Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Reverse Engineering a Fleece Boppy Cover

Time to reverse engineer a boppy cover!

The finished fleece boppy cover I made.

I have two different kinds of boppy covers in my personal collection.  The first are the Boppy Brand zipper covers that have an inset piece on the center of the U shape.  The second is a flat boppy cover that I ordered from Etsy when pregnant with Lucky and has an overlapped pocket to insert the pillow.

Both of these boppy covers fit the exact same pillows... but the commercial boppy cover is a little bigger than the Etsy one.  (The etsy shop has closed so I can't link to the origional seller.)   Although the commercial boppy cover has this inset piece I will us the inside out cover to determine the shape to cut and then make a fold over pocket to keep it inside the pillow.   Ready, set, go!

I traced the boppy cover onto some "pattern paper" (i.e. packing paper that I ironed smooth).  I cut the shape out, folding it in half after to amke sure it was symmetrical.  If I were working with a fabric that was stiffer, like cotton, I would make the whole pattern on the fold but you can't really press fleece fabric.

This pattern piece was cut with 1/2" seem allowance as was present on the commercial boppy cover.  This doesn't quite fit on the fabric that I need to cut but it will be close enough I think.

I pinned the paper to the fabric and then cut around it to create the main body shape.

I used the same pattern piece for the back pieces but created some folds in the fabric to cut the lengths I wanted.  The long back piece will go to the bottom fold, and the short back piece will go to the top fold.

I'm not going to worry about having the angle of the polka dots just right so the fabric lines up on the back.  That is too much effort for this quickie little project.

Large back piece pinned.
Small back piece pinned.
Phew!  There is a good amount of overlap on the fabrics.

I folded the edge of the fleece over and stitched it closed with a straight stitch.  I might have done a double hem but it laid flat okay and I didn't want to make the overlap too small.

I pinned the pieces together with right sides facing.  First the front piece face up, then the big back piece face down followed by the small back piece face down.

I planned to sew a half inch seem around the edge.  I found it difficult to feed the fabric through without it stretching so I settled for what I could get with the straight seem.  Next I strengthened the edge with a zigzag seem.

This fabric was pretty hard to sew, for a novice like me at least.  it was a bit stretchy and slippery so it didn't go through the machine easily.

But hey, what I have hear looks like a boppy cover at the very least.

When I put the boppy cover on the pillow it was a little hard to squeeze it in.  Not becuase the fabric was too tight, but just because you have to feed it around like a stocking.  Once the cover was on you can see that it is a bit too long at the eneds.  This is very fixable by just taking it in a bit, but I don't think I'm going to bother.  I think this can be explained that the fabric needs to stretch more around the pillow width wise than lengthwise giving some extra give towards the ends.  The pocket also contributes to the extra length.

The cover is soft and cozy and I know that Rowdy will enjoy it.  Does it matter to me that it isn't perfect?  Not one bit. I'm going to use this for myself and Rowdy, not as a gift or something I plan to sell.

Plus this cover matches the blanket I made Rowdy perfectly!  I'm so glad that the fabric store overcut the fabric when they mailed it to me!  

I am currently using this cover for my nightly nursing sessions.  I love how soft the fabric is against my legs.

More experienced sewers out there - do you have any recommendations how I could have improved this project?  I'm still very much a novice sewer so I have a lot to learn!

Project started and completed 5/5/2016

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Handprint Sunflowers

I really enjoy having hand print crafts hanging in my front hallway for different seasons. For Halloween we did "Trick or Treat; Smell My Feet" and then I did a Valentine's Day/Spring Love Handprint collection to celebrate the birth of my second child.  It is time for the next craft to make some imprints of my little boys.

When I was working to decorate Rowdy's room, I ordered a stunning dinosaur print that was supposed to be 16x20".  I purchased a white 16x20 frame and waited for the print to arrive... and alas the print actually measured 16x21".  Not only does this mean I need a custom frame for Rowdy's room, but I have an extra WHITE frame that I have no use for.  What can I do with it?  Re-purpose it for handprint art!

I'm taking the cardboard back and I'll turn it into a summery sunflower field... at least this is the plan.  I envision handprint petals and thumb print centers... but we'll see how much I'll be able to do with the boys.

To start, I don't want a boring brown background.  I think it should be blue and white like a clowdy sky.  This is where 2.5 year old Lucky comes in.  One afternoon I set us up with a bunch of blue and white paints and had him help me paint the back.

I did a light coat on the back of the paper so that most of the brown will be covered.  I can't expect a 2 year old to cover the entire background so why not give a rough abstract gradient to start with?  I just put some paint in 3 shades of blue and 1 white and brushed them out.

Next, I set up Lucky with some paint in the blues, white and gray and let him go to down with a sponge brush.

