Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Fitted Sheets

So yesterday I showed you the sweet little cradle that we're borrowing from Noah's sister for the baby to sleep in. Once she starts sleeping through the night, or outgrows the cradle (let's hope she starts sleeping through the night first!), we'll move her to the crib in Abe's room.

Since we didn't use a cradle or bassinet for Abe, we needed some sheets for this one. Being too lazy (or forgetful) to walk all the way back to the baby section at Target to buy sheets, I just decided to make some instead. Weird how laziness sometimes leads to actually doing something creative...

I bought this flannel toile a few years back for a project that I never even started! It's cute and sweet, and I figured the flannel will make the cradle warm and cozy for these last few weeks of winter.

I picked up this polka dot cotton on my last trip to the fabric store. I figured the colors sort of coordinated with the knitted blanket I made for her awhile back.

Abe really wanted to get in on the action...

...so I let him test out the cradle with a "baby sister" stand-in. 

To make your own sheets, you'll need:

3/4 yard of 44" wide fabric (prewashed to prevent shrinking!)
1 yard of 1/4" elastic
safety pin

1. Lay your cradle mattress on top of your fabric. You'll want at least 6 inches of fabric to work with on each side.

2. If your mattress is rectangular, cut a square from each corner that ends about 1/4 inch from the corner of the mattress. If your mattress is oval, trim the corners so you're left with an oval piece of fabric that is at least 6 inches larger than your mattress all the way around. (Then if you're making an oval sheet, skip to step 5.)

3. At each corner, bring the cut edges together and pin. Sew a straight line, starting at the top where the fabric will be folded, down to the unfinished edge. Repeat on the other three corners. 

4. Trim and press those seams open (if desired).

5. Fold 1/2 inch of the unfinished edge of the sheet to the back and press. Fold over again, press, and pin. 

6. Stitch along this fold all the way around the sheet, leaving a 1-2 inch gap (between where you start and stop stitching) to insert the elastic. Make sure to stitch far enough from the edge for the 1/4" elastic to fit through!

7. Attach the end of your elastic to a safety pin and feed it through the pocket created by the fold, stretching the fabric as you go. (Hang onto the other end so it doesn't get pulled in!) 

8. Sew the ends of the elastic together.

9. Pull the elastic into the fold and sew up the gap in the seam.

10. Stretch the fabric to even out the elastic and try it on your mattress. Your sheet should fit snugly with the mattress lying flat.

This fabric was left over from the picnic blankets my sister and I made for my wedding five years ago! I'm working on a plan for some of the other special fabrics I have lying around. Stay tuned for updates on that project...

Oh, and if anyone follows this tutorial and it seems like I left something out, please let me know. I'm not sure my pregnant brain is making any sense these days!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Hand-painted Cradle

I was going to post a tutorial today but it's not finished (or even really started), and since I took like a million photos, I decided to break it up into two posts instead. 

I made some sheets for this cradle we're borrowing from Noah's sister, but since the cradle is so sweet, I took a bunch of photos that show off the cradle more than the sheets!

When she was expecting one of her younger girls, Noah's sister found the cradle at a garage sale. She brought it home, fixed it up, and gave it a fresh coat of paint... 

...then she turned it over to her grandma, who added all the hand-painted little details. (Gigi is a wonderful artist...and she makes the best quilts and Christmas stockings!)

The hearts and flowers are pretty, but of course the sheep are my favorite part!

We didn't use the cradle for Abe because there wasn't room in our bedroom at the time, but we only have two bedrooms, so the new baby will have to share with someone! Since we don't want her waking Abe up every few hours, we rearranged our room to make room for the cradle, and she'll sleep in there until she outgrows it or starts sleeping through the night. It's so sweet, I'm glad we finally get to use it!

Check back tomorrow for a tutorial on how to make fitted sheets for cradles and bassinets. It's easier than you'd think!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Baby Name Options #17 - Popular Names (for Girls)

As a child I was really shy...and I mean REALLY shy. Sometimes I think that if I didn't have a twin sister, I probably wouldn't have had any friends growing up. At any rate, I was lucky to have a twin sister (who wasn't quite as shy as I was), and I was lucky to go to a small school where it was relatively easy to get to know the 20 or so kids that were in my class from Kindergarten thru 6th grade.

