Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Very Old-fashioned

My sister recently presented me with a challenge for a diaper cake. She needed a cake that would fit an unusual theme. The theme for the shower was "very old-fashioned" since the expectant mom was going to call her new daughter "Pearl Rose." My sister asked if there was anything I could do with that. Fortunately there was.

As soon she told me the theme, the ideas started flying. This particular theme, while new to me, was not nearly as difficult as one might think. When I think of things that are very old-fashioned, I think of pearls and lace especially when we're talking girls. I wanted to use a few blankets that I had that where a very soft pink with a tiny leaf/floral pattern on them. I would accent the cake with lace ribbon and strings of pearls. Even the middle name of the baby, "Rose," could be incorporated into the cake. I decided to top the cake with a bouquet of washcloth roses. The bottom layer of the cake was adorned with sporadic washcloth roses. The roses were surrounded in green washcloths which covered the layers of the cake and acted as leaves/foliage for the flowers.

The finished cake was beautiful. It was rather elegant for a cake that incorporates baby items on it and is not merely decorative. Unfortunately the addition of more baby items would have taken away from the overall effect, so it didn't contain as many as I would normally add. Overall, I was very pleased with how this cake turned out. My sister was pleased with the final product. I hope that the mom who received it got as much joy out of it as I did making it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Big Weekend

So, now that you've read up on my craft fair prep, here's the skinny on the fair itself, so to speak.

The show started out well. I headed out in plenty of time to stop at my mom's house and help her finish loading up before we went to the show. We arrived early and had to wait a little bit before we could get in (which is pretty much a necessity since parking is at a premium for this show). My mom watched the booths and my youngest kiddo while I unloaded (I also had my 2 year old with me. He rode on my back in the Ergo while I unloaded since he surely would not stay still and my mom would not be able to chase him). We got unloaded and started setting up.

No sooner had I gotten my display up and picture taken, than I got my first sale of the show! I sold a buggy right away. I was ecstatic! The show was off to a great start! The momentum didn't keep though. It was a good sale for my non-baby items, but my baby items didn't sell very well. I had a ton of people looking at and interested in my navy blue three tiered cake. It really is an eye-catcher. I handed out a few business cards, but since I'm not local to the area, it makes future purchases difficult. I really need to get shipping figured out.

The sale over all was great for me compared with last year; however, on the baby side, it could have fared better. I sold a pair of shoes too which was exciting. The mom of a toddler had trouble finding shoes that her kiddo could walk well in and wouldn't pull off so she was happy to find these. I'm so glad that they were what she was looking for!

Next year, I want to see how things would work out with an additional table, a differently arranged space, and many more small items as they seem to do better at shows than larger items. I'm not sure if and how this would all work out, but we will see. I've got almost a year to think about it and plan.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Prepping for the Craft Fair

After finishing up my harvest diaper cake (and another order which will be written about after the shower in a couple of weeks), I needed to get to work preparing for the annual craft fair I do with my mom. This year would be my second year bringing my baby gifts to the show. I actually had some inventory left from last year, but I had sold a buggy at the show last year. I also sold one of my gender neutral cakes sometime in the middle of the year that I had in inventory from the show. I dismantled two cakes I had made for last years show to use some of the baby items for another cake. All those items needed to be replaced so that I would have enough at the craft fair.

The first cake I worked on was 2-tier girl cake. I was super excited about this cake. Ever since I saw the blankets I used for it, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. This cake, the "Cupcake Cake" features a cupcake printed receiving blanket, plus another coordinating blanket. The lower tier is lined with washcloth cupcakes. The topper for the cake is a large cupcake made with a onsie and a washcloth. All the cupcakes are topped with red pom pom cherries for effect.

The second cake I made for the show was a 3-tier girl cake, a butterfly cake. For this cake, I used two butterfly print receiving blankets and a coordinating green blanket with dots. To embellish this cake, I added washcloth butterflies and flowers. I also added pink flower shaped teethers to decorate. This cake incorporates a kind of washcloth flower I had never done before and I love the final look. While not in the pictures, I did at antennas to the butterflies before wrapping the cake for sale.

The third new item I made for the craft fair was a 2-tier gender neutral cake. This cake featured a duck patterned blanket, plus another coordinating blanket around the tiers. Added to this cake was a matched duck hat and mitten set. I also added a washcloth, some baby bath samples, and water filled teethers.

The final new item I made for the craft fair was a buggy. This buggy needed to be a boy buggy. I selected a car print receiving blanket for the main buggy basket. I added coordinating washcloths for the buggy hood and the "blanket" inside the buggy.

