Monday, October 20, 2008


When I saw this post on purl bee for the "cozy quick blankie," I immediately bought enough organic cotton fleece and rick-rack to make a blanket for myself and one for my sister. It seemed like the perfect quick but cute project for a new baby. I chose Amy Butler's midwest modern fabric for my sister's blanket, and some tree and bird fabric I had in my stash (and had intended to use for baby stuff) for myself. I figured that since I can (almost) sew a straight line, this project would be fairly simple.

Well, it wasn't.

The fleece was awful to work with. After washing, it shrunk in unpredictable ways and ended up as a big parallelogram rather than a square. So the blankets had to be smaller than I had originally hoped. Getting the two layers together smoothly proved to be even more difficult. I constructed my sister's blanket with the fleece layer on top, resulting in a puckery saggy fabric layer. Thinking I was wiser the second time around, I did mine with the fabric layer on top, and guess what? I ended up with a saggy fleece layer! The picture above is the only one in which you can't see my absolute frustration with these blankets - Adam came into the room and started taking pictures of me sewing and then I started getting mad at the blankets and mad at him!

All-in-all, I ended up with two respectable (and usable) baby blankets, but they aren't perfect. Next time (if there is one) I will tape one of the layers to the floor - like you would for basting a quilt. I think that would help. Also, I will never buy expensive organic cotton fleece again and instead would use economical 100% cotton flannel for this blanket if I ever were to make one again. Then I could make each blanket for under $10, rather than the $30 I spent on each blanket. I guess you could say it was a learning experience!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

felt baby toys

Wow, it has been a while! I thought life would get easier after finishing my dissertation, but between teaching, doing research, and preparing for our new addition (due in December!) I don't seem to have a whole lot of extra time right now.

I did manage to find some time this past month to make some colorful felt balls for the baby. They are all about the size of a tennis ball, or slightly smaller, and three of the four have bells inside so they rattle. They are amazingly easy to make. I used a core of white wool roving and agitated it repeatedly after dipping the mass of wool into a bowl of hot soapy water. The ones that rattle have a small cat toy on the inside. I added the colorful outer layer the same way, and then needle felted polka-dots and stripes onto them. I gave one to my sister for her baby-on-the-way, and still have three of them. I'm tempted to make more but don't know how many felt balls a baby realistically needs!

Also in the category of felt baby toys, the gorgeous felt block below was made for me by my friend Rachel. It is made from wool felt and stuffed with bamboo stuffing, so is perfectly safe for a baby to gnaw on...but I think I might love this block too much too much to let my baby chew on it! Each of the sides has a different bird sewn on it...Northern Cardinal, American Goldfinch, Wood Thrush, Black-capped Chickadee, Common Raven, and American Robin. I am quite the bird-lover, as I have devoted the past 10 years of my life to studying birds, so it is a pretty appropriate gift. I can't stop looking at it!