Choo-Choo Myla is Turning 2 (Part 2)

The birthday girl most certainly needs a special party hat. And what better than a train engineer hat for a train themed party? I looked into buying Myla a pink engineer hat and found some online. However, all the reviews I read talked about how flimsy they were and how they weren't made very well. I wanted to make sure her hat was going to last through all her rambunctious play. Therefore, I decided to make her one.

I've never attempted to make a hat like this before… or really anything that even resembled a hat but figured I'd give it a shot. I tried my best to document what I did so you can make one too for your little engineer if you so desire.

I started by measuring Myla's head circumference and added one inch to that measurement. I drew a circle on scrap fabric with that circumference. After some testing, I decided that drawing a larger circle 2.5" from the inside one would give me the right height for the hat once the pleats were in place. (See diagram below)

For the brim, I experimented three times with different curves and it turned out the one that worked seemed to match an invisible third circle if drawn another 2.5" from the original outside circle. (See diagram below)

And for the third and final piece, the band, it's simply the length of the circumference plus seam allowances and the width is double the width of the final band, plus seam allowances on both sides. (See diagram below)

Please note: Diagram is not to scale.

Here is the sample hat I created which I used for my pattern pieces.

I laid out the pattern on my fabric (pink striped seersucker), cut the pieces, and then sewed the brim fabric together. I made sure to cut the seam allowance down to 1/4" where I sewed the two pieces together before I flipped them inside out. I cut fusible interfacing for the main hat fabric and band (minus seam allowances). And, I cut a piece of the fuse-n-shape for the brim which is quite stiff but still soft. It's the same material I used for Myla's Garden Gnome Halloween Costume. After some tugging and adjusting the fabric over the fuse-n-shape, I ironed it for a permanent hold.

For the pleats, I took them in enough so once sewn, the circumference would match the inside circle which is Myla's head measurement plus 1". (See diagram above for direction of pleats.) After sewing the pleats in place at about 3/4" from the edge, I sewed the ends of the band together to form a circle and pinned it into place on the hat. I sewed that around at 1.25" (the final band width). Then, I flipped it into the inside of the hat and tucked the seam allowance under and pinned it into place. I hand stitched it so the stitch marks would not show on the outside of the hat. Then, I tucked the seam allowances in on the brim and pinned in place. I ran the edge through the sewing machine. Once that was finished, I pinned the brim in the place on the hat and hand stitched along the edge AND also took slightly wider stitches where the edge of the hat meets the brim so everything is secure and there are no lose edges to cause irritation. In retrospect, I probably should have made the band in two pieces so the brim edge would be completely hidden inside the seams. And perhaps I could have made the hat slightly bigger than she needed and added some elastic in the back too. Ah, all the things I think about after finishing a project.

Since I had to once again use the TV to get good (yet very serious looking) shots of Myla wearing her hat (at top of post)… I had to share these silly pictures of her too. When she's not mesmerized by the TV, she's trying to steal the camera.

As I've been crafting away this last week, I've got so many more fun train-themed surprises to share in the coming weeks… So check back next week!

Running Down Hills

Earlier this week I decided to go through my "fix-it" pile of clothes. It's all the clothes that I love and can't part with, but that need some fixing… from broken zippers, missing buttons, rips and tears, to simple things like hemming. 

I ended up hemming two pairs of my jeans. Until this point, they were pseudo-hemmed with safety pins. Usually when I buy a pair of pants that are too long, I wear them a few times "hemmed" this way, until I know for sure they are still at the right length, especially after a few washings. These just happened to be psuedo-hemmed for many months (life got busy). Then I came across a pair of Myla's jeans that I absolutely adore from Naartjie - and knew would still fit her after all these months. She had put a rip in one knee awhile back which I was able to stitch closed. Then she had put an even bigger rip in the other knee… so bad that it needed a patch. 

