Dresses for girls: homemade baby presents

A momentous event occurred a few weeks ago. My sister gave birth to a baby girl.

Of course, every birth is pretty momentous — a life is begun where before there wasn’t one — but this was especially astounding as the baby was the first of her generation to not be a boy

Homemade baby present, Liberty print dress and bloomers | Wolves in LondonBetween me and my siblings, we’ve so far produced five boys, so the arrival of a little girl into the mix is most exciting.

Also exciting for me was the chance to make some cute little dresses and bloomers. I love my boys (of course, it hardly needs saying) but if there is one thing I miss not having a girl, it’s the chance to sew tiny girl clothes with beautiful Liberty fabrics.

But that chance I now have!

The sewing machine was retrieved from the attic, dusted off and I got to work.

I made two matching sets, both from the same patterns and, sigh, just look, aren’t they sweet?

Homesewn Liberty baby dress and bloomers | Wolves in LondonThe dress is from the Purl Bee tiny triangle dress pattern. It’s a straightforward, though slightly fiddly sew, I found. Ironing 1/4 inch seams onto every edge was a little bit of a faff and I got a bit bored of trying to endlessly measure them to make sure they were straight, so, well, some of them ended up a tiny bit not straight.

Do any more regular sewers have any tips for good ways of going about that?

Liberty print Purl Bee tiny triangle dress | Wolves in LondonAnyway, other than that, it was very simple to put together and the end result looks lovely. I think my only criticism is that, in the wearing though not so much in the photos, the triangle shape is actually a little bit too extreme — it really does stick right out at the sides. This would probably be fine on a standing-up toddler, but on babies who spend their time lying or sitting, then there’s a little bit too much material in the way.

Liberty print bloomers | Wolves in LondonBloomer cuffThe bloomers are made from a free pattern by Sewing Mama RaeAnna on Craftsy and I was utterly, completely delighted with these. They look way more complicated than they were to make, just using some elastic round the waist and legs to get that cute gathering, and I sewed them up in no time. If I ever have another summer baby (boy or girl) I will definitely be making loads of these as nappy covers as they are seriously adorable.
Green Liberty bloomers | Wolves in LondonThe fabric for both is a Liberty tana lawn*. The designs are called Capel L (the green flowery one) and Lola Weisselberg (the purple, more ornate pattern). The first is available on the Liberty website, though I can’t find the second. I have to confess, I bought both from eBay.

To go with the dresses I had to – of course – make some personalised babygrows using my go-to fabric transfer paper method. I made her older brother a set of printed babygrows when he was born (you can see them here: a very important arrival) and I wanted her to have some of her own as well.

(Please excuse the rather crappy photos, I always have difficulty photographing these: invariably, parts of the babygrow are blown out, while the background looks grey and under-exposed. Three years of making these and I still can’t take a decent photo of them…)

Anteater babygrow homemade | Wolves in LondonTulip babygrow | Wolves in LondonA is for... babygrow | Wolves in LondonThe tulips are a Graphics Fairy image; I just couldn’t resist using some more flowers since I rarely have the chance to put lots of flowers onto my boys clothes. (Not that the sproglets don’t love them, actually, so maybe I should break away from all the gender stereotyping.) The As because her name starts with A. The anteater is from an amazing vintage alphabet I first found years ago, but use at every possible opportunity I get. The French A is from a new discovery: a partial vintage alphabet, also free from copyright.

And that’s the complete set: a load of teeny, tiny, flowery little girl clothes. I’m already planning what to make her for Christmas…

*I realised as I wrote this that I didn’t actually have a clue what “tana lawn” meant, so I have just Googled it to find out that the Tana is for Lake Tana in East Africa where the original cotton grew, and “lawn” is used to describe a fabric made with high count yarns; the Liberty tana lawn is made “without the use of crease-resisting chemicals or irritating allergens, the result is a famous masterpiece of fabric technology: fine, cool, comfortable and durable, with brilliant reproduction of colours and prints.” Which all sounds wonderful, but does explain why I found the fabric creased a lot as I sewed it and I had to constantly iron it out. Not really an ideal quality for an item of baby clothing it has to be said. I did also find, as a very amateur sewer, that the slightly silky quality to the fabric made it a little trickier to sew. But will no doubt be lovely to wear…

For the love of knit

In the last two weeks of my pregnancy, a haze of knitting obsessiveness descended upon me. I couldn’t put down my needles for a day. Heck, I couldn’t put down my needles for an hour.

