being so sweet and loving. They've been so excited about his arrival, and now that he's here they can't get enough of him! Especially sweet is the way Scout seems so calm when Rosa holds him -- which she wants to do frequently. I think the only thing I have to worry about is Scout being smothered with affection! Perhaps that's why God knitted him together on a slightly larger scale...

"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you."
Jeremiah 1:5a

Monday, June 19, 2017

On the Wild Side

Sometimes I wonder why we bother going to the zoo, since life with three Littles is often wild enough! But I am trying to squeeze in a few more outings before the baby comes -- and it doesn't hurt to use that zoo pass as much as possible this year... 

I was pleased to see this fine fellow sporting his grandest plumage: 

There's nothing "personal" about hygiene in the primate world, is there? 

Some of the sweetest zoo inhabitants were not exactly exotic -- or even part of the exhibits! 

This pair is usually rather lethargic when we visit, so it was delightful to see them out and about. Look at those shoulders!

We're getting a bit more out of our zoo visits these days -- this past trip, the older two took turns consulting the "diet" section of the exhibit signs to determine whether the inhabitants were herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores. Sometimes the best classrooms have no roofs!