Thursday, May 28, 2015

DIY No-Sew Dog Toy

When we brought our bulldog home last winter, we expected her to want to sink her jaws into hard core chew toys.  We bought her a few toys for super chewers that she hardly touched.  This month, she picked out a stuffed softie at the pet store and demolished it within 48 hours.  We learned that she loves to rip soft toys to shreds.  Since I can't drop $5 every time Dede needs to chew, I made this dog toy for her.


I have lots and lots of knit fabric scraps.  If you've followed my blog for a while, you may notice polka dot swimsuit fabric, aqua and white striped t-shirt fabric, and some scraps cut off a pair of sweats that were too long.  I cut strips 8-12" long (not caring if they were uniform in the slightest) and knotted them together.  I wanted it to make a sort of ball shape but now that she's had it for a couple weeks it's more of a long strand of knots.  


Dede loves to sit and gnaw on her toy, and occasionally my husband will throw it across the room and she'll fetch it and bring it back to her pillow.  (Yes, she has a pillow instead of a dog bed because last week she opened the zipper on her dog bed and unstuffed the fluff.  Naughty dog!)



As you can see, this toy is great for dogs who love to TEAR things to shreds.  I can always tie the strands back together that she's pulled loose.  She doesn't break the strands off because they are knit and they stretch.


This is the perfect toy for my dog!  I'm confident I have a large enough collection of fabric scraps to keep her busy for a long time.

Monday, May 25, 2015

DIY Cloth Diaper Inserts [Using Zorb]


My husband and I have decided to cloth diaper baby S as soon as she is born.  My newborn diaper stash consists of pockets, all-in-ones and prefolds.   Many people love Little Joey's and THX newborn AIOs but others complain that their babies outgrown the absorbency quickly.  Some of our THX all-in-one diapers have a pocket to add an insert for extra absorbency.  Making your own inserts can be cheaper than buying pre-made ones.  It also allows you to customize your inserts with different fabrics and make them to your size specifications. Today I will show you how to make your own cloth diaper inserts.

There are many different fabrics you can use for inserts.  Some of the most popular include microfiber, cotton, bamboo and hemp.  Each has pros and cons.  Some people choose to make inserts out of fabric they already have lying around, or out of old clothing.  I wanted something super absorbent and super trim.  After doing some research, I discovered a new textile called Zorb via Wazoodle Fabrics.  Regular Zorb is used as a lining between two pieces of fabric (it cannot be used alone).  I chose to spend a little more per yard to purchase Zorb II - Dimples, which has a bamboo/cotton face on both sides and doesn't need an outerlining.  

I started with my newborn diaper:


Isn't it adorable?  "It's so fluffy I'm gonna die!"


I measured the size of the pocket and made a pattern for an insert a little smaller so I can stuff it easily.


Zorb fabrics must be sewn before washing.  I calculated for 10% shrinkage (specifications state when washed hot it can shrink up to 12%).  I blew my pattern up 10% using a copier, then added a 1/8" seam allowance.  If you are using a different kind of fabric, prewash it, then cut out your pattern with seam allowances.



I cut two layers for my insert and put one on top of the other.  Before I serged the edges together, I used the sewing machine to stitch a line down the center.  I'm hoping this will keep the two layers from bunching after I wash them.  It also makes the pieces less likely to slip around when I serge them together.



Use a 4 thread overlock stitch to serge the two pieces together.  When sewing bulky fabrics, it's extra important to use sharp needles and a sharp serger knife.   You will also want to decrease the tension on the lower loopers slightly.  Do a test strip before you begin to make sure the stitch looks the way you want it to.



....And that's it!  Super easy!  If you use Zorb fabric, you'll need to wash it in hot water and dry it before using.  I was curious to see how much this insert would shrink.


I put the before and after images together so you can see how much the insert shrunk in the wash.  It was about the same as I had accounted for, except that in this picture it appears that the insert shrunk more lengthwise than widthwise.  The insert barely fits inside the diaper.  I think I will make the insert a little narrower next time because it's really difficult to fit my hand inside the tiny diaper to stuff!


The insert did fluff up some in the wash, as you can see by the fluffy-looking edge.  I can see why this would be more difficult to sew with after washing.

I'm really excited to see how this Zorb insert performs in a wet diaper!

If any of you make your own diaper inserts, I would love to hear your take on Zorb, as well as any tips or tricks you'd like to share.






