Category Archives: baby

Nappy Stack

IMG_0070_2With just a week’s notice my son invited me to go to his partner’s baby shower.  The second thought to cross my mind (the first,  ‘Ooh, lovely’) was to wish I hadn’t rushed to give them the Retro Orchard Puff Quilt!IMG_0037

 

 

 

But it was only a fleeting thought and based only on the time remaining to complete a gift to give on the day.  I had a few ideas, one of them being the Nappy Stack I’d seen on Pinterest. So I set about searching. I found lots of lovely possible gifts but no sign of the very one I wanted.

It took just a little while for the light to dawn and for me to realise the language barrier issue! For Nappy Stack read Diaper Stack.  Of course! As soon as I re-worded my search there it was.                                And,1827-Diaper_Stacker-1 hey presto one click and I was on the Sew 4 Home site.  You can sign up for a weekly email from Sew 4 Home and I remembered that was where I actually first saw this. There are some great projects on the site and you can pin direct from the email link so it’s easy to keep the projects you like the look of.

This one caught my eye initially because grey and yellow are the nursery colours. As it happens I’ve been stashing away a little collection of yellows and greys ready for a quilt. I chose some Michael Miller ‘Here Kitty Cat’ fabric and some Riley Blake grey and white chevrons. I also think it’a a pretty nifty idea and much nicer than just having packs of nappies hanging around the nursery. I’m a sucker for idiosyncratic storage.

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So, here is all the fabric cut and ready to sew.  The instructions on the Sew 4 Home tutorial are really clear and every step is accompanied by a clear photograph. Excellent! They also add links to  technique tutorials like sewing curves and making piping. Useful if you come across things you haven’t done before.

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Opening for the hanger hook.

Basically the stack is made in two parts: the top hanger cover and the bottom sack. There are some fiddly bits, like the opening for the hanger hook in the top section, and of course, that piping.

The binding might have been a bit of a fiddle too but for my recently purchased Estone biased binding makers. imagesThis was the first chance I’d had to have a go with one of these and although the pattern didn’t call for bias it was magic for folding the binding evenly. Cheap as chips at £4.20 for a set of 4 sizes! You push your binding strip through and press it as it comes out folded at the other                   end. No more burned fingers!IMG_0064_2Here’s the main body part with the binding sewn on and the pockets in place.IMG_0066_2And here’s the top part with the hanger inside.IMG_0068_2And here’s the nappy stack complete with nappies, wipes and creams in the pockets.

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Wooden hangers from ‘Hangerworld’!

Oh! Just one other thing. You will need a child’s, preferably wooden, coathanger. I didn’t have any so it was a case of thank goodness for Amazon and next day delivery, we have a handy family subscription to Prime. Living out in the sticks brings shopping challenges so it’s worth having.  Who would ever have imagined there is somewhere called ‘Hangerworld?

Nonnie had organised a lovely baby shower for her sister.  And there was an amazing cake made by her sister-in -law.  It made me giggle.IMG_0071

Here is the link to the tutorial on Sew 4 Home. I know now exactly where to find it. I’m going to need it, I’ve already started a second one at the request of my daughter.

Update

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Here is the second Nappy Stack. Made with two fabrics from the lovely Nature Trail collection by Bethan Janine for

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Dashwood Studios. They consistently come up with fabrics I adore, in colours that just make my mouth water.

 

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And a pic of the binding in the making. Next time I do it I’ll add a decent sequence.

Please leave a comment, it’s good to know there’s someone out there!

Retro Orchard Puff Quilt

IMG_0036The first ever Puff quilt I made was for my own first baby well over

How home photography has changed in the digital age!
How home photography has changed in the digital age!

30 years ago. We had a crib that had been in the family for many years and I wanted to update it. I have no idea now where the original idea came from but I obviously liked the look of it. I still do. The quilt was used for both of my children and for my nephew and niece when they took up the family crib.

Then when my daughter was expecting her first baby a puff quilt was the first thing she asked me to make and we chose fabrics to match the colours of his nursery. It was one of the first things I made on my return to sewing. Very fitting I think!

