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Upcycled Swag Bags

Upcycled Swag Bags

I love free stuff, I think we all do. If you’re like us, you love it so much that you often aren’t discerning about what that stuff is and you find yourself pushing people out of your way to catch fleece ponchos at basketball games or visiting every table at an expo just to make sure you don’t miss something good. In the heat of it swag seems awesome, but once at home you realize that much of it is just crap or stuff you don’t really need. Then it either gets thrown away or stuffed into a box somewhere in your storage room. Well, today I rescued some of that discarded swag and turned it into something useful.

Name blurred because the destruction of the bag has nothing to do with the company and I was too lazy to take another photo of the other side 🙂

I took this nylon bag Noel got from a job fair back in college, paired it with some leftover fabric from my stash, and made an eco travel lid that can be used instead of saran wrap.

Eco Travel Lid in Action

Then I took a bag I got at the hospital when I had Cooper (full of some brand of formula we gave away).

Cute bag, just never had a use for it.

Cut it up, loosely followed a tutorial on reusable snack bags, and voila five beautiful reusable snack bags all for the low cost of free.

Cooper stealing my props
Ellen supervising the photo shoot.

Now we can eat on the go in eco-fab style.

Little White Dress

Little White Dress

I’ve always wanted a little girl. I was not necessarily disappointed when we found out Cooper was a boy, but I was disappointed that shopping for and dressing a boy was fairly unexciting. When we first brought Ellen home from the hospital I think I made her a new headband every day for a week. It drove Noel crazy.  “You really like dressing her up don’t you?” He asked. Guilty as charged; I do enjoy it.

Months before Ellen was born I purchased white satin to make her a special little dress to be blessed in. I wanted to get started on it right away, but knew it would be silly since we didn’t know when she’d be born or when we’d be blessing her and consequently what size she would be. Somehow I managed to hold off making a dress until the week before and even then I ended up making two. The first was a bit snug and I was really afraid that if she grew at all it wouldn’t fit her. (I’m really having a hard time adjusting to having a normal sized baby. Remember these booties and this fleece outfit? She never wore either because she was bigger than I expected her to be.)

After making the first dress using a tutorial from Make It and Love It, I came across a picture of a blessing dress with a full skirt. The gal that made the dress didn’t leak any of her secrets on how she made the skirt so adorably flouncy, but with some Google sleuthing I figured out that she probably used a technique called “pick ups.”  I stuck with the Make It and Love It tutorial for the dress bodice and used a tutorial from Burda Style (complete with weird duct tape mannequin) to do the pick ups for the skirt. The eyelet underskirt was cut from of a salvaged bedskirt, so I can’t take any credit for it’s delicate intricacy. The second dress was a tiny bit roomy, but she wore it well.

I made the satin flowers for the headband using this tutorial, also from Make It and Love It.

*If anyone is in need of a white dress for an 8 lb or less baby let me know.

** One of these pictures was taken by me, the rest by my mom. Bet you can’t guess which one was mine 🙂

Baby Booties

Baby Booties

It snowed last night, which logically got me worrying about my unborn child’s tiny feet staying warm. The blog Delia Creates has been doing a nesting series the last week or so and one of the days featured a tutorial for some baby booties. They looked simple enough, so I whipped up a pair this morning. When Noel came home for lunch I was just finishing them up and asked what he thought. He said, “They’re inside out, right?” I was about to sew some slightly bulky flowers to the outside to add some spunk, but his comment got me thinking that maybe they could be reversible. Instead of the flowers, I made some faux buttons out of felt so the booties could still be turned inside out and not irritate our little girl’s ankles.

White side with pink “buttons.”
The green side, bursting with personality.

Now that Ellen’s tiny toes have been accounted for, maybe she’ll decide to come . . .

