Nov 21, 2009

DIY "Bundleme"

When I'm able to figure out a way to make something for free or cheap instead of buying something new, I feel a little like I'm sticking it to the man. I get that from my dad. He was, at times, embarassing as a kid for his relentless commitment to making everything himself.

I remember one Christmas when our block decided on candles as the unifying theme for our street's holiday decorations (there was a competition of sorts, which we actually won. The prize was a barbecue party for all the families the following summer). Everyone else bought those jumbo plastic red and yellow candles that plug in and glow. Meanwhile my dad spraypainted blue a piece of plywood, used tinfoil to make a "candleholder" and drilled holes through which he strung white lights. He then attached it to the side of our house -- much to our family's horror.

His ethos was, "Why would I buy it when I can make it myself?"

I feel that way about those expensive, but brilliant Bundlemes, which are a nessesary evil of living in New York City: when it's Eastern-Seaboard-cold outside, how do you keep your kid warm in her stroller? Barely anyone I know has a car, and taking your baby out in sub-zero temps is unavoidable. (It's against the law, apparently, to just leave your kid at home while you go to the store for milk). Last winter we just carried her, which made it easy to keep our little bear warm. But now she's 25 pounds and much too tall to zip into my jacket with me. Wearing your one-year-old in winter is no easy feat.

Anyway, back to the Bundleme. They're amazing in their simplicity -- essentially a short sleeping bag that attaches to your stroller. You zip your baby in, keeping them toasty warm while they're shuttled about the city. They're totally awesome. They're over $100. And everyone has one. Someone out there is so rich. I hope it was a smartypants mom who had the idea.

While $100 is not an enormous sum to ask for keeping your darling baby snugly warm the whole winter through, we don't have $100 to burn. What we did have is a down-filled sleeping bag that has been used once in the past four years. Chopping it up for Lucy's sake seemed like a no-brainer.

So here's how I did it:

-sleeping bag
-a few yards of seam binding

1. Lay the open sleeping bag along the length of your stroller, positioning the bottom end on the foot rest, and use a piece of chalk or some masking tape to mark the curve along the top of the seat, and the height of the front of the bag. I then pinned my seam binding tape along that line:

2. Straight-stitch along the bottom edge of the seam binding tape. You are sewing BEFORE you cut the sleeping bag to size to avoid an explosion of down in your home. There will be some down flying around no matter what you do, but to keep it to a minimum, straight-stitch ANOTHER line following the curve of your binding tape an inch higher. This will keep the down contained in both halves of the bag before you cut it.

3. Then grab your scissors and cut 1/2-inch seam allowance along your strip of binding tape. Reserve the other half of the bag for making a carrier cover or something else useful. Pull out any excess down that may have been exposed, and fold your seam binding tape over the cut edge and pin:

4. Straight-stitch down the seam binding tape, which will hide the cut edge and reinforce the seam:

5. Lay your sleeping bag along the length of your stroller again, and use pins or some masking tape to mark where the shoulder straps, waist straps and crotch strap will need to go. Essentially, you will make big buttonholes for the five-point harness to go through. That way you can use your new "Bundleme" while your child is safely strapped in.

6. Use the zig-zag stitch on your sewing machine to make 2-inch buttonholes, and cut the hole. Pull the straps through and fasten:
I think we could take Lucy out naked in this thing, it's so warm. Not that we would. I'm just sayin'...if we HAD to, we could.

Now if only I could get the girl's finger out of her nose:

Nov 20, 2009

Holly Handmade's Toadstool Rattles

If you're in Toronto, check out my friend Holly Handmade's toadstool rattles, like the one pictured at left in Lucy's mouth. She'll be showing her handmade items at the City of Craft show Dec. 12 &13. I'm not sure why she's not selling her woodsy wares online yet, but hopefully she will be soon! Babies love the textures and colours, and you don't have to worry about any lead-paint-made-in-China crappiness that comes with many baby items.

Nov 17, 2009

My Baby, Burdastyle

One of my favourite online resources is, a Brooklyn-based open-source
sewing site. They recently started charging for their in-house-designed patterns, but there are also plenty of free patterns uploaded by the site's users, among them the Vivienne Toddler Jumper, pictured above on Lucy as she contemplates my Burt Bee's lip balm.

I re-used a pair of brown wool-blend work pants that no longer fit (did they ever? They're huge) for the outer shell, and lined it with this sweet yellow and white dotted cotton I've had lying around forever. The buttons came from a bag I bought years ago at Micheal's in Winnipeg. And since Lucy love all things round (balls, balloons, bubbles, etc.), I appliqued on a few circles in the print.

It's all part of my mission to rid my closet of items I no longer wear (or in some cases, never did), while avoiding spending any money on new things for Lucy.

Nov 10, 2009

I hope I can remember this forever

Last night we were reading books in bed when Lucy looked at a picture of a mama cat licking her baby cat, then turned to me and licked my face. It was possibly the funniest, most wonderful moment of my life so far: my 15-month-old daughter licking my face. Of course she then licked Ryan's face too, and then her teddy bears and stuffed kitty, and so and so forth until our entire bedtime menagerie was covered with baby saliva.

I hope I can remember that moment, and other ones like it so that one day when she is older and in that stage where they like to hear about themselves when they were young, I can tell funny stories that indicate the best parts of her nature -- that she's sweet, loving and smart -- and that her parents love her so much they're willing to let her licks their faces.

Right now I'm working on a big project that requires me to learn a bunch of new skills. I'm a big fan of and have used a number of the patterns posted there over the past couple years. They recently started charging for some patterns, but it's also an open-source sewing site, where members can post PDFs of the patterns they have created. Other members try out the patterns, post pictures, make adjustments or modifications. Plus there are tutorials and tips, and so much inspiration for sewing stuff.

Anyway, I have numerous patterns I have created over the years and I'm working to create user-friendly downloadable versions of a few of the best, focusing on a few easy baby/toddler items. It's all part of my plan, or my Plan B, really. Also part of my Plan B is hopefully taking some patternmaking and construction classes at New York City's Fashion Institute of Technology this winter or spring. Fingers crossed.

Nov 7, 2009

Make diaper changes a snap

How awesome is this idea to convert your baby's pants into diaper change-ready snap-ups?
I love Craftzine's blog, and am stoked when they have baby stuff like this on there.


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