Along with these new creations and the other baby items I had in inventory, I was ready for the show. I had high hopes of improving on last year's sales. There has been a definite progression of my work over the past year and I was proud of many of the new cakes I had to offer. In my next blog post, I'll give an update on the show including pics, so make sure to check back!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ready for the Harvest!

I recently completed perhaps my most time consuming cake and I would do it again in a heartbeat because it was so much fun! This cake presented a particular challenge as it was to be diaper free. The cake was for a friend of mine. The mom group that I belong to was planning a shower for one of the moms in the group. We decided on a fall/harvest theme for the shower. I, of course, volunteered to provide the diaper cake which would also be my gift to the expectant mom.

Here is where the challenge came in: the mom is a cloth diapering mom but already had a HUGE diaper stash and didn't need any more. So, it was to be a diaper-free diaper cake. Or just a baby cake, I suppose. Not to worry. I decided that this was an easy enough hurdle to jump. Towel cakes are becoming increasingly popular for wedding gifts so, why not do the same with blankets? I usually use receiving blankets for my diaper cakes anyway and the mom had requested receiving blankets since she didn't have the ones from her last baby anymore. I was all set and ready to make a Blanket Cake! This was easier said than done.

6 blanket cake, first attempt
I collected 6 blankets in various boy patterns (since the mom was expecting a boy) and proceeded to start construction on the cake. I was all set to cover the cake completely in ribbon  to match the theme so the pattern of the blankets really didn't make much difference in regards to the final product. As I began to build the cake, I noticed one big glaring problem. The size. It turns out that since flannel isn't a particularly thick fabric, when relied on entirely to build a cake, it is quite lacking. I put the ribbon on the see how it would all work and the result was less than awe-inspiring. Tiny cake (even smaller than my mini 2-tier holiday cakes), the white crinkle paper looked completely out of place, and there were issues with the ribbon (but that was easily remedied). It was back to the drawing board.

3-tier, 10 blankets, final cake
I had intended a 3-tier cake, but as it was, that would never work. So, in the end, I picked up some bath toys that were in a cylindrical container. That container acted as my core for the cake and I started to build again. With the addition of four more coordinating blankets, the cake, though smaller in diameter to most of my other 3-tier cakes, was much more impressive. New ribbon encircled the cake, coordinating paper shred was added, artificial fall leaves were arranged around the cake board, and then it was on to the final touches.

First pumpkin attempt
The final touches were a whole new ball game. And I mean new. New project for me, new to my diaper cakes. Just new. I decided to maintain the theme, I'd crochet a collection of stuffed squashes and gourds to decorate the cake. After the shower, they could be used by the expectant mom's kids as play food. I'd never crocheted food before so it was entirely new territory for me. Luckily, I had crocheted before (my mom taught me, several times) so I knew how to do the stitches and read a pattern. Armed with my crochet hook, cotton thread, patterns (which were difficult enough to find - or make up as the case turned out to be fore some of them), and the phone to call my mom for help in case of difficulties, I was ready to go. The first project was a pumpkin for the topper. While the pumpkin turned out great, it was entirely too bright and too big for the cake, so I remade it with a smaller hook and different colored yarn. I then moved on to the other gourds and squashes. I followed patterns for some, and others I just made up based on how I knew I wanted them to look. They turned out great. I added them to the cake and wallah! I was done.
Gourd set (including 1st pumpkin)

The final cake was such a work of art. it became my new favorite cake and I was so proud of how it turned out. There were so many new techniques that went in to building this cake and I couldn't have been happier with it. The cake looked fantastic with the rest of the shower decorations and their fall/harvest theme. The best part is that the mom loved it.

Finished cake as presented to the mom
I now can add a few new products to my product line - non-diaper baby cakes and crocheted stuffed toys. We'll see how similar projects turn out, but so far, it's going well.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween Cake!

Starting last December I began making holiday cakes. They are mostly for display and to show what is possible. No matter the theme of your shower, a cake can almost assuredly be made to match. Of course, if you are going to be welcoming a baby the same month as a major holiday, that can always be the theme of a shower. Or a cake like this can be a holiday gift for a baby that is celebrating his or her first one. In any case, I couldn't skip Halloween as it is one of my favorite holidays, so here it is, my Halloween display cake.

In true form, similar to several of my other holiday cakes, this mini cake was a 2-tiered cake. I cheated a little when I built it, because I didn't actually use baby items to cover the tiers. I simply used cotton flannel fabric. Since this cake was for display purposes only, I didn't go through the trouble of making actual burp cloths, but in the event that someone wanted to order a similar cake, that is most likely what I'd do. Holiday apparel seems readily available, however, other baby items like burp cloths and blankets are not seen as frequently with holiday themes. Luckily, they can be made if the occasion calls (and you happen to be crafty enough, which, fortunately, I am). I kept it very simple with this one with the accents. I used some adorable candy corn ribbon for the tiers. I also added some white wash cloths, a pair of orange baby spoons, and finished it off with matching Jack-o-lantern hat and socks. I added some tissue paper to decorate and separate the tiers, but I'm not sure I would employ this method frequently since that would be the only part of the cake I'm a bit unsure about.

I really like how this cake turned out and I'm excited about future possibilities with this theme. I was tempted to make a couple different Halloween cakes, but I restrained myself. I look forward to more cakes where I can test my creativity. The seasonal ones are especially fun. I already have my next one ready to go! Keep checking back to see what I've come up with!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

New and Improved Cloth Diaper Diaper Cake

I've once again ventured into the world of the rarely seen cloth diaper diaper cake. Not many people have explored this "green" option, but since I cloth diaper myself and know many other moms that cloth diaper as well, I see the need for this option. This time, I wanted to use flat fold diapers which proved to be easier than other types I have used in the past for cakes.

A flat fold diaper, or more colloquially known as a "flat" ("flats" for plural) is a diaper that is basically a large piece of absorbent fabric. They can be made with various materials and are folded for use (using one of many configurations) and secured with pins or other commercially available items for holding it in place. Because of their ease of care, they are very popular among cloth diapering moms, but for those that are unfamiliar with cloth diapering, they may be a cause for uncertainty or fear. They do however, come together quite nicely for a diaper cake.

I opted to create a boy diaper cake this time. Once again, this cake was purely for experimentation purposes. I selected 12 flat diapers (which I actually use a burp cloths) and got to work. This cake was built very similarly to how a towel cake might be built (another project I'd like to try my hand at some time). I created two tiers for this cake and was actually surprised at how small the cake was. It was about the same dimensions as my 2-tier mini cakes that I make which typically contain about 24 diapers and it fit on an 8" round cake board. I decorated the cake for pictures including spoons and socks and adding crinkle paper and ribbon.

The main idea for this cake was to see how it would come together using flats. It worked great and I'm glad to have made one so I have it under my belt should one ever be requested. I would much rather commit to doing something I've already done and make sure my customer is confident in my ability and on my part, I can create something that I'm proud to put my name on and sell.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sundae, Sundae, Sundae...

Once again, I've taken inspiration from others and I've created another small item for my product line. I've thought about making these for a while, but never got around to it until now. So, now introducing, the Sundae.

These cute little items are pretty basic. They are made with washcloths and baby bowls and utensils. It's a great little way to add flair to a shower and have your decorations be more than just decorative. Little items like this are great gifts for expectant moms because they are items she is sure to be able to use.

Sundaes are available in a wide combination of colors and can be made for girls, boys, or babies of unknown gender. I think they are cute and simple. I look forward to providing these for showers in the future!

Sunday, October 2, 2011


So, it's been a long time coming and it really was just a matter of me getting around to it. I finally created some "nice" lollipops. The ones I had made before were more for experimentation to see how it would all look and come together. Having boys, I tend towards blue when experimenting so I decided to make a set of pink lollipops.

The lollipops were a matched set of dark pink, light pink, and white in different pairs with soft tipped baby spoons. I prefer the look of these spoons to plastic spoons and they are much sturdier than the lollipop sticks I had experimented with in the past. These "candies" were made with washcloths, and while they could potentially be made with some other baby items which I may try in the future, I stuck with the basic. This set was wrapped in tulle, a look I prefer to cellophane which I've used in the past for my "candy." I took several pictures just playing around.

These were the first lollipops I made with the completed look that I'd expect for sale and should I get an order, they would look very  much like these. I think they are adorable and look forward to other additions to my "candy" collection.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

It's a Pooh cake!

Recently, I had my first order for a character cake. I was super excited when my friend first told me about the cake she was going to order and I started looking for items for it right away to plan out what I was going to do. Originally, she had requested Tigger, but it turned out that the cake was going to be Pooh and friends in general (which does make things a bit easier to find since Tigger items are usually accents to Pooh items). My friend also picked up several of the items to incorporate into the cake so that also made my job easier (as well as saving her a bit on the final cost of the cake). I received for the cake, blankets, toys, bath items, and washcloths. She pretty much provided me with the main things for the cake, I just needed to provide the diapers, decorations, building supplies, and labor. Easy, right?

