Sunday 30 December 2012

Waste Not Want Not - Turning a Onesie into a Top

The tricky thing when buying gifts for babies is that they grow so mighty fast, and who knows just what size they will be in any given season.  Both of our girls were born at a decent size (Both around 8 pound 4 ounces), but then gained weight very slowly, making it almost impossible to guess ahead of time what size they will wear.

When each of our girls were born, our friends and family have been so generous with an abundance of beautiful clothing and other gifts.  Of the gifts we're given, there has always seemed to be a couple of items that I have particularly loved, either because of who gave them to us or because they are beautiful designer pieces that I would never go out and buy myself.
In Hannah's case, my absolute favourite clothing piece was this beautiful onesie, given to Hannah by my Uncle and Aunt.  It's made from a cotton floral fabric.  I love the colours, I love the bodice design and I love the buttons down the back.  Sadly, when Hannah was born last Christmas this little onesie was too big on her.  Then because she was slow to gain weight, and because last summer in Sydney was pretty mild, she never had a chance to wear it.  I kept it in her drawer with anticipation of it fitting this summer.  However, when I tried it on her on one of the first hot days of the summer it didn't fit ... well, it fit perfectly on the body, chest, top part, but she was just a little long for it, and I had to strain to get the clips done up at the bottom.  I almost cried!!

I couldn't bring myself to put it in the "too small" box, so I sat it on top of her dresser and looked at it longingly every time I went into her room.  After about 2 weeks of pondering, I realised that I could quite simply turn this into the cutest little top.  Paired with a little pair of ruffle-bottom shorts (a gift from her Grandma for Christmas), I think this is just a gorgeous little summer outfit.  I'm so glad I did it, 'cause it's just too cute to waste.
Since then I've found another onesie in a similar situation - gorgeous little outfit, but too short.  This was also a gift from a lovely friend, so I don't want to waste it.  I think this would work with pretty much any onesie that you want / need to transform into a top, so I thought I'd share how I did this very simple transformation using this second onesie in case anyone is in the same boat!

What you need:
- A cute onesie that needs transforming
- Scissors
- Coordinating bias tape or maybe some lace (if it's too short to hem)
- Sewing machine and coordinating thread

How to do it:
1. Lay out your onesie on a flat surface.  Try to get it sitting as flat as possible.
2. Cut from one side to the other, making sure you cut only just above the clips to give you maximum length.  I did the cut free-hand but it was pretty nerve-racking, so it might be a good idea to use a pencil to draw a line to cut along.
3.  If you have enough length, simply turn the raw edge over 1/4" and press, then turn another 1/4" and pin.  Then sew around the hem.

In this one, the onesie was lined, so I simply hemmed both the lining, and the outer fabric pieces separately.  I made the hem on the lining slightly bigger than 1/4" so that I could be sure the outer fabric would sit slightly lower than the lining.

4.  If you need as much length as possible to make sure it's long enough for your munchkin (as with my floral one) find a coordinating bias tape, then fold the tape in half and press.  Sandwich the raw edge of the onesie into the middle of the bias tape, pin and top-stitch the bias tape in place.  If you need to add a little length, you could use a piece of lace joined to the bottom to make it a little longer.

All done.

This is a really simple transformation, but so rewarding.  I hate to waste clothing, especially when it's been lovingly chosen as a gift, and this was the perfect answer to that predicament for me! 

Wednesday 26 December 2012

My baby is 1!

Hannah's birthday was 2 days before Christmas, yep the 23rd.  I hardly had time to put the birthday party left-overs away before Christmas was here and it's gone now too.  Where does all the time go??

Anyway, this Mummy has not enjoyed admitting the fact that my baby is now 1 year old.  And to top it off, the week before her birthday she went from cruising the furniture and taking the occasional step, to full-blown walking.  This left Mummy a little shell-shocked, but she does look so totally adorable when she's walking, so I guess I'll cope!  The cuteness is topped off by the fact that she's a petite little thing, and still has hardly any hair, so she really does look too tiny to walk ... cute factor to the max!!

To help Mummy cope with the birthday and the walking, what better than to put all that emotional energy into making a little birthday dress for the birthday girl?  I used this tutorial, but instead of doing the stripe match-up thing (which I also love) I used this cute spotty fabric, and just cut a 1 piece bodice-front on the fold.  The best thing about this fabric was that I got it off the "clearance table" at Spotlight a few months back for $4 per metre.  Gotta love a cute and inexpensive little birthday dress.

Anyway, in this project I learned how to make a lined bodice (never done that before), and how to use piping.  I was pretty happy with my attempt, but I will admit that I made the bodice twice ... the first time I forgot to add seam allowance when tracing a T-shirt to make a pattern ... yeah, the poor girl could barely breathe when trying it on, and almost needed to be cut out of it ... was a little small ... oops!  So I made a new one, and it fits pretty well.  She looks so cute toddling around in this little darling of a dress.

Then when Bethany saw Hannah's new party dress, she announced that she needed a new dress for Hannah's birthday too, and it should be the SAME!  Was a good thing I bought 2 metres of this fabric ... phew!
Now I really don't love the matchy, matchy, sisters in matching dresses thing all that much.  But I'm also aware that poor Bethany is feeling a little fragile at the moment with so much attention on all the new tricks Hannah is learning, then with Hannah's birthday as well, and all at the same time as pre-school finishing and all her other activities finishing or changing as she prepares to start Big School in February.  So I decided that it would really do no harm to give them matching dresses, and help Bethany to feel special too.  To keep Mummy happy though, I decided it would be a matching, but not TOTALLY matching dress.  I saw this tutorial recently, and decided to give it a go.  I found a cute white fabric, complete with ready-made pin-tucks, ruffles and lace, so all I had to do was decide which direction to cut it in, and try to get the details matching on the front and back of the bodice, and centred too!  Yay for pre-embelished fabrics!

This was probably the trickiest dress I've made (in terms of sewing techniques) to date.  But having said that, it really only took about 1.5 hours including making a bodice pattern by tracing a T-shirt, cutting out the fabric and sewing.  Not bad really.  This one taught me to do a curved bodice, a totally different lined bodice technique and gathered straps / cap-sleeves.  I really love it, and Bethany just looks so beautiful and grown up.

Oh, and do you like Bethany's new modeling pose ... boy that munchkin can be hilarious ... every time we ask her to pose for a photo now, this is what we get with her ankles crossed and hip stuck out ... oh, and the dress is just perfectly matched with those pink gumboots she decided to wear so she could jump in puddles as we watered our new plants!  Funny girl!  Love her!!
I would love to see any pics of other people's matching, but not totally matching sister outfits!!

Then, of course came the cake.  Now with the silly season upon us, and basically no time (I had 1 evening to get the cake decorated), I decided I wouldn't try to be overly creative and come up with my own design, as this was sure to fail as I pushed to get the cake done quickly.  Instead I went with a tried and true design by my amazing friend Jo, as per her book Fondant Fun (available here)!  My absolute fave are the Owl cupcakes ... so simple, yet so effective.

So that's how Mummy distracted herself from celebrated Hannah's 1st brithday!  Happy birthday to my sweet, cheeky, clever and ever-so-cute Hannah! xx