Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Bumper Crop

As a first time mommy, I made it my mission to learn everything I could about the thing I feared most: SIDS. I then felt deeply obliged to impart this knowledge to everyone else...whether they wanted to hear it or not. One of the biggest debates that I found on message boards and with other mommy friends was over crib bumpers- to use or not to use? I vote NO. But as my mom says, "You had a bumper and you're still alive."

Regardless of where you fall on the bumper debate, eventually you won't need them anymore. Why did I even have them? Well, with baby #2, I splurged on the perfect bedding set from BRU that cost a small fortune, even if it included multiple items I would never use: bumpers, a diaper stacker (seriously, does anyone use this?), and a window valance. Here is my idea to repurpose these items- remat a picture for the nursery.

I apologize for not posting the actual steps like a good blogger would, with pictures. But I made this before I decided to start this blog. If I get around to framing more pictures, I will update this with pics.

1. Find a great picture. This is my daughter's photo growth chart. It took her picture on her actual birthday in the hospital with a stuffed bear, and then again on the 17th of every month. I made the photo collage on Shutterfly (and paid for it using my Pampers Gifts to Grow On Points). I love this 13 picture option because I could include the pictures from her "birth" day, all 11 months, and then a large picture when she turned 1. This is an 11X14 collage. Nothing against the cutesy month-by-month picture frames you can buy, but I wanted the pictures of each month to be larger than a nickel.

2. I bought a picture frame that included a flimsy, beige mat. If you want to use a frame you already have and don't even want to spend the money on a mat you'll just cover up, you can cut out your own mat out of a t-shirt box, cardstock, or cardboard. Just check and make sure it won't be too thick to close the back of the frame.

3. Then I cut the fabric off of the crib bumpers. Her bedding had a quit pattern, so I had to make sure the colors and patterns lined up.

4.  After arranging and cutting the fabric, I sprayed the mat with a spray adhesive, and attached the fabric. In order for it to stay taught and not wrinkle, I pulled the fabric on the backside tightly and taped it with masking tape. A hot glue gun would work, too.

This probably took me 1.5 hours, start to finish. It might have taken less time, but arranging the quilted patterns took a long time. If you're using a solid material, I imagine it will take about an hour...after the kids are in bed. If you're attempting to do this while your children are awake, give yourself no less than 4 days to complete the project.

Note: It didn't look that pretty on the back side of the mat, but who cares?

I have plenty of fabric leftover to mat other pictures if I feel like it later. Another option is to make a fabric covered cork board or a magnetic bulletin board for their room. :)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

So-so sewing

If you're learning how to sew, don't make your first big project a baptismal gown for your daughter, made from the material of your wedding gown.

I heard about this tradition while I was engaged and specifically looked for a wedding dress that would be perfect for me AND the daughter I hoped to have one day. I found a 2-piece ballgown. I saved the heavily beaded top in case Emily wants to wear it one day with a skirt we could have made.

I've attempted smaller projects in the past: pillows that no one would ever see, a Bam-Bam halloween costume that required almost no sewing, a Christmas stocking, etc... But I figured, how hard could it be to sew a dress? The pattern clearly read, "6 Easy patterns in one".

Guess what I found out? There is a BIG difference between "6 Easy patterns" and "Easy to Sew".  I learned this after I had already cut out the fabric pieces from my satin ballgown.

There are so many mistakes in the dress that I made for Emily's baptism. (Yup, baptism- not a dedication ceremony. I'm a crazy Methodist that believes in baptizing at any age, with any amount of water, but that's another blog.)

Anyway, one sleeve is tighter than the other. I had safety pins helping the fit once I put it on her. I was cutting stray threads right up until the moment we walked to the front of the sanctuary. And I was 70% done with the dress before it came to my attention that my machine was actually broken. The timing or something was off, which is why it kept jamming. I finished it with my sister's machine.

I cannot even begin to tell you how many hours over the course of the summer that I spent on this dress. I had no idea how to piece things together, sew a zipper, add hooks/eyes, gather fabric, etc... I learned a lot. But the most important thing I learned had nothing to do with my sewing technique. I learned that I love to sew! 

I firmly believe that you can learn how to do almost anything. (Except math.) It just takes some initiative and time. Over the same summer, I decided to learn some basic embroidery techniques. So I went to the library, got a few books, and after a trip to Michael's, I was set. My first and only project to date: Bloomers for Emily to wear under her baptismal dress. If I messed up, who was going to notice?

I found this "E" through a google search for "E" clipart. Then I copied it to Microsoft Word, enlarged it, and traced it onto the fabric. Then I used 2 different stitches to embroider while I watched tv after the kids were in bed. I am very happy with the end result:

Yes, I know that her baptism was not about what she was wearing, anymore than my marriage was about my wedding dress. Mistakes and all, I'm still glad I made it for her. Now even if she decides on a different wedding dress when she gets married, it won't break my heart because she's already worn it. :)