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October 2010

September 2010

sponsor giveaway :: sew fun patterns

I'm excited to be supported in my blog-writing efforts this month by Sew Fun Patterns. Jenn has some wonderful patterns on her site, including the brilliant Grab n' Go Diaper Clutch. Who wants to lug around a ginormous diaper bag? I was under the impression that I needed a huge diaper bag when I was pregnant with Finn. I was wrong. I'm making one of these clutches for baby #2, and keeping the big 'ol bag in the trunk with an extra change of clothes, etc. Read on to learn more about Sew Fun and to enter the giveaway!


Hello, I’m Jenn Lopez – wife, mama and owner/designer of Sew Fun, I used to be an educational video game developer but now I design sewing patterns for Babies and Moms. I made the switch so I could claim buying fabric as a business activity. Just like the games I used to make, all of my patterns are easy & fun. With easy-to-follow instructions and detailed illustrations, they are beginner-friendly yet appealing to advanced sewing enthusiasts.

Out and about with the Grab 'n' Go Diaper Clutch

At Sew Fun, we believe in supporting cottage industries and work-at-home crafty moms, so we are proud to offer a limited free licensing program for all Sew Fun patterns. Here is our Grab 'n' Go Diaper Clutch stitched up by one of our ETSY friends over at Sonoran Baby:

Grab 'n' Go Diaper Clutch holds it all

From quilts and toys for Baby to stylish diaper bags and accessories for Mom, Sew Fun patterns make beautiful gifts for baby showers and cherished handmade keepsakes for all the loved ones in your life!


Jen is giving away THREE diaper clutch patterns to three lucky Sew Liberated readers! Just leave a comment to enter; the winners will be drawn at random on Sunday evening, October 3. 

Thank you to all for entering, and congratulations to Yana, Rachel, and Zom G. who won the random drawing. Jenn of SewFun patterns will be in touch with you to claim your diaper clutch patterns!

making felted soap with a toddler

Words really aren't necessary to convey how much fun this was for all involved. The soft roving (from a local farm), the colors, the warm water, the plentiful bubbles - all combined for a lovely and entertaining sensorial experience for Finn. We used this tutorial from Rhythm of the Home and set ourselves up on the porch with plenty of towels covering the floor. Without furthur ado, I'll let the pictures do the talking ...

making felted soap 1

making felted soap 2

making felted soap 3

making felted soap 4

making felted soap 5

making felted soap 6

making felted soap 7

making felted soap 8

Wait, I need to insert some words here. The tutorial called for cutting up an old pair of panty hose to hold the wool in place as you felt it. Panty hose are NOT something that I have anywhere in my house, not even in the deepest crevices of my sock drawer. I do believe that the last time I was forced to wear a pair was at my wedding over six years ago. Instead, I grabbed a stockinette tube that I had on hand in my doll making supplies. Mistake. The stockinette adhered to the wool, and it was a headache to remove. Next time we do this, I'll get myself a pair of panty hose. And I know just where to find a pair. In my mom's closet.

making felted soap 9

making felted soap 13

making felted soap 11

Two beautiful felted soaps, great for washing up, eliminating the need for a washcloth. Finn's is the green/blue version (although I did provide a good amount of help to get it properly felted) and mine is the one with the sun. I added a bit of needle felting to mine once it was dry.

But you know what? Finn didn't end up using the soap in the bath that day. In fact, he didn't end up taking a bath that evening. He'd already had a good sudsing in the afternoon, as you can see!



hello, autumn

Pretend you don't notice the exasperation in my voice when I say that Autumn is finally here. I will also pretend that I weathered this scorcher of a Summer with grace, with not a word of complaint. Okay? Okay.


To say that I'm pleased that it's finally raining, that the days are noticeably shorter, and that it dipped below 80 would be an understatement. Woohoo!!! I kind of feel like running around in the rain and climbing a tree.

