Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Coo-coo baby doll

I love making my little guy toys. I enjoy sewing and crocheting them. I really got into crocheting amigurumi while I was pregnant with him last summer. I designed this doll when he was about 3 months old. He was starting to hold on to things but most of the stuffed animals we had were too big for him to really enjoy. I wanted a toy that was soft, had some high-contrast colors, was easy for little baby hands to hold, and something that was the right size to chew on. This fun little rattle doll was crocheted with acrylic yarn so that it can be washed and dried.

The hands and feet of my little doll were just the right size for my little guy to chew. At nearly 9 months old he still loves to drool all over them.

I added some polka dots in the colors of the arms and legs to the body for some added contrast and texture. Since I sewed the dots on after the body was constructed they are slightly raised.

I originally named him Cuckoo Bananapants because he was just a crazy-looking little doll I thought my son might enjoy. He loves to grab Coo-coo by the hair and bang him around.

Here's a rainbow version I designed for a friend's baby shower. He was a big hit. Each of them are stuffed with poly-fill and the body contains a rattle noisemaker for some added baby fun.

We love Coo-coo and I hope you do too. It's so satisfying and heart-warming to watch your baby playing with the things you make for him with love. What have you made your baby that he loves?

I'm excited to share this little guy on the Tea Rose Home Link Party. See you there.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sauteed spinach with roasted garlic

My family loves garlic, including my little guy (he's 8 1/2 months old). Is that unusual? Do your children like garlic?

My little guy loves new and interesting flavor combinations and we're constantly surprised at what he's not only willing, but excited to eat. Spinach on it's own isn't very exciting (at least not to me) so I thought I'd add a little roasted garlic. He's eaten other things cooked with raw garlic and liked them but I like the smoothness and carmelization that roasting lends to garlic.

So yesterday I roasted thirteen heads of garlic. I know, that's a lot. But like I said, around here we love garlic. The whole house smelled like garlic all day long. It was a little strange at 7:00 am but it was absolutely mouth-watering around lunch time. Plus, I'd recently bought three pounds of garlic at Sam's Club. I had to do something that would use up a lot of it before it started to sprout. I have to say, out of fifteen heads that I sliced in half, only two of them were bad inside. That's a lot more success than I ever have with garlic from the grocery store where half the heads I purchase have green sprouts inside.

I sauteed a large bag of baby spinach with in a little olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper. Once the spinach started to wilt I added the roasted garlic from a while head of garlic. The whole thing took less than ten minutes. Once the spinach was cool I ran it through my Cuisinart food processor, making sure most of the cooking liquid stayed in the pan.

Some of the sauteed spinach went straight into my little guy's dinner bowl and the rest of it was deposited in my baby food freezer trays. I ended up with eight 1 oz. servings and a little leftover for lunch today.

I guess you could say he liked it. My husband liked it too. We might need to make some more for us to enjoy next time.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Crinkle tag blankie

Tag blankies are the easiest thing to make. Really. They're also pretty cheap. I wanted mine to be colorful to attract my little guy's attention so I used this colorful cotton batik. I only needed a little so I bought two fat quarters of it for $0.99 each. I also picked up a couple spools of ribbon so I'd have enough for other projects (like this).

To make it even more fun I added a double layer of metallic tissue paper inside for some crinkle. I use this stuff in all sorts of different projects (like this, and this); my little guy can't get enough crinkles.

Now that he's almost nine months old my little guy likes to stomp on his blankie and wiggle his feet around on it to make it crinkle.

If you're looking for a cheap, fast baby toy for your own little one or to use as a gift I'll hope you'll whip one of these out.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Knit teddy bears

What's more classic than a couple of hand-knit teddy bears? I feel like every child needs one, or two. These bears were the first project I ever knitted that wasn't just made up of straight knitted lines (i.e., a scarf). That's the wonderful things about the internet; you can find tons of videos to help you learn the stitches you aren't familiar with.

The pattern is free from Berroco yarn and can be found here. The yarn suggested is dry clean only, so needless to say, I didn't use it for a baby project. Can you imagine having to dry clean your baby's toys? I don't think so. I used an acrylic yarn so that I can toss them in the washer and dryer whenever I need to. They have both been successfully washed and dried several times.

I kind of like the affect created by the yarn with the lighter color being on the head. The larger bear is about 14" tall and the smaller one is about 8". I used a smaller gauge yarn and appropriately sized needles for the smaller bear but I still followed the pattern exactly the same.

I embroidered all the features on my bears so they are completely baby safe.