As far as a nesting instinct goes, I think it’s a pretty good one. Sure, my fridge was filthy, but how much more fun to have lovely knitted things rather than a clean house?

I whipped up a knitted present for my future nephew in a few short weeks (even managing to immediately sew in all the loose ends I showed you a few weeks ago, rather than putting it off for months as is my usual wont).

But as soon as I put down my needle, I felt the urge to cast on something new.

Home knitted baby cardigan: free pattern

And so this little cardigan was created over the course of a few days. It’s called the Puerperium cardigan, designed for babies up to six weeks old. A free pattern on Ravelry. I’m not sure about the name, personally, but the end result is super cute.

I think all of the buttons make the baby look a little bit a surgeon in waiting when he has it on…

Hand knit baby cardigan, free pattern

I love those big round cream ones, but only had six of them, hence the little duck at the end. And hey, it’s a newborn baby cardigan, if ever there is a place for a button with whimsy, this is it.

Duck button

The yarn I used was lovely: Sublime extra fine merino DK. I really like the clean stitches that you can see, and the end result is both stretchy and squidgy, two things you want for baby clothing.

The pattern is really simple to knit, I love a raglan sleeve construction like this, and the end result is really easy to put on the baby, what with the short sleeves and button up front. No squeezing his little head into a too-small hole. My only criticism: why quite so many buttons? I would definitely drop down to four if I were to knit it again.

All project details are over on Ravelry: new baby cardigan.

And since the baby has arrived, has the knitting craze continued? Erm, nope, I’m yet to cast on anything new. Ah well, til next time!

A boy’s favourite things

I’m the oldest of four siblings, all born within six years of each other.

(Looking back now, with the experience of having my own family, I wonder how on earth my Mum coped without having a serious breakdown, or running off with a Greek waiter at least once in my childhood. But, to the best of my knowledge, she never did…)

I don’t remember my next sister or brother being born, but I do, very clearly, remember the excitement I felt at my youngest sister’s birth. Or, more accurately, the excitement I felt about the fact that she brought me a present when she arrived. And not just any present, oh no, this was a ballerina Sindy doll… …one that my parents had already told me I wasn’t allowed to have.

Ha ha, parents, take that, it’s me and my new sister together against the world!

Ballerina Sindy from the 1980s
This delightful lady would win you round to any disruptive new sibling… (NB, not a photo of my *actual* doll who will have been given away to charity at least 20 years ago, but just a photo I nicked off the internet.)

Personal memories aside, I’ve been given advice by almost everyone I know with more than one child to buy the older sibling a present “from the new baby” as a softener and I’m certainly not above bribery to try and make everyone get along.

So the sproglet has been purchased a couple of new books; one about both doggies and counting, which are two of his absolute favourite things in the world. And last night I finally got around to making him some T-shirts with some more of his favourite things on the front, following my usual method (see more info at my fabric transfer tutorial).

This is they, photographed against the bare plaster walls of our bedroom, shortly before being wrapped.

Homemade dog T-shirt | Wolves in London

The dog print is my favourite. The image is from the Graphics Fairy website (here: vintage dog pic). There’s something so comical about waddling little dogs with long bodies, isn’t there?

Dachshund T-shirt | Wolves in London

The “R for rhinocerous” is from this amazing vintage alphabet I found at Rook No 17, with which I have also planned many, many other projects, but not quite got round to making any of them yet…

Homemade rhinocerous T-shirt | Wolves in London

Yes, it’s just possible that the sproglet’s actual name starts with an R.

Here’s the full alphabet in all its glory as well:

Vintage alphabet
Click on image to go straight to the site for download

Finally, this circus elephant image is also from the Graphics Fairy: circus elephant.

Homemade circus elephant T-shirt | Wolves in London

There is a whole selection of circus animals from the same series, again I have had something planned to make with all of these for ages, but once again not got round to it. I did, however, use the giraffe a while ago on another T-shirt as a present for a first birthday.

Homemade giraffe T-shirt | Wolves in London
Remember her?