Just Shut the Door

Just Shut the Door

One of my favorite things about the internet is the plethora of free tutorials you can find. I’m glad that there are crafty people out there who like to share their creations, but am sometimes disappointed by their ability to relay information. (See, one more reason why you should take your English classes seriously 😉 ) Sometimes when I’m in the middle of a tutorial and have read the instructions a million times and my eyes are tired from squinting at photos I want to contact some of these tutorial writers with this simple message, “Hello, I see you have a talent for creating, but seem to be lacking in your written communication skills. Perhaps I can offer you my services for a small fee. I promise allowing me to rewrite your tutorials will not only make you seem smarter, but will make your blog much more popular and likely increase your sponsorships and ad revenue.” Instead, I usually just lay down whatever mangled project I’ve been working on and shut the door on my chaotic craft room. Given the alternatives of insulting strangers or throwing my sewing machine at the wall, it  just seems like the best thing to do.

In good creating news, I have finished a few simple projects. I’ve tried to save the simpler projects for the end of my pregnancy since sewing can be physically agonizing the larger I get.

Side note: I swapped out the chair at my sewing desk for an exercise ball. It actually makes my ribs and back hurt less as I sew. I’m kind of psyched to try using one during labor, but can’t bring myself to call it a “birthing ball.” Maybe I’ve just taken one too many exercise classes.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. Here are the most recent successful (and easy) projects I’ve undertaken.

Burp cloths with a feminine touch

and Baprons (tutorial here).

Baby Bedding

Baby Bedding

I’ve got a super exciting sewing update for you today. We’re planning on having the new baby sleep in our room for awhile when she first arrives. We have a pack ‘n play where the mattress pad can function as a hanging bassinet and I wanted to make it a bit more comfy and homey for our little one. I made a super soft swaddle blanket using two different types of minky. I used this tutorial to produce the self-binding for the blanket. I had to read through the tutorial about four times because some of the steps didn’t seem intuitive to me, but once my neurons started firing it wasn’t that hard. The minky was a bit slippery and didn’t produce as clean of a border as I’m sure the recommended flannel would have, but I still adore the blanket and can’t wait to wrap a tiny baby in it. For the sheet, I just used some fabric I had leftover from another project and followed this tutorial. The sheet was SUPER easy to make, so I’ll probably whip up at least one more.

E is For Elephant

E is For Elephant

Cooper’s spirit animal seemed to be a monkey. He had blankets, outfits, and pajamas with monkeys on them and was even a monkey for Halloween. Well, I have a feeling that the new baby’s spirit animal is going to be an elephant. She already has elephant sheets that I purchased before I even knew the gender

Picture from Pottery Barn, but sheets were not purchased from them directly.

and I keep finding elephant clothes that I must have.

Then when I go to make things, I keep involving elephants.

Made from a Martha Stewart tutorial, although I used fabric instead of scrapbook paper and modge podge since it's more my medium.


A fleece outfit I made so my little one won't freeze in the February/March weather.

Not sure what the elephant fetish means, but I think it’s somewhat coincidental that the baby’s name also starts with “E.” However, that’s a story for another day 🙂

Dressing the Bump

Dressing the Bump

Once I’ve “come out” about being pregnant I’m all about wearing clothes that show off the bump. When I was pregnant with Cooper I was teaching so I had to look professional most days. Now that I’m not working though, the temptation to just hang out in sweatpants all day long is sometimes much too strong. So, to avoid slipping into too much of a “frump slump,” I set a silly and vain goal that I was going to focus extra attention on my appearance. Well, that of course led to a selfish desire for more clothes which I tried to placate a bit by making some clothes instead of buying them. I’ve been sewing up a storm the last month and am ready to call it quits (although I’m sure it will pick up again in a week and a half when we find out what we’re having). In summation of my vanity plight, here is a small fashion show of my creations.

The Coral Top – Made out of a comfy allure knit complete with the heavenly 4-way stretch my belly needs. The side ruching was aided by this simple tutorial.  The pants are a clearance steal from Motherhood maternity. I doubt they’ll last my entire pregnancy since it’s slightly difficult to wrestle myself into them already . . . but they’ll make for great postpartum spring wear, right?

Stripey Top – Made of jersey burnout knit. Pants are another Motherhood Maternity clearance closeout.

