Thursday, 29 August 2013

Summer holidays are nearly over

I'm sure lots of you are counting the days until the kids go back to school.

For the first year in ages I have to admit I'm not.  I've loved this summer and the six weeks have flown by.

Although money's been tight and we didn't have a proper holiday.  We have had so much fun and haven't done half the things we planned to back at the beginning.

Most weeks Miss H has had at least 1 friend round to play.  Sometimes more. I have found its been the cheapest way of keeping her entertained and away from the tv or laptop. All it's cost me is a bit of lunch. It's also allowed me to continue to spend some one2one time with Little Miss S. Other days we have gone to friends houses. Some days a group of mums have got together and had a cuppa while the kids all play together.

I must be honest I don't think it would have been half as much fun if it wasn't for the great sunny weather we have had this year.

For two days none stop 13 children aged between 18 months and 10 were entertained with a sheet of plastic laid on the grass and a garden sprinkler. They also all played nicely together.

We upgraded our second hand climbing frame that I bought on eBay for £10 four years ago with a second hand slide from eBay also for £10. I was then kindly given a second well loved slide this week for it so now H & S have races down the slide together.  It's so magical watching them play.  I know in the not too distant future H will no longer wish to play with her little sister.

We have had a major garden party with 43 guests this summer.  We have lived here 9 years and we have never got round to holding a party in our garden.  Which was a shame as we have a tiny house but a huge garden.  This year I took the opportunity that it was my 30th birthday and as it fell on a Saturday it felt wrong not to take advantage of it. We had a BBQ and everyone including the 20 children had a great time. I may have even convinced hubby to hold an annual party.

So as the summer draws to the end I refuse to think about Christmas. So instead I'm looking forward to next summer.  I know the weather probably won't be as good as this year but our holiday is already booked. We are going to Camp Bestival. We have never been before and never done a festival of any kind before.  We camped before S came along but had given it a break until next year.  I'm so excited.

Funky bottoms in real nappies

Real Nappies or cloth nappies whatever you want to call them. I've not long found them.
This is one of those subjects that I have friends that just don't get me on. I'm sure they think I'm going all hippy dippy with my extended bfing and now the cloth nappies.

Truth is that because I haven't gone back to work.  Money is getting tighter and tighter. If I can find ways to reduce our weekly out goings I'm going to give it a try.

I've thought about these a few times before.  Even with Miss H I browsed websites unable to get my head around them. This time I took the plunge.
There are so many to choose from and to be honest I still haven't got my head around all the different types.  I'd still like to learn more about pre folds and wraps. I started easy with the ones most like a disposable.  I have 4 pocket nappies and 3 close parent pop ins.

Left to right in the picture above you have my  3 close parent pop in nappies one white and two pink pattered. I honestly thought these would be the ones I would get on most with.  In reality I don't think they are.  I can't make my mind up on them.  I think they have the smallest fit. Considering Little Miss S isn't that big I'm not sure they will last until potty. I also find them fiddly getting everything in just the right place. I do however love the night time booster as it works really well for a 12hr stint through the night. 

Then you have one of my two blueberry nappies.  (One is currently on her bottom) I love the patterns and I'm finding the pocket style nappies a lot less fiddly. They are quick and easy to put on and off and seem to give a good fit. My only issue is the poppers are a bit week on the pad you stuff the nappy with. I will be buying more of these. 

The Gray nappy with pac man on was a cheap one off eBay from China.  Considering it cost me about £4 I'm actually quite impressed with it. The inserts weren't the best. But I have replaced that with a blueberry one. The only thing it's missing is tabs for the Velcro when washing to stop it sticking to everything but I've found a way around that. 

Lastly you have the Charlie Banana nappy.  To begin with I hatted it. I didn't get on with the adjusting of it.  And I hatted the popper fastening.  But I have to admit it is growing on me.  I've figured out the best way to fasten it around the waist and it has nice clean lines.  I reckon I will be buying more of these too.

One of the first things I noticed when I changed her first real nappy was what do I do with the wipe.  I very quickly changed from.  I don't get cloth wipes why on earth would you use them.  To I need cloth wipes then I can just chuck them in the pail with the nappy rather than having to separate everything out. You will see on the line there are some wipes I made myself which aren't holding up to the constant washing too well and also some cheap baby face cloths I found at the £1 shop that work a treat. I'm not sure what is best at the moment.  Leaving them in a container wet or using a foaming bottle each time. 
I opted for a dry pail bag which I wash each time with the nappies.  I really need a second one as I have no where to put nappies while this one is drying. 

I also really need more nappies. With the seven I have we can only wear them every other day with a wash and dry on the line in between. I can for see this becoming more of a problem when this glorious British summer comes to an end and I have to try and dry them indoors.

Now I need to learn more.  Pre-folds are much cheaper but I don't understand them.  Cost per nappy is the main thing holding me back at the moment :(
My other Bueberry Nappy

Monday, 19 August 2013

Two Summer Dresses

Following on from the previous post here is how I got on making my version of the simple summer dress I watched on the Great British Sewing Bee.