Sunday, May 10, 2015

Simplicity 1469 - Maternity/Nursing Dress 2.0


I loved my first make of this dress so much I made a second one.  The fabric I used was a Kaufman Laguna Cotton Jersey.  I absolutely love this fabric!  It has 50% four-way stretch, is lightweight enough for tees and dresses without being see-through, and is very soft.  At about $8/yard, it was also less than 1/3 of the price of the Art Gallery knit print I got for the first dress.  I spent about $20 to make it.

Changes made to the pattern included shortening the sleeves by 1/2" and the bodice length by 1/2".  Pretty darn simple!



The first time I made this dress, I had problems making the waistband seam line up at the side seams because I used the serger.  Also, my serger doesn't have well-defined lines for a 5/8" seam.  I kind of winged the seam depth when sewing the waistband to the bodice and waistband to the skirt and it didn't look completely even.  I wanted the dress to look more RTW, so I basted with the sewing machine first, just to get everything in place.  I went over it again with a 4-thread overlock.   The side seams match up almost perfectly and the waistband is the same width all the way around.



Once again, I used the coverstitch to finish the hems and the serger for all of the seams.

I love how easily this dress comes together and how accurate the sizing is.  I think it's a bit weird that I can see the nursing access through the first layer of the bodice but since hardly anybody knows what that is, it probably doesn't matter.


I am T-minus 4 weeks so I doubt I'll be making this pattern again.  About a month ago, I had this really strong urge to do a ton of selfish sewing, and then realized that my body was about to change drastically.  I really want to sew some summer knits and a few t-shirts, but I don't know which size I'm going to end up in.  Guess I'll wait and see what happens.

I no longer feel like a cute, little pregnant lady like I did when I made the previous dress at 26 weeks.   At 36 weeks pregnant, I have quite a bit of swelling in my feet, legs, hands and face.  It is painful and inconvenient, but it's temporary.  It's getting hard to move around and baby S reminds me to sit up straight with strong kicks to the ribs.  Get her out of me!!!  I mean...we can't wait to meet her!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Quilt for Baby S



I made Made by Rae's Storytime Squares Quilt for baby S.  It was really hard to choose a pattern for a baby quilt.  I'm not really a quilter.  I dislike tiny pieces and shy away from triangles and appliques.  I tend to gravitate towards simple, more modern quilt designs.  Sometimes I wonder why we take perfectly good fabric, cut it up into shreds and spend hours stitching it back together.  If I pick an easy pattern and fabric I love, it doesn't seem like that.

I absolutely love florals and leaves, so yeah, this quilt is very reflective of my personal taste!  The nice thing about having a little one is they are too small to have an opinion so they wear whatever you fancy!

I chose an Art Gallery fabric as my 'mommy fabric' from which I coordinated the other fabrics.  


I snatched up this new pink Joel Dewberry print.  Love!



This orange leafy print from Cloud 9 is one of my favorites:



I cut approximately 6 squares each of 8 different fabrics.  The quilt pattern calls for 54" fabric for the backing.  It's much easier for me to use a standard 42-44" quilting cotton, so I scaled down the pattern so I did not have to piece the backing together.  I cut 5" squares instead of 5.5" squares.

The piecing was pretty easy, especially because I'm used to making larger quilts.  The batting I used is a low-loft cotton blend from Joann's.  I used my fabric weights to lay out the three layers, then basted it together using some quilting safety pins.



I've tied quilts many times, but this is the first time I quilted on my sewing machine.  I didn't free motion quilt - I simply used my walking foot and a straight stitch to quilt the layers together.  I was surprised how easy it was!

Then came the machine stitched binding.  I first trimmed the edges of the quilt using a 4-thread overlock stitch on my serger:



This tutorial, explaining how to do a machine binding, was really helpful.  I followed it with one exception: I like joining binding pieces diagonally because there is less bulk when you are sewing the binding to the quilt.

This is a view of the BACK of the quilt...the messy side of the stitching and it looks pretty good!



If this girl doesn't end up being a flower and leaf lover like her mom, grandma and great-grandma, I shall be very put out!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

If Thy Waistband Offendeth Thee, Cut it Off!

I work in a medical office and we wear scrubs.  It's like wearing pajamas to work every day! I got through my second trimester by purchasing one maternity top, and another regular top in a larger size, and wearing regular scrub bottoms.

