My new Parkside Shorts and thoughts about the postpartum body

As you all know from Andy’s Birth Story (and other musings), I’m still trying to “get to know” my postpartum body. I can’t sew as fast as I’d like, but I’m working to build a wardrobe that makes me feel good…and I’m excited to say I finally finished making my first piece of clothing post-baby!

My first postpartum handmade wardrobe staple: A pair of Parkside Shorts in Essex Linen

Due to the fact that I live in a climate that is ridiculously humid and HOT in the summer (our city is nicknamed “Famously Hot”) + my sweet, squishy baby has caused all of the shorts I enjoyed last summer (and the summers prior) to no longer fit (at least not comfortably), shorts were at the top of my sewing priority list.

Pattern

Before discovering Sew Caroline’s Parkside Shorts {read about my 1st pair here}, I thought I wasn’t a “shorts person.” Turns out – I just hadn’t found shorts that fit right. Knowing this now, I knew it would be worth the effort to construct a pair of Parkside Shorts based on my new measurements so I could comfortably get through summer.

PLUS POCKETS! I love the pockets in these shorts – they are in a comfortable position so you can rest your hands there and they’re large enough to actually hold stuff.

As you know, I had a cesarean birth which means not only do I have a pretty wicked scar, but my stomach is also still numb and tender in certain areas. That said, regular waistbands and fitted pants are not comfortable (I’m okay with that considering I don’t really wear pants all that often and loose-fitting clothes are what I gravitate to). The thick elastic waistband & the slightly higher rise of these shorts make them super postpartum friendly (I read somewhere that elastic shorts with a drawstring are a good postpartum investment so that they can continue to be worn as you “shrink” so adding the optional drawstring may have been a good idea, but I really didn’t want any negative body-talk/desires-of-bodies-past going into these shorts 😉 ).

Fabric

I’ve been very slowly working on a pair of Harrington Shorts for the Hubs using some of the Essex Linen I got from Trailer Stash Fabrics many moons ago. I had enough of the green left over to cut out a pair of Parkside Shorts for myself! {SO.. one day the Hubs & I will have matching shorts #Nerds. Maybe I’ll even make Andy a pair of matching bloomers #FamilyOfNerds}.

The material is really breathable and felt great when I wore them last weekend. Being that they are my only currently-fitting shorts, I’m pretty sure I’ll be shamelessly wearing them every weekend (thank goodness I chose a neutral fabric!).

Process

Over the past few weeks I’ve been stealing a few minutes here and there to work on the shorts. I could’ve rushed through the shorts, but I took my time to over-stitch all of the interior edges to prevent fraying and so that it would look a lot neater 😉 With sewing time being a little more sparse, I tried to relish every step when I got a window of time to sit down to sew.

More than ever sewing has truly become my outlet for self-care. The quiet time with my machine is such a gift. Utilizing my skills to construct clothing that makes me feel good in my body is such a blessing. When I have the time and the energy, those moments of sewing serve me in such an enormous way.

Andy watching me work on my Parkside Shorts.

On the weekends, we spend a lot of time in our lower-level (kind of a “basement”) where my sewing space is. While I sew, Andy plays on her baby gym or takes a nap in her seat. I love having her near me while I’m sewing. As time goes on, I hope she continues to enjoy our quiet, recuperation time – maybe one day she’ll have her own creative project to work on alongside me 😉

Andy enjoying a slumber while I finished my Parkside Shorts.

As soon as I finished the shorts, I tried them on and I could have melted. They fit perfect which felt incredible. It’s been a very long time since I have put on clothes that were made for me and fit in the way I wanted them to. It’s tough when your body changes (especially if it’s in the larger direction 😉 ). When you don’t feel comfortable in your clothes, it’s hard to feel comfortable in your skin.

My thoughts on the postpartum body

As we’ve passed the magical “4th trimester” and are approaching 5 months with Andy being earth-side, I’m being bombarded with “How to lose the baby weight” emails and diet marketing.

As someone with a degree in Public Health (including a graduate level nutrition course) and a strong attachment to my local YMCA, I understand the importance of physical fitness and nutrition. HOWEVER, I have zero tolerance for society’s pressure to “get my body back.”

Newsflash: My body never left. It may look a little different, but it’s here. And it has served me and my family pretty damn well.