So, hopefully these will appease the sproglet just a little when he suddenly has to share his Mum and Dad with a milk-guzzling interloper. Fingers crossed, at any rate…

Related articles:

  • You can find all my vintage image pics saved on my Pinterest board Free graphics.

A finished baby blanket

As I mentioned in my last post, I managed to summon up a burst of knitting energy recently and finish off the blanket that I started about three months ago for the impending new arrival (aka sproglet mi).

Knitted baby blanket | Wolves in London
I’m loving this snuggly blanket a lot…

After sewing in all the ends (oh, such a tedious process, I always put it off and off and off for days…) and blocking overnight, I took a few photos this morning.

Knitted baby blanket | Wolves in London
A little close up of the pattern

A few knitting notes for anyone who might be interested… The pattern is the heirloom blanket by Madeline Tosh. (Costs $4 for an instant download on Ravlery. Well worth it, in my opinion.) It’s the second time I’ve made it and I think it’s a lovely pattern; difficult enough to keep you interested, simple enough to memorise.

Knitted baby blanket | Wolves in London
Just showing off my neat edges…
Knitted baby blanket | Wolves in London
…and my neat stitches

The yarn is Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino and sadly you can’t reach into your computer screen to give the blanket a stroke because it is soooo deliciously soft and stretchy and generally just the perfect thing for putting against a newborn’s skin.

Knitted baby blanket | Wolves in London
Sooo soft and squishy.

Full project details over on Ravelry as always: Blanket for bump.

In other knitting-related info, thanks so much for everyone’s comments and advice on my quandary in my last post. You made me realise that, yes, I really did feel like knitting something and I cast on that very evening. In fact, a bit of a knitting frenzy has since ensued and I am half way through the project already. Will share more details and photos once it’s finished and given away!

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  • This blanket was the first thing I’d cast on for a while, back when I started it, and reminded me exactly why it is I love knitting: the joy of knitting.

 

Homemade baby presents; a quandary

Can you give my weary brain a little help this fine spring morning?

I’m having a quandary about what to make for the imminent arrival of my future niecephew (tbc) and could use some advice…

When my sister had her first baby, last summer, I put together a lovely little box full of homemade goodies: a blanket that I’d been knitting for the previous four months or so, some homemade baby trousers and some homeprinted babygrows.

In five weeks or so, my brother is having his first baby and I’d like to do something similar for them. Only problem is, in, oooh, two weeks or so, I am also having a baby (yeah, yeah, I know I’ve mentioned it a million times before) and my recent knitting has been dedicated to a blanket for him. (Which is, as of yesterday, finally finished. I’ll share some pictures after the weekend…)

So, I’ve got (probably) a few weeks of late pregnancy brain fug and lack of crafting mojo to work on something now, followed by a few weeks of new baby brain fug and, I suspect, no time at all for any crafting, mojo absent or otherwise.

So, what I’m after is a quick make, but still of something really special. Does such a thing exist?!

I trawled my Pinterest board, I could make that, to see what had inspired me in the past and this is the shortlist. Does anyone have any advice on these projects? Or any suggestions for something completely different? I’ve been pondering over this for so long now, I could have made something really nice in the meantime!

Seven homemade baby presents

Click on any of the photos below to go through to the tutorials…

1. Purl Bee big bottom baby trousers

Purl Bee baby trousers
The cutest thing ever?

These trousers from the Purl Bee are just too adorable, aren’t they? I have some really lovely fabrics in my stash so I could almost certainly make these without having to go to the shops. In fact, I think I must certainly have a go at these, irrespective of anything else I decide to make…

2.Rainbow blanket from the Purl Bee

Purl Bee baby blanket
So colourful. So perfect for a boy or girl…

I am still tempted to go for a knitted blanket, but making sure I pick something simple and quick. I’ve long admired this simple block colour blanket, also from the Purl Bee, and am tempted to try and make one with four rainbow colours (red, yellow, green and blue) and then add a border around the edge in cream.

But, two concerns: is knitting that much garter stitch going to be so boring that I can’t bear to pick up the needles? And, am I simply setting myself up for a sure and certain failure in trying to knit in a blanket in two weeks? Hummmm…

3. Fabric stacking blocks

Homemade stacking blocks
Every baby needs a lighthouse

These stacking blocks from the Shabby Home blog have been sitting on my Pinterest board for about two years now I think. I absolutely love them: the long teetering lighthouse, the nautical stripes, the hint of Italian (“mare” means sea) that every cultured baby should surely have in their toybox…

Potential issue: is this one of those projects that looks quite simple, but actually takes a long time to make? I have a sort of feeling that I could be spending hours trying to get the perfect pointed corners.