Wrap-Around Top – I made this top from a pattern that was available for free when I was pregnant with Cooper, now it costs $15. If  you want to make one for yourself, let me know because  I might be able to hook you up with a pattern . . . I made a top like this when I was pregnant with Cooper and really liked it, but right now I have mixed feelings about the new one. I kind of feel like a mummy and wonder if I should have used plain fabric instead of a print. Maybe I’ll like it better as I grow.

Maxi Skirt – I used this tutorial from Elle Apparel to make this skirt. The tutorial is also where I learned about elastic thread which is a miracle for sewing waistbands and such – especially for a pregnant person. Also another great item for post-pregnancy.

Shirt Dress – I took an old (and stretchy) shirt and after altering the sleeves I paired it with some new fabric to make this dress. The tutorial I used for this one was also from Elle Apparel.

50’s Housewife Dress  – Maybe it’s the print or the fact that I wear this dress with pearls, but it reminds me of a 50’s housewife. I didn’t really use a tutorial for this one, just made up my own pattern. There were a few fiascoes before the final product, but by some miracle I managed to salvage it and I think it turned out okay.

All of the fabric was purchased from (from clearance of course) except for the last which I got on sale at Hancock Fabrics.

The Nursing Mom

The Nursing Mom

There’s something about becoming a mother (and to a degree a father) that changes your perception about socially acceptable topics of conversation. Subjects that were once faux pas suddenly become fair game during a casual afternoon lunch with people you’ve barely met. For the mother, this shift is nearly imperceptible and it’s hard to remember that there ever was a time when you would have died before you discussed anyone’s bowel movements. (Does it make it better or worse that you are generally talking about your child?)  For those that have not experienced the initiation of childbirth these discussions can be extremely uncomfortable, and the worst part is that most moms won’t even notice that you are squirming as they discuss the intimate details of how they went into labor. I tend to think of myself as a tactful, considerate, and generally private individual, so hopefully today’s topic of conversation won’t make too many of you squirm – and if it does, I won’t be offended if you stop reading 🙂

Breastfeeding Cooper, I kept things very basic. For the most part I didn’t feel like I needed much more than me, a blanket, and a hungry baby. The experience was successful and positive, but for round two I’ve decided to add a few more “convenience items” – most of them at a minimal cost to me.

1. Nursing Pillow. I’ve had friends that have raved about their Boppy pillows, but whenever I’ve looked at prices I’ve always decided it was not a necessity. One day I was at Hobby Lobby and noticed that they sold “Baby Nest Pillow Inserts.” (I’m sure other places sell them as well.) It looked like a Boppy as far as I could tell, so I waited patiently until Hobby Lobby had a “40% off any regular priced item” coupon (as they often do). I also picked up some alphabet fabric in the remnant bin that was just shy of a yard, and purchased a zipper. With the help of this tutorial I made a cover and now I have my own nursing pillow for about $16. Around these parts that’s better than I can find a used one on craigslist.

2. Nursing Cover. I am one of those weird people that has nursed my kid on a bus or at a public park. I’m hoping an actual nursing cover will make things logistically easier than a blanket. We shall see. I used this tutorial to make the cover. I had a really hard time finding boning so I actually ended up cannibalizing an old bra. It saved me a few bucks and seemed to work just fine. I also lucked out in the remnant section with this one so the fabric was super cheap. Total cost: about $5

3. Reusable Nursing Pads. I’m a fan of reusable nursing pads. (Are you surprised?) When Cooper was really young I felt like I was constantly washing the few that I had, so I’m going to use this tutorial to make a few more pairs so I’ll never have a shortage.

4. Double Electric Breast pump. With Cooper I had a single manual one. It made my hand tired and was so time consuming that I rarely used it. Because Cooper so rarely drank out of a bottle, he pretty much refused to take them. This made for really frantic calls from Noel when I left the two of them together. This was definitely my most expensive nursing purchase, but I did wait for a sale and then used a coupon 🙂

5. Cute Nursing Top. I wouldn’t deem this one a necessity and I don’t even know that I would say that it adds that much convenience, but there was something about wearing nursing capable clothes for months on end that made me feel frumpy. I’m thinking about making this ruffled nursing tank so I can feel a little more pretty during that time period. Pair it with a cardigan and I’ll be good to go.

Disguising the Bump

Disguising the Bump

One of the joys of a second pregnancy is that you show sooner, which is super for me because my body isn’t very good at hiding secrets in the first place. Right now I’m only 12 weeks and some change and to people that know me at all I’m visibly pregnant. (Especially by the end of the day. I swear I just slowly inflate all day long.)

Proof of the mini bump and that I'm not just being dramatic.

Needless to say I’ve been picking my wardrobe carefully the past couple of weeks. In addition to wearing lots of baby doll tops and empire waist dresses, I made a few tops to help me feel more cute and less chubby. I assume they’ll also come in handy post baby when everything is reversing.

This top was based off of this tutorial from Tea Rose Home. The tutorial uses two shirts, but I didn’t have much luck coming by those cheap, so I made the shirt out of some knit I picked up at the fabric store for a few bucks. The shirt is kind of fun and all the crazy ruffles make it kind of hard to discern whether there’s a baby in there.

This top was made from the final leftovers of the comforter I made. In brief, I cut out strips of fabric, did a basting stitch along the edge with my machine (making sure to only back stitch one end), pulled the thread to cinch the fabric up a little bit and then sewed each strip onto the tank top. Two pieces of advice: 1. It looks better with a belt 2. try to either use the same fabric for the tank top or at least match the colors. I wore this once on a windy day and suddenly the outfit didn’t look quite as good . . .

Well that’s enough awkward self-photos for one day.

Sugar and Spice

Sugar and Spice

If you’ve ever been to a children’s department or store you’ve probably noticed this, but the little girl’s section is always bigger. Even in stores where one side is devoted to little girls and one side is devoted to little boys the selection isn’t equal. You’ll find that the seemingly equal division is an optical illusion and the girl’s side really takes up more of the store. As a parent of a little boy, I find this frustrating and discriminatory. Yes, little girl things are cute with all of the frills, flowers, and bows, but little boys are cute too dang it! I get bored of the lack of creativity that goes into outfits for boys. Most stores carry only a slim selection of t-shirts and athletic shorts with baseball bats proclaiming he’s “Mommy’s All-Star” or “Daddy’s MVP.” When little girls get dresses and patent leather shoes, little boys get sweatpants and sneakers with football detailing. I know some people love this, but since I don’t aim to raise a little jock, I’m not one of them. Sometimes I have visions of myself marching into Carter’s headquarters and taking over their little boy division or simply starting my own company that makes only affordable, classy little boy clothes. Clothing that makes little boys look like sophisticated little men instead of future couch potatoes of America. Maybe someday. In the meantime, I’ll just be jealous of little girls and their wide selection of apparel options.

Speaking of little girls, my dear friend from high school just adopted a sweet little girl: Miss Sophie Anne. I was more than secretly thrilled to temporarily enter the land of ruffles and bows as I whipped up a few gifts for the little gal.

The headband, dress, and giraffe were made by me while the shoes were a great find (I kind of wanted to keep them, but Noel wisely decided we should give them to someone that actually has a little girl).

We were lucky to meet the little lady when Emily and some of her family stayed with us on their way back to Utah. We’re so happy for Emily and Dan and their new adventures into parenthood. Welcoming a baby into the world is always a little pricy, and adoption is definitely no exception. Emily’s brother is hosting a 5K fundraiser next week, so if you’re able bodied and anywhere near the Willard, UT area next Saturday, you should join them.

Pam, Sophie, Katie, and Emily. I don’t think they were too thrilled that I took this picture first thing in the morning, but they’re all beautiful nevertheless.

Cooper wasn’t quite as happy about Sophie as the rest of us. He might be in for quite the rude awakening if we ever have another child.

This is what Cooper thought of Sophie.