Archives for category: Baby

What does a quilter do when she gets invited to a baby shower just a few weeks away?

She reads the registry and improvises!


My friends chose not to learn their baby’s gender, so my gifts had to be husband-approved for a boy and sweet enough for a girl. These bandana-style bibs are so popular these days that I came up with a simple pattern and sized it on my toddler. I backed them in a flannel shirt, and I made sure they are adjustable without tricky snaps or Velcro.

And the front fabrics match…


A pair of pairs of baby pants! These are based on a pattern from Anna Maria Horner’s book Handmade Beginnings which, thankfully, is often in our local library. My husband suggested a little patch of contrasting fabric which I think turned out quite sweet!

And finally…


I didn’t have time to piece an elaborate kitty softie for the baby, but thankfully I had a panel from the Cotton + Steel line From Porto with Love, which includes a perfect little kitten ready to be sewn and stuffed. Mine I filled with cotton batting scraps and teeny fabric shavings, part of my effort to reduce textile waste.

Baby is due late this summer, and I can’t wait to see if it’s a boy or a girl! Hopefully these gifts will help him or her feel welcome no matter what!

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In a sad turn of events, I was not able to attend my cousin’s baby shower this weekend, but I had so much fun making presents! These days, given enough time, I scroll through a registry to get a sense of a family’s style and start sewing accordingly. This sweet family favored greys and neutrals, some of my favorites!


I’ve become something of a bib connoisseur since my first child cut a tooth at 4 months. These bibs are based on my favorites, quilted, batted, and backed in soft jersey and including a little loop for a fancy paci clip! Snaps will give them longer life than Velcro, and they reflect the muslin bibs on the registry.

I also made a pair of teething pads to snap onto a carrier, something we couldn’t do without and which were also on the registry. They were simple, though, and I forgot to take a photo!


But this was just for fun. Every little girl needs a bit of frippery, so I went to town on a modified old PurlBee pattern. My grandmother gave me a few handkerchief cotton blouses with the express purpose to cut them up, and I did! Pintucks and lace were repurposed, and my only addition was the satin ribbon trim.

Truth be told, motherhood is hard. I’m hoping that my gifts reflect love and care and that I can continue to encourage my cousin as she enters into this life-changing, lifelong adventure!

It’s simple.


Every baby needs a quilt.


Some babies never grow very big, so their quilts are little.


But they are important, and mommies and daddies will never forget them.


So the mommies and daddies can hold onto the quilts, and love, and remember.

I hate Hate HATE miscarriage. Another sweet friend of mine lost a wanted child. This is the quilt I made for her, just about 18 inches square. (My toddler “helped” with the pictures!)

I want to make more of these. I have many friends who have struggled with losing their babies, and I have seen how powerful it is to validate and acknowledge those little lives – these children are real; they lived; they were loved; they matter; they are missed. There is no expiration date on grief, but the only thing I know to do is say, “I have not gone through what you are experiencing, but I am here with you, and I am hurting with you, too.”

Quilts heal.

I’d like to think I’ll make a Jayne hat every year for my child until he’s old enough to question it.


He remains less than thrilled about keeping it on his head, but I’m happy with it! This time I used a knitting loom for the main hat and crocheted the ear flaps. How does it sit? Pretty cunning, doncha think?

This is a short story, a sad story and a happy one.

Several years ago I became friends with a family of four. Eventually, my then-boyfriend met them, too. Their children were part of our wedding. We started meeting at their house a few times a month with other young couples.

Then babies started happening. There was one due in June, one in July, one in August (ours!), one in September, and one in October – one per family, all in a row!


It was wonderful being pregnant with friends. We shared joys and tears, ate whatever we wanted while we could keep it down, and we dreamed together about our children.

Then we got the news:  October Baby didn’t make it out of the first trimester. It was our friends’ baby, the one whose siblings were in our wedding.

We mourned, we wept, we supported.


Months passed, and the babies started coming. Finally, my child arrived. When our friends came to visit at the hospital, they had news:  they were pregnant again!

I wish I could say this baby went full term, but she did not. Again, we mourned, we cried, we believed this was not the end of the story.


When I learned Esther was on her way, I determined to do something special. I came up with a design using forty sawtooth stars in 3 sizes. Every week, I made a star and prayed for Esther in her mother’s womb.


I was finishing the binding when she arrived, perfect and full term and beautiful. Her presence does not make up for the pain of her lost siblings, but we are all so thankful she is here, and we love her so very much!

For the full story, including some very real and powerful vulnerability on the part of Esther’s mama, see the blog at shaileyratliff.com

I’ve been neglecting my blog – but not my 10-month-old! We have been so busy crawling, cruising, eating, climbing, clinging, investigating – and napping in 30-minute stretches – that it’s all I can do some days to sew a stitch, much less document it. This little project came together so quickly that it’s worth a nap to write it up! The idea came from our first trip to the pool this summer and a need for an easy way to dry off the Squish!For one baby beach kimono, you will need:

  • Two microfiber kitchen towels, about 15×25 inches (I got mine from the dollar store!)
  • Sewing machine, scissors, pins, and thread

That’s it!


