July 25, 2014

DIY: Custom Name Baby Blanket


I'm sure most of you have seen the custom name blanket craze on Etsy or Pinterest already.  I immediately fell in love and wanted one for Griffin's birth announcement but didn't want to shell out the $100 for it, which is really a fair price considering the seller has to design and order the fabric and then sew the blanket.  Plus, the fabric is expensive since it is custom per person and you can't buy in bulk.  So if you can afford it, then I recommend saving yourself some time and energy and just ordering it from a shop.  My favorite seller is Jennifer Ann and she has some cheaper options too.

If you are a cheap, DIY'er like myself then read on.
(Note: You do not need a serger or expensive sewing machine to make this.)


I found an amazing fabric site, Spoonflower, that allows you to design your own fabric and order it on numerous different textiles, my favorite being the Modern Jersey.  It is so soft!

Using photoshop and this helpful information on the Spoonflower website I designed my pattern.  Then I uploaded it to the website and ordered the fabric.  I ordered 1 yard of each pattern on the Modern Jersey.  I recommend ordering a swatch first to make sure the pattern and color is accurate.  

If you want a large square blanket than I recommend ordering 2 yards.  I was going to fold the 1 yard of fabric in half for a small square but once I got the fabric decided to leave it as is and have 1 large rectangle blanket.  I bought basic white jersey fabric from Joann's for the backside to make a nice thick, double-sided blanket.  I toyed with the idea of having their first names on one side and then coordinating fabric with their middle names on the back-side.  Or fun fabric like polka-dots, stripes, etc.  Just some other fun ideas for you to consider.

Sewing with jersey is a little different than other fabrics due to the stretch but anyone can successfully sew jersey with professional results.  I am a total amateur sewer with basic equipment (an old free sewing machine gifted to me from a friend) and I didn't have any complications thanks to this website:   The Prudent Baby.  Check it out for lots of great information and tips.  And if you don't have time then I'll share what worked for me.

I bought two items for my machine to help sew jersey:


The even-feed foot moves both the top and bottom layers of the fabric to prevent too much stretching to give you a nice, even and smooth stitch.  This foot is worth every penny.  I also used ball point needles which are a little more rounded than universal and prevent the fabric from tearing slightly at the stitch.  You can read more about the benefits of this needle in The Prudent Baby post.

With these two items in place I then set my machine's stitching.  To allow for some stretch in the seam which you need with jersey fabric I used a zig zag stitch with the length set low, about 1.5 for my machine.  I know every machine is different but this is what mine looks like.  I also set the tension to 3.


 Once you have your sewing machine set up the rest of the project is just like any other sewing project.  Make sure to pre-wash your fabric and practice sewing on scrap jersey.  This really helped me get the hang of using the even-feed foot as well as ensured my machine was set correctly. 


Ella helped me pin the fabric together, right sides facing each other.


Then I sewed it together leaving a 6 in. gap so I could turn the blanket right side out.


I finished the edge with the same zig zag stitch. 

And just like that you have fun, cuddly blankets.  At least Griffin thinks so.  It was a little harder to get Ella's opinion.

 

Eventually I was able to catch one photo of them in their blankets on my phone.  


**UPDATE**

I just caught these adorable photos of my babies snuggling in their blankets while watching Frozen.





So much better.

July 21, 2014

DIY: Chalkboard Craze


Summer has given us chalk fever.  Our driveway, deck, path and side of the house is covered in doodles and then one day I found doodles on the kitchen floor, dog bowls and garbage can.  The next day the coffee table and fireplace screen thanks to my sneaky chalk bandit.  Fortunately it was only chalk but it made me realize that maybe Ella needed her own place to doodle with chalk while stuck indoors (thanks to her nursing mama).  Chalk is so much less risky in the hands of an unsupervised toddler than crayons.


So I broke out the chalk paint and some scrap wood boards and went crazy.  A quick, easy nap time project.  Love those!


And so does Ella. 
I put one large chalkboard in the living room and one smaller one in the basement.  


The best thing about the smaller board is it's portability.  She can color anywhere right on her lap.
I also made one for my office/craft area.


And I couldn't stop there.


Framed chalkboards are perfect for greeting guests on the front door or just adding a little decoration.  I also use them for parties and entertaining.

This large chalkboard in our kitchen has many uses: entertaining, reminders, lists and messages.


And then I tried to create a space for Ella to eventually be able to write her own messages.  It is still a little high so in the meantime it is her time out corner.  My first real attempt at structured discipline.  


It's not working so well.  She actually likes to sit there - for now.

While I love all our chalkboards, there is one thing I learned in the process about chalkboards in the home.  They are messy and dusty.  While chalk dust is easy to clean up, it does get everywhere, especially when you allow your toddler to color.  So just keep that in mind when you plan your chalkboard project. 



June 27, 2014

Griffin: one month



We've made it to the one month mark already.  With Ella, as fun as each new stage was, I was always sad with how quickly we were flying through them.  I have found myself more excited to see Griffin grow and become his own little man.  I think it is because I now really understand how fun and amazing it is to watch their little personalities emerge and I know Griffin and Ella will love having each other as playmates.




With that being said, hitting the one month mark really made me realize how fast this is going and it was a reminder to slow down and really cherish the moment, especially all those sweet newborn snuggles.  It is a challenge with a toddler needing my attention not only practically since she still can't do a lot for herself but more importantly she needs affirmation that I still love her more than anything in the whole world and that Griffin is not taking away any of that love.  

   

Fortunately Ella has handled Griffin's arrival better than I ever imagined.  She immediately opened her heart to him.  She is loving, nurturing and totally ready to play and boss him around.  While the meltdowns have happened, we have kept them to a minimum.  I hope that continues!

So thankful that Griffin joined our family and made us a family of four!




June 23, 2014

loving paternity leave

It has been a crazy three weeks since Griffin was born but it has been full of daddy time for us all, which is much overdue.  He works so hard year-round with very long hours that keep him from spending a lot of quality time with us so when we do get a chance to have him all to ourselves we pack it with LOTS of fun family activities.
Lucky for us, he got three weeks of paid paternity leave.  Three weeks!

Three weeks of swimming!








Trips to the lake.



 






Family walks.










Ella's first train ride to a little train restaurant.  She really did love the train but she was upset we wouldn't let her run around on it.





And lots of cuddles - especially while watching the World Cup with Daddy.





 So blessed.


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