Fortunately, being in a group that small, I was the only Michelle in my class all those years - even though the year I was born, Michelle was the 9th most popular baby name for girls in the US!  There were other kids in our class that shared the same name, and to prevent confusion our teachers just assigned them a nickname to go by (Jenny, Jen, Jennifer...), whether or not that was what they had been called all their lives. Being the shy child that I was, if there had been another Michelle in my class, I know I would have ended up as the designated "Shelly." I would never have spoken up to say "I don't want to be called Shelly" (heck, I didn't even correct people when they called me Jackie!), and thus I would have gone through much of my life as a Shelly, even though I am not a Shelly* in the least. (*I have nothing against the name/nickname Shelly, and I've actually never met a Shelly I didn't like. It just doesn't suit me.) 

Anyways, to prevent my possibly shy (or extremely outgoing) children from having to go by a name they don't like just because there's more than one kid in their class with the same name, I've tried to pick names that aren't very common. That means doing research on my favorites to rule out any that may be too popular. (Abraham hasn't broken the top 100 in the last 125 years, so I think we're pretty safe with that one.) The Social Security Administration's list for 2012 isn't out yet, so here are the most popular baby names for girls born in the United States in 2011, in order of popularity from 1-10...

Sophia Greek "wisdom" In addition to Sophia (with a ph) being #1, Sofia is #19 and Sophie is #51 on the list. That's a lot of Sophias/Sophies/Sofias! 

Isabella Spanish and Italian variation of Elizabeth "pledged to God" Back when I was a preschool teacher (12 years ago) there were three Isabellas in my toddler class of less than 20 kids...and that's when Isabella was only #28 on the list! 

Emma German "healer of the universe" My great-grandmother's name was Emma. If it wasn't mega-popular I'd probably consider using it. 

Olivia Latin "olive tree" I love the name Olive! Not sure why Olivia doesn't have the same appeal for me.

Ava Latin "like a bird"

Emily Latin "industrious" Emily has been in the top 40 since I was a kid!

Abigail Hebrew "my father is joyful"

Madison English "son of the mighty warrior" It always feels like some of the more popular names are really new, but if you do some research you'll find out that they've been around forever. Madison is one of those names. At the turn of the century, it often appeared in the top 500 names for boys before fading into obscurity in the 1950s. Then in 1984, it was used as the name of the mermaid in the movie Splash, and broke into the top 10 for girls only 12 years later!

Mia Italian "mine" I've always thought Mia would make a sweet middle name. 

Chloe Greek "young green shoot" We already have a niece named Chloe, and since we ditched favorites like Ellie and Elle because they were too close to Ella (another niece), we won't be stealing this one either. Sorry Chloe!

To see where your name, or one of your favorites, falls on the list of the most popular baby names, go to http://www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/babynames/.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Felt Fruits & Vegetables

I've been doing a lot of sewing lately. It all started with the shopping cart/cash register combo Abe got from his grandparents for Christmas...

He really enjoyed filling up his cart with various small items he found around the house and ringing them up at the cash register. The only problem was, we didn't have any play food!

Well, we had a few wooden eggs, a corn shaped teether, and an apple rattle and pumpkin I made from felt...but that was it. When he pulled a flashlight out of his cart one day and told me to eat it, I figured it was time to stock his play store with some food. I had a lot of time to kill just sitting around after Christmas and ended up on a felt food making kick. Once you start it's hard to stop!

There are so many different foods you can make out of felt, but I decided to start with some of Abe's favorite fruits and vegetables. And don't worry, I traced all my pieces as I cut them out so I'll be able to make patterns later on, but with a baby due in the next few weeks, I figured I'd just post pictures of what I've made so far and share links to the patterns I used that weren't created by me. 

I started with blueberries since my boy loves blueberries! They're kind of big (see the one in the shopping cart photo above), but I didn't want to make them too small. Six of them basically fill up a pint sized blueberry container. 

Obviously, I wanted a way to keep the small things (like berries and peas) together, so I also made some produce bags inspired by these ones I use in real life. I had a tall wine bottle gift bag (made from some kind of mesh fabric) that I just chopped in half. Then I tore out a few stitches to add the little ribbon tags, and folded over the tops to sew a channel to run the string through. I think they're super cute, but Abe prefers dumping out whatever is in them to actually filling them with fruits and veggies!