Instead, I gathered my wits and decorated the table with some flowers from my earlier walk with Finn and poured glasses of sparkling apple cider to accompany dinner.

sparkling apple cider

Finn proceded to call the cider "yuck," as he does with anything poured in a wine glass. Since he's a fearless eater and wants to try most anything that's on the table, Patrick started refering to his occasional glass of wine with a scrunched up nose and a grimace, telling Finn that he wouldn't want any of it because it was yucky. Finn now automatically dislikes anything in a wine glass. I'm thinking that is a good thing. I plan on drinking my hot chocolate in a wine glass this Winter. Yuck, indeed.

autumn oatmeal walnut bread

By the way, if you're on the lookout for a to-die-for bread recipe, this oatmeal walnut loaf is our new staple.

week 19 maternity sewing

baby 2, 19 weeks, wearing jalie top2

I must admit that I put aside a sewing project for Finn to whip up this top for myself. Does KCWC include sewing for offspring who are hidden inside a belly? Probably not. Oh well, I considered this a necessary diversion of my creative efforts.

baby 2, 19 weeks, wearing jalie top

At week 19, I'm finally beginning to appreciate a form-gracing top rather than the fuddy duddy t-shirts I had been wearing to cover up my "not-noticeably-pregnant, perhaps-just-a-beer-drinker" belly.

baby 2, 19 weeks, wearing jalie top3

I love, love, love this top, which is not actually a maternity-specific design, but it happens to do triple-duty as a maternity, non-maternity, and nursing top. It's Jalie 2787. (If you look at Emilie's Favorites, she shares her notes with you about making Jalie tops into maternity tops.)

But let me say a word about maternity clothing this (second) time around. Eew. I don't want to open that box. I never really want to see those clothes again. I remember when I was pregnant with Finn, I couldn't wait to get into maternity clothes. I was insane. I think I went out and purchased my first ugly, saggy-bottomed pair of jeans when I was 9 weeks along. Granted, I gained a lot more weight a lot more quickly with Finn, so I probably didn't really fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans at 9 weeks. (Thank you, constant diet of cheese, crackers, and yogurt!) But still. This time, I'm at 19 weeks and doing everything I can to stay in my regular clothes. A hair tie around the button of my jeans does the trick for now, and I'm considering making myself a homemade belly band. I've also been scouring the 'nets for some stylish maternity-wear tutorials and patterns.

baby 2, 19 weeks, wearing jalie top5

Luvinthemommyhood did a great maternity-wear round up this past Spring. Thanks to her, I happened on this post at Grosgrain Fabulous (awesomely inspiring sewing blog, by the way) about making stylish pants on a budget. I also ran into the website of Megan Nielsen, who sells PDF patterns for sewing your own maternity-wear. I'm really head-over-heels for this shirt.

I went ahead and made the sleeveless version of the Jalie shirt because we're heading to Cabo San Lucas in a few weeks for my dear friend's wedding (for which I have to fit the belly into a bridesmaid's dress - stay tuned for good laughs.) I needed some warm weather options. I'm thinking about making the top with sleeves for when the temperature finally drops below 80 here in North Carolina. Any day now! It's all I can do to keep myself from thinking about pumpkin bread and warm scarves. I'm just sitting here and twiddling my thumbs, making sleeveless shirts to bide my time!

quenching thirst, montessori style

water and a 16 month-old1

"Wawa. Wawa! WAWA! WAAAWAAA!" It's amazing how quickly a small human can go from realizing he's slightly thirsty to absolutely dying of dehydration. I've counted - twenty seconds. It's so nice to be able to offer an immediate solution to his thirst when we're at home. At the first utterance of "wawa," all I have to say is, "Would you like to serve yourself some water?" And he gets this big ol' grin, does a little dance of excitement, and heads to the kitchen to pour himself a glass of water.

