Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Pinterest Project: "Ratatouille" Quote Onesie

If you spend any amount of time on Pinterest, you're bound to see a "do-it-yourself" onesie scroll across your screen eventually. I've been saving a few plain white onesies to make into gifts when the right idea and momma-to-be came along. That time has come, my friends.

So cute! Too bad they'll all get covered in spit-up and poop before long.
I have a good friend due in June with her second baby. Since she's a "real food" junkie, I thought making her a onesie along the theme of raw, whole, local food would put a smile on her face.

I almost made my own version of this onsie, until I found my "Ratatouille" quote.
When I happened upon a darling quote from the movie "Ratatouille," I knew I had found the inspiration I needed.

I wanted to use a variety of cool fonts to write the quote, so I was back to Pinterest for some ideas.

I really liked the simplicity of the designs above, especially because they are so easy to read. I also was attracted to the clean, horizontal lines that broke up the space so nicely.

So, I started playing around with fonts on my computer.

Once I settled on my design, I printed it out and placed it inside the white onesie. I used a permanent fabric pen to carefully trace the letters. I'm really glad I didn't attempt fabric paints because it was hard enough to make the letters clear with a pen. I ended up doing a "dot" technique instead of drawing lines. The fabric tends to bunch up as you put on enough pressure to drag and write.

That's right, baby! Eat the good stuff!
This particular fabric pen requires a "heat set" in order to make the design permanent. When I finished "dotting," I ran the onesie under the iron, and then stepped back to admire my work. I think my friend will love it.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Thrift Store Makeover: Old Navy Blouse Edition

A few years ago, I bought an Old Navy blouse at a thrift store to wear for my student teaching. I bought it mostly because I loved the grey and pink flowery fabric, even though the shirt wasn't quite as long as I'd like, and the sleeves were a little too short when I bent my arms. Consequently, I only wore the blouse if I also wore a cardigan over it. 

Now that the blouse has been sitting in my closet for a while, I thought it was ready for a makeover. My basic plan of action was to get rid of the sleeves and use the fabric to lengthen the blouse a little.

First, I removed the sleeves by carefully cutting close to the arm seams.

Then, I cut off the gathered part of the sleeve that would sit at the wrist and ironed the fabric flat.

My seam looks like it was made on a slight angle.  This is because I was taking in the top of the side seam, and not the empire waist.
Before I finished a nice edge for the arm holes, I tried my new tank top on. I found that the arm holes were too big, so I took in the side seams a little bit. Starting about 3/4 inch from the original side seam, I sewed at an angle so that my seam ended right at the empire waist line, without taking in the waist line.

Arm holes: before and after taking in the side seam. First you see the white tank top underneath, and then you don't!
 Now that the arm holes were an appropriate size, I was ready to create a clean, finished edge.

I cut some long strips of fabric from the sleeves, joined them together, and used the iron to fold the fabric. In essence, I created my own bias tape. I sandwiched arm hole edges inside my bias tape and sewed all the layers together.

When I got all the way around with my ruffle, I had to connect the two ends of the  ruffle (see bottom two pictures).
I used the rest of the fabric from the sleeves to make a ruffle along the bottom of the blouse, lengthening the blouse by about two inches. First, I cut the remaining sleeve fabric into 2.5 inch wide strips. I then sewed all the strips together end-to-end. Next, I hemmed one of the long edges of this narrow strip. This became my new bottom edge of the blouse. Then, I started pinning the fabric to the blouse, folding the strip onto itself every few inches to create a ruffle. I had to unpin and repin my ruffle several times before it looked the way I wanted it to.

sewing           before ironing           after ironing
When I was finally ready to sew the ruffle to the blouse, I kept each pin in place until the last possible second so that the ruffle wouldn't come undone. Then, I ironed the ruffle so that it would lie flat, rather than stick out like a little tutu!

