Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Me-made maternity at 40 weeks + last-minute glove, sock + doll-making

Didn't sew any new maternity clothes this pregnancy but the maternity tops I adapted from the Jalie 2005 T-shirt pattern last time are still going strong as I approach 40 weeks. This was part of my unfinished ensemble for the Patternreview Mini-Wardrobe c
Didn't sew any new maternity clothes this pregnancy but the maternity tops I adapted from the Jalie 2005 T-shirt pattern last time are still going strong

Last time as I approached 40 weeks of pregnancy I was a total mess: impatient, fidgety, worried, nervous, and more, obsessing over whether baby would arrive "on time" or not, and how much maternity leave time with actual baby I would lose as the days ticked by.

This time I swore it would be different, because "babies come on their birthdays, not on their due dates", as my Hypnobabies birthing class instructor told us. Once I started maternity leave (which was yesterday) I would be relaxed, I would be zen, I would catch up on sleep, finish up craft projects, tidy up the apartment, bank some extra meals in the freezer...

This sounds hilarious to me now as I sit here at my computer compulsively refreshing statistics on the likelihood of giving birth on any given day (today's probability is about 8%, in case you were curious). I have had three false alarms in the past week that I could have SWORN were the real thing, my parents are staying with us so they can babysit our daughter when the time arrives, my maternity leave is ticking away, and we are all just WAITING waiting waiting. I have never been a patient person, so why start now?

Which is why I am currently slowly knitting myself a pair of gloves with size 000 needles (i.e. needles so thin they are basically pieces of straw that feel like they are about to snap at any moment)...

Ever tried #knitting with Size 000 needles? Going so slow because I feel like they are about to snap any minute. (I had been knitting the Knotty gloves with Size 0 and they were coming out way too big so I frogged them and started over with these teeny Bl

These are the Knotty gloves by Julia Mueller (free pattern!) in Studio Avenue Six Bellwether Sock I had started knitting a year ago, but they were coming out way too big for my tiny hands on size 0 needles and I didn't want to try and rewrite the complicated chart pattern...

Ok, I think it's time to admit these Knotty gloves are coming out too big. I'm using the smallest DPNs I have (0) but the pattern is only one size and I have tiny hands. Guess I have to rip back and try to rewrite the pattern? Eeeek! #iknit #knitting #sew

Sub-zero double pointed needles are hard to find (none of my local yarn stores carry them) but I finally located the Blackthorn needles pictured in that top photo at WEBS (aka in sizes as small as 0000, frogged the original gloves, and started over. We'll see!

And I made more baby socks, because, well, why not? These are the free Jellybean Baby Socks pattern from Spud and Chloe in Malabrigo Rios Glazed Carrot, and they took mere hours to make in a nice thick worsted weight. I misjudged foot length so these are too big for a small baby, but huge feet run in both my and husband's family, so I'm sure they will fit before long:

Orange Jellybean Baby Socks

Little Ms. Z and I are also finishing up a few doll projects — a big snuggly mermaid she designed for her one-year-old cousin:

She was so excited to stuff the mermaid doll for her cousin this morning it was hard to get her to eat breakfast. #sewingforkids #sewing #sewing #dollmaking #dolls

And a superhero doll with flaming red rocket boots for Z herself. The doll's name is Super Ruby (Z's secret hero identity) and she has a theme song and everything. She's going to have curly brown bouclé yarn hair (not pictured):

Getting ready to assemble Z's latest doll scheme, Super Ruby, a curly-haired superhero with flaming rocket boots. #sewingforkids #sewing #dollmaking #dolls #sewingwithkids

I'm also getting a last few wears out of my me-made maternity clothes from my last pregnancy, since two kids is a just right for us. (And trying not to be bothered by the people asking me if I've had baby yet, because, well—wouldn't that be rather noticeable?)

OK, back to refreshing those statistics...

