E is for Eli!

Due to Eli’s recent growth spurt most of his Mama-mades have been packed away or soon will be. Of course this would be when Eli decides that Mama-made clothing is the BEST.THING.EVER. As in “Don’t even think I will get dressed for pre-school without having a meltdown if there isn’t a handmade shirt to wear today!” Luckily on that morning I was able to dig out one last candidate from the shirt drawer that still fit… but barely.

So between the many pairs of baby pants, nightgowns, fitted cloth diapers and diaper covers on my baby-prep sewing list it has been imperative that I sew a few new items for Eli as well.

Here is his latest shirt.

E is for Eli Shirt

I got the idea a long time ago from Dana’s Sprinkle Shirt, which she published way back in 2008. I’ve loved this idea for a long time and it was one of the first kids’ clothing tutorials I ever pinned. Now that Eli is getting really enthused about letter learning it was the perfect time to give it a go!

The shirt itself is part of my ongoing process of learning to sew from patterns. This pattern is a simple t-shirt pattern from Kwik Sew’s Sewing for Toddlers by Kerstin Martensson that Kelly at ReStitch Me recommended to me a while back. The photos are very dated (1980’s) but the clothing is so basic it still works with more modern fabric and embellishment choices. Eli is already using the largest size in the book though so I will soon be looking for a new t-shirt pattern. If anyone can recommend a particular Ottobre edition for a very basic gender neutral t-shirt pattern I’d be most interested.

I don’t know why I find it so challenging to use patterns, but I do. It seems that I had to rip out and redo almost every part of this shirt at least once. So many stupid mistakes were made, and perhaps part of that can be blamed on pregnancy brain. (Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.) I couldn’t very well just give up and trash the project though because Eli had watched me embroider the E with much delight and was following the construction of the shirt with focused attention. I actually cut the tan pieces so short as a mistake and then didn’t have enough fabric left in that repurposed t-shirt to fix my mistake. Color blocking seems to be in these days though, so we’ll just pretend I did it on purpose!

I also used the making of this shirt as the occasion to finally try out the twin needle I bought, oh, probably about a year ago. I found it such an intimidating idea, but everyone else that has used one and blogged about it always seems to say that is is actually rather simple to use and quite satisfying as well. Now that I’ve finally taken the plunge I’d have to say that I agree.

Wearing his E shirt and playing with his train. Please excuse the bed head. 🙂

Since I’ve made this shirt Eli wears it almost constantly. The first time I put it on him he immediately wrapped his arms around my neck in a big hug and then spent the rest of the evening periodically giving my arm little love pats. It requires prolonged negotiations to get it off of him to be able to wash it. He also tells anyone who comments on his big E shirt “Mama made it!” Nope, it just doesn’t get much better than that! I need to make a few more shirts and pronto though so that he isn’t always wearing the same soon-to-be grungy shirt!

Here’s where I’m linking up:

Sunday:

Homemaker on a Dime,  I {heart} Naptime,  Flamingo ToesMy 1929 Charmer Blog,

What I Wore Sundayjembellish clothes upcycling page, A Round Tuit

Monday:

Get Outta My Head PleaseSkip to My LouThe Gunny SackSew Can Do,

Singing Three Little BirdsC.R.A.F.T.,  diy home sweet home,

Craft-O Maniac, Sew Chatty, Sarahndipities The Cure for the Common Monday

Tuesday:

At Home With KNot Just a HousewifeHope StudiosFunky Polkadot Giraffe,

Kammy’s KornerThe Kurtz CornerI’m Topsy TurvyTip Junkie,

Raising 4 PrincessesThe Creative Itch BoutiqueSchwin and Schwin

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Wednesday:

Sew Much AdoFrugally SustainableThe Shady PorchLil’ Luna,

Someday CraftsPassionately ArtisticWhatever WednesdayTrendy Tots,

Whimsy Wednesday

Thursday:

Mom On TimeoutThrifty DecoratingBear Rabbit BearThriving on Thursdays

The Crafty BlogstalkerThe Shabby Creek CottageHouse of Hepworths,

Sorta Crunchy, Delightful OrderAnything Goes Linky Party,

Friday:

Simply DesigningWhipperberry,  Happy Hour ProjectsThreading My Way,

Joyful StamperMaking Lemonade BlogThirty Handmade Days,

Release Me CreationsNaptime CraftersRomantic HomeFinding Fabulous,

Shabby NestFrench Country Cottage, The Charm of HomeThe Grant Life,

At the Picket FenceFingerprints on the Fridge, One Art Mama2805,

Saturday:

The Gingerbread BlogToo Much Time On My Hands,

Six Sisters StuffSerenity YouBe Different Act Normal

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In which Eli and I unsuccessfully attempt to master new skills…

In a previous post or two I’ve mentioned my seeming inability to sew from a pattern. I’ve decided to get serious about addressing my distressing lack of this skill and have ordered a couple of pattern books. One is Sewing For Boys. I’m so excited about some of the clothing included in this book. My first attempt was most disappointing however. I figured I’d start out easy with a raglan shirt.

I used some of my over abundance of black t-shirt fabric that I bleached to a pleasing brown and added the blue taken from an old sweatshirt. I think the problem was in choosing fabrics of very different weights, coupled by the fact that I should have chosen the next pattern size up for Eli. I’ll be trying this one again soon, but after a quick try-on I could see this shirt was never going to work and no amount of top stitching and adding of neckbands was going to help.

At the same time it seemed that perhaps now it was time to get serious about toilet learning. (For Eli that is,… I’ve had this skill down for a while.)  The ill-fated raglan became fodder for some toilet training pants. I’m following this tutorial from Sew a Straight Line to make the boy some Itty Bitty Boxer Briefs.

The fact that the sleeve was the perfect size to get the front piece from confirmed my decision. While the sweat material wasn’t stretchy enough for the shirt it is wonderfully absorbent for the training undies. 🙂

The first pair was quickly followed by a second and soon many, many others.

After two days of much mopping of puddles, a quick realization that I am way behind in the amount of dry undies we are going to need, and the fact that Eli seems completely unmotivated we are going to take a step back.

I don’t want Eli’s learning to use the potty to become a battle of wills.  He didn’t last long in his enthusiasm to join me in this project. He likes responding to the timer and sitting on the potty, but he doesn’t want to stay there beyond 30 seconds, and then five or ten minutes later there’s another puddle. I don’t want to get into artificially motivating him with sticker, toy or candy bribes. He’ll “get it” when he’s physically ready and it becomes important to him to join the ranks of the potty trained. I think if I could let him run around in the buff, at least from the waist down, he’d much more quickly get the idea of cause and effect, but he finds that quite disturbing and just begs for a diaper. He’s ok if I put the undies on him but he doesn’t get that they aren’t to be peed in like a diaper and there is no initiative or attempt on his part to make it to the toilet. I don’t want to use pull ups for this reason, except occasionally to go out. He’s shown me that he just isn’t ready. We’ll try again in a while, and I will be ready with a basketful of nice thick underwear! Of course, in the meantime we’ll continue to practice having him use the toilet as often as possible.

There are tutorials for other styles of undies that I’m planning to try as well. Hopefully I’ll make quite a dent in my stash of t-shirts-for-repurposing.

Llama Llama Rag Doll

Eli has been loving the Llama Llama books by Anna Dewdney lately. So do I. Between the rhythm, rhyme and delightful illustrations they are a joy to read out loud. Which is good because Eli wants me to do so again, and again and again.

In the stories Llama Llama is never without his little rag doll. I thought it would be fun to make Eli his own version.

Illustration detail from Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney.

Kinda cute, right?

So here is how I did it.

First I sketched out some pattern pieces. If people express an interest and if I can figure out how to make and attach a pdf file I might be able to make this pattern available to others who’d like to make this but don’t feel comfortable sketching patterns. (Since I don’t feel comfortable doing technological things, that’s a bit of a big IF… but it’s good to make myself learn new skills so I could at least try.)

