Recently, my niece, who also happens to be Sweet Pea's godmother, had a baby. My niece's grandmother (my MIL) and her stepmother (my SIL) are both quilters, so I knew she was already getting one, possibly two, quilts when the baby was born. As a result, I was having a hard time getting motivated to make her a quilt. Besides, the baby was a boy, and I don't know about you, but I often have trouble getting motivated to make boy quilts. (Shame on me.) So, I have been trying to figure out what to make her for the longest time, and I just couldn't settle on anything...nothing seemed to be motivating me enough. I had looked through a lot of my baby pattern books and it all seemed too "frumpy" for my niece, who is quite stylish and modern.
So, on Saturday, I had to run to the fabric store to get some snaps for another project. Sweet Pea went with me. I grabbed the snaps and was ready to go. But she was having fun playing with their toys and told me I should shop longer! Ha ha. Not being one to pass that opportunity up, I started looking at the books. I stumbled across this book by Amy Butler, Amy Butler's Little Stitches for Little Ones.
I saw this project and thought it was totally adorable. It's a hooded snuggle blanket. I've always liked the little hooded towels, and I thought this was a cute adaptation of that...and it's sorta like a quilt! So, off I went to find the fabric.
Here's my version. The pattern called for fleece on the inside, but I substituted Minky (which is even softer than fleece and has a bit of a nap to it, if you have never used it before). I first found the cute Minky fabric with the animals on it, and then found this great polka dot that coordinated perfectly with it. I love how the blanket has a little tie around it, too. Very clever.
Here it is opened up. You can see in the center where the little belt runs through it. You sew button holes in the center to thread the tie through. See, when I can find fabrics like this that are so cute and cuddly, I do get motivated to get moving! (If I was really with it, I would have embroidered the baby's name on the hood, but I just didn't feel like it!)
Here's the back. The construction technique was really pretty simple. I think I had the whole thing done in 2 or 3 hours, including the cutting. I really enjoyed making this and think it might be one of those "go-to" patterns when I need a baby gift for someone.
Sweet Pea put it on one of her American Girl dolls to show you how it goes on the baby. (The tie is supposed to fit across the baby's tummy, but her doll isn't big enough for that.) Forgive the jammies. Sweet Pea wasn't feeling well on Sunday, so I let her stay in her jammies all day. She really wanted you to see her holding the doll in the snuggle blanket. I made the size 3-6 months for my niece so it would fit longer. The only problem is, it will be summer in 3 to 6 months, and perhaps the baby won't need much of a blanket then. But it's not too heavy of a blanket, and I think it would be a good one to wrap baby in after the bath...it can be cold in the air conditioning in the summer.
Here are a few more examples of the kinds of projects in the book:
I loved these little booties. I was going to make those, but I gave my niece shoes for her baby shower. I was afraid she might think I have a shoe fetish if I gave her these, too. (Well, actually, I do have a shoe fetish...)
I thought this little changing table pattern was awesome. Sweet Pea loved it, too. She insisted I show you a picture of it! Nice decorating ideas here, as well. I thought many of the projects in the book were unique, practical, and fun.
The chapters/projects in the book are:
Chapter 1: Betting Started
Contains the basic information about how to measure baby for sizes, basic tools, etc.
Chapter 2: Baby Comforts
Contains the snuggle blanket I showed you, a crib set, stuffed baby toys, and the kimono-style pajamas I showed you.
Chapter 3: Baby Style
Contains a jumper dress and bloomers, hats, booties, and an empire-waist top.
Chapter 4: Baby on the Go
Contains travel bibs with storage case, a diaper bag, "tool" kit, and a changing pad.
Chapter 5: Baby Decor
Contains a crib quilt, laundry bag (with a cute monkey on it), pillow, and table-top changing table I showed you.
Chater 6: Baby Playtime
Contains an imagination book, building blocks, and a softie kitty toy.
Chapter 7: Baby Memories
Contains a brag book and a family photo album.
I thought all of the projects were really cute. There is also a glossary of techniques, fabric reference gude that tells you the Amy Butler fabrics used, and an index.
Each project is rated from easiest to most difficult on a 5-point scale. The snuggle blanket I did was rated 2. I thought that was a fair rating, given that it was a pretty easy project. Probably what took it from a 1 to a 2 was the fact that you are trying to sew a stretchy fabric to a non-stretchy fabric. If you have ever made an Amy Butler pattern before, you know that they can sometimes require some fussy sewing and steps. I imagine that's what a pattern that's rated 5 contains. The changing table set I showed you is rated a 5 in difficulty. It doesn't look that bad, but it involves a lot of steps, and it involves sewing on velcro, cutting foam for the bumpers, making a box bottom, and there are a lot of pieces to cut. There are a lot of drawings to accompany the instructions. So, from a brief skimming of the instructions, it looks to be not too bad for a more experienced sewer.
Overall, so far, I really like this book. I wish when they give instructions like "be careful not to stretch the fleece as you sew it," they would give you tips for how to do that. I managed it by (a) putting on a walking foot, and (b) "feeding the dogs." Feeding the dogs is something I learned from a Sewing with Nancy (with Nancy Zieman) show...she always says if you have a stretchy fabric or a fabric that you need to ease, put that down on the feed dogs. I found these two strategies kept my Minky from stetching while I was sewing. It worked very well. I also found it useful to actually mark the seam allowances on the back of my fabric, because I was often sewing where I couldn't see my seam guides below my needle and because I'm so used to a 1/4" seam allowance for quilting. This project used a 1/2" seam allowance. It's helpful to have a little sewing experience to be able to adapt and adjust on the fly like that.
I give this book a thumbs up. The designs are really cute, the instructions fairly clear, there are good diagrams, the photos are beautiful, and I like the spiral binding and storage pocket for patterns. I hope to make more things out of this book. Many are just a little bit different than what you'd normally expect, and nothing is "frumpy." The designs seem fresh and modern and probably to the liking of the modern young mother. I think it is probably a book for a more experienced sewer, because while there are some drawings, there are not drawings to go with every step. I have made other Amy Butler patterns, and like those, I sometimes wasn't sure what her instructions meant. However, if I just followed them, they made sense. Sometimes you just have to read it more than once and think a little. I think a new sewer would have a little difficulty following some of these instructions and completing these sewing techniques independently. (He or she might get a little frustrated.)
I hope my niece likes what I made for her. And I hope this review was helpful to you!
Until next time,