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Fun with nerdy T-shirt transfers: Doctor Who, Funkadelic & Minecraft Tees and Onesies

TARDIS, Funkadelic & Minecraft Heart T-shirt transfer fun

Not sewing and not knitting, but I've been having fun embellishing some boring blank onesies and T-shirts with nerdy iron-on T-shirt transfers. These are the Avery dark fabric ink-jet transfers, as traditional iron-on ink-jet T-shirt transfers only work on white or very light-colored garments.

So far I've done:

  • A "Future Doctor" TARDIS design for baby, ironed onto a blank blue onesie I got for $1 at the thrift store. I found some TARDIS art online, traced it in Adobe Illustrator, then added text in Adobe PhotoShop. I didn't come up with this slogan, but it's about time we had a black Doctor Who, don't you think? (And depending on baby's sex, maybe a female one, who knows?)
  • A Funkadelic onesie for baby, ironed on to a purple and gray New Conceptions One-Hour Bodyshirt that I sewed for Z when I was pregnant with her. This was husband's request—I also made him a matching Funkadelic T-shirt that I couldn't find for the photograph.
  • A Minecraft-style pixel heart T-shirt for Ms. Z, ironed onto a knit T-shirt sewn for her by my mom (no pattern—my mom just takes some measurements and improvises her own patterns). This was my gamer husband's idea—they both LOVE Minecraft and play it together quite a bit.

Since each transfer sheet is a bit pricey, I didn't want to leave any white space, so I also squeezed in a bunch of other vector logos or icons that I haven't ironed on to anything yet: The Incredibles, Ghostbusters, The Clash, a bicycle, and Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

Fun w/ iron-on transfers: #doctorwho #TARDIS and Funkadelic onesies for baby. And more plans to liven up some plain second-hand baby clothes...

The results were pretty good, and they seem to be holding up after a few test washings. I had originally wanted to do freezer-paper stencils (I have SO much fabric paint that I've never used) because the effect is a little cooler... but they are a lot more work and I cannot for the life of me seem to apply the right thickness to prevent unseemly cracking on knit fabric.

Z was very excited and silly about her Minecraft pixel heart T, so much so I could not get a normal smile out of her for pictures:

Z in her Minecraft Pixel Heart transfer tee

Z in her Minecraft Pixel Heart transfer tee

Anyway, it's a fun way to do some quick embellishments without the time required for embroidery, appliqué or stenciling. The ironing only takes two minutes each.

A few tips, though: first, be careful to read the instructions for your transfers thoroughly. For light-colored T-shirt transfers, you generally need to reverse the artwork—not so with the dark ones. I wasted two sheets before I figured this out.

Second, be sure to wash and dry the shirt before wearing to set the transfer. I didn't do this when I took Z to an AIDS activist rally with Doctors Without Borders when she was one (we were protesting for the scaling up of the most effective treatments and making them more affordable and accessible worldwide to more patients), and she got water dribbles on her "TREAT AIDS = STOP THE VIRUS" shirt, and the transfer ink ran:

Mikhaela and Baby Z after the Doctors Without Borders AIDS rally last year.

What are your favorite embellishment techniques? Appliqué or embroidery are still tops for me, but these transfers are just so QUICK and EASY.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Done: Striped Gift Wrap Sweater, Bonnet and Mitts

Gift Wrap Baby Sweater, Gift Wrap Bonnet and Wee Mitts

Yeah, so, partial bedrest is apparently really good for knitting productivity, because I have knit more finished objects in the last month alone than maybe the entire last year, mostly while lounging sideways on the couch watching Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Black Mirror and Parks & Recreation with the husband.

Above is the latest finished knit set for Baby Torchwood, and I think it's my favorite so far. Because, well: stripes! Plus I love the kimono-style closure and contrast bands.

The basics:

Patterns: The Gift Wrap Sweater and Gift Wrap Bonnet by Carina Spencer (purchased as the Gift Wrap Collection ebook set as I originally intended to make the Gift Wrap Romper but didn't have enough yarn)... plus the free Wee Baby Newborn Mitts pattern by Christine Vogel.

