Turning one

We’re just back from a lovely week in Somerset and I’ve got lots of photos I want to share with you of some of the beautiful places we visited. However, since I think I would need to change this blog’s name to Gardens wot I have visited if I were to follow on with yet another garden visit post, I’ll save them up for next week. This, instead, is something I found sitting in my drafts, written a month ago when it actually had just been the littlest’s birthday and then left as I had wanted to get some better pictures. I think it’s time to admit defeat on that front and just publish it…

Just popping in rather quickly to share a photo of the T-shirt I made for the littlest’s first birthday at the weekend.

 

Homemade birthday top
Oh glorious baby chubbiness!

I’m thinking of turning it into a bit of a tradition, this birthday T-shirt thing. Do you remember the top I made for the sproglet’s second birthday last July?

Needless to say, far less time, thought, planning and energy went into the making of this one for the poor old baby. Where the sproglet had a large, well-planned and well-cooked-for first birthday party, last Saturday’s affair was a family only, last-minute organised do, catered by a quick trip to Waitrose to pick up sausages, scotch eggs and the like. We managed to make him a cake, at least, but forgot to buy candles.

Homemade birthday t-shirt
Crumpled and creased, post-action

And as the first guest arrived – my Mum – I was still busy ironing the image onto the front of his birthday T-shirt, cobbled together in the last few minutes before the party officially started.

Ah well, I rather suspect this will be his lot for the rest of his childhood. Hand-me-downs and less fuss made over all the big milestones. I wonder if it might not be a much easier entrance to the world, though, always aware that you’re not actually at the very centre of it, making it all spin round. At some point in time, his elder brother, the sprog, might get a rather rude awakening to all that, after the constant adoration and amazement from his family.

Gorgeous boys, both, in their different ways. I’m very lucky.

PS, I should mention that the image I’ve used isn’t actually copyright free and good for reproduction, so, erm, don’t tell on me. In a bit of a rush, rather than use my normal vintage images sources, I just had a very quick Google.

PPS, If you’ve not already seen it and want to make your own T-shirts (or anything else at all), check out my tutorial for how to print on fabric.

The original ickle trousers

Sometimes you come across a craft pattern so great you can’t help but make it time and again.

Sure, you think you to yourself, I could try out a different pattern this time round. I could make something new that I’ve not made before. In fact I probably should try out something new. Who knows? It might be better.

But you know, all along, that you’re going to whip up another version exactly the same as the others because you just can’t resist its charms. And you’re only likely to be disappointed if the new pattern doesn’t turn out as well…

Home sewn baby trousers | Wolves in London
Very very little baby trousers

So it is with the Made by Rae pattern for newborn baby “pants” (or trousers, to me and all other UK folk). Quick, simple and oh-so-very cute when finished, I made three of these for my friend Laura’s third baby and then another pair for my sister’s son.

Unpacking the sproglet’s newborn baby clothes a few weeks ago, in preparation for the new babe’s arrival, I came across the original two pairs.

Sewn almost two years ago now, these were my first foray into sewing with a sewing machine for many, many years. They were also my first time of making something that I had found through Pinterest, back when I used to pin craft projects imagining I actually was going to get round to making them all.

Sewn before the sproglet was born (and before this blog was born too) they almost seem to represent a different lifetime.

The grey stripy version was from an old shirt of my Dad’s, which I then appropriated at the age of 16, when wearing old too-large men’s shirts that you most likely bought in a charity shop was, briefly, the height of fashion.

Grey stripy baby trousers | Wolves in London
Ah this fabric brings back memories!

The blue striped version was made from my old primary school shirt, that was knocking around in a cupboard for some reason. (Ahem, that reason being that I am a hoarder.)

Blue stripy baby trousers, home sewn | Wolves in London
They look a bit like chef’s trousers, don’t they?

So, all in all, lots of memories stitched into these tiny trews. I can’t wait for the weather to improve so I can put them on the new babe too.

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.

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!

Related articles:

Various other baby projects I’ve made are:

A last minute present: the plastic bag stuffer

It was my Mum’s birthday a few weeks ago and, being the disorganised daughter I am, it got to the evening before and I realised I hadn’t yet bought her a present.

I rang up to apologise in advance that her present was going to be a bit late this year and the disappointment in her voice was tangible down the phone line.

I felt bad.

So, I scratched my little head and racked my little brain to try and think of a nice temporary present I could make her while watching X Factor that evening. Something small, quick to put together, that would give her something she could open “on the day”…

(My family are big fans of “on the day” presents: something small to tide over the birthday boy or girl til you get round to actually buying them a proper present. This chronic lateness and disorganisation is genetic, you see, I can’t fight it…)

And what did I come up with? This plastic bag stuffer!