The diapers the expectant mom wanted were a specific type of chlorine free diapers so I needed to find those at a specific location. After picking those up and gathering decorations, I was set to go. I started building the cake. This cake was done in my newer "spiral" style since these types of cakes seem to be becoming more popular, especially in situations where the diapers are visible. It was extremely difficult to pack all the diapers in that I wanted. This is definitely a limitation on diaper cakes where blankets are used since you are limited by the length of the blanket. After several tries, though, I managed to get them all wrapped and bound. The tiers were stacked and the blankets placed around each tier. There were four blankets in the set of pooh blankets. I selected the two matching ones to place on the top and bottom tiers. The middle tier held the green blanket (I was wanting to use blue ribbons and decorations since the expected baby was a boy) and I was left with a brown blanket. I originally wanted to hide the brown blanket in the middle of the cake, however, with as many diapers as I included in the middle, it just wasn't possible. I opted for a new and different approach to incorporate the blanket by fanning it out under the bottom of the cake. It hid the cake circle and gave a beautiful finished look at the bottom.

I added the washcloths, baby bath items, and toys using some new techniques I hadn't used before. I love the final look it gave the cake. The washcloths, for instance, were paired and tied with ribbon and finished with a bow. Rather than having a front center formed by the bows of the ribbon I wrap around the tiers like I do on most of my cakes, this one had items and decorations all around it since it would be used for a centerpiece. The toys and bath items were added around the cake to give visual appeal from all sides.

One thing I was really excited about with this cake was the additional Pooh decorations I had found. This was the first cake that I had ever done where I incorporated items (aside from the ribbon and crinkle paper) that was specifically for decoration. These items were Pooh figures cut out of board that I placed around the cake (in such a fashion that it did not render any items on the cake unusable. They definitely gave the cake a more finished look and filled in spaces that otherwise may have looked empty. I've only played with the idea of a "decorative cake" (one that does not include baby items, but rather is made with only diapers and decorations like ribbons, silk flowers, etc.) since I love the look, but worried about the value of "unusable decorations," but this cake benefited from the additions. Who knows, in the future, I may do this more often.

The final cake was definitely one that made me proud. I love how it looked in the end. This cake is definitely among my favorites that I have made. I'm glad to have found some new techniques for including items in the cake and I hope to constantly improve my methods. And the best part? Both my friend who ordered the cake and the expectant mom loved it! For what more could I ask?

At Project's End

I finally finished the shoes I have been working on. After difficulty figuring out the pattern and sizing, I achieved the correct size, as you know from my previous post. I completed the shoes in the requested material. These shoes were no ordinary shoes though.

Toddler shoes 6.5"
First pair of denim shoes I made
Aside from the smaller size which presents it's own challenges, the mom wanted the shoes made using denim. I had made another pair of shoes for this mom for her toddler also in denim (she wanted matching shoes for her boys). You may have seen the picture of the larger pair I made. The thing I failed to mention about these shoes was the sheer difficulty of using denim. The canvas that I typically use for the top of the shoes is pretty thick in it's own right, however, the top of the shoe isn't typically manipulated a lot. The heel portion, however, is much more difficult to manage. When using twill which is my regular material for the heel portion of the shoe, I have enough difficulty as 12 or so layers of material is a challenge for sewing machines, especially without the right needle (which needs to be super sharp and strong) or a top quality motor (otherwise I would have burned mine out a long time ago). The denim, however, it thicker than the canvas and probably should have killed my machine. Luckily, it didn't. I completed the shoes and they came out the same size as the practice shoes, which was great.

Baby shoes 4.25"
I did discover a potential problem, however. Because of the thickness of the material, the elastic casing is especially thick. A the ends where the material is stitched, folded over and stitched again (several times) it is so thick it actually narrows the amount of space on the inside if the shoe. The shoes then, became much more ideal for narrow or flat feet and they were actually difficult to try on my youngest who is about the same age as the baby that will be wearing the shoes. I do hope they work out though. I really want the mom to get what she wanted.

I have come to a conclusion, though. As much as it may upset some potential customers, I simply cannot make denim shoes again. The fact that I didn't burn out my sewing machine motor is a complete surprise to me. Denim really is too thick for the shoes. I do try to meet my customers' requests, but in this case, the mom benefitted from being a friend and my naïveté at how unsuitable denim is for this project. At least I know now and with continued experience in making these shoes, they are getting better and more consistent and I'm learning the nuances involved in their production.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Oh, no. What did I do?