Yarn: 3 colors (4 balls total) of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran yarn, a lovely, squishy, soft and washable merino wool/microfiber/cashmere blend. I bought these on impulse while shopping for buttons at one of my favorite local Brooklyn yarn stores, La Casita Yarn Shop Café. They didn't have enough of the blue for an entire sweater (just two balls), but these three colors seemed harmonious, and rather TARDISy/Whovian to me. I had a few little bits left over when the sweater and hat were done, so decided to squeeze out a pair of matching thumbless mittens as well.

Needles: The Gift Wrap patterns recommends size 8 and 6 needles, but I got gauge with sizes 4 and 3 for the sweater, and 4 and 2 for the hat. (I knit super loosely, though.) I used size 4 and 2 on the mitts.

Size: I made the 6-month size in the sweater, toddler size in the hat, and although the mitts are supposed to be newborn size, I used aran weight instead of DK weight, so they're more 6-month or toddler-size. I do think baby will be able to wear all the coordinating pieces at once.

Notions: The 3/4" buttons (sewed on INCREDIBLY tightly and securely, please don't worry!) were an Etsy find, just $2.55 for a pack of 50 in various iridescent shades from SkeeterBitz.

Raveled: Sweater, bonnet and mitts.

I am embarrassed to say I spent hours agonizing over my online button search, as I'm used to being able to stroll over to Pacific or M&J in the Garment District, dig through some nicely color-coded displays and drawers and actually pair them with the sweater... online button shopping is way less intuitive. (Plus I didn't feel comfortable buying vintage plastic buttons, cute and cheap as they might be, for fear they might contain formaldehyde.)

The sweater took about two weeks of sporadic knitting, and the hat and mitts were both done in less than a day each.

The sweater pattern has striped and non-striped options, as well as a contrast band. It's super simple to make, knit all in one piece from the top down, and the sleeves picked up later. I didn't have quite enough gray to stripe the sleeves, but I think the solid sleeves are a nice "design feature."

Similarly, I didn't have quite enough yarn to make the mitts match, so decided to go for, er, deliberate asymmetry:

Gift Wrap Sweater & Bonnet and Wee Mitts

There is nothing easier than thumbless mitts, really. Babies don't need thumbs on their mittens, and I had made these before for Z when she was a baby:

Green Baby Hat &  Cream Baby Mittens

I do hope you're not all getting super sick of baby stuff around here... I really do plan to sew grown-up lady clothes again once my waist returns, but I don't really know yet what size I'm going to end up, and there is no point in making maternity clothes at 38 weeks along, now is there?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Done: Cute Coffee Mug Doll Set (from Aranzi Aronzo's Fun Dolls)

Arazni Aronzo Cute Dolls: Coffee Mug Dolls

Somehow Ms. Z got it in her head last month that the absolute BEST Christmas present she could possibly make for her one-year-old cousin Ms. R was... a smiling stuffed coffee mug doll. With a matching one for her, so they could sit around and have coffee parties and pretend to drink coffee together.

Well, who was I to stop her? They are really ridiculously cute, I have to admit, especially with their matching saucers:

Arazni Aronzo Cute Dolls: Coffee Mug Dolls

The basics

Pattern: Coffee Mug Dolls, from the English-language edition of the Japanese book Aranzi Aronzo Fun Dolls (Let's Make Cute Stuff). (Which I highly recommend—it's full of really fun and cute dolls of all kinds, from bunnies and pigs and cats to, well, coffee mugs. Previously Z and an older cousin both made matching Eyelash Bunny dolls.)

Fabric: The body fabric is just a soft, fuzzy, and well-worn old cotton polka-dot cotton flannel receiving blanket, of which I have more than I could ever possibly use. Z requested we use the white side for her mug, and the polka-dot side for Ms. R's mug. I had JUST enough to make the two dolls, but had to piece the bottom of Z's saucer to make it work. The appliqués are cut from an old black T-shirt.

