Tiny Hearts Geranium

Tiny Geranium Dress
I went to a baby shower today! It was an informal gathering where Froo & Boo tagged along for some fun. When it comes to giving baby shower gifts, I am hopeless. I gravitate towards ridiculously cute and impractical party/formal wear, usually purchased last-minute. I mean, someone else will buy the diapers and butt paste, right? Now that I have 2 little ones, I’m getting better (I hope!).

Momma bear is expecting her 3rd baby, so I wanted to give the baby girl-to-be a handmade gift that is both cute and practical. I chose the Made-by-Rae Geranium dress pattern in size 3-6 months. See, I’m learning–I would have made the newborn size, but it’s more practical to leave room to grow! I used white quilting cotton with colourful tiny hearts, from Timeless Treasures, previously used in my Suzy Ultman dolls. The fabric seems thicker than average quilting cotton, which gives the pleats a nice crispness.
Tiny Geranium Dress
The buttons on the back are pale pink, with a frosted heart in the centre of each button.
Tiny Geranium Dress
This is my first time trying out the flutter sleeves. I’ve never tried them before because I was apprehensive about leaving an exposed zigzag finish on the edges. So I played around with some of the decorative stitches on my machine until I found one that I liked. I used a zigzag scallop stitch on the edges of the flutter sleeve and placed strips of Swedish tracing paper underneath to stabilize the stitching. I used Mettler silk-finish 100% mercerized cotton thread, which has a bright sheen, adding a richness to the colour.

I LOVE how they turned out!
Tiny Geranium Dress
I made a tiny mistake. Not really worth mentioning, except you might have already caught it in the previous photo–I cut the back pieces of the lining with the hearts upside down. Oops.
Tiny Geranium Dress
I can’t believe I actually planned a handmade baby shower gift in advance! It seems like an obvious thing: I sew, therefore, I should sew baby gifts. However, I also blog, therefore, I spend waaaay too much time thinking about my sewing projects. It’s not easy to throw a baby gift into the sewing queue, while bumping projects down the list! But this adorable baby dress was well worth the queue jumping. Such a happy little dress!

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A Special Baby Quilt

A Special Baby Quilt
The best man at our wedding welcomed his first child, a baby girl into his family on February 10! I am incredibly happy for the new parents and I can’t wait to meet their precious daughter, the next time we are back in Vancouver to visit.

This couple holds a very special place in my heart because they adopted our first baby… a yellow labrador retriever named George. It was a difficult decision to find George a new home, but it was the right one and we are thrilled that he was adopted by friends. Friends who love the outdoors and take George out on nature-filled adventures.
George
George
When I first spotted the Fort Firefly fabric collection by Teagan White, I knew it would be perfect for the new baby. I think her parents would appreciate that it’s not too girlie and the colours are varying shades of earth tones, with a vintage feel. The fabric is also 100% organic cotton, which is perfect for newborn babies. Besides, there are woodland creatures, fireflies and tents!
A Special Baby Quilt
A Special Baby Quilt
Froo & Boo use the quilts that I made for them every night, but they also use them regularly to build forts. We use their kitchen chairs with some extra-large binder clips to keep the quilts “pitched” to the chairs and furniture. (Froo’s quilt is blogged here; Boo’s quilt is blogged here.)
A Special Baby Quilt
These photos were taken last summer:
Quilt Fort
I chose the Firefly Hexi Patch print as the top of the quilt. I love that the hexi print already takes on the look of a patchwork quilt, so all I had to do was quilt on the existing lines with matching thread.
A Special Baby Quilt
The Tree Fort print was used for the backing of the quilt. The print is busy, with animal friends having all sorts of fun in the tree forts. As the baby grows up, I think this print will provide her with oodles of visual stimulation.
A Special Baby Quilt
I used Warm & Natural cotton batting in between the two layers of fabric. The quilt measures 35″ x 35″. I chose this size because I only had to purchase one yard of each print. There was a tiny amount of shrinkage in the wash and after squaring up the fabric, those were the final dimensions.

