Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Little Hoodie

After being inspired by these hoodies made by my friend Ashley, I decided to whip up my own version of Heidi & Finn's Urban Unisex Hoodie for our little man. I actually began this project towards the end of Celebrate the Boy but, as noted in my previous post, sewing has taken something of a backseat to another big project and I only recently finished (and got around to posting) Eli's hoodie. 

The pattern is well written and easy to execute. I am happy to report that very unlike my last foray into sewing with knits, all went smoothly this time around. I used my walking foot for the entire project to avoid feeding the hoodie to my sewing machine, which otherwise tends to gobble up knits. I would advise anyone attempting this project with a regular machine (as opposed to a serger) to use their walking foot as the sewing gets quite bulky at times around the base of the hood and when top stitching the bottom cuff. My one little boo boo was forgetting to fuse the interfacing to the button flaps. I only realized this, of course, just as I was about to sew the button holes. They are a bit stretched out as a result, but still work fine.

I used knit fabric from Joanne's for both the main fabric and the lining with the exception of the hood lining, for which I used a colorful fruit and vegetable quilting cotton print to add a little pop of color. I have to say my only disappointment with this hoodie is that I'm not totally in love with the fabrics. I've had a hard time finding really great knit fabrics locally. I know I can find beautiful knits online, but I'm always nervous to buy a fabric before seeing and feeling it in person. I may have finally found a better option for knits, but that's a story for another post.

Though it may not be the smartest use of my time as we close in on moving day (3 1/2 weeks away), I imagine I will keep the sewing machine running as much - or as little - as I can until I absolutely must pack it up for the movers to take away. For it does keep me feeling a little bit more sane and helps me feel like I've accomplished something in my world of full-time mama hood, which sometimes leaves me spinning, wondering where the day went and how the house looks like a cyclone has passed through even though I swear I tidied up just 5 minutes ago. Mamas out there, you know the feeling.

In the meantime another hoodie for my girl is in the works, for spring may finally be starting to show her lovely face here in the northern midwest. Soon (fingers crossed) it will be time to trade winter coats for layers of warm comfiness that can be shed as the chilly mornings grow warm in noon-time sun.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Our House

I wasn't quite as active in the Celebrate the BOY sew along as I may have intended. Well, there's a reason - or several, really. But let's focus on the big one.

We bought a house!!! 
It's official. We are homeowners.

After years of renting both in Michigan and Minnesota, we finally have a house we can call our own. One that we aren't planning on leaving anytime soon. One in which Eli will have his own room - though I suspect he enjoys standing up in his crib in the middle of the night and peering across the room at us. There is only so much pretending to be asleep you can do when you share your (small) bedroom with a screaming, jumping up and down toddler who thinks your bed with all its pillows and blankets (and warm bodies) looks much cozier than his bare crib. A house in which Ava can fulfill her dream of a purple bedroom. But most importantly, a house that is ours

We went to visit our new house soon after closing. In its current state it is full of echoes and promise. The possibility of empty space is so exciting and a bit overwhelming. Ava was very helpful in keeping Eli out of the fireplace, which he, like Tom Kitten, kept gravitating towards as we walked through the house as 'our house' for the first time. She dissuaded him from climbing up the stairs by putting up her "Noah block sign". (Our girl has become obsessed with the story of Noah and the Ark and insists that we call her Noah - because Noah loves animals and so does she. Naturally. It all started with this song, which we now play on repeat for hours in our house. No, I haven't gotten sick of it yet. Give me a couple more days.) 

Ava also helped take pictures to document the house as it was when we bought it, before the demolition party that ripped out the contents of the kitchen and Eli's room. We'll be snapping images along the way as we step-by-step transform this place into our home. I imagine we will need these images to remind us how far we have come when the work starts to overwhelm and stretch endless before us. And I giddily look forward to the day I can set before and after pictures side-by-side in triumph of a job completed.

I'll wait to post pictures of the house until we've made some progress on our renovations - because some of the before pictures are little too scary to show. But here's a glimpse of one of my favorite parts of the house - the yard. We were so lucky to find this property, which is twice the size of most lots in the city. I am grateful for this little sliver of nature to call our own and look forward to realizing our dreams of what this homestead can become.

