All Purpose Baby Blankets

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A friend had made these blankets for me when I was expecting the little man and I’ve found them to be so handy in a number of ways. They’re the perfect size to fit the playpen mattress so when he was itty bitty (and still today when we travel) we used them as “sheets” in the playpen.  Now that he’s bigger, they’re great for covering him up – light enough that he doesn’t get caught up in them but thick enough to keep him warm.  He loves the silky feel of the binding and often will cuddle up with a corner.  They’re also great for swaddling in the colder months, which will be very handy with the little miss.  These blankets are VERY basic and easy to make.  Not very fancy, but we use them so often, they’re worth their weight in gold.

To make these blankets, I bought 1.5 meters of flannel and around 5 meters of blanket binding per blanket (I had a bit left over at the end).  I pre-washed and dried the flannel with baby friendly detergent to accommodate for any shrinking. I folded the flannel in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, to get the final size.  Given that they never cut the fabric perfectly straight, I had to trim some of the edges to make them line up.  I then ironed the fabric to smooth out any folds or bumps.

Pinning the binding to the edges and mitering the corners can be a little tricky because the binding slips, but that really is the most challenging part of this project. Start off the binding about halfway down a long side of the flannel, tucking the flannel as far into the binding as possible.  To miter the edges, fold the overlapping fabric at a 45-degree angle, pinning at the corner*.

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Pin all around the edges.  When your binding meets up with where you started, cut it with a 2-3 inch overlap.  Fold the top overlapping edge under and pin.

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I ironed out all the corners and the binding seam to make it a bit cleaner and help keep everything in place.  Now you’re ready to sew!

I use a zigzag stitch, but you could probably experiment with something a little fancier, or stick to a straight stitch.  Stitch about ¼ of an inch from the edge of the binding all the way around the perimeter of the blanket.  I like to start at the binding seam. When you get to the corners, stitch in far enough to ensure the mitered folds are sewn in, lift the foot with the needle down, rotate, lower foot and continue on along the adjacent edge.  I like to backstitch in the corners as well to make them nice and secure.  Backstitch when you get to the binding seam to finish it off.

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Not the cleanest, I’ll admit. I still need to perfect my corners and sewing technique.

The last part is to stitch the binding seam (where the binding overlaps).  It’s just a simple up and down stitch, backstitching at the beginning and end.

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And there you have it, an easy multi-use baby blanket that you and your little one will love  🙂

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*Note: I despise mitering the corners.  I somehow always mess one up and I have yet to master this part, but the more blankets I make, the better I get at it.  If anyone has any tips on how to make this easier, please share them!!

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DIY Baby Hats

Our little lady is one week old (already!!) and we’re loving every minute with her.  She’s still teeny tiny so we’ve had to go out and buy some smaller, warmer outfits.  We’re also in the middle of a deep freeze with a freshly fallen 20cm of snow today.  Unfortunately, most of the baby hats out there are way too big or a very strange fit (what’s with that???).  So I decided to try my hand at making my own out of things we’ve got around the house.

The first I made used up a pair of old leg warmers that I’d bought for a Flashdance Hallowe’en costume and never worn again.

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I cut the leg warmer in half – I had originally thought of just making an overhand knot with the top, but the fabric was too thick, so I cut out a U-shaped chunk down the middle of the top part, about half-way down the length of the piece.

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Then I tied the two side pieces together, twice, and voilà! Easy baby hat with a cute bow on top.

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Of course, I wasn’t really 100% satisfied with this hat given that it can easily come apart, so I decided to step it up a notch and bust out the sewing machine.

I used a light pink cotton t-shirt I hadn’t worn in years – notice that I didn’t even bother washing or ironing it first.

DIY the lazy way - I figured I'd wash and iron the hat once it was finished.

DIY the lazy way – I figured I’d wash and iron the hat once it was finished.

I lined up the bottom hems and cut out a Hershey’s kiss shape.  I used an existing store-bought baby hat to determine the size I needed, which was about 6in wide and 4in high to fit the baby’s head – I added another 4 or 5in for the “peak”.  The cotton has stretch in it so I wasn’t too worried about being exact with my measurements.

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Then I just sewed the two pieces together, wrong sides facing, turned it inside out and overhand knotted the top.  A perfect custom fit 🙂

I think it's pretty cute!

I think it’s pretty cute!

Confession: In my sleep-deprived haze I actually forgot to flip one of the pieces before sewing so one side of the hat has the wrong side facing out.  Luckily it’s not very obvious, but it bugs me, so I think when I have a bit of time I’ll try using the rest of the t-shirt to make another hat, I’ll just have to hem the bottom of the hat myself given that I’ve used up the existing ones already.

We Made a Baby!

Just wanted to pop in to say I might be a little sparse on posts in the next little while because our little lady made her grand appearance 2 weeks early! E was born December 8, weighing in at a teeny tiny 5lbs 11oz but completely healthy. We’re all so in love with our little ladybug  and big brother seems to already have taken to her.  We’re home now and getting settled into our new life as a family of four 🙂

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She’s here!

Growing out my pixie cut

Warning: This post isn’t about anything I made…well, I made a donation, does that count?  I wanted to share this  anyway because in the last year I’ve realized that, sometimes, knowing that someone is going through the same thing you are, even if it’s something as lame as growing out hair, can make you feel that much better when you’re feeling down.

