Winter baby bear hat

Another baby sewing project that I completed while I was pregnant was this absurdly cute winter baby bear hat.

The project was a bit frustrating because my sewing machine couldn’t handle the 8,000 layers of fleece that has to be sewn through to attach the ears to the hat. I ended up hand sewing a lot. Also, the hat ended up tiny. I realized too late that the pattern says to add a 1/2″ seam allowance… oops. So the hat barely fit my baby even when she was a newborn. Not that she needed it; this California “winter” we’re having barely dropped below 60 degrees fahrenheit. Grumble. (I shouldn’t complain but the persistent drought and warm weather bode for bad times in my home state.)

BUT ENOUGH DOOM AND GLOOM! The hat turned out ridiculously adorable, and that’s all that really matters. Right?

Baby bear hat

Baby bear hat

Modeling the bear hat I made her

Baby bonnets

When I was pregnant, my friend Ali posted about an adorable baby bonnet she made for her baby. When I inquired as to the pattern, she pointed me to this Purl Bee pattern. It seriously doesn’t get much more precious than that!

I made two, one flannel lined and a little smaller, for my little winter newborn, and another in the 6 month size that’s cotton lined.

For the flannel-lined bonnet, I used some leftovers from my receiving blankets project. I love this fabric. It’s called “Wild Bush Flowers” by Layla Campbell. It took me a while to realize it’s inspired by Australian Aboriginal art!

I made a baby sun bonnet! It's flannel lined for winter.

I made a baby sun bonnet! It's flannel lined for winter.

She’s 3 months old and it still fits her!

Here’s the other, larger version I made for summer picnics:

Another bonnet

Another bonnet


More receiving blankets

Well, I guess I haven’t updated in a while… The baby came and I got a little distracted by that!

Fortunately I finished all the receiving/swaddling blankets that I’d set out to make before she arrived. I switched to a bias tape binding method of finishing the edges which I think is much nicer. It’s softer (no more scratchy edges!) and cleaner looking. I used Wright’s double fold quilt bias binding tape, which worked great.

It’s a little tricky to do, but ultimately easier than the mitered corners of the satin binding. First, per Alice‘s suggestion, I used a dinner plate to trace a curve at the corners of the two pieces of fabric. I cut along those curves, and then sewed the fabric together. The bias tape is a little too short for these 42″ squares, so I had to sew two packages worth of tape together (and of course, press them to get rid of the creases that formed in the package). Then I pinned the bias tape binding in place along the edge of the blanket. The pinning process is a little fussy along the curves but it’s worth it!

Sorry I didn’t get any “in process” pics, but here are the final results.

Hazard blanket
Caution tape theme – my husband’s idea

Baby blanket for Lo & Jacy
Elephants for my sister-in-law and her husband’s baby, Jayden

Blanket for Jen & Burstein
Bold patterns for Jen and Mike’s baby, Eris

Ok, ok, I can’t have an “I had a baby!” post without at least one picture of the little nugget. Here’s our little Miss Maya at two days old.

Ed and I made a tiny human! Welcome to the world, Maya Ember

Burp cloths and receiving blankets

I was inspired by my friends Alice and Tom‘s hand made burp cloths and receiving blankets, so I spent a Saturday afternoon at Stone Mountain (one of the best fabric stores EVAR) with Alice picking out some fun fabrics. It was a tough choice – they have so many amazing, fun, colorful prints! I ended up with a nice little pile of fabric.

I followed Alice’s simple advice for making the burp cloths. They are 9″ by half the width of the fabric (roughly 20″), flannel on one side, terry cloth on the other. Sew together wrong sides facing, turn inside out, and sew along the edges. Easy as pie! All told this took about 1/4 yard of flannel and the same amount of terry for 2 burp cloths.

My first one came out nicely.

So I pushed ahead and made the rest.