In the beginning/shortly after Andy was born, I had some low points where I felt uncomfortable with the extra “fluff” my body had retained. Some of that weight has sloughed off, but some hasn’t…and I’m okay with that. When I talk about it with friends/family/coworkers, their reaction is usually: “Don’t worry, you’ll get your body back!” I know they are well-intentioned with this reaction, but the truth is: I do not desire my “old body.” Not to say I’d be sad if I woke up tomorrow and all of my old clothes suddenly fit perfectly again, but it’s not a priority of mine right now nor is it a concern.

For the better part of a year, I shared my body with another soul. My body nourished her until she was ready to thrive in her own body. That’s incredible! The extra padding in my midriff was the cushion that kept her safe. I can’t help but admire what what my body has been through. It has served me so very well. I continue to work my hardest to serve it well too (but Fridays are pizza night and I’m not willing to give that up 😉 ).

I refuse to cave into feeling sorry for myself and/or obsessing over what I’m eating or spending hours at the gym.

I am active every day. I try to eat real food as often as possible. I don’t judge myself when I want a treat, and I don’t judge myself when my old clothes don’t fit. I knew they wouldn’t. Maybe one day they will. Maybe they never will again. Maybe one day Andy can wear them. Maybe she won’t. Maybe they’ll be eaten by moths before then. Maybe not. Honestly, who cares. They’re replaceable possessions.

What I really need are clothes that fit and make me feel good when I wear them. I don’t need for clothing to be a reminder of the weight I’m still carrying.

Recently I read an article written by a personal shopper/stylist about how [before having her own baby] she was surprised at how many of her clients were new moms. One thing she said really stood our for me…

You can’t derive your self-worth from the contents of your closet.

What you might get though, is a little confidence in yourself. Confidence that you look like you which translates into feeling like you.

THIS. This is why I make my own clothes. THIS was the reminder I needed.

I think we need to stop pressuring new moms to get in shape. We need to stop complacently allowing big-box-shops to create clothing for one body type (aka: definitely not the new-mom-bod). We need more postpartum-friendly [affordable] clothing available. We need friends to share their closets with us. We need other moms to tell us that it’s okay to abandon your old body. We need our husbands to tell us they don’t give a $h!t whether our ass shrinks because that baby it made is pretty darn cute. And all those pregnancy/new-baby newsletters we signed up for in hopes of cracking the how-to-be-a-great-mom code have no right to repeatedly send emails titled “How to get your body back.” BECAUSE LADIES: Your body never left. You look amazing. Your baby is wonderful. And life is good.

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5 ways I balance creativity, self-care and motherhood

I feel like the title of this post may be a bit misleading – I don’t have the answer for balancing it all, BUT I have done a few things that have really helped carve out space in this “new life” so that I can maintain my creativity and the self-care that I need.

While my experience is tunneled through my own rose-colored, FEMALE glasses, self-care is incredibly important for Dads too. My husband has sacrificed a lot already for our little family. I make an extra effort to encourage him to maintain his hobbies – if he misses hockey one week, I encourage him to take his bike for a trail ride that weekend. He needs this. Without fail, he always returns re-energized and ready to entertain Andy while I sew 🙂 It’s a win-win.

 1. I’ve made caring for myself a priority

Shortly after Andy was born I realized those familiar feelings of depression and anxiety were sneaking back in. I was overwhelmed. I was having a tough time adjusting to having a tiny human fully dependent on me for survival.

There are many influential turns I took on my path to motherhood so it’s hard to credit just one thing, but I will say that by prioritizing my needs was what needed to shift so that I could be the best parent possible. When I made that shift, suddenly Andy was a happier baby, my husband was happier, and so was I!

How I do this

Just before Andy was born, I took the opportunity to change my work schedule so that I arrived half an hour earlier and left half an hour earlier. That said, now I start my workday shortly after Andy wakes up for the day.

If I were to go straight to work from home, I would likely have about 15 minutes with Andy before I would need to leave. Instead, I go to the gym in the morning before work like I did before Andy was born. This allows me to go to the yoga class I love, catch up with the friends I’ve made at the gym over the years, and/or jump on the treadmill and listen to a podcast without sacrificing a large chunk of “quality time” with Andy.

And…I don’t feel guilty that I am using my morning time to work out rather than to get Andy ready for daycare. WHY? Because this time is also important for my husband and Andy’s relationship. They need time together without me. My husband has a routine he has constructed for the two of them that kicks off their day on a positive note before they are off to work and daycare.