In February I decided to take the plunge and get a “post baby chop”.  I’d been wanting to go short – VERY short – for some time, and all the post-partum hair loss and constantly having my hair up in a bun solidified my decision.  I decided I’d go for a cute, wash and wear pixie cut.  Easy peasy to manage with a little one! I also decided that since my hair was dye-free, I’d do a good deed and donate my locks to a charitable organization.

I chopped off approximately 11 inches of hair.  I wasn’t nervous.  I had put a lot of thought into my decision and I knew hair grew back.  This is the cut a few days after getting it :

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Please excuse all the awful selfies to follow. But hey, how do you like that awesome baby drool on my shirt??

I forgot to mention that I also went to a brand new stylist for this cut – I ended up with a cut that was quite a bit shorter than the picture I’d brought and unfortunately the layering was a little off. I cannot over emphasize the importance of a trusted hair stylist when making a drastic style change.

I ended up donating my hair to Angel Hair for Kids.  THAT FELT GREAT.  Knowing that I could somehow help a little one who was going through an incredibly difficult time made it all the more worthwhile.

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I donated about 10 inches of hair. How is it that it looks so much shinier off my head than on??

I loved my new ‘do…for about 2 weeks.  Then I quickly realized that having uber short hair with a 7 month old was not as easy as I thought it would be.  In fact, it was worse; because I HAD to style it before leaving the house.  No more waking up, throwing it in a ponytail and hitting the road.  No no, I had to somehow find a way to shower and make my hair look somewhat presentable before stepping out for the day.  For those who don’t know, having a baby means you don’t get to shower whenever you want.  You either try to wake up crazy early (to beat them to it) and get in the shower, or you wait until nap time – IF your child naps.

So less than a month sporting my new short locks I decided I was growing it out.  And let me tell you, while hair DOES grow back, it does so at a snail’s pace, and never as fast as you would like it to.   I Googled “growing out a pixie cut” for tips to make the process as painless as possible.  The number 1 thing I got from it: AVOID THE MULLET.  The key is to continue trimming the back while the top layers grow out.  So that was my plan of attack.  I didn’t take pictures at specific intervals but here are some of the looks I’ve been “rocking” (I use the term loosely as I didn’t really feel like I was “rocking” anything) over the last 9-10 months:

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1 month post-chop. All dolled up for a rare night out with the girls.

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This was about 2 months post-chop. You can see the bangs and top layers are starting to get a little longer. I call this the Bieber phase – it was a hard one to get through.

3 months post-chop I tried styling it style a la Anne  Hathaway.  P.s. That rugged lad standing next to me would be my wonderful better half, Keegan (he's usually pretty shy so I asked if it was ok that I use this photograph).

3 months post-chop I tried styling it style a la Anne Hathaway. 

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This was around 5 months post-chop (and 4 months pregnant!) – my hair is naturally wavy so I found that saved me during those awkward few months as it hid how choppy the layers were and helped conceal the mullet (sort of). I just used a bit of curling cream and diffused or let it air dry.

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7 months post-chop, it was a semi-bob. The front layers were still much shorter than the back and I still had a bit of an ear hole. I went back and forth between drying/straightening it and curling it. I tried to wash it only every 2-3 days in the hopes of limiting damage and helping it grow faster. I also got highlights (barely noticeable here) to try and jazz it up a little and break up the “growing out” monotony.

Many of the articles and blogs I read about growing out your hair encouraged the use of headbands, accessories, big earrings, etc… to help make the growing out process more fun and stylish.  However, I have an abnormally small head, and headbands never fit me right or stay on.  Also, big earrings while on maternity leave with grabby hands = disaster.  So, I never really put those tips into practice.  To make matters worse, when little man was 9 months old I found out I was pregnant with kid 2.0.  As I got rounder, I felt more and more self-conscious about the lack of hair on my head – like I was out of balance: small head, hardly any hair, very round body.  To say my self-esteem took a beating is an understatement.

Luckily, pregnancy hormones help hair grow faster 🙂  At almost 10 months post-chop (and 9+ months pregnant) I finally have a real bob.  My hair finally looks like a style that I’ve purposely chosen, not some semblance of an attempt to have a “funky” short haircut.

10 months post-chop, it's a bob! At my last trim, I asked my AMAZING stylist (who I found a few months ago) to trim the back layers into a sort of a-line bob. Although the front is still a bit shorter than I would like, it's MUCH better and mullet-free :)

10 months post-chop, it’s a bob! At my last trim, I asked my AMAZING stylist (who I found a few months ago) to trim the back layers into a sort of a-line bob. Although the front is still a bit shorter than I would like, it’s MUCH better and mullet-free 🙂

It’s still not as long as I’d like.  Ideally I’d have wanted to be able to put it up by the time this little one came along, and it doesn’t look like that’ll be the case.  But it’s not far off.  All in all, I don’t regret cutting it off.  One of the biggest reasons for this is the donation I made – no matter how awkward and un-sexy I’ve felt in the last year, I made a choice to cut my hair off.  Too many people, including children, have this choice made for them due to a cruel twist of fate.  If I can help them feel even a little bit better about themselves, that makes me feel good.