Pre-wash your towels if you’d like (I did), then cut one in half width-wise. You now have two rectangles 15×12.5 inches.

Turn the cut end under about 1/4 inch and pin. This will be the center opening of your kimono.


Zigzag stitch over the raw edge. Or, if you’d like, turn the edge in once more and straight stitch. Either way is fine!


With right sides together, pin the cut rectangles to the second, whole towel. Pin straight across the top, but only pin halfway up the side. Be as precise as you choose! (I just found the center by folding and marking loosely with a finger.)


Sew along the top and two sides with a straig stitch, leaving the armholes open. Sew as close to the original hemmed edge as possible, or even catching into it. Then just turn it inside out…


And plop it on the nearest baby! (Bonus points if you’ve matched it to the baby’s eyes!) Size-wise, it ought to do for a child age 6 months up to at least 18 months.

Now to slather on the SPF and hit the water! Happy summer, y’all!

Oh, this is a special one.

  

It began with redemption and forgiveness, with the belief that truth ultimately wins, but in the meantime, there’s no reason to be idle.

  
It became a gift of love, as quilts always are, but this time the hours really were countless, combining handwork and machine like I’ve rarely done before.

   
The quilting is somewhat spontaneous, a Kraken-like creature with movement and energy.

 
And the top, well, I love it’s frenetic, imperfect sponteneity. 

During the last 3 months of my pregnancy, I unexpectedly had some extra time on my hands. I used it to hand-cut and -piece 16 Farmer’s Wife blocks. Later, I combined them with extra elements into a baby quilt for some of our dearest friends’ first child. It finished at 37×39 inches, and I added a second layer of batting scraps to give it extra tummy-time softness. For the first time, I quilted the entire thing with my regular foot – and it did great! 

It is rare for me to work in all solids. These particular colors remind me of graphic novels – superheroes and anti-heroes and bold, grim realities in need of justice. Not coincidentally, our friends are comic fans, and artists, too. “Pow!” seemed like an apt title to reflect this, as well as the power and vigor of new baby life.

The little one was born a few days ago, so I hustled to get done. They live too far for us to visit easily, but this package is now on its way, carrying our love and joy with it! Looking forward to the day when we can all be together again – baby boys in tow!

A friend of mine is about to cross the Pond and meet up with folks I interned under in England! We have kept in touch, so of course I am sending a few handmade happies to them!

  
There’s nothing like the first grandbaby in a family, and one little such lady is due in a few months. What could be sweeter than a proper teacup or two? I pieced a pair of bibs and backed them in terry cloth with batting between. From the leftover terry I made wash clothes because you can never have too many bits of cloth around to mop up baby leakage!

   
    
 
For other friends, I put together some Open Wide zipper pouches! This is my first time to follow Anna’s tutorial, and I must say, it will be my go-to for future zipper pouches. They lie so flat and are beautifully practical, and compared to others I’ve made in the past, they were a cinch to sew – none of that bulk around the zipper ends to gum up smooth stitching! Plus, they pack easily, and I can fill them with letters, artwork, or other treats that are hard to find over there (fajita spices, creole seasoning, cornbread mix perhaps!) Long ago I made up the HST units, and this little project was a great way to use a few of them. I am sending the others along as well to make a baby quilt, if my friend so chooses – sort of a collaboration between us, despite the distance! One day I will go back, but for now I’ll send my heart in my handwork.

I am behind in posting my Christmas makes, but then again, I only finished them yesterday! This year, at the last minute I decided my child needed something handmade for his first Christmas. He is only 4 months old and already cutting teeth, so it needed to be approachable to his growing abilities and slobberiness.

   
 

Each is different. One is “plain”, one has jingle bells inside, one has tags, and one is filled with scraps of crinkley Insul-Brite. Baby enjoys squishing them, but he is still too small to stack them. However, they are wonderfully soft so if they get under him when he rolls, he is still smiley! I call that a successful make!

I was part way through knitting a grey-green hat for my son when I had an epiphany:  if I were going through the trouble, why was I making any old hat when I could knit the ultimate (nerd) hat?

   
    
 
“How does it sit? Pretty cunning, doncha think?

“Man walks down the street in that hat, people know he’s not afraid of anything.

I don’t claim to be an excellent knitter, but I am pleased with the result, and it makes me laugh! To make the hat, I just knit a stockinette rectangle, stitched up the side to fit, and crocheted ear flaps. Then I gathered the top and added a puff ball! And my baby, who has as many smiles as there are reasons to love Firefly, got into character with a rare mean mug!

I love the colors, even apart from the show reference. I finished it just in time for the cool weather setting in! He will be so much warmer on our walks together, complimenting the gorgeous autumn trees. What more could I ask for?

Linking up with the 2015 Finish-A-Long!