Cute bear muzzle
Adorable round bear bottom   

I hope you'll try your hand at making a child you love a little bear of his own. I am by no means a skilled knitter and I have managed to make a few of these bears. They make wonderful baby shower gifts for someone special.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Felt flower headband

Have you noticed how many headband tutorials there are out there in blogland? I've seen them everywhere; too many places to note as inspiration for my own. I don't wear a lot of headbands but I thought I'd make a cute neutral one for when the mood strikes me.

I had several of these rubbery sport headbands lying around. I like the stretchy kind, rather than the plastic type, because they don't poke into the backs of my ears and they don't slip around. Especially these grippy guys. I decided to use one of my thinner ones as the base for my felt flower.

I cut out a few circle templates using my handy dandy Martha Stewart circle cutter and then traced them onto my felt with a Sharpie. Then I cut each circle out with my pinking shears. I layered them and glued them together with some washable fabric glue. My flower looked a little unfinished until I added a little teal bead in the center.

This was a fast and easy little project. I'm quite pleased about having something a little nicer looking to wear when I've had enough of my hair in my face on a hot day.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Fabric scrap octo-ball

Ok, so I don't really know what to call this rattle toy. I figured octo-ball would work as well as anything. I made it using the scraps from my baby crinkle grab ball. After I cut out all the ball pieces from my fat quarters I ended up with diamond shaped scraps. I wish I would have taken pictures of them, but I didn't know I would be blogging about my little toy then.

I sewed my four pieces together and stuffed it as much as I could. I stuck a rattle noisemaker in the middle. I don't know about other babies, but my little guy loves rattles.

After stuffing it as much as I could I just whip-stitched the little opening I had left closed.

This is a nice change from a regular ball. It's still nice and soft for baby to play with and easy to grab at the corners. How have you used your fabric scraps in interesting ways?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Simple cardigan makeover

I love cardigans. I can't get enough of them. My mommy staples seem to consist of tank tops (easy to lift up for nursing) and cardigans to cover up my arms (or the remnants of the baby belly that I'm still trying to lose). Now that it's getting pretty hot I needed a lighter sweater to pair with some of my tanks. This was a simple afternoon project. Making the ruffles took the most time but I was able to work on them while my little guy was practicing getting into trouble with his new-found crawling skills.

I started with this super-plain, super-thin cardigan from Old Navy. I think I paid $16 on sale. I liked how lightweight it was but it was too long (it came to the bottom of the front pockets of my jeans), I wanted shorter sleeves, and the deep-v with all those buttons wasn't very stylin'. I had to take action.

First, I shortened the sweater considerably. I knocked off the bottom few inches, including the bottom two buttons. I decided to use some fun blue thread to add just a touch of color. I like the double seam for something a little different.

Instead of pushing up the sleeves all the time, I made them elbow-length and added the same details as on the bottom hem.

Then came the ruffle. I've seen ruffles everywhere recently. I keep thinking about making a ruffle shirt like all the cute ones I see on Tea Rose Home.

Originally I was going to stack two ruffles, a wide one and this skinny one, but it was too much on this light sweater. The good news is that now I have an extra ruffle lying around ready to be used. This one is about 1.5" wide. I took off all the buttons except the top one and sewed the ruffle up the button placket. I used the blue up the middle to bring together all the stitching details. I left the edges raw so they would fray a little; I didn't want the sweater to be too stuffy or prissy for casual wear.

I'm super happy with how it turned out and I'm excited to share it on the Tea Rose Home link party. This was a quick and easy way to makeover a boring cardigan. What do you have in your closet that you want to transform?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fast fix for a too-long top

I recently bought this cute, lightweight tank for super cheap at Wal-Mart but it's too long on me. I seem to have this problem a lot. At first I thought it was just my slightly shorter-than-average torso. But, that coupled with the popularity of extra long shirts is just too much for me. I hate having to hem or shorten clothes. Especially lightweight, swingy tops like this. Unless you have the patience (which I do not; "Patience is a virtue," is my husband's motto, not mine) to be very careful it's too easy to end up with an uneven hem. Enter some elastic and a few pins.

I wrapped some 1/4" elastic I had leftover from another project around my waist and then cut it about an inch shorter. I overlapped it slightly and sewed it together with a zigzag stitch. Next, I used the existing hem as a guide to make the elastic casing. I just ironed the hem up and pinned it in place.

I sewed my new hem closed, pulling the elastic tight as I went. Now the bottom's all gathered up.

If I want to wear the top longer the elastic helps hold it closer to the body. Having recently had a baby I'm not really into flowy tops anymore; they just feel like my maternity tops.