water and a 16 month-old3

water and a 16 month-old4

water and a 16 month-old 5

water and a 16 month-old 6

water and a 16 month-old 7

When he's done, he says "ahhh!" then likely serves himself another sip. At times, he will be so enamored with the process that he serves me some water, too. When he's ready to move on to another activity, he sets his glass in the bowl to the right of the water spigot, where it will stay until he's thirsty once again.

water and a 16 month-old 2

And yes, at other times, he'll just push down the lever and watch, transfixed, as the water drips into the basin below. No worries - the cats will appreciate a replenishing of what has become their new watering hole.

water and a 16 mont-old 8

A few spills are part of the deal, and that's where this pint-sized mop comes in handy. He loves mopping up just as much as he loves serving the water. (The broom is another favorite "toy." He sweeps so often, that we're considering changing his nickname from "Sweet Pea" to "Sweepee.")

water and a 16 month-old 9

I know what you're thinking. "This woman is loopy. A real glass! Free access to water! What a nut she must be."

My Montessori teacher training gave me the idea for this. Such a set-up, however, does take some courage to set up. Because no matter how brave you are, and how confident you are in your child's ability to learn to do things proficiently when given the opportunity to practice such skills, you will run into some majorly raised eyebrows along the way. Perhaps the eyebrows of a husband, an aunt, or a grandmother - and let's not forget your OWN inner raised eyebrow, which is how you'll feel about this water serving activity after you've just shown your toddler how it works.

There will be water. There will be lots of drinking. There will be spills. The exuberant child just needs to work the excitement of the newness of it out of his system, then things become normalized. Within a week, Finn had practiced the movements enough that they had become noticeably more controlled and graceful. He was able to synchronize the pushing down of the spigot with the correct placement of the glass underneath it. It was amazing to watch, really - a testament to the importance of mistake-making in the process of mastering a skill. It's something I think of often, how we, as parents, are often nervous about letting our child make mistakes. I am no exception - I have to consciously step back and let go of my perfectionism and just let the learning process unfold. My own attitude toward mistakes is also something I'm mindful of watching - I do my best to assign neutral emotions to them, treating them as a matter-of-fact part of life, even treating them with some interest: "Oh, look! You tipped the glass over and the milk spilled on the floor. Let's go get the clean-up cloth to wipe that up. Would you like to wipe?"

I do hope that Finn picks up on this attitude - this embracing of mistakes. It's really what I believe is the foundation of a positive relationship with learning. A book that discusses this concept and how it relates to parenting is Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline. It's a very helpful read.

water and a 16 month-old 10

A few notes about setting up a water station:

  • It's essential that your water cooler be secured in place. Ours fit perfectly between two shelves and is wedged in there quite well (although not so tightly that I can't remove it for cleaning and filling.)
  • The glasses we have for Finn are these. They come in a set of six, and that's been plenty for us. Obviousy, he reuses his glass. If you have more than one child, you might consider a different colored little bowl for each of them, for sanitary purposes.
  • Another word about the glasses: it's good to note that Finn has been using these, or other similar enamelware cups, since he started drinking liquids other than breastmilk. At first we would help him bring the cup to his mouth and tilt it for him. Eventually he transitioned seamlessly into drinking from a cup at the dinner table. So he's already had a good deal of practice with this. If you're looking to transition a child who has been using a sippy cup, I would give plenty of time for the child to work with just the small, open-topped glass first before introducing the water serving station.
  • The enamelware basins I have set up here are from Michael Olaf.
  • The shelf is a single playstand with the awning removed.

I'll try to answer any more questions in the comments!

the huck finn cap sewing pattern

huck finn cap sewing pattern front

Available now at my shop!

Can I tell you how much more fun pattern packing, stuffing envelopes, and website updating are when you just want to smooch the little fellow donning the cap? I apologize in advance for any smooch marks on your patterns. Double sorry if it looks like your pattern has been pinched, nibbled, and hugged to smitherines by the time it arrives at your doorstep.