I wanted to make my own patch. I looked through some fabric that I had and found one that had butterflies on it. This material is actually from the first pair of pants I tried making Myla for her pavlik harness before I made her little balloon bloomers. I wanted to back the butterfly up with another fabric and had just bought this pink and white seersucker material (for another project in the works). I used Steam-a-seam, the same fusible material I used on the Onesies, Father's Day Tees, and Myla's Gnome Costume, to make the layered patch. Since the hole was so large, I cut an extra piece of the butterfly material to fuse to the inside of the pants.

I was so happy with this patch. Not only was it custom and fun, it seemed to hold up well and did the job of covering the big hole. 

However, I guess I shouldn't have been quite so excited. When the afternoon came, Myla had a little friend come over. As they were playing in the backyard running down the hill, they discovered a rock wall around one of the planters and how fun it would be to climb up that instead of the hill… just to be able to run back down the hill again. Through all this climbing and a couple of rolls down the hill, TWO new holes appeared in the jeans… I guess I should have known better. She's my daughter and after all I was never able to keep holes from appearing in my pants growing up. Still not sure why I'm surprised when this stuff happens. At least they held up all morning - but I think this is a lesson that I should invest in some play clothes for her outside adventures.

Ghosts, Ghouls & Gnomes

I told myself that I wasn't going to make Myla a Halloween costume until she was old enough to tell me what she wanted to be AND ask me to make her costume. I figure since I'm a crafty momma, that most likely I'll be spending lots of time over the next several years making costumes for her so why not just save up all that craftiness for the future? Last year I bought Myla a ladybug costume from a consignment shop. It was cheap, cute and since I wasn't sure if she would even allow me to dress her up, it was perfect. I promised myself that I was just going to find something used again this year as I still don't think she understands what Halloween is - plus, she's defiant about EVERYTHING including getting dressed even in regular clothes. But alas, I broke down… I made her a costume. 

Myla has always had a super round belly… which is now slowly beginning to disappear. It's because of that adorable belly that I decided to make her a costume. All I think of when looking at her belly is Garden Gnome. I was mainly thinking of the male garden gnome with the pants pulled up under that round belly, and the red little nose and cheeks. I pictured her with white eyebrows and a beard too - and giggled. However, regardless of how tom-boyish she is, I couldn't dress her as an old man at the age of 23 months. If she decides to be something like that in the years to come, that's fine. But since this costume was all my decision and not hers, I decided to make a female version of the garden gnome. She needed a big, pointy red hat, a pair of gnome-y shoes, and an outfit that screamed cuteness. Just look at her… you know there's not a cuter gnome out there.


It took a lot of convincing to get her to try on the costume... including Elmo on TV and some Smarties... the costume stayed on just long enough to get a few shots. 

Here are my super technical design techniques: I measured Myla's head, waist, and length for suspenders and laid out some simple designs on scrap fabric. After cutting them out leaving basic seam allowances, I hand basted the pieces and tried them on Myla. I marked some adjustments on the fabric pieces and used those pieces as my pattern. I left room for additional seam allowances, cut the pieces out from the actual fabric - all while crossing my fingers that it would come out OK. I did make a mistake on the sample hat - apparently late at night when I divide 19 by 2 - I get 8… therefore the hat was only 16 inches in diameter and wouldn't fit her head. Doh! Anyways, I made the necessary adjustments on the real fabric and again, crossed my fingers. Back in college I was able to eye-ball any measurement an inch or less and be right on... I continued sewing hoping that I still had that ability all these years later.

For the shoes, I used Myla's crocs as a template of sorts. I figured they would make a good shoe to wrap the gnome "shoes" around. This way, Myla could still wear a pair of shoes she was used to wearing and I would just slide the fabric "shoes" over the top of them and they would still have the grip on the bottom.

The shirt was a hand-me-down I found in a box of clothes - just so happened to be the perfect color and style to add to the outfit. Just added the flower.

I used a lightweight fusible interfacing for the suspender straps and a stiff fusible interfacing for the hat. I found the thick, yellow ric rac trim which screams "cheesy cute" and used Steam-a-seam for the flowers. It's the same material I used for the Baby Onesies - I told you I would find other uses for that miraculous product.