The binding is from Denise Schmidt’s Flea Market Fancy fabric collection, that I’ve had for quite some time. The brown coordinates with the quilt and the posies add a pop of colour to the binding. I machine stitched the binding onto the quilt for a quick finish.
A Special Baby Quilt
I had 2 skinny pieces of fabric leftover, measuring 6″ x 36″. Not really useful for anything else, besides juggling balls! I figured it could be something that the baby could play together with George, since February 10 is also George’s birthday. I’m not even making this up–Happy 7th birthday, old buddy! Hopefully, he’ll know not to rip these ones apart. I placed a small rattle inside each ball, to add auditory stimulation to the development of fine motor skills.
A Special Baby Quilt
Having a baby is an incredible miracle of life. While looking through the photos of George, I found this one. It’s my favourite of the bunch. The mother-daughter bond is a strong one that keeps growing stronger.
Mommy & Froo
Congratulations to the new parents and welcome to the world, baby girl! The Froo & Boo family is celebrating with you. xoxo.
A Special Baby Quilt

Feeling Grateful

My Little Valentine
A couple of days after my last post, the hubs flew to Philadelphia for 9 whole days. With both sets of grandparents living in Canada, I was definitely feeling overwhelmed. But then I started to feel sorry for myself and I knew I had to snap out of it. The moment I start to complain about my life is the moment I feel my unthankful heart start to shrink.

It must have been perfect timing, since the women’s bible study that I attend, is putting together care packages for single teenage moms. Each table is paired with a mom and her precious baby–to provide some basic necessities, treats for the young mom and make a no-sew blanket together.

Confirmed with reading this amazing post on the Momastery blog, I know that I am truly blessed. That the inconveniences of having to do every little thing for my little ones is outweighed by the love, health and two beautiful gifts of life. That the hubs has a career that enables me to stay at home to care for our children. That I don’t have to worry about how I am going to pay for my groceries. There are so many things to be thankful for. I just need to recount the happenings in every moment of my life.

Back to the teenage moms… in 2003, I started my teaching practicum. Green. Thinking I was going to shape the minds of the next generation of young thinkers and doers. One of my first ever students was a 15-year old girl with a 1 ½-year old baby. She was new to Canada as a refugee, with poor English. Upon learning about the horrors of what people endure at refugee camps, I can’t even imagine how much she had already suffered in her life. She showed up when she could, but when she did, she gave it her all. Her work was terrible. I didn’t care. I just needed her to show up.

At that time, I was dating the man who would become my hubs someday. I told him that I didn’t want children because I couldn’t bear the immense responsibility of taking care of a baby and raising a child to become a responsible human being. He agreed. Then we got married. A couple of years later, we had Froo. Even with all of my protestations, the hubs convinced me that it made sense to add a baby to our loving family. I agreed.

Upon returning to work and through a series of unusual daycare circumstances, we ended up putting Froo in a daycare that took care of the children of teenage moms attending high school. These babies were constantly sick, lacking in hygiene and general care. As a mom whose child was in the same environment, it was hard to have compassion for these moms, even though their needs were apparent. I was torn between wanting what was best for my child and knowing that these moms could never give their babies all that they could hope for.

But what do babies really need? After the basic needs have been met, I believe that a baby needs a loving community. People who care, take action and provide. A place where babies are loved and moms feel supported. No matter what. I am incredibly thankful to the church for taking action. For getting women involved in building a community, when it’s so much easier to stay isolated. Helping others is therapeutic in a way that puts things into perspective. It is no coincidence that the gift-giver is often as blessed as the gift-recipient.

I am not trying to pat myself on the back, by no means, I am just grateful for the community that surrounded me, during the 9 days of the hubs’ absence. There were kids programs, mommy groups, playdates and a Valentine’s day party to keep us busy, but most importantly–connected with others.