Dougie's Puff Quilt
Dougie’s Puff Quilt

Well now that my son and his partner are expecting their first baby, our third grandchild, I thought I would make this a bit of a tradition. I’m sure I can rely on my daughter to carry it on!                                      This time we know we’re waiting for a little girl and I chose a favourite fabric from my stash.  I’m often inspired designs from Dashwood Studios and like all ‘fabricologists’  I  just occasionally, sometimes buy fabric and wait for the right project. That was the case with Retro Orchard by Wendy Kendall, it was a 2014  collection so I’ve had it a while.IMG_5457IMG_5453

I added a hot pink pin spot for my backing fabric to the collection..

There are so many great tutorials on Pinterest, (here’s a link) I’m not going to add to them, but I’ll just share the general process.

I’m in the habit of keeping a (very scrappy) journal of my makes so it was easy to decide on the size. 8 x 12 puffs, with each puff being cut to 3.5 inches. IMG_5459I used an old white cotton sheet for the back of the puffs, making each backing square 0.5 inch smaller than the tops. I am still cutting my way through sheets inherited from my mum and mum-in-law, it will be the end of an era when I’ve used them all up, maybe some of mine will be ready for recycling by the time they are. Never throw away a cotton sheet.

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So I started my 96 puffs, sewing by day and stuffing and pinning watching TV in the evenings. Some was done in Mel’s sewing class and some at home.

The pile grew quickly and soon I had a bag-full waiting to have their fourth side sewn and be joined together. I had to keep reminding myself to make the seam less than a quarter-inch.

IMG_2239I decided the design should have the four prints running in diagonal lines and began sewing the puffs together in four squares using a quarter-inch seam. This should have meant that the original seams wouldn’t show but the puffiness makes it difficult and many a seam had to be re-done and I had a few broken fingernails – don’t ask!

IMG_2245Pretty soon there were 12 rows and 8 columns all sewn together and then there was a bit more tidying up of seams before cutting the backing and making the binding. For my last puff quilt I wrapped the backing round to self bind but this time I decided on a separate binding. I used the recently learned method of turning the corner. IMG_0038

Now this is worth a tutorial so next time I do it I’ll make one. It’s a method that makes a lovely neat mitre easily!

 

I wanted to secure the puffs to the backing but I’ve never found a IMG_0039way to keep the joined puffs perfectly square so stitching the ditch would be a hideous messy, lumpy, bumpy  business so I hand sewed them together by just catching through the layers in between alternating puffs and making little four -petaled daisy shapes.IMG_0037It’s a great size for a crib, pram or pushchair and is comfy enough for a newborn to lie on for floor time. Here’s a very new Dougie on his.IMG_0157

IMG_0042I could think of uses for it rolled too.IMG_0040

It’s an easy make, comfy and cosy, and could be any size.  I hope I get the opportunity to make more!

Heidi’s Quilt

IMG_5422I’ve been missing from here for such a long time. Nothing blogged since the spring and we’re almost into a new year! It isn’t that I haven’t been busy making, more that I’ve been even more busy with other things.

Since my last blog I spent two months in Spain and survived the annual walking holiday with my sister – this year in the wonderful north Lake District. I’ve added new beds to the garden and visited gardens up and down the land. But most of the ‘busy’ was being in Bristol in the first few weeks after our lovely new granddaughter  was born. We felt so blessed to be able to spend so much time with our family at such a special time and we were more than willing to make ourselves useful helping. And of course totally smitten by our latest little addition.

I have been making, but just not blogging. Most of the makes were little ones, squeezed in-between travels and the intention to record them just never became a reality.

Just as we arrived back in the country in November I lost my mum which stopped me in my tracks for a while and nothing much happened around here, I found myself spending a good deal of time with family, quite rightly. But I had promised Heidi a quilt and I had begun back in the summer and I found it a solace to return to finishing it.

Bethan had decided IMG_1950on a fab, subtle colour scheme and we set about finding fabrics in grey, coral and mint. Nothing could have filled the brief better than Bonnie Christine’s ‘Hello Bear’ for Art Gallery Fabrics.  The bears are gorgeous! I love the quality of AGF cottons, they are just lovely to work with and appear to go on looking like new for many years. The range is a large one and we narrowed it down to eight designs with the addition of a solid grey.

imagesNext was the search for a pattern. I’d bought Allison Harris’ ‘Growing Up Modern’ some time before and liked the look of a number of the quilts. We settled on ‘Sparkle’. We loved the design and the  classic hourglass blocks suited our fabric choices.                                                       Allison’s directions are spot on and the book starts with  some really good tips for novice and experienced quilters alike.