Notions: Fusible webbing (Lite Steam-a-Seam 2, no longer hard to find, hurrah!) and Polyfill stuffing.

Size: One size fits all.

My only real modification to the pattern — requested by Z — was to appliqué the kids' initials on the back:

Arazni Aronzo Cute Dolls: Coffee Mug Dolls

The instructions are wonderful and very clear—Z was even able to follow along quite a bit, since they are illustrated in comic-book style:

While Daddy was off protesting, Z decided stuffed coffee mug dolls would make ideal holiday presents. She scanned the pattern into the computer, printed it (with my help) & cut out the pieces & I let her press the foot pedal too. (from the book Fun Dolls

But the coolest thing about this project (which was actually finished quite a while ago, just not photographed properly until now), was that Z sewed a large portion of it at the machine, by herself... with my close cautious supervision. (As detailed in my recent post "How old were you when you first used a sewing machine? (with poll)".

First time operating the sewing machine all by herself (with very close supervision from Mommy) to make a gift for her one-year-old cousin. Age 4 1/2. She was extremely careful.#sewing #sewingwithkids (tagging @fireapplefarm )

Little Ms. R is coming to visit soon, so we'll soon see how she likes it in person!

2014 makes in review: sewing, knitting, dolls—and a baby!

2014 was a good, if erratic year, for all things Mikhaela-made.

In February, I veered away from the sewing and knitting world to start a food allergy cooking blog, Safe and Scrumptious from Scratch and posted like crazy for about a month ... before pretty much abandoning it in despair a month later when my daughter had an anaphylactic reaction to something I cooked for her, and we discovered she had developed five brand new food allergies on top of her existing five. Sigh. (I have slowly started to return to the blog, but with greatly reduced frequency and enthusiasm. Ah well.)

In April, we took a family vacation to Austin that helped me get my sewing mojo back bigtime. I got to hang out with Susan of Moon Thirty, Dixie DIY and a bunch of other wonderful sewists and makers, I bought way too much fabric, and I even sewed a Tilly & the Buttons Miette skirt.

I next dove into Me-Made-May with a vengeance... managing to wear at least one me-made item each day AND document it (see top photo collage). I also sewed and knit up a storm, finishing EIGHT garments for myself during the month: two knit dresses (a Cake Patterns Red Velvet and a vintage 1970s Simplicity dress, three tops (a Hummingbird, a Tee, and a Nettie), a faux-denim knit skirt (Jalie 2681, scroll down here), a sweater (my beloved purple striped Delancey) and a knit peplum jacket (McCall's 5529.

Of all of them, I think the biggest hits—and the ones I wore the most this year until my giant pregnant belly finally made it impossible—were the Delancey cardigan by Alexis Winslow of Knit Darling...

Finished: Delancey chevroned cardigan in purple stripes

... and the Cake Patterns Red Velvet knit dress:

MeMadeMay 2: Cake Patterns Red Velvet Knit Dress

I also made FOUR super-simple wax-print children's items for my daughter and niece, all in one 24-hour period—two Lazy Days skirts and two Made by Rae Baby Sunsuit tops:

Matching wax print cousins outfits: Made by Rae Baby Sunsuit as top, Oliver + S Lazy Days skirt

Half-way through May, I found out I was pregnant with baby #2... and then found myself trying to hide it in blog photos for the next few months so as not to give it away until I far enough along to share publicly.

As the months went on the baby (and my belly) got bigger, and bigger and bigger...


And then I officially got too lazy to take perfectly set-up belly photos, but the the trend has continued as I rapidly approach 40 weeks:

Holiday Family Photo 2014--goofy

In October, the husband, kiddo, baby-to-be and I dressed up as Ghostbusters for Halloween, and I put together custom costumes for all three of us... definitely the most fun and rewarding project of the year:

Who ya gonna call? All 4 of us in our #Ghostbusters #Halloween costumes. We had a little #foodallergy friendly party at Z's school and handed out little toys and safe treats.