Then while my wonderful husband followed Eli around Barnes & Noble, I sat in the cafe, retraced the pattern pieces onto printer paper and cut them out. These pieces were pinned to a linen napkin before I cut them out leaving about 1/4″ for seam allowance. I got all on the pieces I needed from one linen napkin. I used a different pink linen napkin for the insides of the ears and some bleached black t-shirt material for the bottoms of the feet, but if I had wanted the doll all one color I would have been able to get those pieces from the one napkin too.

I wanted this project to be completely handmade so everything was hand stitched together.

I also wanted all of the materials to be natural and all things I already had on hand, so instead of using polyester fiberfill or going out and purchasing cotton stuffing I cut leftover scraps of cotton and wool fabric into thin strips to use to stuff the doll. I really like how this resulted in a heavier doll. It just feels good and solid (but not hard) in your hands. It is slightly lumpy, but I like that aspect too as it underscores the “handmade” quality.

The arms were sewn into the side seams of the body, and the ears into the side seams of the head, but the legs and neck and head were sewn and stuffed and then sewn onto the sewn and stuffed body.

Here’s a shot of the head being attached to the neck.

I debated on whether or not to use these buttons for the eyes or to paint on eyes to make it look more like the llama doll in the book. In the end I opted for the metal buttons in keeping with natural materials only decision I’d made earlier. I can always easily change them later, if I find wooden buttons I like better or if I decide to go ahead with the paint after all. These look cute enough for me now though.

Not only did using different fabric for the bottoms of the feet allow for a change in color, but I like how the knit stretches to balloon out a bit. I couldn’t resist adding the belly button.

I used the sewn edge of the napkin to cut small lengths to use for the tail.

Eli likes his little llama and immediately had to “match” it to the illustration in the book.

Llama Llama, nighty night…

 Thanks for stopping by!

Karen

Update: Here are links to download the pattern…

Here’s where I’m linking up.

Sunday:

Homemaker on a Dime,  I {heart} Naptime,  Flamingo ToesMy 1929 Charmer Blog,

What I Wore Sunday, Threading My Way

Monday:

Get Outta My Head PleaseSkip to My LouThe Gunny SackSew Can Do,

Singing Three Little BirdsEtcetorizeC.R.A.F.T.,  diy home sweet home,

Craft-O Maniac, Sew Chatty, Artful RisingSarahndipities ,

Everything Under the MoonThe Cure for the Common Monday

Tuesday:

At Home With KNot Just a HousewifeHope StudiosFunky Polkadot Giraffe,

Kammy’s KornerThe Kurtz CornerI’m Topsy TurvyTip Junkiethe space between,

Raising 4 PrincessesThe Creative Itch BoutiqueSchwin and Schwin

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Wednesday:

Sew Much AdoFrugally SustainableThe Shady PorchLil’ Luna,

Someday CraftsPassionately ArtisticWhatever WednesdayTrendy TotsWhimsy Wednesday

Thursday:

Mom On TimeoutThrifty DecoratingBear Rabbit BearThriving on Thursdays

The Crafty BlogstalkerThe Shabby Creek CottageHouse of Hepworths,

Sorta Crunchy, Delightful OrderSaved by Love CreationsAnything Goes Linky Party,

Friday:

Simply DesigningWhipperberry,  Happy Hour Projectskojodesigns,

Joyful StamperMaking Lemonade BlogThirty Handmade Days,

Release Me CreationsNaptime CraftersRomantic HomeFinding Fabulous,

Shabby NestFrench Country Cottage, The Charm of HomeThe Grant Life,

At the Picket FenceFingerprints on the Fridge, One Art Mama2805Pencilled Daydream

Saturday:

The Gingerbread BlogToo Much Time On My Hands,

Six Sisters StuffSerenity YouBe Different Act Normal