Baby Sleeper Teddy Bear

I can’t seem to stop sewing at the moment! The other day I was sifting through a box of our daughter’s newborn clothes and after “Awww-ing” repeatedly, I decided I had to make something out of my favourite newborn sleeper. Pinterest hooked me up with a blog post, pattern and tutorial so I decided to go for it- first I tried it with my second favourite sleeper of hers, just in case! This was a bit trickier than I thought it would be and I am REALLY GLAD that I followed the tutorial and used the iron-on interfacing. The jersey knit fabric would have been not pleasant to work with around all those curves! I’m glad I decided to do a trial run first because there are a few things I would change.

baby sleeper bear in progress
Front pieces joined for hand stitching nose and eye details

finished baby sleeper bear
The finished product

I think he’s pretty sweet, for a practice bear! When I’m ready for the main event, I’m going to modify the pattern slightly for the “bear front” so that the nose is a bit lower on the face and less pronounced, and make the legs point outwards more. If I do and it’s successful, I will post the new pattern as an update later. I continued to build on my sewing skills with this project by learning how to do a satin stitch with embroidery floss. Pretty basic stuff but it’s always fun to try something new!

There are so many things you can do to preserve those fleeting newborn moments- I like the idea of a quilt too- but I think this teddy will get a lot of snuggles and hopefully stand the test of time. I’m not one for keeping boxes and boxes of clothes that never see the light of day. I have more of a minimalist mentality and clutter really stresses me out, so I would rather donate the majority to someone who can use it and keep a few precious items as a keepsake.

Let me know if you try it or if you have another pattern to suggest, I struggled to find one that I liked!
-C

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Making time for Me- and Sewing

This may come as a shock, but it is really hard to make time for myself now that I’m a mom. I haven’t even gone back to work yet and I can’t believe how tired I am All. The. Time. It’s probably also the weather and time change but I just have no energy lately! It’s been hard to work on some of the projects we want to tackle around the house because they aren’t really suited to “mom life,” AKA only having 10 minutes to devote to something before I have to prepare a meal, clean up, change a diaper, make animal noises, clean up, do nap time, make a snack, clean up, do bath time, do story time, do bed time, and clean up. Did I mention all the cleaning?

someecards dinner every night

Sewing, however, is something I can work on in stages. It’s also great “me time” because I can get totally absorbed in it and it’s a hobby I really enjoy that I can be truly selfish with (my husband is unlikely to ever tag along with me to FabricLand). I’ve completed a number of sewing projects since I got back into it a few years ago, but mostly just basic stuff like throw pillows and curtains (not counting my slipcover project, which involved basic techniques but was still a major undertaking). I’ve been trying to work up the courage to sew some clothing for a while, but I find it hard to motivate myself to push through the learning phase; I just want to my plan to work out perfectly and want to skip past the mistakes to get to a finished and flawless product. I know if I’m not 100% happy with the way something turns out, I’ll just never wear it and it would be a waste of time and energy. But after seeing a bunch of other people have success with the Scout Tee pattern from Grainline Studios and hearing everyone rave about it as a beginner pattern, I decided to go for it. I figured if I liked it, I could try one of the variations next.

sewing and cocktails scout tee variation

Split neckline variation 

Knit variation with a fuller back

dandelion drift colour block lace

Lace colour blocked variation

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Longer sleeved variation

I just went with the bog standard Scout Tee pattern as is, and I’m so glad I tried it out! I am really happy with the fit and will definitely wear it. I like it so much that I can’t wait to buy different fabric to try it with! This pattern was awesome because it was easy enough but also challenged me, I got to learn some new techniques like the neckline bias binding and using basting stitches to attach the sleeves, not to mention refresh my memory on how to actually follow a pattern. Another new skill I learned with this project was how to use a serger, so my seams look pretty darn professional and finished (if you don’t look that closely :P). Shout out to my dad for letting me borrow it! Here is my Scout Tee (you can see I worked especially hard on my model “stare off into the distance thoughtfully” pose)

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I can’t wait to try the Scout Tee with different fabric. As I mentioned, there are a ton of variations on the pattern with some great tutorials. The author (designer?) of the pattern also has a great tutorial on how to do the neckline which I couldn’t have managed without. I would definitely recommend this pattern to a beginner, or seasoned vet looking for a quick project!