Lucky's painting is BEAUTIFUL!  I had to rotate the canvas so he could reach it all from his high chair but he covered the majority of the background up.  It was hard to wait for this to dry before we started doing the handprints.

Lucky and I practiced the handprint sunflowers on some construction paper (Mother's Day presents for Mimi and Grandmama!) before making the one on our "canvas."  We did at least 6 hand prints in a circle, rotating the work of art to get the petals to fan out.  It is REALLY USEFUL to have another adult on hand so one adult can help with the hand placement while the other keeps the canvas from falling to the ground.

Once the sunflower was dry, we then added the next layer of paint:  Thumbprint "seeds" and some hand print grass along the bottom.  I helped Lucky with the thumbprint placement since it was hard for him to reach across the table.  He really understood what we were trying to do and could do this on his own if I were willing to let go some control of this project.  When we finished the thumbprints he was playing painting his hand and making prints on scrap paper.  Super cute!

Rowdy's handprints were much harder to do.  How do you get a 3 month old to hold his hand open?  Keith held up Rowdy's body while I used both of my hands to paint and then hold them open on the paper.  It didn't matter if I couldn't get a good hand impression since the sunflower is the sum of many fingers going in a circle.  In the end I even did just some finger prints to even out his sunflower where needed.  

I struggled with how to do the stems on this project.  I knew I wanted to do footprint feet on the bottom but the stem should really be drawn first.  In the first try I used a really dark green for the stem but it looked too stark on the dimensional background.  I lightly painted a paler green on top and was much happier with the mix.  I considered curving the stems but I didn't want to take away from the footprint leaves.  

Rowdy's thumbprints were NOT EASY to do.  We couldn't get a good angle and then we tried a toe print and he started freaking out. He made (well, it wasn't his fault, really) some smudges so I did my own pinky prints. I could have had lucky do them but he had already been cleaned up from paint and I didn't want to start all over again!

We tried to do Lucky's footprints a little differently than usually and smudged it a bit, but it is still fantastic.  WE LOVE IT!  Smudges and all it is a fun project from my baby boys.

Finally, all I needed to do was put this print in the frame and admire the adorable picture I created with my boys.  

Some people think that handprint art isn't beneficial to preschoolers because they are following a prescribed path versus doing creative art exploration.  Rowdy is too young to understand any of this, but Lucky has so much fun seeing what we can turn his handprints into and looks at them with pride.  I love these projects because I look back on creating them with my boys, but I am not delusional enough to think that THEY made these for me.  I made them for me, with their help.  I proudly hang Lucky's scribbles on my walls, too. I cannot wait to see what both boys will grow to create!  

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A Microwavable Hot Pad

Three weeks after having a baby I had some pain on my rib cage and was told to apply heat by my doctor. I didn't have any hot packs around, what could I do? I remembered that my grandmother used to use hot packs with dried beans in them that she would heat up in the microwave.  I could do this!  I decided to whip up something to give me some relief.  I knew there was a reason to keep extra prewashed fat quarters of fabric around the house!

The finished hot pack
All I needed to make this hot pad were a prewashed fat quarter of cotton fabric,  a 1 lb bag of dry beans, some thread and a sewing machine.  Let's go!

I used 16 oz of Great Norther Beans that my mom picked up for me.  (Seriously having grandparents around after birth is awesome).  With Rowdy sleeping, I didn't have a lot of time to make a really NICE pocket. I didn't even bother pressing the fabric.

I folded the fat quarter in half and cut it with scissors.  I didn't even take the time to get my rotary cutter out. (I think that writing this post while working on the project is the longest part!)

With the right sides facing, I stitched 1/4" inside the edge leaving a 2" opening to fill with beans.  I went back and reinforced the edge with a zigzag stitch.  (I used a width of 3 for zig zag on my machine)

I turned the pocket right side out and created a little paper funnel to help fill the bag with the dry beans.

With the size of the bean bag and the amount of beans I used, I could have easily used half the amount of fabric, or double the amount of beans.  However, this bigger pocket will allow me to spread the heat over a larger area if I choose.  If this ends up bothering me I can always reduce the size.

this is why it is awesome to have a stash of prewashed fabrics. I wish i had some flannel but this will do.  After the beans were inside, I stitched just around the edge of the whole pocket to close the hole and make it look pretty.

I heated the hot pad in my microwave for 1 min.  This gave me at LEAST 10 min of good heat and even longer of warmth.  The extra fabric is great.  I can tuck it under my bra to keep the hot bad securely at my lower ribs.  Cool!! (Well, hot!)

This hot pad also makes a good cool pack.  Once my pain had resolved itself I started keeping the bean bag in the freezer to help me with postpartum hot flashes.  It would have been great to make this out of flannel or some other snuggly fabric, but working with what I had in my stash this was a perfect solution to my problem.  Plus, I was able to make something while my newborn napped.  Win win win!

finished and started 2/4/16