Craft/DIY Ideas

Crochet-Edge Baby Quilt

This is a project that I had in the works a few weeks ago. My best friend was expecting her third child in May and I intended it as a baby gift. Since she didn’t find out the baby’s gender ahead of time, I wanted to make a baby blanket that was sort of gender neutral.

madelyn 001

Yes, I realize that it looks a bit more girly than boyish, so it’s a good thing that she had a little girl.

For the quilt squares, I used what was left from my living room curtain project. (They are Amy Butler’s “Lark” line of fabric–FYI)

I know this sounds kind of cheesy, but I used a dark blue fabric for the back that is similar to pajama jeans material. It actually is nice and super soft, so perfect for a baby!

madelyn 005

Instead of binding this like I would a typical baby quilt, I added a couple rows of blue crochet for something different. First I used the blanket stitch setting on my sewing machine, then wove this soft baby yarn through the perimeter. Using that, I did 2 rows of single crochet around the whole thing.

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I think it added a little unexpected touch, so I would definitely make another one with a crocheted border.

madelyn 009The best part of all? Delivering my gift to this beautiful baby girl and her mama. Oh, and seeing my own daughter snuggle and love on a precious newborn. (How can you not love holding a newborn? It’s like one of the best things ever!)

Craft/DIY Ideas

Cozy Knit Baby Blanket

After the end of a busy week, I thought I’d share a project that I had finished up probably a month or so ago.

A super soft, cuddly, knit baby blanket.

Perfect for a little one to snuggle up with.

Quite honestly, after these last few chilly nights and mornings, I would like a bigger version for ME to snuggle up with.

This is a pretty simple knitting project. I’ll give the basics of this particular blanket.

For starters, I found this squishy yarn (which feels like chenille) at JoAnn’s and snatched it up with the intent to do a baby blanket with it.

I loved this blanket so much after I finished it that I picked up the girly-colored version to make another one for a baby gift.

I used size 13 knitting needles that are fairly long.

Cast on 35 stitches. Knit and purl, just making row after row of stockinette stitches.

That’s pretty much it. Do that until you reach the desired length of your blanket. Mine measures @24″ by 32″ and it only used up a little over half of my yarn.

As far as casting off, or binding off, I would recommend not doing it too tightly. (Mine ended up just a little tight at the one end.)

If you’ve never knit before, here are some links to a little mini-series I did on knitting last winter:

Part 1:Casting On

Part 2: The Knit Stitch

Part 3: The Purl Stitch

Part 4: Casting Off

Parenting Tales, Points to Ponder

The Tale of Joseph & Joshua

Five years ago on this very day, I received some pretty significant, life-changing news. On this day in 2007, I got the completely unexpected news that I was having not one baby, but two babies. If there was ever a time in my life that I can say I was a complete basket case, that was it. It has since strengthened my faith in lots of ways. You see, I was the type of person who secretly pitied parents of multiples. I had even told friends and family that I was so glad I had only had one baby at a time and had no idea how those people did it. I’m sure the good Lord had many chuckles at my expense on that one!

