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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Super simple new baby (& older sibling) gifts - PART 1

Hello, everyone!

The school holidays are coming to an end. Today, we've been out to the dentist and got hair cuts sorted. I am gleeful about this last fact, as the new shorter hair cuts should save me about ten minutes in the mornings. The four year old had her first ever proper cut (she's been resistant until now) and has made me go all gushy "Oh, don't you look all smart and grown up ready for school!" with her. 

My Lilou dress fabric is sitting neglected. I don't have the energy for sewing something new and enjoying the challenge, and so, with a couple of new babies on the scene, I thought I'd make something simple that required little thinking instead.

There are several things I made over the course of a couple of evenings, and so I have split showing them to you into two posts, as I'll talk about how to make them yourself (if you want to).

Item number one is almost too embarrassingly simple to share. But, I am going to, because it might inspire other time pushed people with something pleasing to sew and give.

Enter, the blankie! This is two pieces of fabric - quilting cotton and flannel - sewn together. Yes, that really is it. I promised you a simple baby gift idea, didn't I?!

Why do I think this makes an excellent baby gift? Because babies produce a lot of mess that needs wiping up, that's why. Be it sick, dribble... you get the idea. I made half a dozen of these before Charlotte was born, and they have genuinely become the most useful things I have ever made for a little one. More absorbent than ordinary white muslins, and way nicer to look at, I challenge you to find me a new parent not pleased to receive a set of these. And, for Charlotte, a soft home made blankie is the very thing to calm her and settle her off to sleep independently. I don't go anywhere without one (you could probably have a rummage through my handbag on a child free night out and still find one in there).

I've given all sorts of baby gifts over the years - ranging from little boxes of sweetly packaged outfits from GAP when my niece (now fifteen) was born, to all kinds of home made stuff in the years since I've been sewing. Lots of the home made stuff has been pretty fiddly to make, and, to be honest, much of it probably limited in its practical use.

Now, with my mother of four trying to find space for all the stuff that comes into the house with children perspective, I personally have grown to loathe being given things that take up lots of space for little practical value. It may sound ungrateful, but another soft toy is now the last thing I feel delighted to receive into the house, however much my children might like it. So, I limit my giving to being simple, small and practical. Oh, and some yummy food for the new parents to gobble, too, of course.

Michael Miller Rose Tree Delights from Plush Addict
As for sizing, it is up to you. I tend to cut mine so I can get nine blankies out of one metre of fabric. As the home made versions are much more absorbent than shop bought muslins, you don't need to make them as big. I use a large cutting mat and rotary cutter, as I find this speeds things up massively. Once sewn, I chop off the corners, turn the blankie out the right way (remember to leave a gap!) and top stitch all round the edge, before giving it a final press. It takes about an hour to make a set, and this is about the time I can/want to spare on making baby gifts (so I have sewing time for me!).

You know me, I do love me a good vibrant print (or ten). This time round, I got my supplies from Plush Addict. Rather than committing to a metre of one print, I chose four fat quarters. I thought the prints were cute, and appealing to little girls, although they have tons of other quilting cottons to suit all tastes. I was particularly impressed with the Robert Kaufman flannel - thick and soft, it is probably the nicest I have come across, so I will definitely be going back for more the next time someone I know has a baby. They stock it in tons of colours, too (news to me that you could get flannel in so many colours!), so I will try and overcome my attack of indecisiveness next time and branch out into colours for the back.

With the leftover scraps from the blankies, I planned to make something to give the older siblings. Well, this was the plan, any how. What actually happened, was that my own girls saw the fabrics, loved them, and talked me into making something for them instead. Indulged? Yes. I can't help it. At moments when I am reminded that they are little girls, who still enjoy innocent play involving clothes for their toys, and so on, something in me goes weak and I give in to whatever they are requesting. It is my own inner desire to be super mum in their eyes, I suppose.

Michael Miller Rabbit Repeat and ABC Toss from Plush Addict
 Ignoring the fact I have created more work for myself (all three girls have asked for toy clothing/bedding), I find sewing stuff like this very gratifying. And fun. It is quick and easy. It uses up little scraps. There are no rules (more is more with trims and ribbons) and generally, the recipients fall over themselves with pleasure at what you have produced (before going off to wave it under the nose of whichever sibling they fancy making jealous).

It is the first time I have made a shirred dress for a tiger, but I am rather pleased with the results! I know this is a daft thing to sew, but, well... it is almost the end of the school holidays. My brain is a bit frazzled, what can I say?

If you've never tried using shirring elastic, do it! And, what better way to practise than on something like this that doesn't matter if you muck it up? All you do, is hand wind the bobbin with shirring elastic, pop it into the machine, with normal thread up above, and sew. Easier than you would think.

Goodnight, tiger! See you in the morning for more home made baby gift fun.

And finally, I've had a sudden surge in people using my PE bag tutorial - must be the start of term, eh? If you haven't seen it, here is the link - and, here is the fabric I have lined up for my littlest big girl's version, ready for when she starts school in another week or so. (Were her sisters jealous when they saw the fabric? Er, yes, you could say that...)

Best fabric ever?


  1. They are adorable! The fabric is cute, I have been looking at Pluch Addict recently and drooling over the selection! Arent the Roald Dahl fabric just the most awesome! I bought the Matilda fabric a few months back but I cant bring myself to cut it ;).

  2. My hubby has banned me from the plush addict website, apparently ive gone from hinting to begging! Love the tiger dress!