In my little effort to give hope to the young mom that my table is paired with, I made a personalized cloud pillow for her son. I blogged about my cloud pillows here–when I made custom ones for my mother-in-law’s friend (and amazing poet!), Mary Tang. This time, I used soft, dotted minky with contrast navy piping.
Froo & Boo: Cloud Pillow
Froo & Boo: Cloud Pillow
I want to share Mary’s poem again:

even now

even the moon wanes
even the sun sets
stars ceased to glow
long ago

tides recede and
mountains slide
into seas

blossoms that scent the night
shroud the earth by dawn
and the heat of fierce embrace
fades in the glare of day

yet birds go berserk every morning
bursting their breasts with song
as mourning mists drift away

and the sun rises
again and again
and again

© Mary Tang, 2006

This next photo is taken with a mommy giraffe and her baby. When we were on our cruise last year, I saw them and I knew I had to have them.
Froo & Boo: Cloud Pillow
Okie, that is all. Life is full. Sometimes when life feels half-full or even half-empty, you just need to plug yourself into a community. That is probably my deep thought for the year. My next couple of posts will be about handmade baby gifts! But today, I am just thankful for the hubs being safely home, enjoying warm sunny weather together (he experienced snow storms and power outages–I truly feel for those living through insane winter weather!) and being grateful for my amazing community.

My Signature Style

Froo & Boo: Signature Style
The last Project Run & Play theme, “my signature style” was a tough one! I’m a visual person and I’m inspired by a lot of things. I’ve un-secreted my PR&P Pinterest board if you’re interested in the kid-styles that inspire me.

I’ve narrowed down what style means to me, in terms of general concepts:

  1. Fit. To get the perfect fit for your unique body, usually resulting in the most comfortable clothing, that also look the best. How awesome is it to fit something on my slim daughter with a long torso, or my solid little boy, with monkey-like arms?
  2. Balance. Not to be confused with being matchy-matchy. Busy prints with simple styles. Plain fabric with dynamic lines (pleats, draping, tailoring). A mix of textures, contrasting colours and layers–in moderation. Shape and fit of garments also balanced–slim jeans with loose shirt, that kind of thing. An Asian yin-yang influence, I guess?
  3. Connection. The personality of style. An emotional connection to a piece of clothing. A visual representation of the ideas, favourite colours, past experiences and future hopes that materialize in the form of clothing, as an expression of individuality.

Froo & Boo's 3 Concepts of Style
I prefer concepts, rather than labels–that way you can wear anything and make it look good! Although, if I had to choose, I would define my style as: “casual/preppy/classic/with a dash of modern bohemian charm”. (The last one describes my love for Free People, Anthropologie and Lucky Brand clothing.)

However, there are general rules of thumb. One such rule is this: sweatpants kill any sense of style. I totally understand the comfort factor and ease of wear for going to the potty, but I think sweatpants are meant for the sole purpose of getting a sweat on. So I set out to make a pair of sweatpants that don’t look like sweatpants for (poor neglected) Boo. I’ll just call them nonsweatpants.
Froo & Boo: Signature Style
I drafted a pair of nonsweatpants by tracing a pair of Boo’s stylish Mexx nonsweatpants. I used bamboo fleece again. I love this stuff–it is so soft! I used matching bamboo ribbing on the waistband and leg cuffs.

