Sewing up a storm - Handmade Christmas Presents for Toddlers

The glider, a cup of coffee, feet up, my very favorite bright blue Ecuadorian baby alpaca blanket, family sleeping and a few minutes to write.  What a way to start the day.

     Lately I have been sewing, sewing, sewing! For the last month at least, every early morning, nap time, run in the stroller with Dad and late night has been spent working my way down a pile of projects.  Fun, beautiful, inspiring projects.  Some of my good old favorites (bibs, blankets, onesies) and some new and exciting!  Now, I know that it has definitely been more stressful for her, but I wish my big sister had thought a little bit more about how the timing of her kids' birthdays affected my sewing schedule. Haha! Sorry, Em! Just kidding, kinda… 3 birthdays in one week (in her defense there are twins involved!)  All this birthday fun was the motivation for the last trip home Annie and I took, but it was also the motivation for lots of projects!  I decided each kid needed one item of clothing and one item of fun.  I then also learned two days before the trip that we would get to go to the second birthday party of some more twins I love.  So here we go, two one year olds, two two year olds and a three year old.  All just the ages I love sewing for!  I want to apologize in advance, though, for the bad pictures in this post!  With all that sewing on a deadline, there was no time for taking good pictures with my camera or of many steps in the process.  I snapped a few quick ones on the couch with my phone, but that is all I got.

Two one year olds!  Norah and Shelby- my sweet nieces.  Without a second thought I knew they would be getting Go To Leggings!  By far my favorite pattern purchase.  They fit sizes 6 months - 12 years and the pattern has fantastic color illustrations, lots of variations and gives great tips on working with knits if they are new to you.  The next pair I make I will cut them a little extra long because Annie is skinny and long legged, but they even look great as capris.

     The only question left was what fabric to use!  I had these three knits I was itching to cut!  Organic Charley Harper Cardinal Stagger from Birch Fabrics, Organic Elk Grove Red Poppies by Jay-Cyn Designs for Birch Fabrics and I have no idea what this gray floral fabric is!  It is the softest knit I have ever felt and gorgeous, so please, if anyone knows, let me in on the secret!

     And I know that in order to make her mornings a little easier in whatever way possible, my sister likes to dress the girls the same, but different (same outfit, different colors.)  So I chose the two floral fabrics for Norah and Shelby, and decided that while I was at it, I might as well make the cardinals for Annie.  

Even if everyone thinks she's a boy when she wears them.
    With the fun for me and fun for their mom, but very boring for two one year olds project out of the way, it was fun for the girls project time!  I thought about making them some kind of stuffed animal, but could never quite decide.  I tried to make their big brother Jack a stuffed dog for his first birthday, but it turned out super creepy and was thrown in the trash.  I made a pretty awesome stuffed turtle for my niece Addison for Christmas (with this pattern!) but felt like making something new.  So… lots of time on Pinterest later, inspiration struck!  
     Fabric Beach Balls!  Another Purlbee tutorial!  I made them each one of the medium sized balls.  Same fabrics but different colors.  I also added some jingle bells in to the middle of them to make them a little more fun.  In the end I was a little disappointed in the balls.  I chose fabrics from Joann's that seemed springy and Eastery.  Pastel pink, yellow, blue, green, purple checks, dots and stripes.  And for the circles on the end I used some Nani Iro scraps, hand stitched in place with pink and purple embroidery thread.  I think the pastel colors were too light and they ended up looking a little faded or washed out.  I also think maybe they would be more fun for younger babies.  Maybe they will grow on me.  They were fun to make and to stuff.  I loved adding the jingle bells.  Annie thought they were fun and hopefully the girls do too.  
The picture makes them even more washed out than they were in real life.  

Two two year olds! There was a time when we had pretty much the coolest neighbors ever (and pretty cool roommates too!)  Many nights were spent showing up at one another's doors with wine, baked goods and board games and then filled with giggling and ridiculousness until probably too late on some weeknights.  Then they had to go and be grown ups and buy a house a few blocks away.  Then we moved to San Diego.  And the roommates to New York and now Portland.  But the sign of really great neighbors and friends is that we manage to stay in touch at least a bit and see each other a few times a year.  And a bit after going and buying a house, they went and got pregnant too (with two!) So I got ahold of them a few days before my trip to see if we could visit and it turns out I would be there just in time for the birthday party!  
     But, this was two days before I left town.  I still had laundry and packing to do, and wrapping all those other presents.  I thought very hard for a few stolen minutes here and there, and then decided it could not be done.  No time, no creative energy left to pull something together in a short time.  I would go, and enjoy our visit, and come back from my trip refreshed, full of inspiration and then make and send something their way.  
     On the drive from the airport to my family's house, my mom says… Do they like to help cook?  You could give them some of your aprons!
     Genius!  Genius! I make these aprons.  And I love them.  I have made some for Jack and Ethan.  I have them listed in my shop and sell them at craft fairs.  And I love the fabrics and the simplicity of the pattern.  I love that they can fit so many sizes of kids and will help with so many fun activities - cooking, science, art, all the good, messy stuff!  But no one buys them.  I have sold one, at a craft fair, to my yoga teachers' daughter!  So I forget about them.  They sit, folded, in a bag, in the cupboard.  Every three months I renew their Etsy listing and that is pretty much it.  I had big plans at Christmas time to do a cookie making photo shoot with the bigger than Annie but small enough for the aprons kids of my friends.  But plans were forgotten among sickness and holiday craziness, and never picked up again.  
     And, two two year olds, with parents who both are amazing cooks (and for reals, really amazing wine makers) aprons would be perfect!  And as I discovered at the party, they also happen to have a pretty rad play kitchen, that seems to be a popular spot around their house.  Perfect!
     But, I was already not home.  I thought about hitting up my old friend Hart's Fabric for materials to make some, but that seemed pretty silly when I had some awesome ones sitting at home in the cupboard.  Thank goodness for Kyle, and FaceTime and USPS!  He had just the ones I wanted to me in 3 days, plenty of time before the party!  These are two of my smaller aprons, perfect for two year olds, and both work for either a boy or a girl (perfect for a set of boy girl twins!)  