If you’re not familiar with my family, here’s what it looked like at the time: I had a 5 year old boy, a 3 year old boy, and a 1 1/2 year old daughter who had just started to walk. When she was a little over a year old, I was feeling ready to have a 4th (and last!) child, wanting to keep everyone semi-close in age. Actually, since I had so much fun with my little girl, and she was such an easy baby, I was dying to have another little girl. How cute would it be to have two little boys and two little girls, right? I got pregnant right away and was having a pretty normal pregnancy for awhile. At 20 weeks, our church’s preschool/kindergarten class was going on a field trip to a local crisis pregnancy center. They wanted to show the kids what an ultrasound machine looked like and, better yet, how cool would it be to show them a real baby on the ultrasound? Since I hadn’t had an ultrasound yet and I was the perfect gestational age to be the “model,” I was willing to have the kids see my baby on the screen. So, off I went, willing to bare my belly for a roomful of little people. We divided the kids into two groups, bringing one group in at a time. For the first group, the volunteer tech plopped the wand down on my belly, and there we saw a baby right away. Notice I wrote “a” baby–that’s because we only saw one. She pointed out the different body parts, not really needing to move the wand around much. Then the second group of kids came in, and again she plopped the wand on my belly and we saw one baby on the screen. Great, I thought, I finally got to see my baby once before my 26 week ultrasound. Well, soon after that I noticed some major changes in my pregnancy. For one thing, I suddenly got HUGE–much bigger than I was with the other 3 kids. Also, I had about zero energy for being in my second trimester, when normally I would have all kinds of energy at that point. Oh, and did I also mention that this baby was way more active than the other ones? What in the world was going on? People tried to tell me that since it was my 4th pregnancy, I was bound to be bigger and more tired.

Well, the day of my real ultrasound rolled around, and I was honestly a little nervous, thinking that maybe they would find something wrong. My husband stayed home with our other kids, as we didn’t want to drag them all along. Besides, I’ve had lots of these before, it’ll be no sweat. The tech this time, as she led me back to the room, asked me all kinds of background questions. How many other pregnancies have I had? How far along was I? How old are the other children? Do I have any medical problems? and so on. The room dimmed, warm gel was squirted onto my now watermelon of a belly, and she started with the wand down at the bottom.

Right away we saw a baby head, so she said “oh, there’s the head,” then the wand was slid up a little to look at the baby’s abdomen.

“There’s your baby’s belly.” As the baby’s abdomen came into view, something else came into view as well.

“Oooohhh…” was the response. Then a pause.

“And there’s another head. And another belly.”

“You’re kidding me, right?” I said as I knew she most definitely was NOT kidding.

“No, there’s two babies there.”

I burst into tears. This could not be happening to me.

My life was over. Lord, how in the world could you do this to me? I can’t handle twins! Good grief, and did you have to make it the 4th time around? And why oh why did I not find out until I was 6 months along?

Then I laughed. And cried. And laughed. And cried some more. The poor woman probably thought I was nuts!

The rest of the ultrasound went by in a blur of measurements for both babies. I took the two pictures printed out for me and, trying not to look like a complete mess, went out to my vehicle. I drove home in a stupor, many thoughts swirling through my mind. I do have to mention that I stopped on the way home for a milkshake–a very large one at that! Darn it, if I was growing two babies, I needed that milkshake!! I arrived home having no idea how I was going to break the news to my dear husband. He was upstairs on the computer, the other kids playing on the floor.

“Well, how’d it go?”

“Yeah Mommy, did you see the baby?”

“Um, well, it’s a good thing you’re sitting down.” I held out my two pictures, my hands shaking.

“Not one baby. There’s two babies.” The tears came on again.

I’ll never forget the look on that poor man’s face. Bless his sweet heart for reacting the way he did, because I needed him to be a rock, not a mess like me. He stood up, smiled, wrapped me in a hug, kissed me, and said, “Well, Mommy, it’s going to be alright.”

For the next day or two, I really was a basket case. Lots of tears and having a big old pity party for myself. There were glimmers of joy but lots of “why me’s?” as well. How was I going to take care of all these little ones? Would I ever have any kind of life? How would we afford them all? What about my other kids, weren’t they going to feel completely neglected? Fortunately I had lots of people praying for me, once they heard the big news. Lots of calls, cards, and overall encouragement. I was reminded that God didn’t expect me to do this alone, which was very comforting to me. I soon got over my pity party, realized how blessed I was, and put my faith in God to help me through the upcoming challenging times.