 2. I make time for myself

How I do this

Some days I take my lunch to work and eat at my desk. I continue to work while I eat so that I can use my lunch break to do something even more nourishing. Sometimes that is going home to sew a few stitches on whatever project I’m working on. Sometimes it’s running errands or folding laundry so that I can check those off my to-do list without sacrificing my time with Andy in the afternoon. One day it was going to Target, treating myself to a matcha latte and a new bathing suit because that was what I needed that day 😉

 3. My husband & I negotiate “free time”

As I said before, I try to encourage my husband’s time for self-care too (he might not call it self-care, but still 😉 ). We do this as a balancing act. We take turns being Andy’s primary care provider during the weekend so that each of us gets the time we need.

How I do this

As the weekend approaches, the Hubs and I touch base about our plans. If there’s something that he wants to do one morning, I agree to entertain Andy during that time so long as he agrees to entertain her that afternoon so I can do something.

My husband did a really great job of implementing this in the beginning. When I was on maternity leave in the early weeks of feeling like a new-mom-zombie, the Hubs made me pick somewhere to go (outside of the house) one afternoon every weekend. He wanted me to have time by myself and to get used to being away from the baby before I went back to work. Honestly, it was an incredibly thoughtful gesture and one that really helped with my transition back to work and now our balance of remembering to prioritize “me” time.

 4. We protect our “family time”

My husband and I are on this parenting journey together. That being said, we prioritize our relationship (as a family unit) as much as we can.

Sometimes that means saying “No” to something else.

 

How I do this

Both my husband and I work away from the home during the week. Weekends are the primary time we get for our hobbies and to spend time with Andy.

While we take time during the weekend for ourselves individually, we also set aside time for the three of us. We make sure that we have several hours of uninterrupted time together. So, if family or friends want to get together, we protect this as time we are not available.

With a newborn, family and friends often want to come visit. Sometimes this is a much-needed break so that someone else can hold or entertain the baby while I use my hands for something else (like laundry…it never ends!). And it’s nice to see family and friends forming a bond with Andy too. But sometimes it can be draining (I’m an introvert!)

We love spending time with friends and family and we do so almost every weekend. However, we understand the importance of our time together (especially with Andy) so we do not feel guilty if we don’t have time to spend with others that weekend (there’s always the next weekend 😉 ).

 5. I outsource what I can

I highly recommend that if you have the opportunity, outsource as many tasks and duties as you are comfortable with emotionally and/or financially. If you can shift your spending to afford a service you have been wanting, do it! The best way to save money is to cut a recurring expense (example: cancel your cable in lieu of an antenna for local channels & time outside).

OR find someone willing to “trade” their skill set. You could offer a service or task that you enjoy in exchange for them taking on something for you.

How I do this

I am someone who needs a clean house to keep my stress level down. I know this about myself. Trying to keep the level of “clean” I desired through pregnancy had gotten tough even with my husband taking on a lot of the cleaning. Andy arrived and I realized I couldn’t do it all…nor did I want to! Instead, I wanted the time to care for and bond with Andy. I didn’t want to spend what little bit of free time I could get cleaning or stressing about how badly I needed to clean.

So I hired a house-cleaner. I’d been debating this for years, but hadn’t because I felt like that was something only “rich people” did and I didn’t want anyone to pass judgement on me… UNTIL my therapist recommended doing this before I returned to work (apparently she saw how valuable this would be for me 😉 ).

I’m so happy that I did. And I think you’d be surprised at how much more affordable this service is than you think! (Take the time to search around until you find someone you trust in your house and can afford!)

*Disclaimer: I realize that the fact that I can construct this list and share the experiences I have with you is a luxury in-and-of-itself. Not all of my “tips” are going to be adoptable for everyone. I realize that. However, I hope that by sharing some of the things I’ve done, it sparks an idea of something you can do for yourself – or encourage for someone else who may need it.

What I’m Lovin’ in May

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted for my What I’m Lovin’ “monthly” series (my apologies.. babies are quite time consuming 😉 ). Nonetheless, I hope this one leaves you feeling inspired (or at least maybe fulfilled?). I’d love to hear what you’ve been lovin’ this month too – leave me a comment!

Without further adieu, here is a list of what I’ve been lovin’ in May!