After cutting the pattern pieces for my nonsweatpants, the fit was bordering on sausage casings, so I added an extra panel to the inside seam. I tapered the panel to keep it fitted through the legs and looser at the top. It acts like a gusset and it makes me feel like I happened upon a stroke of genius, from my initial mistake (note to self: don’t do math late at night). The joys of experimenting while sewing!
Froo & Boo: Signature Style
The nonsweatpants have 5 pockets, 4 with yellow piping and lined with yellow stretch French terry, which is a cotton/lycra blend knit fabric. The little pocket on the backside has some triple-stitching for added detail.
Froo & Boo: Signature Style
For Boo’s sweater, I used a cotton jersey knit that has a layer of sweater knit attached to it. It is pretty awesome stuff–it’s soft and looks like a sweater, without all of the effort. Both the sweater knit and charcoal bamboo fleece were purchased at Fabricana, last October.
Jersey Lined Sweater Knit
I used the field trip raglan pattern by oliver+s and used my serger to sew most of it together. I bought the pattern after seeing a version here and learning that you can buy it individually as an instant digital download. I added contrasting yellow sleeve cuffs and a bottom hem.
Froo & Boo: Signature Style
I used off-white bamboo (leftover from Froo’s suit) to applique a family-favourite phrase, “oh brother” to the front. It is fused with Wonder Under and stitched using the blanket stitch on my machine. I used Sulky Tender Touch iron-on stabilizer on the inside, so the stitching wouldn’t be scratchy on Boo’s tummy. I got this idea from the store-bought jammies that Boo wears.
Froo & Boo: Signature Style
I added last-minute elbow patches to the sleeves. They were intended to be knee patches on Boo’s nonsweatpants, but there wasn’t enough space with the side pockets. They are backed with fusible fleece and triple-stitched on a diagonal grid for a pop of colour. The elbow patches were hand-stitched on.
Froo & Boo: Signature Style
For Froo, I wanted to make her a floral skirt that was unique, twirly and colourful. I ended up cutting 32 panels of fabric to create a pleated skirt with inverted box-pleats and a contrasting print hidden inside the pleat. The floral print is quilting cotton from the Bloomsbury collection, by Liberty of London, purchased at Spool of Thread. The contrast fabric is from Mod Box, by Juliana Horner, purchased at Jo-Ann.
Froo & Boo: Signature Style
I wanted to draw attention to the centre of the skirt by closing the middle pleat. I topstitched it down and added a column of cross-stitching to give the skirt extra love. Each pleat has 3 inches of top-stitching to secure it in place.
Froo & Boo: Signature Style
This past weekend, I took Froo to watch the movie “Frozen” and I was tickled to see the main character, Anna, wearing a green dress with a pleated skirt that had contrasting fabric hidden within the pleats! I loved that every movement caused the pleats to expand and contract, creating a dynamic visual experience.
Froo & Boo: Signature Style
Froo’s top started off as the Flashback Skinny Tee, modified to be a raglan tee using this tutorial. (Just a quick note: I made Froo’s sweater before I made Boo’s. Froo’s sleeves turned out pretty tight, but they still fit her well. Instead of fiddling with the pattern for Boo, I decided to purchase the oliver+s pattern, so I wouldn’t have to do all the guess work!) I widened and added length to the shirt by attaching a bottom cuff. Most of the seams were sewn using my serger.

There is a kangaroo pouch with floral lining and piping made from the contrast print of the skirt. The bias strips were centered on the dots. I would have used the piping from Boo’s nonsweatpants, but I had only purchased one package at Dressew, in Vancouver (I literally had one inch left!). I like the dotted piping so much better!
Froo & Boo: Signature Style
Here’s why this sweater makes me soooo happy–these zippers that were on clearance at Jo-Ann are the perfect way to create a unique neckline! The front of the “turtleneck” has gathered ruching and the sweater can be worn zipped, or unzipped on one side for an asymmetrical look.
Froo & Boo: Signature Style
Four pieces make up the look for “My Signature Style”. I think it has all of the components of fit, balance and connection. Lately, I’ve been completely drawn to this muted mustard yellow. I’ve always had an affection for grey, but the combination of the two is magic. I also love florals, but I hardly sew with them because I am incredibly picky about the exact type of florals: scale, colours, design, quality of printing and cotton–must be just right.
Froo & Boo: Signature Style
For our photo shoot, I took Froo & Boo to the beautiful mosaic mural that graces the front of the Bank of America, in downtown San Mateo. I made a couple of pompom hair ties for Froo. I love pompoms–they are so much fun and make me feel like I’m a half-way accomplished knitter. Hee hee.
Froo & Boo: Signature Style
Froo & Boo: Signature Style
Froo & Boo: Signature Style
Froo & Boo: Signature Style
Froo & Boo: Signature Style
Froo & Boo: Signature Style
Froo & Boo: Signature Style
Froo & Boo: Signature Style
Froo & Boo: Signature Style
Froo & Boo: Signature Style
Froo & Boo: Signature Style
Froo & Boo: Signature Style
I will end this post with another rule of thumb (this one is more sewing-related): when you find fabric that you feel a real connection to, buy lots. Like oodles. I don’t know what I was thinking, buying only 1 metre of the yellow cotton/lycra and liberty print (ok, this one was expensive). I guess I fear waste–that fabric will sit in bins, hoarded, unused, until it doesn’t connect with me anymore. But using fabric that I love becomes addictive and I often regret having so little. I am a creature of habit (you’ve seen how many times I’ve used the Flashback Skinny Tee!!!) and I know what I like. Buy it and use it. Says the girl who hardly ever buys fabric without a project in mind, simply because it’s pretty. Oh brother.

As always, thanks for visiting!
Froo & Boo: Signature Style