Now, looking back, I can tell you without a doubt that those two little boys were one of the best things to ever happen to me. I didn’t get the little girl I had hoped for, but God knows what we need and what’s best for us way better than we do. Joey and Josh are my little sidekicks, my littlest loves. I can’t ever imagine having one without the other. They will turn 5 at the end of March and I can’t believe they are not babies anymore. In fact, I’ll probably do another post in honor of their big birthday and some more posts about raising twins too.

Oh, and before I sign off, I thought I’d mention another interesting fact in this tale. When I was lying on that ultrasound table, crying and contemplating my news, I noticed something that didn’t hit me until much later. You know how ultrasound techs and other medical personnel usually have their certifications, etc. framed on the wall? You want to know what the name of that tech was?

It was Faith.

Craft/DIY Ideas

Patchwork Kickball Tutorial

I’ll preface this tutorial by stating that it’s probably the most in-depth one I’ve done so far. However, the results are incredibly cute and worth the effort.

This one is actually my second try, and while it’s still definitely not perfect, it was far easier and turned out a bit better looking than my first one. Think you’re up to the challenge? My tutorial comes from the book Seams to Me by Anna Maria Horner, who also has a beautiful design blog annamariahorner.blogspot.com.

I will try to give some good instructions as I go, but I have to admit that I didn’t take enough pictures as I went along, so please forgive me ahead of time. Actually, once you get a couple of steps into the process, it doesn’t lie flat anyway, making it difficult for picture taking. For starters, you need to go back to Geometry class–you need to cut out 20 fabric hexagons and 12 fabric pentagons. They all need to have 2 1/4″ long edges on each side.

I chose to make mine using a variety of fabrics from my scrap stash, but you could make all the hexagons in one color and all the pentagons in another. At this point I also need to add that I used all 1/4″ seam allowances and a straight stitch with a short stitch length, always sewing with the right sides together.

Okay, to really get started in assembling this bad boy you need to choose a pentagon and attach a hexagon to one side. Start and end 1/4″ away from the corner, backstitching at either end. (You’ll use this method throughout the process)

Open the two pieces up and attach another hexagon to an adjacent side of the pentagon. You will need to sew one side to the pentagon and one side to the adjoining hexagon, making an “L.”

Repeat this step until the pentagon is completely surrounded by 5 hexagons.( It will look sort of like a flower with 5 petals.)

Choose 5 more pentagons and attach them in the spaces in between the hexagons. A rule of thumb I used as I made this was that no pentagons could touch each other as each one ends up being surrounded by hexagons.

Next attach 5 more hexagons, one in between each space created by the previous step. At this point you will be sewing 3 sides of the hexagon.

Attach 5 more hexagons, this time to the edges of the pentagons that are still open. Again, sew the hexagons on 3 sides.

Add a row of 5 pentagons, each one in the spaces created by the hexagons. Sew them on 3 sides.

Add a last row of 5 hexagons between the last pentagons you just added. At this point you should really see the ball coming together and (hopefully) figure out to sew all open seams together.

You should have one pentagon left over now–I sewed mine on 3 sides, leaving 2 sides open.

Stuff with polyfil and hand-sew the two open sides closed.

This would make a dear gift for a little one in your life. I think that maybe using different textured fabrics or putting a rattle in the middle of the stuffing would add extra fun as well. My “babies” are now 4 1/2, but they still enjoyed playing with this ball after I made it.

Blessings to you this week, Rachel

Craft/DIY Ideas

Elephant Baby Gift Set

Need a cute baby gift to have on hand? Here’s a sweet idea that can be adaptable for a boy or girl–a plush baby elephant and cute burp cloth to go with. Even though my baby days are long gone, I still enjoy oohing and aahing over all the cute baby ideas that I see. Elephants seem to be popping up in baby apparel, shower ideas, and nursery decor, so I came up with this adorable elephant baby set.

As you can see, it’s a plush baby elephant, a burp cloth to match, and an antique glass baby bottle to add extra sweetness.