I was surprised that I had a lot of sleeve fabric leftover. I decided to use the remaining strip of fabric to make a decorative ruffle around the neckline. To make this ruffle, I began by hemming the other long side of the strip. Then I hand-sewed wide stitches in the center of the strip (each stitch was about half an inch long). As I sewed, I bunched the fabric up along the thread, which creates the ruffled look. Next, I measured how long I wanted my ruffle, and made an appropriate knot in my thread at that length. 

Like the bottom ruffle, I pinned my neckline ruffle about every inch before sewing. I kept each pin in place until the last minute so my ruffle would stay the way I wanted it.

Done! With these changes I might actually wear this thing!
The final product is even better than I imagined because I love the extra ruffled neckline. This is going to be a great tank top for humid Wisconsin summers because the fabric is light, airy, and so breathable. It's even compatible with nursing with the deep v-neck (score!). 

Now if it would just warm up around here...we're well into April and it's 39 degrees outside my door!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Breastfeeding Essential: Breast Pad Tutorial

When I found out I was pregnant with Jadon, a good friend let me borrow her maternity clothes and several baby items that her daughter outgrew. As we went through her large bin together, I came across ten flat, cotton circles and asked my friend what they were. "Breast pads," she replied, assuring me that I would definitely need them at some point. Boy, was she right.

In case you didn't know this, when a baby breast feeds, they actually can "suck" for a few seconds before they actually get any milk. The feeding action prompts a woman's body to "let down" the milk in response to the demand. Depending on the woman and the length of the feeding, there may be several letdowns within one feeding, and in varying amounts. The annoying part of this reflex is that the milk can let down from both breasts, even though the baby is feeding from one. In addition, sometimes other stimuli (baby crying, hours since last feeding, even thinking about baby) can result in a let down. In order to avoid embarrassing wet spots, most nursing mothers wear breast pads. I hardly leave the house without them.  

Now that my friend is expecting again (due in June!), I'm slowly returning her clothes and baby stuff for her to use again. Before I could return her breast pads, I knew I had to make some of my own to replace hers. Now that I know my own body's tendencies, I tried to "upgrade" my breast pads a bit with some features that better suit my needs.

One of the borrowed breast pads...with Jadon buzzing his lips in the background. 
Even though my friend's breast pads had several layers of cotton, I still occasionally leaked through them. I compensated by always packing a spare shirt to wear in the diaper bag (and if I changed, I always said that Jadon had spit up on me...sorry, buddy!). Once they got wet, the cotton fabric would not dry while I was still wearing them. I would still feel wet until I could swap them for new ones. My friend's pads were a little wide for my taste (about four inches in diameter). I didn't like how the extra fabric rippled and bunched up on the sides. I also found that five pairs of pads didn't always last to my next laundry load.

Sewing the three layers together.
I made my breast pads from three layers of fabric. First, I chose microfleece (the light green fabric) to sit against my skin because it has wicking properties. When moisture comes in contact with microfleece, it does not absorb into the fabric, but easily passes through it. I chose a new super-shammy (the orange fabric) as my second fabric because it can absorb a lot of moisture. Cotton, hemp, or other absorbent fabrics could be used in place of the super-shammy. Finally, I chose leftover scrap PUL (polyurethane laminated) fabric as my third fabric because it's waterproof. PUL fabric is often used in making cloth diapers for the same reason.

I started my cutting out all my circles with a 3.5 inch diameter, and stacked the layers appropriately. I sewed a single seam around the perimeter of my layers to hold everything in place.

My new breast pad stash!
Then I used my serger to simultaneously trim and finish the breast pad edge. In the end, the pads measure about three inches in diameter. I made eight pairs of pads in all. I'm very happy with the results. So far, I haven't had any problems with bunching, leaking, or running out of clean pads.

Before you make your pads, you may need to get to know your own body a bit. I feel compelled to say that pads made with PUL fabric are not as breathable as all-cotton pads. Some women are prone to plugged milk ducts, thrush, and tender skin. Since I've never had these problems, and I have a strong letdown, PUL fabric is a good match for me. Women who need a more breathable breast pad can use lanolized wool as a waterproof outer layer. 

Happy sewing (and nursing)!