I also participated in my first book blog tour, for Alexis Winslow's Graphic Knits. My project was the Bowerbird Wrap in a lovely soft merino-silk blend. I have worn this snuggly, soft thing as my go-to scarf almost every day since completing it.

Mikhaela's Blue Green Bowerbird Wrap

I meant to make maternity stuff this year, but it never actually happened—I had plenty of items left from last time, plus some great used and hand-me-downs, plus I never intend to be pregnant again... so instead I binged on making baby things. Lots and lots of baby things! For friends' babies, and my own baby-to-be.

From August to December, I made five baby sweaters/hoodies/cardigans (three sewn, and two knit), two baby kimono tops, five baby hats (three sewn, two knit), two pairs of baby pants, a pair of socks, and a pair of booties. I especially had fun making baby items from upcycled cashmere thrift-store sweaters. This is just a little sampling, as I haven't even photographed or blogged them all yet:

Last-Minute Baby Sewing & Knitting Binge

I also had a lot of fun doing sewing projects with my four-year-old daughter Z, and experimenting with cloth doll making. Her proudest creations to date have been Luna, the Black Mermaid Fairy Superhero with Purple Dreadlocks, a set of as-yet-unblogged stuffed coffee mug dolls, and a wax-print quilt for her baby sibling. 2014 was also the year she operated the sewing machine by herself for the first time (with cautious hovering Mommy guiding her closely). Here she is with her beloved Luna:

Z's Mermaid Fairy Superhero doll is done!

So... I'm not quite sure how to add up all of 2014's finished objects, but in total I think I sewed or knitted (including baby stuff, because I can):

  • 4 skirts.
  • 6 sweaters/hoodies/cardigans.
  • 1 jacket.
  • 2 dresses.
  • 7 tops.
  • 5 hats.
  • 2 pairs socks/booties.
  • 1 scarf/wrap
  • 2 pairs of pants.
  • 3 cloth dolls.

For a grand total of 33 finished sewn or knitted objects—probably a record for me, but then again... baby stuff is so quick and tiny.

I don't have that many unfinished objects carrying over into 2015, either — just a pair of chartreuse Knotty gloves I abandoned when they started coming out WAY too big...

Knotty cabled gloves in progress (in chartreuse merino sock yarn)

... and my almost-there blue Hetty cardigan by Andi Satterlund that I will return to finishing when I can actually wear it.

Hetty cardigan progress

Looking ahead to 2015, I don't plan to be too ambitious with my crafting, since I'm 38 weeks pregnant now and will soon be a sleep-deprived and milk-spattered half-awake mama of two. Partway through December I got put on partial bedrest, so it's mostly been a lot of knitting while lying on my side since then, with only tiny little sewing interludes. I did start making some DIY nursing pads recently, and maybe—MAYBE—I will make some nursing tops as well.

But this little cutie (shown here at 23 weeks looking just like Big Sis as a baby) will definitely be my main make of 2015:

Here's to a wonderful New Year!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Surprise Wax Print Quilt by Big Sis for Baby

Z makes a quilt for her baby sibling

So I was talking to my daughter on video chat (she'd been staying with my parents for a few days while I recovered from yet another bad cold) when suddenly she surprised me with a gift she'd been making for her baby sibling — a quilt sewn from scraps of African wax print fabrics left over from outfits my mom and I made for her (like this one).

I have to say I was a little stunned. I knew she was getting interested in sewing, but I haven't even finished making a quilt myself in years (though I keep meaning to before baby comes—we'll see).

Ms. Z of course had a lot of help from my mom (who is an expert quilter), but she cut out all the pieces herself...

Z makes a quilt for her baby sibling

... and arranged them into various formations for my mom to appliqué to the blocks. She also sewed some of the straight stitching lines herself.

Z makes a quilt for her baby sibling

She is so proud of herself, and I really can't blame her!