4. Squishy bunny toy

Homemade bunny
He’s squidgy, he’s a bunny, he’s red and striped. What’s not to like?

Then, of course, I could go for a homemade toy (or two). I love this little squidgy red-tummied bunny from Chez Beeper Bebe. Why haven’t I simply started making one already? I’m just never quite convinced that toys are the perfect new baby present. I know the sproglet has accumulated a lot of toys over the 21 months of his life so far and maybe it is better to give something a little more useful???

5. Little puppy

Homemade puppy
Woof woof

Then again, this little scrap fabric puppy is almost irresistible, isn’t he? And would surely keep a child company from babyhood all the way through to… …well, who knows how old?

6. Yoked knitted cardigan

Yoked cardigan
Love these big red buttons

Back to the knits though. Maybe I should still aim for something with the knitting needles (easier to pick up and put down and work on little by little when I have time and energy in the evenings) but just focus on something a bit smaller than a blanket? This cardigan is really gorgeous, and if I knit it in a neutral colour like grey, I could always add buttons to make it more feminine / masculine after the baby’s arrival. Again, I already have wool in my stash I could use for this too. And the pattern is available on Ravelry as an instant download.

7. Homeprinted babygrows

Homeprinted babygrow
Modelled by the sproglet in his younger days

This is the only one I am sure about. I will definitely be making some homeprinted babygrows, with an appropriate picture on the front, once the baby has been born. (I’m kind of hoping they have a girl and call her something like Rose or Violet, so I can use some lovely botanical images…) Check out my tutorial for how to print on fabric for more info.

Well, even as I’ve been writing this, I’ve been vacillating wildly between all the different choices so, please, any suggestions to help my indecisive brain would be much appreciated!

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Various other baby projects I’ve made are:

A very important arrival

Last week I became an Aunt for the very first time.*

One of my sisters had a baby boy and I can report, completely objectively of course, that he is one of the cutest little babies ever to be born.

I’d been knitting a blanket for the new arrival for a ridiculously long time, but of course it still wasn’t finished when he arrived, so I did a bit of frantic knitting while we were staying in Shropshire and managed to finish the second half in approximately one hundredth of the time I did the first half.

Together with the blanket, I put together a whole little new baby present pack. Here’s a photo of the whole thing.

Homemade baby present box
A bunch of homemade clothes for a very special baby. (Not the shoes, though. I bought them. Though I have always wondered how hard it would be to make some of those little leather slip-ons…)

I made three little babygrow tops, in the same style as the baby carrot set I made for my own sproglet, and using my tried and tested method of iron-on transfer paper. (I’ve got a step by step tutorial for doing this, if you’re interested: how to transfer images to fabric.)

homeprinted babygrows
Good lord, it’s hard to photograph white babygrows, please excuse this over-exposed shot. Does anyone have any tips? I don’t think the white background helps, but when I put them on other colours, the contrast is too strong…

I used a vintage bicycle image (which you can find at the Graphics Fairy: vintage bike) because the baby’s Dad loves to cycle. I love the caption underneath: “the dandy horse.”

Home printed babygrow
The dandy horse

For the second babygrow, I found this lovely balloon image, with the word “TOYS” emblazoned across it (also from the Graphics Fairy: toys balloon). Perfect for any child, really…

Homeprinted babygrow
A hot air balloon and the promise of toys!

And the third babygrow reads, “D is for the dirigible, a motor driven balloon.” The baby’s name starts with D, as I’m sure you guessed, and this was far more appealing to me than “D is for dog”…

Homeprinted babygrow
D is for dirigible, not dog or drum or door…

Then I made another pair of the baby trousers in the same elephant fabric I used recently for Laura’s baby. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, I can’t stand the persistent blue-for-boys and pink-for-girls, so I always like to use any other colour that I possibly can.

Homemade baby trousers
Stomp, stomp stomp

And, in an amazing instance of learning from my own mistakes, I lined the elephants all up in a straight line this time, so none of them were diving off a cliff. Look, look!