The Huck Finn Cap is on sale now in my shop! My most favorite pattern to date, and one that is sure to be a hit with your little guy (or gal!) It's comfy. It fits great. It's stinking adorable. It's look is versitile: mini-GQ, mini-newsie, mini-golfer, and, my favorite ... mini-English professor. Just add a bowtie.

huck finn cap gray hat

The gray hat and photos of it are by my lovely tester and mama of four boys, Jessica, who tells me that her son put on the hat and began an improptu poetry reading for his siblings. Bigger brother immediately went through mom's fabric stash to pick out fabric for his own hat!

huck finn cap front view

The Huck Finn Cap sews up in a flash, and comes in a large size range: 6 months - 10 years (although I can wear the largest size, so don't be deterred by age limits.) I'm planning on making up a few wintery caps for Finn, with both everyday wear and family holiday photos in mind. It would be the perfect project for Kids Clothes Week Challenge, going on right now. 

huck finn cap back view

Here you can see the comfortable elasticated back, which makes for a snug fit and helps to keep the hat on bouncy boys.

Hats off to my other wonderful tester, Ms. Rae of Made by Rae fame! My testers really did a fantastic job of bringing this pattern to the next level of user-friendliness. I think you'll be surprised to find that sewing up a hat really isn't difficult at all!

huck finn cap inside view

And here's the inside view - the contrasting lining can really give the hat some kid appeal. Let your little one choose the lining fabric (I know just the fabric Finn will choose for his next hat.) The rest of the world won't even know that it's a car/bus/frog/dog hat. Unless, of course, your child is three years old, in which case the whole world will be told that it is a car/bus/frog/dog hat!

huck finn cap pattern back

And finally, here's what you need to get you ready to sew. Just add a cute kid!



a walk

a walk

After a long, sticky summer in the oven that is the South - we're finally getting out for a daily walk once again. Before this summer I considered myself invincible when it came to weather; rain, wind, snow - I could handle it and Finn and I would get outside every day. Having never experienced swarming mosquitos and "I-can't-quite-breathe" heat while pregnant, I must admit that our connection with nature has waned these past few months.

a walk

a walk

Fortunately Finn doesn't seem to have skipped a beat. There's nothing quite like a walk at a toddler's pace, listening to him pound his feet against the trail, vocalizing with every joyful step. Nature's gifts of new sights, sounds, textures, and smells combine with exciting physical challenges to create in my boy this unbridled glee that no playground can produce.

a walk

a walk

a walk

Reconnecting feels good. Have a great weekend, friends.

P.S. Here's a post from last Spring which lists some great resources for connecting children to nature.

random list of things that make me say "cool."

escargot? Non, Renault 4

Photo by carlmonus

  • Kyrie, always on the vanguard of all that's cool 'round the net, turned me on to Tumblr. Here's my page. I'm using it to compile inspirational images that I come across - it's kind of like a virtual inspirational board. Prior to finding Tumblr, I would bemoan the fact that I couldn't rip out pages from my computer like I can with real magazines. Problem solved.
  • Speaking of Kyrie, she's doing a series on snacks that's worth taking a peek at.
  • I'm on Twitter now. I don't imagine that I'll be updating that often much, as I don't have one of those fancy smarty-pants phones (Mine is quite dumb, actually. I don't even know how to send a text message. I blame it on the dumbness of my phone.) That, plus I try not to be on my computer when I'm with Finn. This is a "while he sleeps" type of gig, and we'll see how it goes.
  • Did you see that my favorite online mags have published their Autumn editions? Rhythm of the Home and Petite Purls are not to be missed.
  • I added a "Search Sew Liberated" feature in my left side bar. This should help you (and me) find a particular post that you remember. It searches all the archives, starting in January 2007. Has it been that long? I'm coming up on four years of blogging!
  • Jo has started a great online resource for Montessori families - The Montessori Goldmine gathers all of the posts about Montessori and lists them for you in one convenient spot. Thanks, Jo!

I'm off to clean my studio. I can't move in here without stepping on fabric!