So a current order of mine is for a pair of baby shoes. The shoes are for a (now) 4 mo. old baby. It's the first time I had to go smaller on my pattern so it was quite an adventure.

At first, I was a little bit hesitant to make shoes for a baby. After all, what does a baby really need shoes for? As they don't walk, shoes don't really serve much of a purpose other than keeping feet warm. In my mind socks can serve that function. Although, recently, I've come to a new conclusion. I recall that many moms are bothered by the lack of ability baby socks have to actually stay on the baby's foot. I have experienced this myself. I've heard several people say they've put shoes on their babies solely to keep the sock on. Here's the way I see it now: if a shoe is required to keep a sock on, at least it can be a soft flexible shoe that will not constrict growth or movement. This function is served well by my soft-soled shoes and therefore, there is a rationale to make them that I can live with. Call me strange, but keeping with my ideals with the products I make plays into maintaining my integrity. But I digress.

In any case, I set out to rework my pattern, this time for a smaller foot. What I developed should have been a shoe that measured 4 in. to fit a baby with a 3.5 in. foot. I measured everything out and very carefully drew out my pattern to maintain the exact size differences that previous patterns had given me. When sewing the shoes I was diligent (as I usually am) about maintaining consistency in my seams, etc. When all was said and done, I had created just about the cutest little shoes I had ever seen. Then I measured them. Yeah, they were 1/2 in. too short. I have no idea how that happened. That's not a small amount when we are talking itty bitty baby shoes.

So, it was back to the drawing board. I used some (more) scrap fabric and leather to make another pair of shoes just to check sizing before I made the final pair for my order. The second pair came out the way they were supposed to. Kinda. The larger pattern I used was supposed to make a 4.5 in. shoe (even though it was the "next size up" from the other one). The shoe turned out to be 4.25 in. I'd throw in the towel, but these shoes fit my little one who is close in age to the baby who will wear the shoes so I figure with the time that has gone by and the fact that babies grow, the shoes should fit. I'm going to make the pair the mom requested (with the fabric she requested), cross my fingers, and hope for the best.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Shoes, shoes, and more shoes!

So, I recently have been working on an order for more shoes. Nothing terribly exciting, well, having the order is exciting, but the actual shoe making part is nothing new. I did use some new color combinations and a few different new fabrics. The biggest change is that I have "upgraded" to a stiffer interfacing on the top piece so the fabric should be sturdier and wear slower. They are still a fabric shoe so they will wear faster than an all leather shoe, but hopefully, it will add a bit more stability. I'll have to ask the recipient of the shoes if she notices a difference between these and the ones she has previously ordered. Here are the pictures:

Black & Brown Stripe/Chocolate
New top fabric option
introduced August 2011
Green & Khaki Stripe/Chocolate
New heel fabric option
introduced July 2011
Special order fabric selection

Friday, September 2, 2011

Now Available: Burp Cloths!

With my new-found "joy" of sewing, I got inspired to make some more items other than the shoes and taggy blocks to add to my product line. I wanted to make some burp cloths. At first, I was considering embellishing prefold diapers (and still may at some point), but I decided to make the whole thing (or things) from scratch. I opted to make them in the same style as prefold diapers but sew them completely on my own as well as add embellishments.

My first go at making the burp cloths was not nearly as easy as I thought it would be, but they did actually come out beautifully. I chose cotton flannel material since I had seen several commercial burp cloths made from flannel and it's a nice soft baby friendly material - especially after washing. My first selection was an adorable jungle/safari flannel material that I had used for some taggy blocks. Jungle/safari themes are so popular for babies today that even if it doesn't match a nursery set perfectly, it can still coordinate. I opted to offer the burp cloths in pairs of coordinating cloths. This first pair includes a solid jungle/safari material burp cloth and a green burp cloth with the jungle/safari accent. The project was certainly a test to my sewing ability; however, I truly think I proved how my skills have improved over the years.

My next step was "packaging" for sale and deciding how I wanted them to look. I opted for securing them with a simple ribbon and attaching a tag. The last thing a recipient wants is a lot of material to deal with and packaging with less waste is easier for everyone. I am so excited to add more designs and currently have materials for at least three more pairs of burp cloths. I hope potential customers love them as much as I do!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Taggy Blocks!

About a year ago, I was at a gathering with some moms I know for us to work on various sewing projects. Each of us was supposed to be working on our own thing, but for some reason, I felt really uninspired. I had some different materials that I had brought with me, but I just couldn't think of anything to make. One of the moms was working on some fabric blocks for her little girl. With nothing else to do and only enough time left in our little gathering for a smaller project. I decided that I would make a block for my little one too.

I pulled out some Dallas Cowboys material that I had brought with me and cut out the squares and got to sewing. I used some ribbon that one of the moms had with her to create some tags on a few of the block edges. At first, the block came together pretty easily, but putting it all together was not entirely as simple as I anticipated. With some more "borrowed" materials, I stuffed and finished the block and even added some plastic bags for a crinkle effect. My kiddo really enjoyed the block and still does to this day. I loved the concept of the taggy block and thought I might want to make them for my boutique down the road sometime.

Apparently, "down the road" was pretty far down the road. I decided recently that I was ready to try again. I picked up some different materials for the blocks I was planning. I found some adorable nursery flannel in a jungle/safari print. I found two prints that coordinated and then picked out some super soft minky. Added ribbon would help complete the block with tags. I made up a set of three matching blocks. Two of the blocks included crinkle sounds and the third block includes a rattle.

I love the final result. Each of the blocks includes various traits for sensory development in babies and toddlers, not to mention providing a good, simple, safe toy. If I have one complaint about the blocks, it's that they are not washable aside from spot cleaning the surface. I can make the blocks without the crinkle or rattle to allow for machine washing and drying, but that would remove attributes that make them really unique. I have extra materials ready to go for additional sets of blocks which I'm really excited about. I hope I have the opportunity to get them made up soon. =)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hats Off to Breastfeeding... Or is That "On"?

Recently some friends of mine and I were participating in The Big Latch On, an event sponsored by La Leche League to promote breastfeeding awareness. The event was scheduled on August 6th the Saturday of  Breastfeeding Awareness Week which is always the first week of August which is also considered National Breastfeeding Month. After the event (an effort to collect as many moms as possible to simultaneously nurse their little ones around the world), we were chatting about the boob beanies that are available for babies. The idea of these little hats are to promote breastfeeding in a non-conventional way by normalizing the sight of a breast. Theoretically, a baby/child would wear this hat that resembles a breast while nursing. Depending on your sense of humor, you'd find it funny or amusing. To some, it might be offensive - likely, those are the people that are not a fan of nursing in public or perhaps breastfeeding in general. One mom mentioned that at one time she had one of those hats but that she had shared it with another mom and was likely not to see it again. Another mom mentioned that she wanted one. I suggested they make them (since we recently attended a crochet class led by none other than my own mom). Sadly, neither mom felt they possessed the skill to make the hat. To which I foolishly responded, "I could probably make one." Me and my big mouth...

My own crochet skill, I felt left much to be desired. I learned the craft when I was a child and would crochet clothing for my dolls. As I got older, I made a bag and several adult sized beanie hats. I used one stitch and didn't get more complicated than that. I hosted crochet classes taught by my mom twice - one about a year ago and one a few months ago. After the second class, I really was starting to understand the basics (which I wasn't patient enough to pay attention to when I was younger and not disciplined enough to practice after the class a year ago). I also became more intrigued by the items that can be made and began perusing patterns. It was actually having a project that got me to practice more and see what I could create.

I found a pattern for the boob beanie and collected my materials - cotton baby soft yarn in the appropriate colors. It certainly was an interesting experiment. While working on the hat, I ripped it out three times because I couldn't get it right. It was rather frustrating. It certainly didn't help that I wanted to change which stitch was used on part of the hat. In the end though, I finished it. I do love how it came out. I found it to be simply adorable.

The pattern labels the hat "newborn" size. It fits my 3 mo old whom I used to model the hat so people can see how it looks on a baby. I look forward to recreating the hat in various color combinations and expanding the sizes that I can make, but for now, it's only available in the one size. I can't wait to see where this takes me!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A beautiful bouquet

Many diaper cakes I've seen contain diaper tiers and are lavishly decorated with silk flowers and ribbons. They are really beautiful all things considered. The thing that keeps me from designing this type of diaper cake is that the decorations add cost to the final product, but don't necessarily add to the value. I prefer to use baby items to decorate and embellish the cakes so the new mom has more items at her disposal.

Recently, however, I decided to see if I could meld the two concepts. In the past, I have made baby bouquets using washcloths and socks to resemble flowers and presenting them in baskets and vases. In one cake, I used some socks in rose form for embellishment. I wanted to take it one step further though and make the flowers more central to the cake decoration.

For this initial experiment, I wanted to see how a flower bouquet would work for a cake topper. I used washcloths to make several roses and some washcloths with baby utensils to make calla lillies and gathered them into a bouquet that then embellished the top of a one tier cake. More washcloths were used for the bouquet base to emulate leaves for the bouquet. I didn't add a ton of other decorations since I was focusing on the bouquet, but the tier was wrapped with prefold cloth diapers/burp cloths and then decorated with simple ribbon.

The cake turned out beautifully. I really am happy with the final look and from this I will probably work on cleaning up the appearance of the flowers and perhaps experimenting with having the flowers cascade down the cake. As excited as I am about these prospects, there is one important factor I need to consider. This uses A LOT of washcloths. It's not bad, per se, just something to think about. I can't wait to experiment some more and see how it all turns out. I'm glad to offer a more "refined" look to the cakes I can make and still keep them functional.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Shoes! My First Girl Pair!

After my first sale of baby/toddler shoes, another mom in my mom group showed some interest in shoes for her little girl. There were a few problems though. I didn't have any in stock, nor did I have and "girl" material. I also didn't have a smaller pattern which would be required for said little girl. So, I apparently had some work to do before I could present shoes for a future sale.

A friend and I had seen some adorable material that we had discussed would be perfect if I had a little girl to make shoes for, so we headed to the store and I picked up the precious pink plaid material and some coordinating light pink material for the shoes. That was the easy part. I then had to sit down and work out a pattern. Using the sizes I already had, I created a pattern that should work according to the measurements the mom gave me. I then went to work making the shoes. They turned out adorable and came out to the exact size I planned for that pattern - I'm glad I was so particular when adjusting my pattern!

I love these shoes. The material is just too adorable and I'm glad I was able to pick it up for some girl shoes. I've also been mentally working on some new ideas for some more shoes I'd like to make in the future. For now, I'm trying to master the current design and hopefully pick up more interest. I am also still working on sorting out my sizing. Most of my shoe patterns were separated by half inches, but I've started making them on the quarter inch, so there are more size options and they can have a better fit. These girl shoes are my first of these "in-between" sizes and I still need to make sure they fit the kiddo they were made for. If not, I'll just make the next size up and have these in inventory, otherwise, it's one more pair to a (hopefully) happy customer. =)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Shoes! My First Order!

After I had made a few pairs of shoes for my oldest son, many people in my mom group started to take notice. I got several compliments, which I'll be honest, made me feel a lot better about the quality of the work I had done on them. Even more to my surprise, one of the moms in the group wanted some for her own son. I was excited about the opportunity, but unsure because sizing and sewing for other kiddos was not in my original plan. But, hey, why not?

I lent her the practice pair of shoes to see how they worked for her kiddo just to check sizing. Similar to Noah, they fit, but a bit too closely and the mom wanted some shoes a little bit bigger. The worked out great because I had already made my kiddo's second pair at that time and had the pattern for the next size up. She also loved the material that I had used for the practice shoes so much, that she wanted some with that fabric as well as a pair like my own son's. Two pairs! In the mean time, she wanted to know if she could keep the practice pair of shoes (assuming I wasn't attached to them) because her son loved them so much and didn't want to take them off! I told her yes.

Navy gingham/Navy
Blue & Khaki striped/Tan
Just like my kiddo's shoes
When I went out to find materials for the shoes, I came upon some navy gingham which I just had to get. I almost liked it better than the navy striped material that I had used on the practice shoes so I picked some up. I figured I'd make up a pair and if she still wanted the striped material, I'd give the gingham shoes to my kiddo as his next pair. Turns out, she liked the gingham, so it all worked out (we also discovered that the dye on the striped material used on the practice shoes bled a bit and turned her son's feet blue - hopefully this material wouldn't do the same). I made up the second pair of shoes to match the ones I'd previously made for my son and found that with each pair I made, I could make them faster and better.

I was very happy with how the shoes turned out. I wanted to make sure they had some good packaging too. I placed the shoes in a quart sized resealable freezer bag, but I have to admit, I wasn't thrilled with the printing that was on the bag to write your food contents on it, but it was the best I could find from what I had at home. I also printed out some cards to insert into the bags with the shoes that had a description of the shoes (size and color) as well as "Beth's Baby Boutique" and my contact information and webpage. Oh, and let's not forget the polyester stuffing to keep the shape of the shoes. I love the way the finished packaged product looked - with the exception of the printing on the bag. I'll have to see what else I can find for future use.