The receiving (or swaddling) blankets are equally easy. Again, I followed Alice’s advice. Each blanket is a square of whatever the width of the fabric is – usually 42″. Flannel on one side, quilting cotton on the other. Wrong sides together, sew together edges, then add blanket binding and miter the corners (there are a million tutorials on the internet, I just kind of winged it). I used Wright’s satin binding but I’m not 100% in love with it because the edges are kind of scratchy. I’m going to try rounding the corners and using cotton bias binding next. These used 1 1/4 yard each of flannel and quilting fabric, plus the binding. A single package of satin binding — 4.75 yards — is just the right amount for this project.

The first blanket came out surprisingly goth. It’s amazing what black satin can do for a project. My husband, who rarely wears anything but black, really likes this one.

The second blanket is decidedly less goth. I wanted bright, bold, contrasty colors that will keep a baby’s interest.

More to come! So far I’ve only made the two blankets, but I’ve got several more in the pipeline. A few are gifts (babies everywhere!) so I won’t post them here until I’ve given them to their intended recipients. 🙂

Baby hats

I guess I’ve been remiss in posting in this blog with any regularity. The latest excitement is that I’m pregnant! 27 weeks now. This is me last week:

I’m getting to the point where sitting — and being on the laptop — is pretty uncomfortable. I’m really bored of lying around reading facebook so I’ve started getting crafty again. My first baby craft project was a couple of simple little jersey hats. Super easy project! These each only take me an hour or so, and I’m a sloooooow sewist.

I got the tutorial from the Spoonflower blog.

The first hat I made has a little dino on it. Aww.

As a nod to my husband’s request to “a hat with fire on it”, I made one with the Interpretive Arson flame on it. (IA is a fire art group my husband, and to a lesser extent I, have been a part of for closing in on a decade now.) I might go back and replace the center of the flame with yellow jersey instead of orange, since I had a chance to pick some up at Stone Mountain last weekend.

Lastly, one important lesson I learned was that cats do not make very good baby hat models.

Comfiest Skirt Ever

When I was in Australia last year, I found a pair of incredibly comfortable pants at a great little shop called Tantrika in Kuranda. They were basically pajamas: super wide leg woven fabric, with a long fold-over waistband. They are extremely comfortable and I love how they look, but I couldn’t shake the fact that they reminded me of pajamas. I could never wear them to work, and they are completely impractical for biking. I decided to take matters into my own hands and, using their basic design, construct a skirt. I picked up some fun fabrics in my favorite colors et voilà!

Dailywear, 4/5/13

The comfiest skirt ever.


The first iteration needed a bit of help. The fabric I chose for the waistband had a lot of stretch and not much recovery. While the skirt stayed up, by the end of the day it had gotten incredibly baggy. I needed to decrease the circumference of the waistband — at least for this fabric.

For the second iteration I went a little nuts and re-drafted the pattern as culottes. I have a strange compulsion where I can’t stand not having fabric between my legs. This means I always wind up wearing leggings with skirts and dresses. Fortunately I live in San Francisco! But I wanted to construct something that would look like a skirt that I wouldn’t have to wear leggings with.

Dailywear, 4/8/13

This one, with a narrower waistband, was much better in terms of bagginess. It still was a bit baggy by the end of the day. I might have to admit that this fabric isn’t doing the job I wanted it to! Still, it does hold the garment up, and that’s the point, right?

The third iteration was another skirt, but this time I added pockets. What good is a garment without pockets??

Handmade skirt

Here are some photos of the third skirt that will give you some idea of the construction of these skirts/culottes:

Handmade skirt

Handmade skirt

Pretty simple! All told, they only take about an hour to construct. The most annoying part is attaching the waistband to the skirt. I ended up settling on a technique where I pinned it in four equally spaced places, and then stretched the waistband to match the width of the skirt as I sewed.

I still have some more fabric that I bought for another pair of culottes. It’s lovely blue pinstriped linen, and a buttery bamboo rayon for the waistband. I’m hoping it’ll bag less than the cotton jersey I chose for the others!

Fabric for another skirt

A dress for Ed

I bought a dress for myself but quickly learned that it looked far better on my tall, slender husband than it did on my short stocky peasant body. The only problem? Its bright greens and pinks did not suit him one bit. I set out to copy the dress in a more subdued and Ed-appropriate black-with-red-accents color scheme.