Let me know what you think! If you’ve been looking for a starter sewing project, the Scout Tee is a great option.

-C

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The Long-Awaited Kimono

It’s been a while, eh? Now that Baby H has finally started napping  somewhat reliably and I actually have more than 5 minutes a day where I’m not brushing my teeth, showering, shoveling food down my gullet, or catching up on sleep, I might have time to blog again! 😮 [side note- I first wrote this draft three months ago; clearly the napping has been going swimmingly. I have one of those babies that naps anywhere from 30-45 min and occasionally over an hour. I can count on one hand the number of 2 hour naps she’s had. Somewhere out there, a friend of a friend of my husband’s told him that by 6 months, he could expect that our daughter would nap for 2 hours, 3x a day and I would have time to grow a veggie garden, clean the house, and cook elaborate homemade meals with all my free time. Dude, I don’t know who you are or where you are, but I hope karma does.]

I would also like to take this time to formally apologize to every new mom I know, who I quietly judged inside my head before becoming one myself. Forgive me. The best quote I have heard on this topic is “It’s awfully hard to get on that high horse with a baby in your arms.”

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We both know it’s going to be weeks months before you finish this, so I’m just going to make myself comfy…

I’ve had a kimono project in the back of my mind ever since I saw Holly Dolly’s. When I found a cute peachy floral fabric at my #1 happy place AKA FabricLand, I knew just what to do! Actually that’s a lie, here is the original fabric that I wanted to use, but it was like $20/m so I settled on the cheaper alternative.

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I wanted something that would be light for the summer that I could nurse discreetly in. It’s not perfect by a long shot, but the last item of clothing I sewed was a pair of PJ pants back when I was oh, 10 or so? And I hated them and never wore them (sorry, Mom). I used a tutorial from Elle Apparel Blog as a rough guide, laid out my fabric, and got to it!

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Why yes, that is a baby strapped to my body while I sewed. #babywearingforthewin

One thing this project gave me was experience using the presser foot on my sewing machine. I’m super impressed with my little Janome SUV 1108. It came with a ton of accessories that I am slowly learning the different uses for. It was a fun challenge figuring out how to do a rolled hem. Shout out to the people of the sewing sub on Reddit for their tips! The fabric was super fine and hard to work with, so I used spray starch to get it to “stick” and feed better into the foot. I made sure to practice on a few test strips until I got the feel for how to feed the fabric into the foot, and took my time- unpicking was tedious and not suited to the delicate nature of the fabric, so I really had to try to get it right on the first pass. I also used these tips from Megan Nielsen and this video from The Colorful World of Sewing to help me out.

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Test strips, test strips, and more test strips

Et voila.

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Just in time for the fall [Edit… winter] and for baby to start solids, my easy breezy summery nursing-friendly kimono!

-C

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Acetone Transfer Graphic Cushion Cover

Whenever I’m having a bad day and want to throw a pity party for myself, making a list of all the things I am blessed with helps to keep things in perspective. Even better if I can have some sort of daily reminder that there are many things in my life that I am grateful for. So I printed a favourite quote of mine on a cushion cover that I sewed for our sofa. Here’s the finished product first for all you impatient people out there!

cushion-cover

I used the acetone transfer on canvas technique that I have previously posted about. It didn’t go quite as smoothly as last time, mostly because I was working with a larger image and had to do it in sections, but overall it turned out well. One thing I have learned in motherhood is to be happy- or try to be- with “good enough.” I no longer have the time or energy to be the perfectionist that I want to be, so I’m making my peace with the imperfections in this one. That’s how you can tell I made it and didn’t buy it at some crappy store, right?