Packaged and ready to go

When I delivered the shoes to the mom,  when I next saw her at a mommy meeting, another mom saw them and got excited. She asked me if I was making and selling them now and if I had any girl shoes. My response? "Um, I guess..., I mean, I could. I don't have anything in stock..." Nice, real tactful. The truth was, I hadn't thought about making them beyond that, but in that moment, upon seeing that there was interest, I figured I could. It really was a matter of making sure I had patterns of the appropriate sizes and if I could figure out a sizing system. My next project was set.

Check back for my next update about my first pair of girl shoes!

Sunday, July 10, 2011


I make shoes! And now I can add them to my product line!

Here's a bit of history: My oldest son takes after his dad (who is built like a linebacker) so, needless to say, he's on the large side for kiddos. I've always (ok, "always" being since I've had a kid) been a fan of not putting my kid in shoes until he was walking around. I had read that shoes, especially very structured shoes, can cause restricted movement and therefore stunt growth and development of the foot in babies and toddlers. Barefoot is best, so they say. In any case, with my very tight budget, I went in search of soft soled shoes for my son which are supposed to be the best for budding walkers since they can feel the ground below them and this makes them more sure-footed as walkers. What I found was disheartening. There are several manufacturers of soft soled shoes, though, not a ton and often you have to look in specialty stores or online to find them. Also, they tend to be pricey. You can find them on sale sometimes for $20 but often they cost more and you can spend upwards of $40 on a pair. This upset me since I pay that for MY shoes and they last me a lot longer (because, let's face it, my foot doesn't grow two sizes in 6 or less months). I managed to find some of these shoes at Target in the baby section for about $20 and picked them up - one pair. I'm cheap like that. Before I knew it, my son needed the next size up so I got those. By the time he was 20 mo old, his feet were too big for the 18-24 mo size which was the biggest size available. I started looking in other places and found that even the bigger brands of soft soled shoes typically cut it off at 18-24 mo. I was disheartened. Just because my child was bigger didn't mean his feet were as developed, and I really wanted to keep him in a soft soled shoe. I decided the only thing left to do was make them myself.

The practice shoes
I lucked out and was able to find a pattern. Not one that I could really use though. It was made for very small babies. I had to adapt the pattern and make one the correct size for my kiddo. After measuring his foot and creating the pattern I thought would work, I used some scrap material and made a practice pair of shoes. These shoes were a joke as far as providing traction goes, but I really wanted to see how they would come together and make sure the size fit. A flexible leather sole would be more expensive than using scrap fabric and I didn't want to waste it if the shoes didn't fit. Luckily, they did. They fit perfectly.

I was set to make the real ones then. I gathered up my supplies, making sure I had sturdy fabric, leather for the sole, heavy duty thread, and last but not least - a heavy duty needle for my machine. Let me tell you, that pair of shoes caused me so much anguish! I had major tension issues and apparently, I didn't get a needle that was the degree of heavy duty that I needed. I ripped out so much of the stitching on those shoes, it's not even funny. Eventually though, they came together. My poor kiddo practically had his toe poking through the pair of shoes he had been wearing and they must not have been very comfortable for him so it's a good thing I figured it all out. Now, they weren't perfect, and the elastic around the ankle was a bit loose, but they worked, and he was so happy to be in a pair of shoes that fit him!

The too big shoes on the right and the ones that were just
right on the left. It's like the three bears...
A few months later, he started growing out of those shoes, so it was back to the drawing board. The pattern needed to be adjusted for a larger size. After getting that done, I made up another pair of shoes using the same fabrics as the first. The problem was, I overshot it. A lot. So the shoes I made were too big. So big he would have tripped over the toes. It was back to the drawing board, again. I re-sized the pattern once more and made yet another pair of shoes using the same material again. These shoes worked out well and fit him with room to grow but not so much that he'd trip. I figured with the other, larger pair, he could wear them when he grows out of the new ones that fit. The good news is that it got easier to make the shoes with each subsequent pair. I had gotten the heaviest duty needle I could find, and even though I broke three of them in the process, I still managed to finish the project.

My kiddo's most recent shoes
Because my kiddo only has the one pair of shoes, it didn't take him long to wear out that pair. They are canvas after all, so while sturdy, they aren't bullet proof for a very active toddler with only one pair of shoes. I decided to mix it up a bit and make him a new pair of shoes. These were similar to the first several, but I used a different canvas material on the top of the shoe so he'd have some variety.

My homemade shoes started getting attention in my mom group and this lead to comments that I should sell them and one interested buyer. Check out my next post for the details on the shoes I made for her.