Plastic bag holder
Utilitarian, but pretty

Not, I’ll grant you, the most exciting present in the world, but I knew that my Mum has a dark, dark cupboard in her house which is absolutely overflowing with hundreds of plastic bags, and she had admired my (ridiculously expensive) Cath Kidston version before.

The fabric was the last remnants of some glorious Japanese butterfly fabric that I bought when living in Hong Kong a few years back.

Butterfly fabric from Japan
Oooh, I love this butterfly fabric

(You might recognise it from the business card holders I made earlier this year.)

The construction was pretty simple. I cut myself two rectangles; the bigger one, at approx. 45cm x 35cm for the main bag holder, the smaller one, approx. 40cm x 10cm for the handle.

On both rectangles, I sewed the two long sides together to make two tubes.

Plastic bag holder
What a lovely tube…

For the rectangle that was to be the handle, I turned the fabric the right way round and ironed the tube flat.

On the large rectangle, I then folded a small hem at both ends, ironed this in place, before folding once more to create a second, bigger hem, of approx. 3cm. I pinned the handle into position at the top end of the bag and then sewed round the two large hems, leaving a gap to feed the elastic through.

Plastic bag holder
Elastic-filled hem

I cut two pieces of elastic, approximately 20cm long and, using two safety pins, threaded them through the holes and sewed the ends together. Finally, I sewed the gaps shut and admired my work.

Plastic bag holder
Plastic bags, model’s own

Of course, since I was also busy watching X Factor and it was night time, I didn’t stop to take any photos of anything along the way, so if you’d like to make one of these and any of those instructions didn’t make sense, do leave me a comment below and I will explain further if needed!

My Mum was really pleased with it and, as you can see, it is already in use. Now, I just need to figure out what to get her for her actual present. Hmmm…

Related articles:

A photo a day: August 28th

Vintage plate
Plate and image. Just waiting to be joined

I wish it would surprise you if I told you that I still have a wedding present to finish making for my sister who got married in May. (I wish it would surprise me too.)

I did give her most of her presents at the time, but I had an idea to pretty up some vintage plates for a really personal present too. Um, it’s still in the offing, but the other day I did get the plates out and take a look at them. That’s a first step right?

Related articles:

A horse for the wall

There’s nothing nicer than knowing that a handmade present was well-received, so I was delighted that this horse T-shirt was such a hit that the recipient’s Mum requested a bigger version for his recent third birthday…

Horse wall hanging
Another horse, what will he be turned into I wonder?

I’m such a dab hand at the iron on transfer paper by now that I actually – regular readers, hold onto your hats – managed to have the new T-shirt ready in time for his birthday party! (Okay, the party was about three weeks after his actual birthday and I had seen him in between times as well, but let’s ignore that trifling piece of information.)

As the present wasn’t exactly unexpected, I also thought I’d try and make something else as a surprise. The whole family recently moved house, so I thought an equine-related something-or-other for his room might be a good call.

Since my love for Spoonflower is yet to wane, it seemed like a good idea (theoretically, rather than financially) to get some fabric printed with a horse picture and turn it into a nice wall hanging.

And this was the result:

horse wall hanging
He’s a fine beast, no?

He’s rather glorious isn’t he?

(Please excuse the floral wallpaper as the backdrop. As I mentioned recently, we have not a single bare painted wall in the house at the moment, but this horse does look especially incongruous against such a chintzy background…)

I made a couple of other Spoonflower designs at the same time, for yet another ridiculously late birthday present, so as soon as I get them seamed and made up, I’ll write up a little how to for making a present like this. It’s very straightforward to make, but a nice idea, I think. (She says, modestly…)

I’m in a frantic making mode at the moment, since we’re celebrating the sproglet’s first birthday on Saturday and a few of the guests are yet to receive presents from me for birthdays already been (oh dear, honestly, how can I be so utterly, utterly useless?!) so there’ll be a couple more makes up here over the next few days…

Til then, happy end of the week everyone.

Related articles:

Birthday T-shirts

My love affair with ironing pictures onto T-shirts continued apace this week.

Home printed giraffe and tomato T-shirt

We’re off to Ireland at the weekend, to stay with some friends and celebrate their baby’s first birthday.

(We may also be tempted to betroth our sproglets to each other, ready to be wed as soon as they hit 16, if we could just find the relevant “Betroth your children” legal kit in WHSmiths…)

So, I was after a nice DIY one-year-old birthday present.

Of course, before the phrase “I’m after a nice DIY one-year-old birthday present” had even fully formed in my mind, I was reaching for the iron on transfer paper and searching my favourite vintage image blogs…

As you’ll know if you’ve perused these parts before, home-printed T-shirts were my go-to present for friends’ children last Christmas.