This will be a busy and trying upcoming couple of months, but I'm hopeful we will be ready and happy to move into our own home at the end of April. Ava made the move with us from Ann Arbor to Minnesota, and she seemed like such a big girl at the time. But really she was only a year and a half (hard to believe that she has lived more of her life here now than she lived in Ann Arbor) and didn't really internalize what was happening. She is so much more aware and attached to place now. She has moments when she says, "but I love this house" and my heart breaks a little as I reassure her that she will love our new house just as much and maybe even more. It is challenging to harness my own anxieties and fears about moving and about our new house and all the work that needs to get done. Admittedly, I don't always do a very good job of it. But it is so important to keep those thoughts in check for the sake of my sweet girl, who is now mature enough to have anxieties of her own in addition to the ones she channels from us. 

It is so comforting to know that after this next move we will be establishing ourselves in a place that is ours. A place we can settle into knowing we won't be leaving anytime soon. A place where we can plant perennials and watch them grow bigger with each season. Our own home. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Big(ger) Butt Baby Pants

I couldn't go through two weeks of sewing for our boy without making him a pair of Big Butt Baby Pants. I've made several pairs of B3 pants for Eli in the 6-12 month size that he wore extensively over the last half of his life. They are so comfy and roomy in just the right places. But babies' butts, they do grow. And while he is still just fitting into his old pairs of B3 pants, the legs are getting a bit too short and the butt is getting a bit too snug. A time for the next size up is on the horizon.

I cut out the 18 month size pattern pieces knowing they will get lots of use over the next couple seasons. Making the same pair of pants over and over makes for very quick sewing. And these pants in particular are lightning fast to put together in part because each pant leg is made from one pattern piece rather than having a separate front and back. 

Spring is right around the corner, but unable to deny the two or so feet of snow that remains firmly planted on the ground around us, I wanted to make a pair that is warm enough for the chilly few months ahead while still light and comfy. I used some corduroy left over from these pants and a couple prints from the 'a walk in the woods' collection by Aneela Hoey for moda. I was concerned the quilting cotton prints would be too light paired with the corduroy, so I experimented with bonding the two prints together to make a warmer, sturdier butt panel. This resulted in a cute contrast on the inside of the pants.

Bonding the two fabrics together also made for a rather stiff butt panel that doesn't move freely with the rest of the fabric. I'm not sure this will matter too much in the wearing, and it probably makes for a more robust rear to the pants. But in hindsight, I'm doubtful that this was the best solution. I also happened to fuse glue to my ironing board and iron in the process. Double bummer. In case you ever need to remove glue from your iron you can try my new method - ironing a dryer sheet. It worked wonders for me. Thanks, internet, for the suggestion.

With more sewing experience under my belt, these Big Butt Baby pants are better made than past incarnations - with added topstitching on many of the seams and clean turn-and-stitch finishes to the crotch seams, these are superior B3 pants to the ones I threw together just 6 months ago. It's encouraging and gratifying to see progress in my own sewing and sewing knowledge.

This boy is growing fast before our eyes. And I find him irresistibly cuter every day. I know all too well that soon he will a big boy who won't want to be seen wearing big butt baby pants anymore. So I'll make them while I can, and get in as many cuddles and kisses as he will allow now before he gets to be that age when such things are shunned. How can I resist, really?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Reversible Bucket Hat

Despite the most recent snowstorm which left us with at least ten fresh inches of snow on the ground, I had sunny spring and summer days in mind as I made my second project for Celebrate the BOY - a Reversible Bucket Hat from Oliver + S Little Things to Sew. I used left over denim from these pants and the deer fabric from my first project for CTB. So, naturally, Eli's little bucket hat matches his new treasure pocket pants, though he can easily wear it with almost anything. And that's a good thing since sun hats are ubiquitous in the coming warm, sunny months.

I used this pattern last year to make a hat for Eli and I enjoyed it the second time around even more. It comes together so quickly and the resulting hat is so cute and so well made, as with all of the projects in Little Things to Sew. I highly recommend a copy of this book for your library, but if you love this bucket hat and need to make one right this minute you can get it as a free sample pattern from the Oliver + S website. I made a small, which is supposed to fit 12-24 month olds and seems true to size. My only divergence from the pattern was omitting the interfacing in the brim - I figured the denim provides enough rigidity.

I can't tell you how much I look forward to the day we switch from wool hats to sun hats. I assure you when it arrives, this boy will be ready.