Cutting and peicing the top went along quite speedily, there were opportunities for chain piecing the half square triangles, which helped move things along nicely.

The clear instructions and accurate measurements meant that the top was soon done.IMG_1957

And then I added a border in the peachy coloured ‘follow me’.

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So, top done but no plan for the quilt back so there was an opportunity for a little diversion. We were having a little nursery chair reupholstered and it seemed to calling out for a cushion! Enter a template for a huge dresden plate borrowed from my sewing class.

Now, I have made a dresden plate block before but it was small and not brilliantly executed. However, as usual, once a plan has entered my head I have to make it come to fruition. So pleased I did. I love the cushion!

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Randomly ordered piecing for the dresden plate.

 

 

 

 


On both sides

 

 

Next to add the centre and a backing. my favourite for cushions is a lightweight cotton domette. Not too thick or heavy, just enough to give a little bit of substance to a cushion.

IMG_1990I used one of my favourite stitches, a running cross stitch, to quilt the fabrics.

A little bit of piping around the cushion top was all that was needed to finish it off.

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The colours  are perfect against the silver grey of the chair, just what we wanted.

 

Back to the quilt back. I decided I had enough of the fabric left to make square patches and enough of the ‘follow me’ for a border. Simple.  I just about got it done before we headed of on our travels so I had to leave putting the quilt together until our return.

I free motion quilted with a simple loopy line, or rather two simple loopy lines. One in mint and one in coral.IMG_5426

And made a labelIMG_5423

So Heidi’s quilt was finished before Christmas and very nearly coincided with her moving into her big cot in her own room.IMG_5420IMG_5428

Unfortunately I don’t think that the photographs of the finished quilt do the colours justice. It was grey and raining here what felt like every day throughout November and December and the photographs had to be take indoors in poor light. I didn’t do a great job. Maybe I can add a few more when the I’m in Bristol in the sunshine    –   In the meantime I’ve begun the planning for my next baby quilt.   A Nains’ life is a busy life – and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

 

Little Jockey Wrap

IMG_4052It’s been all  about the sewing lately. Knitting has definitely taken a back seat. The last knit was the Christmas Elf so it was high time I did some real knitting.

IMG_4031So a jumper for Dougie then. I love knitting with Sublime baby cashmere merino silk. It lives up to its name.  Last year sometime we saw  a sample knitted up in Clare Wools on Great Darkgate Street and loved it.

sublime-book-653The pattern is from the Ninth Little Sublime Hand Knit Book, which is all patterns for boys. Now there’s a rare thing!

It’s a deceptively simple 4 row pattern worked with 2 strands of yarn which gives  a lovely texture to the finished knit.

I enjoyed knitting it but the collar was a fiddle to fit and I nearly forgot to add the gorilla button when it was finally in place.

Dougie looks very snug in it but I don’t know how he feels  – that’s his  ‘Uh oh’ pose!IMG_0333

Harry’s Quilt

Quilt
Quilt

Here’s Harry’s quilt. I’m pleased with the finished effect. I’ve enjoyed every minute of making it, from choosing the fabric to the Free Motion Quilting, despite it still being such a huge challenge. I’ve certainly had plenty of time indoors with the rain and the storms hitting the Cambrian coast throughout January. I planned it and bought the fabric in November but had lots of things in the making and didn’t think that there was any hurry to get started since Harry wasn’t due to arrive until January.  But Harry was in a hurry and he arrived on November 22nd. Happily after a very short stay in hospital he has got off to a great start in life and he is all the more special for his early arrival.

'Locally Grown' by Marissa and Creative Thursday
‘Locally Grown’ by Marissa and Creative Thursday

The fabrics are a selection from Makower ‘Locally Grown’ by Marissa and Creative Thursday with a teal and white spot sashed with a yellow and white spot for the path.  For the first time I used a variegated thread for the quilting and I think it does add to the finish, but wouldn’t be suitable for all projects and would work out expensive on a large quilt.

I found the Jungle Path pattern on the Moda Bakeshop site and it’s by Jess at Sew Crafty Jess. Both are great places for tutorials and patterns. I took the plunge and added pics to Jess’ flickr feed as well. So another first.

The blocks were straight forward and could be quickly chain-pieced

Block Layout
Block Layout

and you can see the ‘path’ beginning to take shape.  Fairly soon there were 16 blocks ready to be placed into rows and columns of 4. As usual there was a lot of block-shuffling and groaning as I attempted to get the overall pattern of columns and rows. Then on to the sashing with the yellow and white to sew the rows into strips and then to join the rows to finish piecing the quilt top.

I didn’t have enough of the fabric to make the quilt back just as Jess had so I came up with an alternative, making a row of piano keys and bordering them with a handy piece of plain teal from my stash.

Machine FMQ writing
Machine FMQ writing

Time to implement the biggest challenge of all. I’d succeeded in some free writing on my sister’s quilt but was that beginners luck?  Quite a bit of sewing Harry, but it’s not too bad (I hope)!

After my last giant-sized quilt this one is very much more manageable. Maybe baby quilts are the way forward friends and family?  So the sandwich was soon put together, this time with a polyester wadding, which sort of goes against the grain (I do prefer to work with natural fabrics) but  it is much more breathable and less dense than cotton and so the right choice for a baby quilt.

Hearts and loops FMQ on the sashing
Hearts and loops FMQ on the sashing

Next on to the quilting,  a  heart and loop design for the pathway I thought; I’m comfortable with this one it flows easily and my natural sizing fitted the path.

 

I’ve begun sketching new design to try to get the movement into my mind and muscles and I plumped for this organic looking form to quilt around the blocks. I couldn’t quilt over the section where I had written Harry’s name and I could have planned the placing better. This is the main learning point from this project and I will remember next time!

Now at this point I had a very exciting new baby of my own. I’ve been thinking about a new sewing machine for a while and I eventually took the plunge. It arrived as I was doing battle with the quilting and I wondered about the wisdom of trying it out right away.

Well I did and WOW what a difference. Smoother, more controllable  and so many bells and whistles I can’t begin to write about. I put the finishing touches to the quilting with a ridiculous grin on my face. I love it!                                                                                                                                    My last job was to make the binding from more of the teal and white spotty fabric, enjoying the smaller size again as I hand finished it! You can see the binding and the four animal motifs of my ‘Locally Grown’ choices here.

Nain's Nik Naks
Nain’s Nik Naks

I bought these little labels last year but I just don’t seem to be able to add them to my finished projects. It might just remind me if I add a picture here.

 

I hope Harry, Nonnie and Tom enjoy the quilt as much as I enjoyed making it.

Meanwhile in Aberystwyth we were experience  a period of extreme storms and surge tides that devastated our lovely promenade.  Just in case Harry ever visits here he might be interested to see some pics of his early history.

 

 

New House – New projects.

Well we have arrived at the new house. It’s been such a long time coming and there were times when it seemed that getting here was just a dream. We are not number 8. In the first few days we confused the postman and could have annoyed the neighbours opposite in number 8 but they are far too lovely. Apparently our house was built on plot no. 8 but renumbered by the council. Ah well more changes of address to sort out, meanwhile the neighbours and the postman have it covered between them!

We have been pretty busy since we arrived unpacking and putting things into cupboards then taking them out and putting them into other cupboards; arranging and rearranging furniture; hanging pictures, thankfully very decisively and with no disagreement.

But what has made the house feel like home so quickly has been beginning to welcome friends and family and getting to know how the house works for us. The weather was fabulous  when we arrived and we discovered the joys of a south facing garden celebrating and drinking champagne with Nerys and Don. The living space worked beautifully when Bethan, Tony and Dougie came to stay and the family were together when Matt and Arlene joined us. We enjoyed our first walks along the river to the beach with our Kochy family and found good places to eat – the Harbourmaster with Bethan and Tony and Y Ffarmers with Liz and Hilton (sure to become a favourite as it’s so close to home).

First Project

So what was the very first thing I made in the new house? Well I had always planned to make a bumper for Dougie’s cot ready for the first time he slept in it and as he was coming to stay just a week after we had moved in that had to be the very first make. I had bought some seaside fabric in Aberkhan back in March and then I got some pale blue and white spotty in Aberdashery for the border more recently. I had planned some quilting around the boats and beach huts but I am getting better at organising my work and realised that it would be far too complicated in the time available.

The bumper was just about finished in time for Dougie’s first night but there was a hiccough as usual. This one was when Dougie unravelled one of the ties I had made with crossgrain ribbon. The thread was tangled around his fingers so some additional hemming was needed. Another lesson learned.

I’m not sure how far I will take the seaside theme but I love the fresh colours and I will definitely make some bunting like the bunting in the fabric design. I think the blue and white spotty will feature, I think it looks lovely in the border, simple and fresh.IMG_0690

I’m so excited about the many things I can make and do in our new home, some are things that I need to do, but my list of possibilities just grows and grows. I can’t wait but one step at a time. The bumper is just the beginning!

Playmat

Since my last post we made the decision to postpone the start of our holiday in the hope that the move may happen before we go away but it still doesn’t look as if it will. I could write a book on why but suffice to say it will probably be July before we make it to the new house and we will enjoy our reduced time in Spain in spite of everything.

The playmat is coming along but crafting is slower now that the weather is improving ever-so gradually. More garden, more golf means less sewing, but it’s great to get outside more and I am determined that my golf will improve this summer.

I’m using a whole range of techniques and very much making it up as I go along, which is fun. It has the capacity to get very complex but I’m trying not to let it. I’m trying out a ‘quilt as you go’ approach to putting the blocks together but that has some difficulties around how close the the edge I can go with quilting etc. I know that by the end I will have learned a lot and will definitely have  a whole list of things  I would do differently if I had the opportunity.

All of the 15inch squares of fabric, batting and backing are cut; most of the squares are sandwiched together and some blocks are quilted and some are appliquéd. One has a crinkle layer made from cereal packaging (I’m quite pleased with the crunch it provides) and the ‘squeaker’ block is ready to be sandwiched together. I have joined two sets of two blocks just to try out the method and it works just fine. I’ve been hand sewing more than usual and quite enjoyed doing that in the evenings, especially as I have no knitting on the go with my plans having been disrupted by the change in our holiday timetable. My knitting bag is already packed and ready to go so I daren’t begin what’s in it!

The only block yet to be started is the lizard block. It’s all a bit random really but when  Bethan and me were planning we decided against a theme and for as much variety as possible. We chose a wide range of fabrics; some for their patterns; some as backgrounds for appliqué and some for texture.

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I love the feel of the two minky fabrics; one smooth and one dimpled.

I mustn’t forget to make some loops that can be used to attach some toys from the jungle gym.

 

 

 

Here’s a slideshow of the blocks so far.

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Well so far so good. I’ll add more as the mat progresses. Hope to have it all peiced together this week.

 

If Winnie the Pooh could knit

…. this would be the jacket he would make for himself.

He would probably sing a knitting hum while he knitted.

IMG_2553‘The more I knit

Tiddly pom

The more the rows.

The more the rows, Tiddly pom

The more it grows

The more it grows, Tiddly pom

The more I knows.’

Anyway, it’s actually Dougie’s summer jacket, knitted in Debbie Bliss Eco Baby cotton and he will look even better in it than Winnie. I hope he loves the fabric covered dinosaur buttons as much as I do.

The jacket has been a long time in the making, there were other projects that kept creeping in and seemed more urgent (like the waistcoat for his outfit for Jeff and Sarah’s wedding) IMG_2519and beginning his new playmat. And it seemed to take such a long time to sew together for such a little garment.

Well it’s finished all in good time; it will fit him for the summer and he will get it before we go off on holiday

To quote wise Winnie the Pooh Rivers know this, there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.’

Little Charmer

IMG_2355I made this little sweater for Nathaniel, the new baby on our street. He is a real sweety but I haven’t seen a lot of him or James and Jerrica, his mum and dad lately. All to do with this awful extended winter keeping us all indoors. It’s been such a long one.