I was delighted, last week, when I met up with the recipient of the blue horse T-shirt (and his Mum) to be shown that he was wearing it right then. I was even more delighted when his Mum told me that he wears it at least three times a week (whenever it’s not being washed…) And it was a mixture of delight and relief to see that after all those washes, the transfer was still firmly in place.

(I’ve also been pleasantly surprised to see how well the carrot set I made for my baby has coped with being put through the wash. And it tickles me every time I put his chubby little tummy into one of the babygrows.)

So, spurred on by these successes, I thought that another outing of the transfer paper was in order for this occasion.

Knowing that the birthday girl’s favourite food is tomatoes, I found a nice old tomato image and, following my own tutorial, printed up the first T-shirt. (Of course, I didn’t actually follow my own tutorial, that would be a bit mental. I’m now imagining myself sitting reading my own blog in order to see what to do, ha ha.)

This was the end result:

Print your own images on T-shirts
Arcadia beauty brand tomatoes: yum, yum, yum

[I’m not going to share the link to this juicy, plump tomato image, I’m afraid, because I’m not 100 per cent sure that it’s free for use, so don’t sneak on me to the authorities, please…]

The second T-shirt, however, with this cute circus giraffe picture, you’re free to replicate if you’d like.

Print your own images onto T-shirts
Off to the circus with this jolly giraffe

I got this image, entirely legitimately, from the Graphics Fairy blog here: circus giraffe.

There’s a whole set of other circus animal images, so you can take your pick from a bear, zebra or even camel. (Has anyone in living memory ever seen a camel in a circus, I wonder?)

So, as ever, I’m pretty pleased with my T-shirts.

And I’ve got something else lined up, that also involves printed tomatoes. Here’s a sneak peek of it in process.

Tomatoes printed
Good enough to eat…

Intrigued? I’ve got the finishing touches to do today, so check back later this week to see all the details…

Related articles

Bibliophiles present: bookplates

I think it’ll give you an idea of the sort of child I was if I tell you I used to think bookplates were glamorous. The height of desirability.

Homemade bookplates
Of course, I didn’t have this sort of bookplate when I was little. Instead, I distinctly remember a purple bookplate with a little bespectacled mole on it. This one’s more my cup of tea now

Not for me a sandpit or a doll, no, I could think of nothing better than a quiet corner and a new book, with the pleasure of sticking a bookplate to the front and filling in my name under “this book belongs to” in my neatest possible handwriting.

To be honest, not so much has changed in the 30 odd years since then. That still sounds a pretty auspicious start to any Saturday.  (Not least because, with a six-month-old, there isn’t a hope in hell that I’d get to start a Saturday in that way…)

But having rather forgotten about the existence of bookplates in the intervening years, I’ve been pleased to notice them popping up all over the shop recently…

You can buy them from a few different places, but of course they’re really simple to make too.

I whipped up a few sets for my Mum and my sister-in-law (both voracious bibliophiles as well) as mini presents back at Christmas.

There are quite a few different templates available out there on the internet (oh, internet, how I love you), but I settled on favourites from three places:

Print your own bookplates
All my lovely bookplate designs, printed out and just waiting to be chopped up

From Design Sponge, these lovely snake, head and hand designs.

From Besotted Brands, these old-school profiles.

And from the Graphics Fairy, these children reading.

To see some more designs, as well as lots of other great vintage images, check out my Pinterest board Free Graphics.

Once you’ve selected your pictures, just print them out and cut them to size (I did this with a craft knife and ruler, which shows the level of care I give to my books, where I would normally just stick to good ol’ scissors).

As these were a present, I decided to make some cute little envelopes to house each of the sets. I made a basic template and then cut each envelope from cardstock and glued together.

As a final touch, I traced round the envelope tip and cut a liner out of some printed out hat images. (Which you can find here on Vintage Printable, if you’re inclined to do the same…)

Lined envelope
Little old hats to welcome you to the inside of your bookplate envelope

I then stuck a bookplate to the front, so you know exactly what’s inside in each envelope.

Print your own bookplates
Lovely big open mouth on the outside of the envelope, lovely big open mouth inside the envelope…

And held each set of four envelopes together with ribbon.

Print your own bookplates
Stick a ribbon round anything and it suddenly looks a hundred times better

I’d love to say this was really quick to make, but actually the envelopes and all the finishing touches took a little while. But hey, the devil’s in the detail, right?

Of course, you’ll also need some glue (or double-sided sellotape) to put the bookplates inside the books once you want to use them.

Simple, inexpensive and sure to put a smile on the face of any booklover (especially my eight-year-old self)…

Related articles:

Yes, if you’ve checked in to these parts before, you’ll know I have a great love of projects that use vintage images. Here are a few more: