Let us put by some hour of every day for holy things...

Think on th' eternal home,
The Saviour left for you;
Think on the Lord most holy, come
To dwell with hearts untrue:
So shall ye tread untired His pastoral ways,
And in the darkness sing your carol of high praise.

--from Keble's The Christian Year, Thoughts in Verse



Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Cloth Diaper Tutorial and Other Baby Projects

My mother-in-law has a very practical turn of mind, and when she receives a wedding invitation, she'll remark, "It's time to go and get the butter dish." It's her standard wedding gift--a heavy crystal butter dish. One size fits all brides. Claudia and I used to laugh about this, but as I get older, I can see the wisdom of having (for certain situations, at least) a standard, useful, attractive gift already decided upon. It saves a lot of time and effort.

I'm thinking about this now because I know of four little girls expected to be born this summer, and I've been to two baby showers this past week.
 
I spent most of June making baby items. A few of the projects I managed to photograph before giving away, so I'd like to show those to you now.

Pattern for a hooded baby sweater from McCall's Needleworks & Crafts, Fall/Winter 1969-70 

 A couple of months ago I found about five vintage McCall's craft magazines, and I began scouring them for suitable baby sweater patterns. This one was simple and practical, and I decided to give it a whirl. While it looks like an ordinary knit 1, purl 1 rib pattern, it's actually a thick, cushiony "fishermans rib" pattern that required me to learn a new knitting technique. I balked at that for a bit--anything that has instructions telling me to "knit into the stitch in the row below" usually has me flipping the page pronto, but I took a chance and it turned out to be very, very easy and the springy, deeply ribbed fabric was very satisfying to produce. Here's the sweater I made:

It took about a week to make. It's nice to start a project and actually finish it for a change!

I've also been working on cloth diapers. Old fashioned fabric diapers seem to be going the way of the dinosaur nowadays, but with the price of disposables, I applaud my daughter-in-law for choosing to go the traditional route. I went to the fabric store to look around and was amazed to see all the new specialty diaper fabrics and super-duper diaper patterns you can buy now. These modern cloth diapers have gussets, special wicking layers, and even a waterproof outer layer, and they fasten with velcro or snaps. I'm going to try making some of those, but in the meantime, I'm making hourglass shaped ones like my own kids used, but with the addition of a bit of elastic at the leg openings for a better fit.

These are really easy to make, and handy for all new moms to have on hand even if they're planning on using only disposables, because sooner or later, she'll run out before she can get to the store for more. My main fabric is 100% cotton flannel, which I washed and dried to preshrink before cutting. You can use terrycloth or birdseye weave, too.

For each diaper, you'll need to cut out two of these. 
I fooled around with pattern shapes and sizes until I came up with this, which measures about 15 1/2 - 16" long, 9 1/2" at the small end, 14 1/2" at the large end, and at its narrow point is about 8 inches. There are a lot of free patterns on the web you can download, too.

For the next step, use just one of your large diaper pieces.
Now for the important inner layer. You'll want a thick pad of something very absorbent--a minimum of three layers of flannel, or you can use terrycloth or, as I did here, a piece of an old mattress pad sandwiched between two layers of flannel. Cut and stack your rectangular pieces (roughly 14" by 4 1/2") down the center of ONE of the main diaper pieces and stitch it down around the edges and in the center to keep the padding from shifting. There's nothing exact about this, so don't sweat the measurements or worry about perfect seams.

Adding elastic is optional, but a good idea.
A couple of pieces of 1/4" elastic will help the diapers not to gap at the legs. Each piece should be about 6 inches unstretched. Position the elastic so that you have 1/2" to 3/4" of fabric remaining at the edge. Tack one end down and then stretch the elastic out as you stitch. Repeat on the other side. The result will look something like this:

You can see the elastic doesn't run the whole length of the diaper.
Now flip this over, elastic-side down. This will be the interior layer.
Now take your second main diaper piece, pin it to this upside-down piece, and stitch a narrow seam around, leaving a 5" gap at the top back (wide) end for turning out. Stretch the elastic out so the diaper flattens as you sew.
Clip corners for a neater appearance and less bulk at the edge.
Turn the diaper right side out and iron, tucking in the 5" opening to make it even with the seam. 
 
A blurry photo, but you can see how I've turned the opening edge under and pinned it for ironing.

Now topstitch around the whole diaper, stretching out the diaper. Try not to catch the elastic with the topstitching. Voila!

All ready for use--just pin! Or attach velcro to fasten if you're feeling ambitious.
Okay, diapers are pretty mundane. So after sewing a stack of those (and they go together pretty fast) you can treat yourself and make a little pair of shoes! I ordered a PDF pattern from Etsy. The description said "easy and quick to make"--and to my surprise, they were! I had lots of fun making these and plan to whip out several more pairs using different fabrics and trim. Aren't they cute?
Not bad for my first pair. I think these may become my version of the butter dish. I could even make a bunch of cute little shoes ahead of time and have them ready for giving when the next new baby arrives.

The pattern is just $3.99 on Etsy:
www.etsy.com/listing/62089877/sale-pdf-epattern-doris-jane-baby-shoes 
It's just one of many delightful project patterns you can purchase from PreciousPatterns.

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