It’s actually very pale green but that got a bit lost in the photo. The pattern was a Debbie Bliss one but I used Sublime and in spite of the gauge being very, very close the sweater was bigger than I intended. One to grow into then! I wasn’t going to add it to my blog but I did want to show off the little charms that I bought in The Makery in Bath when we were there at the beginning of the year.

It’s the first time I’ve used one – I forgot all about them when I finished Dougie’s ‘spring green’ sweater.

Baby Bunting update

Jan'e buntingJane’s Bunting

This week my sister, Jane, completed a baby bunting using the translation of the Phildar bunting pattern. Pleasingly (especially as someone else has downloaded the pattern) it all worked out fine. Jane used a double knit yarn and the sizing was all good. She made it as a gift for a friend’s baby. I hope she loved it as much as Bethan loved her’s. What a great gift.

Dougie’s Puff Quilt

Dougie's Puff Quilt

The first puff quilt I made was some 30 something years ago when I was refurbishing the old family crib for my own soon to be family.

I made others for friends soon after but a quilt was one of the things Bethan wanted me to make for the new baby.

The bright green fabric was chosen to match the old nursery chair we had re-upholstered and then there were the zoo themed fabrics and a few ‘quieter’ toning ones.

They were mostly Riley Blake prints from the wonderful Prints to Polka Dots website.

There are lots of tutorials for Puff Quilts on the web, many of them on Pinterest. I didn’t take any photographs while I was making but here as some simple instructions.

You will need:

  • Backing fabric (enough to back the quilt and give a border).
  • Lightweight calico for the reverse of the puffs
  • Polyester wadding of your chosen weight.
  • Fat quarters of your chosen fabrics.

The size of the quilt can be whatever you want it to be, as can the puffs. I chose to make mine 10cm square; the quilt was made to measure for the cot.

Method:

  • Cut 10 cm squares of calico for the backing
  • Cut 11 cm squares of print fabrics
  • Cut 10 cm squares of wadding
  • Pin the squares together with a tuck in the centre of each side, making the corners match.
  • Hem 3 sides of each square with half centimetre hems
  • Fill squares with wadding
  • Hem the last side (with centre tuck)
  • Arrange the squares into your desired pattern
  • Sew squares into strips and strips together taking care not to let the seams show on the front of the quilt.
  • When the puffs are assembled cut the backing fabric to the right size allowing for your required border and seams.
  • Place the backing and the quilt together, right sides facing.
  • Sew together along the two long sides then turn to right side and press.
  • Turn the top and bottom borders and mitre the corners
  • Sew the top and bottom borders by hand.
  • If required stitch invisibly through front to back at intervals to keep the layers secure.

Baby Buntings

I fell in love with the Bergere Baby Bunting and so it was the first thing I knitted for my soon-to-be grandchild. I loved knitting it and it was the catalyst to my return to knitting.

Bergere de France Baby Bunting

You can find the pattern in their ‘Creations 11/12’ booklet. Unusually the bobbles are knitted separately and added later, never done it that way before.

So, I thought a baby can’t have just one bunting and I set about looking for another.

My favourite of the ones I found was a Phildar pattern on Pinterest. I knitted lots of Phildar patterns when my children were small. I loved them and the quality of the yarn.

Phildar Baby BuntingSnag number one; the pattern was in French!

Snag number two; Phildar no longer supply any British stockists.

So now I was on a mission, first I showed a French speaking friend but of course knitting abbreviations are a language of their own. What would we knitters do without the internet. I stumbled on Chezplum and and a this helpful dictionary of french terms. The free download of the pattern has very straightforward diagrams.

Here’s Dougie, just a week old, in the bunting.

Phildar baby buntingFor the English translation of the Phildar Baby Bunting pattern click on the green.

Dougie’s first Christmas

I saw this tree ornament on Pinterest and decided I’d make one for Dougie.

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It’s a quick and easy little project with the lights being a little fiddly!

http://www.etsy.com/listing/85574510/personalized-onesie-ornament-made-to?ref=sr_gallery_38&ga_search_submit=&ga_search_query=baby+christmas+ornament&ga_order=most_relevant&