1. Me-Made-May

As y’all may remember, I participated last year (read my recap here) and loved it! I declined to commit to participating this year because I wasn’t sure what my status of new motherhood would be and certainly didn’t want to get overwhelmed (because I’d likely have to sew quite a bit for myself considering most of my handmade clothes don’t fit right now 😦 ).

Even though I’m not participating, I’ve been following the hashtag closely for new wardrobe ideas. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE Jasika’s post about how she’s able to participate in Me-Made-May and why it’s okay for those of us who can’t.
  • I really love this vest by @sewliberated – I just keep thinking about how great those big pockets would be for holding little things when I’m carrying the baby around the house/trying not to lose the paci/see something I need and forgot I left it wherever I just found it.
  • This ruffle sleeve adds the perfect feminine flare.
  • I really like the simplicity of this linen Ruby Dress.
  • I think I might need the Trapeze Dress patternthis one is a favorite.. and this one!

2. These sandals

Image credit: Jane.com

I have been living in these sandals since I bought them from jane.com a few weeks ago. In fact, after I received the pink pair I ordered, I ordered 2 more pair (brown and black). I love these because they are SO comfortable and are a great alternative to heals for work (I learned very quickly that heals + carrying Andy in her car seat across the daycare parking lot was not a good idea!).

I’ve been asked where I got them several times – Jane is a “beautiful boutique marketplace” – kind of like Zulily – they run “deals” that change regularly.

The deal on these sandals as expired, BUT you can view other shoe deals from the same shop here to see what they’re currently offering OR you can request that they notify you when they’re back in stock (here!). I did the latter after ordering the pink pair and realizing I needed more colors!

*Don’t worry – I don’t get any credit if you decide to order from Jane (they should totally consider referral links though!).

3. These high-waisted leggings

I don’t have a photo of these because the image on Amazon doesn’t do them justice and I haven’t taken any of me wearing them. However, do know that I wear them at least once a week! They fit a lot like my Blanqi postpartum leggings but are a little more snug (in a good way – they feel like they’re holding you in and giving you a hug at the same time). They’re great for wearing under loose tunics (which seem to be my mom-uniform right now) or to work out.

They are probably the best investment for a postpartum wardrobe (and they’re super affordable!).

4. Fashion Revolution Week

{image source}

I always love seeing people’s posts about Fashion Revolution Week. Since I follow a lot of sewists on Instagram, most of the posts I see are about how the person makes their own clothes…which is always super cool! BUT this year I really enjoyed my friend Addie‘s posts (1, 2, 3) where she shared about some really neat companies leading the way in ethical fashion. Sometimes sewing your own clothes isn’t an option for you – whether you don’t have enough time (I can relate!), don’t have the skills, or just don’t have the desire. It’s nice to know about companies that are worth investing in.

5. ANDY!

She’s what I’m lovin’ each and everyday! Being her Mom is such a blessing. Here’s a recent picture for your enjoyment 🙂

And if you missed it, check out her birth story posted last month.

 

What have you been lovin’ this month? Let me know in the comments so I can jump on your bandwagon!

{Catch up on all of my monthly What I’m Lovin’ posts here.}

Andy’s Birth Story

I hesitated to share this story until I told the Hubs and he said “It’s as much your story as it is hers” (he’s so great).

Plus:

  1. it’s Cesarean Awareness Month.
  2. I always love reading other people’s birth stories {so I guess sharing mine only seems fair 😉 }.
  3. Andy is now 3 months old {where has the time gone?!}.

So…without further adieu, here’s Andy’s birth story!

Andy Magnolia, 9 days old.

When I went in for my 39-week appointment my doctor said “I can’t believe you haven’t had this baby yet!” We couldn’t either! At my appointment the week prior I was dilating 2-almost-3 centimeters. We spent the weekend walking our usual long route around town in hopes it would help encourage Andy to make her way into the world. No such luck.

A few days earlier (Tuesday night) I sat straight up in bed not long after getting settled for the night. Suddenly I was so uncomfortable! I couldn’t decide if it was a contraction because it didn’t feel quite right and it lasted way longer than a contraction was supposed to. I couldn’t speak. My husband popped up and asked if I was okay and I mumbled something, trying to tell him to go back to sleep.

I’m not sure how much time passed but I woke up a few hours later realizing I had fallen asleep (so obviously…not a contraction!). I felt a ton better though! I went on with life-as-usual (the pregnant version 😉 ).