The fabric I chose was, like the original dress, a very soft and slightly stretchy woven cotton. The red has a slightly shinier sheen than the black. I found the fabric at (you guessed it) Stone Mountain and Daughter.

Ed in his natural habitat. Photo by Morley.

This was by far the most ambitious sewing project I’ve undertaken, even more so than Hairy Larvae. Though it looked obvious how the dress had been constructed, once I started drafting a pattern from it it became quickly evident that there was a lot going on! Sewing the pieces together was no small feat, either. There were a lot of curved seams, most onerous of which were the curved godets in the skirt. I have since learned the correct way to sew a curved seam (stay-stitching, notching) thanks to Alice over at heteronormative lovefest, but at the time it drove me crazy trying to get everything lined up without bunching.

Details in the neckline. Photo by Joachim Pedersen, some rights reserved

In the end, it was worth it. Ed gets a ton of compliments whenever he wears the dress, and I think it looks fabulous on him.

Ed and Heather
Ed and me. Photo by Neil Girling, some rights reserved

Hairy Larvae

I came up with a terrible Burning Man pun and decided to turn it into a costume. For those non-burners, one of the original founders of Burning Man is named Larry Harvey. “Hairy Larvae” is a spoonerism of his name.

Ok. This is admittedly really stupid, and probably not even original, but how could I possibly resist?! 😀

Hairy Larvae!

Hairy Larvae is made out of grey polarfleece and absurdly soft orange fun fur, both acquired at Stone Mountain and Daughter. This was the first time I worked with fun fur and I was struck by how cutting it felt like butchering a muppet! Hairy also has big buttons for eyes and a bright orange zipper. I used an comfy hoodie I had on hand as a pattern, simply extending the length to make it go to my knees. Unfortunately it turned out just a little tighter than I’d like in the hips, and it would’ve been nicer if I’d lined it… Still, the final product is so ridiculously cozy that I ended up living in it at night on the playa. Hilarious AND practical: the perfect playa clothing.

In pursuit of the perfect playa pant

I have a lot of weird hangups regarding clothes. I don’t like wearing skirts, even though I love the way they look, because my legs rub together and it’s uncomfortable. I don’t like wearing synthetic fabrics. I can’t stand it when clothes ride up and otherwise don’t stay in place. And I really loathe clothes that aren’t comfortable.

At Burning Man, all of these things are amplified by the sun, the heat, and the dust. While most people are out there wearing the zaniest, prettiest garments they can dream up, I dread the act of clothing myself. I can’t stand sunscreen so skimpy clothes are right out, but heavy clothes are also untenable due to the unrelenting heat. Anything itchy or synthetic is a terrible idea, as are things that are tight and un-stretchy (heat rash!). Garments more delicate than a typical cotton t-shirt are going to get destroyed (or at least relegated to playa-only wear). But of course, wearing typical street clothes is BO-RING. What’s a picky gal like me to do?

I aimed to make some pants that were super comfy and protected me from the sun but still looked reasonably good. I used some fold-top pajama pants that I had on hand as a pattern. The fabric is most divine: a wonderfully drapey organic bamboo jersey that I found at Stone Mountain and Daughter. Stone Mountain, by the way, is an amazing sewing resource in Berkeley. Even thought I live in San Francisco, I still make regular pilgrimages across the bay for my Stone Mountain fix.

The most comfy pants ever

Ultimately, I’m not sure I like the way they turned out. They are absolutely the most comfortable pants I’ve ever worn, and are great for wearing in the desert weather… but they are pretty “blah” in terms of the way they look. Turns out when you make a pattern from pajama pants, the result looks like pajama pants! I also don’t feel the final product does the fabric justice.

The most comfy pants ever

Maybe if I add some more interesting details – embroidery? appliques? – and some shaping, and if I finish the bottom hem in a reasonable fashion, they’ll look better. In the meantime they’ve been relegated to wearing on the couch at home while watching movies.