To begin with I started with two pieces of fabric.  Both measure, width the total circumference of daughter's chest by desired length

In this case the toddler dress for my 18 month old measured 20 inches wide by 16 inches long.  Including seam allowance.

My 8 year olds was chest was 26 inches but the material width was 43 inches so I just folded it in half to create the two pieces as I noticed when I made the toddler dress the body came up a little large.  ( you need at least 1.5 x the chest so they have room to walk)

To put an end to the constant fraying I roll seamed the top and bottom first.  I then did a french hem down one side.

Now came the big step into the unknown.  I researched this lots by reading lots of blogs from Pinterest. They all have slightly different ways of doing it.  It's something even my mum hadn't done as she always bought the already shirred fabric when I was little. So I had no one to ask if I got stuck.

To begin with I marked lines half an inch apart across the material to help me sew in straight lines.
I did the one thing most blogs tell you not to do and I filled my bobbin with the elastic thread using my machine.  I haven't got the patients to sit and do it by hand.

Normal thread up top. Elastic thread down the bottom.  Set the top tension to the highest and the stitch length to the longest. Off I went along the lines keeping the material as flat and taught as possible.  After each row I knotted the beginning and end by hand before trimming the excess.

It ruffled up instantly but once I finished I also held the steam of the iron over it (not on it) and watched it ruffle up some more. 

I then did another french hem on the other side and used some biased binding sewn in half as the straps.

I must say I've impressed myself.  And amazed I did it without a pattern.  I can see Little Miss S spending next summer in a whole array of these.

Fabric Valori Wells Fabric Mamma Birds

New sewing machine

This weekend I made two dresses one for each of the girls.

To be honest I shocked myself a bit. It's the first time I've sat in front of the sewing machine for years.

The Great British Sewing Bee was my inspiration.  While watching it a few months ago they made a simple summer dress for a toddler.  It struck me just how simple it was.

Now usually when I get stuck with sewing I just pick everything up throw it in the car and take it to my mum's for her help. Mum was the one who taught me to sew so she can help trouble shoot too. Only this time I don't have that option any more as she's moved 3 and a half hours away.  So any problems I have to solve myself now.

First things first the machine.  There was a time I just borrowed my mum's when I needed one. Then about 10 years ago I used some inheritance to purchase a second hand computerised machine.  Big fail. When my mum took it to be serviced for me she was told it wasn't worth it.  Trust me I did not get my money's worth out of it. Then when mum purchased a new one I inherited her old one. But when it came to doing the shirring in this project it just wasn't working. So then came my purchase last Friday of my first brand new machine.  

I spent ages researching online what I wanted. Went to a very big department store in our local large town to be told that I can only purchase it with cash (birthday monies) from their London stores. Not helpful.  

So round to the local sewing shop I went.  The staff there were so helpful and to be honest although I hadn't researched this machine I think it's probably a lot better than the one I originally was going for.

I'm still on a learning curve with it and I'd like to get some other feet for it so I can try new things. But I have high hopes for this machine.

Thanks to pinterest I have a hole load of things I'd like to try and make as well.

Party favours

So party bags, love them or not they are part of children's party's.

Personally I hate them.  Especially when Miss H brings them home.  They are either full of sweets that end up going stale in my kitchen cupboard or full of plastic rubbish only fit for the bin. Worse still that 'tat' cost some poor parent a small fortune.

That's why I have made it my aim that if I have to do these things then I will do them properly. 

A couple of years ago I made up party bags that had a fashion scarf. A silver picture keyring, a bracelet and a small sand filled beanie toy. I had so many lovely comments back from the mum's that I was glad I had put in the extra work.  To be honest they didn't cost me much more than normal thanks to the many £1 shops.

The following year she had a much smaller party.  Just 2 friends to the cinema and then out for a meal.  I felt given the money I saved on the party I could spend a little more on the party favours.
As we were going to the cinema I decided to use that as my theme.  I found some lovely plastic popcorn holders and added hair clips a bracelet a bar of chocolate and some microwave popcorn.  Once again they were a huge hit.

I'm Back

So much for this being a reflective diary of Little Miss S. She's now 18 months old and defiantly has her own personality.

So much has changed year. I've been converted to cloth nappies and I'm even contemplating other ways of going green.

So as I said S is now 18months old and we are still breastfeeding (even after I spent a week away from her out of the country without expressing). Considering I would have been over the moon to get to 6 months. I'm amazed at our progress. I have to say a lot of it has to do with the support I received from BfN. I still have very few mums that even BF to begin with let alone extended BFing. I know they would never say anything to my face but I have heard they way they speak about other bfing mothers so I now they find me strange in that way, but I'm fine with that I know I'm doing what I'm happy with and what I feel is best for my daughter. What is right for one may not be for another.

Little Miss S is so different to my first daughter. Both myself and my husband have noticed how much her motor skills are so much more refined than H's were at that age.

So where now.

Well I guess the reflective diary of our day to day life has gone out the window. So maybe I'll show you some bits and pieces of things I've made for the girls and other snippets from our lives.

I will probably link the things I've made to my pinterest account.