Well, the third trimester has arrived.  On Monday, my scrub bottoms were so tight they felt like they were cutting me in front.  I took matters into my own hands!

The offending scrubs:


The solution:


I found an ill-fitting pair of maternity pants and cut off the stretchy panel.  I made sure to mark center front, center back, and the left and right side.  I measured how much the bottom edge of the front belly panel dipped below center back, then cut my scrub bottoms accordingly.

I ended up with an acceptable-looking pair of maternity scrubs:



My 28.5 week belly is very pleased!  My pregnant brain forgot to hide the photo clicker, and a couple other things...but you get the gist of my sewing win.  I didn't have to go shopping for new clothes, or spend a dime.  It only took a few minutes and now my scrub bottoms are as comfy as pajamas, yet again!

If you have need of converting pants to maternity, I suggest perusing the maternity bottoms at Goodwill.  For a few dollars, you can reuse a belly panel from an ugly pair of pants.  

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Simplicity 1469 - Maternity/Nursing Dress

Pictured here at 28 weeks

What could be better than sewing maternity with a Megan Nielsen pattern?  Paying a big 4 pattern company price, of course!  Recently, Megan licensed two of her maternity patterns with Simplicity, and this one is my favorite.  I'm not sure why it's lacking reviews on PatternReview.com...this pattern is awesome!

I purchased an Art Gallery Knit for this project.  I bought it from Five Eighths Seams but it can be found online at Fabric.com.  It's called Gossamer Cotton Jersey Knit Wire Flowers Foil.  It is a medium weight knit with 50% stretch and was a perfect choice for this dress.  You can trust the sizing for this garment.  I was worried size small would not be big enough, but the fit is great.



Changes I made:
I brought the neckline in at the shoulder, and tapered out to the center, for more coverage.
I shortened the skirt by 1", then folded the edge over 1"and coverstitched a 3/4" hem.
That's it!  I can't believe it....these are the only two changes I made!  No adjustments to the bust were needed this time around.  I can't tell you how grateful I am.  Not having to do a small bust adjustment during pregnancy is a huge relief!

What I'd do different next time:
The only thing I would change is to shorten the bodice by 1/2" or so.  I am naturally petite from the shoulder to the apex of the bust, so shortening the bodice would help bring the waistband closer to the bottom of my bust for a better fit.

Okay...maybe one other little change:  I would shorten the sleeves by 1/2".  It gets really hot in Charleston, okay?


Serging/Coverstitching
I constructed this garment almost completely on my new Huskylock 21 serger/coverstitch machine.  Considering this is my first completed project on this machine, I am really happy with it.  I learned a few things about my machine in the process, especially in using the narrow coverstitch.  This project proved to me how useful this machine is.  It's much quicker to serge with this machine vs. my old Janome serger.  (Perhaps it's partially because I took classes on how to use my machine...more on that later.)



I really enjoyed this project and was surprised how quickly it came together.  These days only an easy project is going to get done.  I am sooo tired all the time and don't feel like I'm functioning on all cylinders.  

Can't wait to make another...maybe it will be a shirt next time!




Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Most Ridiculous Thing I've Ever Made

 We got a dog last week!  Her name is Dede and she is a 14 month old English Bulldog.  She is house trained, good with people and dogs, and just about the chillest dog I've ever met.  We got Dede from an awesome breeder in Charlotte when she didn't quite work out as a show dog.  We were hoping to get her fixed before she went into heat......but I found blood spots on the carpet last night.  I have no experience with dogs in heat.  I learned that she could be spotting for up to 2 weeks.  I couldn't find a diaper cover in her size at the pet store, so I made one.


She makes for a wiggly model.


I used this free pattern and modified it for Dede's 25" waist.  I don't have big squares of velcro in my stash so I secure it with some safety pins.  She has a tiny little corkscrew-shaped tail, and therefore, doesn't need a tail hole.  Dede couldn't care less that she is wearing a diaper.  


I added some elastic around the butt area.  Next time I'll make the elastic tighter and continue it around the front of her legs.  There is an extra long maxi pad inside to catch drips.


This is Dede's favorite spot.  She will sit here for hours if you touch her.  She likes nothing more than to be loved on.  My super sensitive pregnant nose + the smell of Dede's 'that time of the month' = angry, annoyed, cranky Stephanie.  I have been mad at her all day.  But now that it's all covered up, how can I not love that face? 


She's perfect!