Hem of elephant trousers
All in a straight line, yay me!

Finally, the blanket. It’s called the baby chalice blanket and is a free pattern by Karen S. Lauger. You can see full details on my Ravelry page: baby chalice blanket.

chalice blanket close up
This is a close up of the pattern

The pattern is really beautiful, when finished. Intricate, but yet quite bold too. I found it less pleasing to knit than my previous shale baby blanket which was exceedingly simple to remember, but the overall result is really lovely.

chalice baby blanket
Believe it or not, this is the photo I took after trying to arrange the blanket in a perfect rectangle. Perhaps I really needed to block it once more!

I used a Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino yarn, which is just lovely to knit with (though not cheap…) I think I could have used a slightly smaller pair of needles, actually, but it’s  never worth worrying about that sort of thing at the end of the knitting.

Chalice blanket
Just one more so you can see the pattern repeats again

She was pretty happy with the box, I think. Lots of things to dress my tiny nephew in, when he gets a little bigger…

*If that wasn’t exciting enough, I’ll also become a double Aunt in a few weeks. When I get married, my partner’s niece will officially become my niece too. (I already call her my niece, in fact, but if I do so in his earshot, he always says to me, “She’s not your niece, she’s my niece…”)

It’s been a little while since I’ve joined up with any link parties, but I’ve just seen a new one that’s started on one of my favourite blogs, Dream a Little Bigger, so I’m joining up there this week. Also back to my old favourite, Brag Monday at the Graphics Fairy. And finally remembering to link up with Handmade Monday, A UK-based link party (hooray! they are few and far between) on Handmade Harbour run by the very lovely Wendy Massey who I met earlier this year at the Pinterest party.

Related articles:

  • If you’re looking for something to make a new baby, I’ve got a free tutorial and pattern for a baby bib
  • Or take a look at my tutorials page for more projects that use lovely vintage images

Easy baby bib pattern and tutorial

About, ooooh, five months ago I decided to make my sproglet some bibs. He was six months old at the time and I wanted a bib of a decent length to actually catch all the food he was spilling down his front as I was weaning him.

After a very perfunctory Google, I couldn’t find the right kind of pattern online, most seeming to cater to smaller dribble-catching baby bibs, so I decided to make my own.

bib tutorial

Now, I’m not claiming in any way to be any sort of sewing maven, but since I’d made the pattern I thought I’d share it here, in case it was useful for anyone else. Five months later, here it finally is!

The one good thing about my ridiculous delay in getting this ready to post is that I’ve had time to trial (and repeatedly wash) my original bibs, so I’ve made a few alterations to improve their durability.

The bib has a nice cotton fabric on the front, backed with terry towelling, which I’ve found really useful as all the food spills down the front and then you can use the back to wipe your baby clean once they’ve finished eating.

These instructions look amazingly lengthy, but it’s really a very simple process. I’ve just included lots of detail because I can’t help waffling that I thought might be useful to someone who is new to sewing. Ditto with the seemingly excessive number of photographs…

Supplies

Baby bib sewing supplies
Also, bib pattern, sewing machine scissors and all that malarkey too
  • This pdf of the pattern
  • Terry towelling fabric (this makes the back of the bib)
  • Cotton fabric, either plain or patterned (this makes the front of the bib)
  • Sewing machine or a lot more patience than I have and a needle and thread
  • Pins
  • Iron-on velcro or some sew on poppers
  • Scissors

What to do

      1. Print out the bib pattern onto two separate pieces of A4 (don’t use double sided as you need both of the pieces separately), cut out and sellotape together along the dotted lines.

        Baby bib template
        Look at that template all ready to go…
      2. Pre-wash both of your fabrics so that they’ve done any shrinking in advance of being sewn together. Iron them flat. (I know, I hate ironing too, and am always tempted not to do it…)
      3. Cut out one piece of the pattern in terry towelling and one in the cotton fabric. If your cotton fabric has a design on, make sure you line up the template  so that you have the parts of the design where you’d like them to be in the bib… In the photo below, I had inadvertently cut off one of my cowboy’s heads, so I started again with the design  aligned better (see the later photos).  As a side note about the towelling fabric, it tends to shed hundreds of tiny little white bobbles everywhere when you cut it, so I find it useful to cut out over something I can easily shake off into the bin afterwards. (ie Not the sitting room carpet, like I did the first time I used it.)