When I want to wear the shirt shorter, I just put the elastic around my hips, or wherever I want the shirt to fall, and then I get this fun bubble effect. Everything took about ten minutes to complete. Getting my husband to take some pictures took longer than the sewing.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Men's shirt to baby jammies

My little guy needed some new summer-weight jammies so I went into the local thrift store after dropping off my donation to see if I could find anything interesting to re-purpose or re-fashion.

I found this men's size large seersucker shirt. What could be better for summer jammies than seersucker in a cute light blue stripe? And the price? Awesome. To buy the fabric at Jo-Ann's would have run me about $7. It's not a lot of savings, but when you have a baby it's enough. And I got to reuse something that was just lying around.

I will admit, to make a set of size 12 month jammies (for my 8-month-old little guy) it did take some creative cutting to make this work. I felt like I was dissecting the shirt; I cut it apart at all the seams so I would have large flat pieces without the extra bulk of seams to get in the way.

I cut the shirt fronts from the sleeves so I could use the hem of the sleeve for the snap placket; no sewing required for that part.

The neck and the sleeves were finished with single-fold bias tape. I'm really starting to love this stuff. It's so much easier to sew it on than to fold over the edges twice, ironing in between, and then sewing.

Here is evidence of my creative cutting. After cutting out the four pieces for the pants I didn't have another piece large enough to cut the back of the shirt from. I had to cut it out in two pieces and then sew them together. As you can see I ended up with half a back with vertical stripes and half with the horizontal stripes that continue on the front of the shirt. I thought it was fun to use the piece with the Ralph Lauren Polo logo on the back.

It was kind of difficult to catch a picture of my little guy wearing his new jammies. Now that he can crawl he just wanted to go, go, go. Here he is in a still moment. (I have to cuff the pants when he's crawling so his feet don't get caught in them. I need to tighten the elastic some more; I wanted to be sure they would fit for a while so they're quite roomy right now.)

My husband thinks the horizontal stripes on the top make him look like a little jailbird. He is guilty of being pretty adorable. All in all, I'm super happy with how these turned out. Having an XL shirt would have made the process easier, but then again, so would having a smaller baby. Either way, these are the perfect summer jammies. I also picked up a linen shirt to transform. Maybe I'll work on that in a few weeks.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Double-duty: pacificer/toy clip

If you have a baby that uses a pacifier, you probably have a pacifier clip. I wanted a clip that I could also use with toys so I don't have to worry about my little guy dropping something while we're out. I often use the little plastic links to clip a toy to the grocery cart but my little guy can rip those off in a heartbeat now.

I bought this pacifier clip by Munchkin for around $5 at Target. I was desperate; we had just lost a clip and the pacifier attached to it. I don't want to own a mountain of pacifiers so I can't afford to lose one of the three we have. Our original clip had a little plastic clothespin-like attachment that my little guy learned to pull off the day we got it with what I affectionately call his monster paws. He gets those from his father. (What are monster paws, you ask? That's what I call my husband's hands. He doesn't seem to realize how strong he is and he is frequently breaking, bending, or otherwise ruining objects in the most bizarre fashion. Like breaking a glass while holding it, ripping a shoelace in half while tying his shoes, bending a teaspoon while eating cereal. I know, it's weird.) Now don't get me wrong, I'm happy with this clip but it has two drawbacks: 1) it's ridiculously over-priced, and 2) it isn't large enough to hold a toy. I could have added extra Velcro to this one to extend it's size but we needed a second one anyway so I can wash the first when it's good and grubby.

Here are my materials, minus the thread. The suspender clips cost $1 apiece (I got mine at Hobby Lobby), the Velcro is only a few cents for the bit that I used, and the entire spool of ribbon was about $3. The completed clip cost me about $1.50 instead of $5.

I used 12" of ribbon for my clip. I folded each end over 1/4" twice and then pinned it in place before sewing.

I made sure to leave enough room when wrapping the end around the suspender clip so that I could sew it down without the clip getting caught in my machine.

I attached the loop part of my Velcro to the other end of my ribbon. I like this particular Velcro because it has a sticky back that holds it in place while you sew it without the use of pins. After trying the ribbon around some of the toys I might want to attach it too, I added enough of the hook part of the Velcro to make a secure closure.

On the smallest setting, it works for the pacifier.

But it can also be attached to a teether.

Or it can be attached to a toy.

It even fits around a big toy. This was a super quick and easy project. The suspender clips stay securely attached to my little guy's clothing and even his monster paws can't pull them off, yet.