 Now for the real test… to see if Myla will actually put on and keep on this costume for a little trick-or-treating fun. Happy Halloween!!!

My Little "Hip" Baby

There are so many things I never knew were possible, during pregnancy, birth and with newborns in general. Myla was a breech baby - and I'm pretty sure she was that way from 20 weeks on. Her little bottom was wedged into place and she refused to turn and flip - despite the amount of headstands I was doing - and was born by cesarean. Due to her breech presentation, the doctors ordered an ultrasound on her hips at 6 weeks old to check for Hip Dysplasia. (Isn't that something only dogs get?) On the spot, she was diagnosed with DDH, Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip. In short, what this meant was that she had to wear a pavlik harness for the next 6 months. For most of those six months, she had to be in this harness for 23 hours a day, which left one hour per day for a bath, tummy time or the most delicious little infant cuddles a new mom could ever imagine.

Clothing her, let alone diapering, carrying, and playing, was quite difficult with velcro and fabric straps tied all around her little 7 pound body. She was diagnosed mid-winter and I needed a way to dress her warmly as only a onesie was allowed beneath this harness. (Say good-bye to all those brand new, super cute, little newborn clothes - that I already clipped tags off of and washed). I decided to embrace this experience and sew her some balloon bloomers. I made these outfits out of soft cotton fleece in funky patterns (easily paired with solid-colored, long sleeve onesies) and added snaps for easier diaper changes. Besides her being super cute - the best part was that they kept her warm and allowed her freedom of movement. At a little over 7 months, we declared freedom from the pavlik harness - what a glorious day for both mommy and baby.

Details of the bloomers and the "fancy" patterns I made... with paper bags. I didn't have any pattern paper and these actually worked out great! And because of the style of these bloomers, they didn't need to be sewn with precision and grew with Myla as she put on weight and lengthened.

UPDATE (February 2015): Since receiving several requests for the pattern/measurements, I'm SO happy to say that I finally got some time to clean up the pattern and turn it into a PDF to share with fellow 'hip' babies (although it may still not be perfect - it was 3 years ago that I originally made it). So, you can now download the Balloon Bloomer Pattern. I hope to work on the directions and helpful tips page soon. In the meantime, please make sure to print the pages at 100% scaling. 

Some images of Myla rockin' her balloon bloomers. 

Two images of Myla in her Pavlik Harness. The first is when we brought her home from her first orthopedist appointment, and the second is right before we put her to bed on her last night before saying Good-bye to the harness. As of today, her hips are still looking really good and her next appointment is a year and a half away!!!

Father's Day and Pints

With Father's Day fast approaching, I thought I'd share last year's gift idea. Justin loves beer, loves brewing beer, and loves visiting breweries and unique establishments that serve up local brews. Our plan was to do something beer-based that day and I thought it was the perfect idea to create his gift around. I certainly can not take credit for the "Pint" and "Half Pint" designs below, as I grabbed them somewhere off the internet. However, since I loved making the Appliquéd Onesies for Baby K, I wanted to replicate the Pint/Half Pint designs on t-shirts with fabric - which I did. That day at Terrapin in Rhinebeck, NY, while Justin was holding Myla and enjoying his flight, I snapped the pic below. I had already made the frame, incorporating the same colors, and with Myla's handprints (a true accomplishment). Turned out to be a nice (and maybe a little cheesy) remembrance of that day which hangs in his office. Gosh, I love those cuties.

Onesies for Baby K

While looking up all sorts of baby stuff, I came across pictures of handmade appliqué onesies, which inspired me to make some for Baby K. I found fusible webbing called Steam-a-Seam that was perfect for doing just this and it didn't require any sewing! I used the "Lite" version - the softer the better for baby. And, I finished the edges with Fray Block. It was really easy and fun and would make a great baby shower activity for a creative group of ladies. After making the bird and fish onesies below, I wanted to appliqué everything like this. Oh the possibilities! After Myla was born, I made the additional two onesies with flowers and a butterfly.