        Two pieces of baby bib fabric
        Two pieces of fabric
      4. Place the two fabrics together, with the right side of the cotton facing inwards…

        Right sides of fabric facing for baby bib
        Right sides of fabric facing (of course, the towelling doesn’t have a right side…)
      5. …and pin around the outside

        pin the outside
        Notice my little tomato pin cushion? I had one left over from the tomato garland and this was a perfect use!
      6. Leaving a small gap to turn the bib inside out, sew around the outside, with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. (NB, I’ve found with the other bibs I’ve made that the terry towelling tends to fray a little, hence the slightly large seam allowance.)

        sew the bib pieces
        Sew around the outside of the bib pieces
      7. As an optional extra, you could also go around the seam with a zigzag stitch as well, just to prevent any fraying in the future…

        Zig zag
        Stitch the seam in zig zag, just outside your original straight line
      8. Turn the bib inside out, pushing the material through the hole you left

        Turn bib right way
        Push it through the hole. You might need to use your finger or a wooden spoon on the neck pieces
      9. You’ve now got a slightly puffy version of the finished bib.

        Baby bib tutorial
        A slightly puffy version of the bib…
      10. Iron the bib flat, making sure that your gap matches the rest with seam allowance.

        Baby bib tutorial
        Nearly there…
      11. Leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance, and starting and finishing with a small backstitch, sew all around the outside of the bib, which creates a neat-looking edge and closes the gap at the same time

        Baby bib tutorial
        Neat edges!
      12. Cut all the loose threads.
      13. Now for the fastening. Cut a piece of Velcro the appropriate size for your neck edges. Position it in the right place and hold both sides of the neck fast.
        Baby bib tutorial
        Make sure the velcro fits just on the tip of the neck pieces

        Baby bib tutorial and pattern
        Position the velcro fastening so that the neck closes as you’d like it to
      14. Then iron it into place, following the instructions for your brand of velcro. (Usually, this is something like, don’t iron directly onto the velcro and don’t use the steam settings. Leave the iron on place for about a minute to seal the glue.) Leave it to dry.

        Baby bib pattern and tutorial
        Iron straight on the top and it should be hot enough to glue the velcro in place
      15. If you’re planning on putting the bib in the washing machine and tumble dryer (and, let’s face it, I doubt many people want to hand wash bibs) you might find that the iron-on velcro isn’t that sturdy. Just in case, I sewed all round the velcro as well, completing a square around the outside and then two diagonal lines across the main section as well.

        Baby bib pattern and tutorial
        Okay, this isn’t completely the neatest sewing, but you don’t really notice the stitches when you’re not up close…
      16. Tadaaaaa! It’s all finished, and quite professional looking, even if I do say so myself:
baby bib tutorial
The baby bib all finished. Yeeeeeha!

Just perfect to hang out on the line and admire in the breeze…

Baby bib tutorial and pattern
This is where bibs spend most of their time, isn’t it?

 

Embellishing

You could leave the bib like this, or you could embellish the front. In my first bib bundle, I made a few with plain white fabric and then ironed on vintage images using the method outlined here. This gave me such beauties as this cabbage bib:

Homemade cabbage baby bib
I really like the effect of this vintage cabbage…

This time round, I decided to quilt the front of one of the bibs I made. (Since learning how to quilt, I’ve become a bit obsessed with it as a general idea…)

I just roughly went around the outlines of the fabric design, which looked really good afterwards. You can pick out details like this cowboy’s bum disappearing over the fence…

Baby bib pattern and tutorial
It looks like he’s fallen over the fence

…or this cowboy’s head:

Baby bib pattern and tutorial
It tickled me that this was a scene of a meal taking place. Cos it’s on a bib, y’see…

You could also try all sorts of other things, such as applique, or making the top fabric from patchwork. I’ve even seen some bibs for baby girls with rickrack sewn on to them… (Not my personal cup of tea, but each to their own.)

Despite lengthy instructions here, this really is a simple make. In fact, I suspect you could probably make a new bib in less time than it’s taken to read through to the end of this post…

If you do make one, I’d love to hear how you’ve got on. Please do leave me a comment below and let me know…

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