Want instructions to make your own? Here’s what I did:

Sketch out an elephant shape onto the fabric of your choice. Fold the fabric in half first so you don't have to trace and cut twice.
Cut out elephant shapes, two ear shapes, and gather two buttons for the eyes and a piece of rickrack or ribbon for the tail.
Sew on an ear to each side...
Then sew on buttons for each eye. Make sure to do these very securely! Or, as an option, use embroidery floss to create an eye.
Pin the two elephants together, right sides facing one another. Place the tail piece where you would like it, with most of it on the inside and a small piece sticking out. Sew around most of the elephant, leaving @2" open.
Flip right side out, stuff with polyfil, and hand-sew the opening closed. Now you have a cute baby elephant!

Now on to the burp cloth…

Start with a new basic cotton cloth baby diaper.
Using a matching or coordinating fabric, measure out a piece that covers the entire middle section of the cloth diaper. Cut, place over that section, press all edges under, and pin.
Sew around all 4 sides of the fabric, creating a nice crisp edge. You could also trim it out in rickrack or ribbon, but I left mine pretty simple this time.
Fold neatly so print is mostly showing and tie up. I used a length of the same pink fleece I used for the elephant's ears.

 Place into a basket or other container of your choice. As I mentioned before, I added this antique glass baby bottle with tulle around the top just as an extra touch, but you could add anything else that floats your boat. So there you have it–a cute touch of handmade goodness to pass on. I love giving gifts, don’t you?    –Rachel

Craft/DIY Ideas

Upcycle that Denim! Idea #1: Make a Baby Bib

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a favorite pair of jeans. You’ve just gotta love denim! It washes well, it’s tough, and comes in a variety of rinses. Since it’s just about spring cleaning time, lots of us are going through closets and drawers and looking for what we  need to pitch, donate, etc. Odds are you or your family members have some denim items that are needing to leave! Don’t bag up those old pants yet–I have been looking into and experimenting with ways to upcycle that denim into something fresh and useful (or just cute!).

The first denim project I wanted to tackle are denim bibs. Not bib overalls, I’m talking bibs for babies. No, I don’t have any babies left in my house, but I thought these would make nice little shower gifts for boys or girls.

One cute bib coming right up!

 The first thing I did was make a bib template.  I actually got this one from the book Sew Darn Cute, but you could easily trace one from an existing bib. I traced it onto my piece of denim and cut it out. I then chose a piece of cotton that I wanted to use for the back. I did NOT trace the template onto the cotton, you’ll see why in a minute!

Adding some rickrackpin those pieces right side together!

As you can see from my pics, I pinned on some rickrack to add some extra cuteness. You can sew it on at this point, or just pin it with about 1/4-1/2″ extra sticking out at either end.

Pin the denim shape and the rectangle of printed cotton right sides together. Now you are ready to sew! Sew the whole way around the perimeter of the bib shape, leaving about a 2″ space (I did mine at the bottom edge).

At this point I cut the printed cotton to the shape of the bib. Then you turn the whole thing right side out.

Sew around the outside edges of the whole thing for a more polished look, tucking in the 2″ spot that wasn’t sewn before as you go.

Since I hadn’t actually sewn the rickrack across the width of the bib, I did a straight stitch across each length of rickrack. For extra embellishment, I also did a length of decorative stitching.

The final step is to make something to actually fasten the bib. I chose adhesive velcro circles which I also stitched on for extra security. Other options may be snaps or ribbon or thin bias tape to tie it on.

the final results!

 

I was so pleased with how this turned out that I made a couple more. Hey, who doesn’t need a sweet baby gift on hand? This entire project took maybe 15-20 minutes and costs virtually nothing to make since I already had all of my materials on hand.

A cute trio.

 

For the other two bibs I simply used scraps of cotton , pieced them onto the front, and covered up the raw edges with either grosgrain ribbon or rickrack. There’s lots of other possibilities you could do with this aswell. Now, go dig out that old denim, get your cretive juices flowing, and have some fun with it!