    And just for fun, I searched "children's aprons" on Etsy - over 17,000 results! No wonder no one buys them, no one has a chance of seeing them except that one day I renew the listings.  I am really going to have to do that photo shoot and find some other way of marketing these, or in my cupboard they will stay!  So, if you want some, follow my link (or just get in touch with me,) because you will never find them just searching!  
And last, but not least!
One three year old! Jack!  The first baby I ever sewed a bib for!  Isn't that a crazy thought!  Jack, who likes dinos and trucks, running and climbing, legos and suddenly princess movies.  The best big brother, teaching his sisters all sorts of dangerous tricks!  
     With some inspiration from Pinterest and this awesome lady I decided Jack's boring present would be a dinosaur appliqué T shirt.  Looked through lots of cool dino outline clipart, traced the screen and cut out my template.  Ordered T and found some cool scrap fabric.  Trace and cut again.  Pin in place.  Zig Zag the edges.  Done!  I like this kind of project.  And I do think it turned out pretty awesome.  Jack on the other hand just wanted to know what was in the other present.  

     And what was in that other present?  Well, obviously a super hero cape!  This was fun! With a little help from this tutorial to get me started.  Using shiny red fabric and Lightning Mcqueen inspired colors for the Super Jack symbol I think I giggled through pretty much this entire project.  Next time the velcro straps will be wider, but otherwise I am totally happy with this project.  And Jack thought it was pretty cool too!
     Presents done!  I had so much fun making things for these awesome kids.  I love having an excuse to sew things that aren't bibs from time to time.  And then I spent a whole week while visiting without sewing a thing!  This does not mean however that I did not visit Hart's and Beverley's and get all sorts of inspired by beautiful new fabrics!

I bought all these.  In 1 day.
Thank you Annie and Nanny for putting up with me in two fabric stores in a row.

     When I first met with Sophia, the owner of Make Good about selling my bibs and onesies in her awesome shop, she asked what else I make.  She lit up when I said blankets.  She hasn't had blankets in the store in months and she was desperate for some.  But I didn't have any actually made.  Well, ok, I did, but Nani Iro blankets and my material cost on those is too high for us to both be happy for the price she could sell them for.  So I promised to buy new awesome fabrics and bring some back to her.  With that promise in mind, I bought these beauties, with coordinating flannels for the backs.  And I couldn't resist a few new prints for bibs, and some just because with no real plan in mind.  
    A big stack of washed, ironed and neatly folded fabric, in bright colors and new prints is so inspiring to me.  I couldn't stop cutting and sewing until I worked my way down the pile.  Five new blankets.  Four new bibs.  Bibs coming soon to the shop (finding time when Annie is sleeping and there is good light for photos in our house is pretty tricky.)  Blankets not coming to the shop, because Sophia wanted them all!  I guess I will have to buy some more fabrics and make more blankets I can sell for those of you not in San Diego.  

oh yeah, I found some other "new" fabrics on my shelf.
Make that nine new bib patterns and some restocking of old favorites.
Oh, and of course I had to sew two of each.  

     Then there were onesies to embroider, some bib orders to be made, and this dress to make for Annie.  I had a pile of other projects planned, but pooped out a bit and needed a few days break.  Plus I wanted to write this post and it has taken me days (I hope it does not take you that long to read it! It is so long! Sorry!)  But last night I got back on it and got these bloomers done for Annie to wear today!  Nothing special is happening today, I just love them so much I can't wait for her to wear them.  Nani Iro Double Gauze Blue Pocho Dots (and the dots are shiny, friends!)  Pictures will be taken and they will be up for sale, made to order, newborn through 18 month!
Phew!  I am going to go drink more coffee now before I miss my chance!  I hope you all are having fabulous, sunshine filled days like we are and that you are getting some time to enjoy them!  

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