I followed this pattern/tutorial for the strawberries, although I left off the stem on top and used brown thread for the seeds instead of yellow. The strawberries turned out smaller than I expected, so if you want larger fruits, that don't fit so well in little mouths, I'd start with a 4 or 5 inch circle instead of the 3 inch one in the pattern.

Abe really liked the peas for some reason. Maybe it's just because he's been eating a lot of pea pods lately. 

The grapes were really fun, and surprisingly easy, to make. I think they're my favorite of the bunch!

We love corn on the cob, so of course I had to make some. It's less detailed than some of the felt corn I've seen (my kernels are just lines of stitching), but I made a removable husk! The pumpkin in the background is Abe's jack-o-lantern from few years back. You can find the pattern for that here.

We love watermelon at our house. Abe asks for it every time we read one of his Curious George books where they have watermelon at a picnic. 

The carrot was really easy! It would be fun to make a bunch of carrots, beets, and radishes, and a little garden to plant them in. Maybe I'll get around to that this spring... 

Almost every night at bedtime Abe asks me to sing Winnie the Pooh and Curious George. The Curious George song is a song that I vaguely remember from childhood, so most of the lyrics we sing are just ones I've made up. The song basically changes every night, but Abe never lets me leave out the line "he likes to eat bananas." My little monkey likes to eat bananas too! 

I made the apple when Abe was a baby. It has a rattle in it like the Fisher Price Happy Apple from my childhood, but I decided against adding a face. Probably a good thing because now it fits in perfectly with the rest of the produce in his store!

I've been eating a lot of grapefruit lately, and even though Abe rarely eats it, I figured it would be a nice addition to his collection. I was working on it at Noah's parents' house and one of Abe's cousins asked me what I was making. Abe saw her checking it out and told her, "It's for my grocery store!" 

So that's our collection of felt food so far. I'll probably make more when I find some spare time. It really is fun to watch Abe play with his little grocery store. I gave him a few kraft paper gift bags I had lying around and he fills up his cart, then rings up each piece of food at his cash register, and packs them in a grocery bag. Then he brings his bag over to me saying, "Mama, look what I got for you!" and unpacks each item for me to eat. Mmm...delicious.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Little Geranium Dress

Sometimes I regret that I ever learned to sew. Like when I start sewing something and never ever finish. (That's happened more times than I'd like to admit.) Or when I come home from the fabric store with a huge stack of fabrics but essentially no plan on what to do with them. Yeah, that's happened a few times too...and again...this weekend

I'm just going to say that Rae made me do it. You see, last week she posted her Little Geranium Dress Pattern as a free download for size 0-3 months! I immediately downloaded the pattern (then pinned it so other people could do the same), and went off to dig through my collection of fabric scraps to try it out.

I chose this black and white floral print, that I originally purchased for my handmade Christmas stocking (which still isn't finished 5 years later), and luckily had just enough left over to make the dress.

The only thing I had to go out and buy was buttons (which is why I went to the fabric store in the first place), and even those weren't entirely necessary because I used snaps since I hate making buttonholes...

...but the snaps I used were really plain and boring so I added the buttons just for fun. If you plan to cheat like I did, just make sure you put the side of the snap with the hole on top so you can sew through the hole to attach the button!

So yeah, I guess in the end I'm really happy that I did learn to sew when I was a kid. This dress got me excited to make more, and after buying that stack of fabrics, I searched online for more patterns to try. This one was really easy, but it's so tiny, I'll have to order the full pattern from Made by Rae soon!

And if anyone's wondering, don't worry, the Riley Blake fabric in the background will not end up as an unfinished project. In fact I'm almost done with that one!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Because that's how we roll in Minnesota. Instantly. If the seasons are gonna change, it often happens overnight! My last Instagram collage ended with Thanksgiving. We were up north enjoying the last warm days of fall. Check out the third photo in the third row of that collage, taken November 22, 2012. Then take a peek at the third photo in the third row of this collage, taken November 23, 2012! Seriously, overnight. I'm not complaining though. I'd much rather have a white winter than a brown one. 