You can refer to the original post for the full tutorial, and I’ll highlight what I did differently below. Just remember the most important steps are to create a mirror image of the design you want and then print it on a laser printer, or this technique won’t work. [In the pictures below the image looks like it’s the “right” way because the printed image is facing the canvas and the backside of the paper is facing up, essentially flipping the flipped image if that makes sense!] To start with, I measured the pillow I was covering and cut a piece of canvas to the right size to form the front face. I figured out where I wanted the transfer to go and used pins to mark the left and top margins of the paper so that it would be exactly in the centre.

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Then I cut the paper into segments to make it more manageable to do the transfer- the acetone evaporates quickly so you want to work in sections. Starting with the first piece, I pinned the paper to the canvas, usingthe pins I placed on the canvas as my guide.

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I also marked the bottom of each section of the paper with a pin so that I knew where to put the next one to keep the alignment of the design the way I wanted it; I didn’t want it to look “piecey.”

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I kept moving down the canvas, section by section, following the steps in the tutorial to burnish the image from the paper onto the canvas until it was done.

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Once that was over (phew), I filled in any bare patches with a fine-tip Sharpie and then cut pieces of canvas to form the back of my cushion cover. I decided to do an envelope enclosure which is really simple- I just cut two pieces of fabric to form two “halves” for the back of the cushion, adding some extra length so that they overlapped in the centre. I had my pieces overlap by 4 inces, after hemming the ends that made up the opening. Then I just pinned the two back pieces with the overlap to the front pieces (right sides together of course), sewed all around the outside, and it was done!

cushion-cover

Let’s just not talk about the part that I smudged or the questionable Sharpie touch up job. I really dig these transfers, they are a neat way to make a custom print and I always have fun doing them (once the cursing is over). Try it and let me know how it goes!
-C

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Gardening Plans for the Front

Remember how we spent all last summer digging up and waterproofing our foundation? Well, this summer’s project is trying to make our yard look halfway respectable again. This is going to be an interesting project, because we will have a “Before, Before” with our flower beds and yard looking lovely, a “Before” for when we tore it all out to fix the foundation, and an “After” for when we redo all the grading, planting, and landscaping. I’m sure the neighbors were watching us last year and weeping for the previous owners, who apparently loved to garden- as indicated by the well maintained and lovingly tended perennials we used to have.

I tried to keep some of the plants but there just wasn’t the time to plant them somewhere else and salvage them. I feel super guilty about the planticide we are responsible for, but let’s face it, a leaky basement doesn’t make up for a beautiful garden!

Here’s how the front of our house looked before we tore it all up last year.

DSC_1916_blurredDSC_1920_blurredDSC_1921_DSC_1922_.blurredjpgDSC_1917_blurredIt might be too cringeworthy to share how it looks now. Imagine all the grass is brown, all the plants are gone, the front steps are sitting in the middle of the yard and there is treacherous boot-eating mud everywhere. Got that? Ok.

Now for my plans… I’m not going to be reinventing the wheel here. I quite liked how it looked to begin with- the bush beside the front door turned a beautiful red colour in the fall (a Burning Bush I think?) and I liked the variation in heights of the plants in the front bed. I’ll probably do something pretty similar to how it looked before. For the bed below the large front window, I’m thinking a few shrubs flanking a row of white hydrangeas with hostas in front.

hydrangeas and hostas

A La Campagne on Facebook

I haven’t decided yet what to do with the other bed below the two smaller windows. The same thing as the other bed? Something different? My mother-in-law offered me some of her bleeding hearts, so I might do a couple of those, maybe with something that can climb up the wall on a trellis? I like how astilbes look and that area gets a lot of shade in the afternoon… Obviously I still have some work to do on my plans. But seeing as we got snow a few days ago I probably still have some time!

bleeding hearts and trellisPinterest

astilbes hostas bleeding heartsPinterest
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Of course all of this can’t take place until we have regraded the yard, planted grass seed, and leveled out all the tread marks in our lawn from the excavator! Looks like this summer will be just as busy as last. Anyone have a green thumb I could borrow?

-C

PS. Oh yeah, we totally had the baby. My husband was right all along; Baby H is a girl! She is healthy and happy and keeping us very busy. Being a parent is just as hectic, terrifying, and amazing as we thought it would be… maybe more. :)

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