I hope you're staying warm and cozy this winter! Or enjoying the warmth and sunshine if you don't live someplace cold...in which case I hate you you should consider yourself very lucky. ;-)

You can follow me on Instagram @michelledupuis, or check out my Instagram profile on the web at instagram.com/michelledupuis. You can also see all of my semi-monthly collages of favorites right here.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Penny Collection

Abe received a small collection of pennies for Christmas this year. I wanted to do something special with them, so I put together a quick shadowbox to hold the collection.

In 2009, the US Mint issued four new pennies in honor of Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday. Abe's collection had all four pennies, plus the newest design that features a shield on the back (instead of the image of the Lincoln Memorial that most of us grew up with). I didn't like how most of the collection consisted of shiny, new pennies, so I threw in a slightly tarnished shield penny to mix things up a bit. 

I started by printing a US topographical map on my printer. I removed the insert from my Ikea shadowbox frame to determine what part of the map I wanted to use, then traced around the insert and cut along the lines to make the background. 

I could have made a perfect grid but decided to just wing it. I measured my background to determine the center and placed the first penny, then I just eyeballed it when placing the rest.

Glue dots seemed to work well for holding the pennies in place (probably not archival but I doubt any of these pennies are worth much).

I wanted at least one penny to show Lincoln's head, and since the silver colored steel penny from 1943 was a "wheat penny" I showed the front of that one and the back (wheat side) of a copper penny from the 1950s.

Four of the pennies are from 2009 and commemorate Lincoln's life. 

The oldest penny in our collection isn't even a Lincoln penny, but it's from 1903. I'd love to see a complete collection with the coins that were issued before the Indian Head penny!

I collected all of the 50 State Quarters but haven't done anything with them yet. Maybe this year I'll get around to framing them. Anyone else enjoy collecting coins? How do you display them? Ever find one that was actually worth something?!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Baby Name Options #16 - Flower Names

I must follow a lot of Southerners on Instagram. Seeing all their pictures of what "winter" is like in the South makes me long for spring. I would love to be outdoors planting my garden, but baby, it's cold outside! I guess I'll just have to content myself with browsing seed catalogs for baby names. Only five weeks left to go, so we need to find one fast!

Florence Latin "blooming, flowering" Also a place name, and the name of one of my all-time favorite singers, Florence Welch (of Florence + the Machine). Unfortunately, I'm having trouble getting Noah on board with this one. Maybe if she's born with a full head of long, curly red hair he'll change his mind...

Hana Japanese "flower, blossom" I've always liked the name Hannah, no matter how it's spelled.

Iris Greek "rainbow" I already have a garden full of them!

Jacinta (hah-SEEN-tah) Spanish for the Greek flower name "hyacinth" I have a feeling Minnesotans would have a hard time pronouncing this one.

Lala Slavic "tulip" My favorite flower...

Lillian English, from the Latin flower name "lily" My grandmother had a sister named Lillian. I've always loved it, but it's almost as popular now as it was 100 years ago. Apparently everybody else loves it too.

Linné(lin-NAY-ah) Scandinavian "lime blossom" I love this one...and I think we have some Scandinavian ancestors somewhere on the family tree.

Marguerite French variation of Margaret, also French for "daisy" My grandmother's name was Margaret, but it's always felt a little too old to me for use on a baby. Although Abraham is a pretty old name too...

Petunia English, flower name I'm sure I'll use this one as a nickname no matter what we name her. In fact, I almost put it on my song list a few years ago because I love this song by Imogen Heap.

Poppy Latin, flower name When I was a kid our neighbors had a dog named Poppy. 

Posie English "a bunch of flowers," also short for Josephine Josephine is another family name...

Rosa Latin variation of Rose It would be nice to be named after a beautiful flower, but even more meaningful to be named after an inspiring and courageous woman like Rosa Parks. She died a few years ago, but February 4, 2013 would have been her 100th birthday!

Do you have a flower name, or have any favorite flower names? (I left off Violet because that was on my color list, but it's another one of my favorites.) Would you consider a flower name for a child, or is that just something crazy garden-lovin' people do? Maybe I've been stuck inside too much this winter...