At my appointment that Thursday morning my doctor asked if we’d like to have my membranes stripped to help speed up labor. “Sure!”

I noticed that during this exam she didn’t seem quite as excited as last time (when she announced I was starting to dilate), but the anticipation of Andy’s birth nearing kept my mind from giving her reaction (or lack of) too much thought.

After the exam she asked if we were curious as to how much Andy weighed. “Yeah, I guess!” My husband was a big baby (10 pounds) and I was fairly big for being a month early (8 pounds) so we were curious, but we also knew how inaccurate the ultrasound weight predictions could be. Nonetheless, we went for an ultrasound.

Almost immediately the technician said “Yep, she’s breech.”

That was the last thing I had expected to hear. Andy had been head-down and ready for delivery for the duration of pregnancy.

I had already drafted my birth plan (and redrafted, edited, obsessed over…) and reviewed it with my doctor. I hadn’t given a C-section much thought (though I did read a few articles just in case, but surely that wouldn’t be me…right? Wrong).

I knew that with breech babies there were options for attempting to flip the baby. Yet, in that moment, I knew those choices weren’t going to be part of my path. I had attended the same yoga class I was part of for the 6 years prior (including that very morning!). My teacher revamped our class when I announced I was pregnant and began working in poses to make our class more prenatal-friendly. We had done all the cat-cow poses and squats you could imagine to try to prepare my body for delivery. If Andy were going to be head-down for birth, she would’ve stayed there. But she didn’t. And I just knew attempting a flip wasn’t going to be a good idea.

Once we left the ultrasound, my doctor met with us again. She said she recommended the ultrasound because she knew something had changed. She was able to feel Andy’s head the week before and this week she couldn’t. She said Andy likely flipped sometime that week (I’m pretty sure that’s what I felt that Tuesday). She explained that (from the ultrasound) Andy’s head was a little large which typically leads to an unsuccessful attempt to flip so she recommended that we not try. I didn’t hesitate to agree with her.

Because I was already dilating and she had stripped my membranes in hopes to bring on labor, she gave us the option to schedule a c-section for the next day (Friday) or wait over the weekend. If we waited, we ran the risk of going into labor naturally. I was already a ball of nerves since my “plan” had gone off-script at this point. We opted to schedule the c-section for the next morning.

The doctor on-call for the next morning who would perform the surgery met with us before we left the office. She gave a quick run-down of the process so we would know what to expect. I was so overwhelmed, but so grateful for the chance to know what’s going on.

We left the appointment and the Hubs and I met back downtown for breakfast at one of our favorite spots. Afterward we headed back to work (because literally all our preparation was done so going home meant we’d be sitting, waiting, and becoming more anxious). It was nice to be able to set up everything at my office now that I knew when I would be going out for maternity leave.

When I got home, I was able to go back through my hospital bag and get the car packed. I reminded myself that this was a luxury that not many get to have. I was able to take my time and I even got to call and text family and friends about what was going on.

I think I got a total of 2 hours of sleep that night! I was so nervous. I had never had major surgery before and didn’t know what to expect. I was particularly worried about recovery. I was eager to return to walking and yoga and was scared about how long I may be immobile. I tried to remind myself that I had taken care of my body in preparation for bringing this child into our world in whatever way that may be. I was not the first woman to go through this nor would I be the last. I would be fine.

We arrived at the hospital early the next morning. Our surgery was delayed because of an emergency c-section. While I was nervous and the time passing just made me more nervous, I was so grateful that I was not in an emergency situation. How incredibly lucky was I that my doctor’s intuition saved me from being rushed to the Operating Room after labor had begun?!

Finally it was “our turn” and I was wheeled into the OR. It was cold and sterile. I was shaking like a leaf from fear. They got me a warm blanket which helped a little.

I met the staff who would be helping bring Andy into the world. My doctor stood in front of me while I waited for the anesthesiologist to administer the spinal. She talked to me about the hospital construction that was underway – it was nice to have her guide a conversation so I didn’t have to think much (and it distracted me at least a little 🙂 ).

I counted my breath the way I’d learned in a Yoga for Anxiety class a few years earlier in an attempt to keep my anxiety from getting worse.

When the anesthesiologist got ready, my doctor wrapped me in the warmest bear-hug and held me there until it was over. Placement was quick and easy and suddenly I couldn’t feel a thing from just below my bra line. My anxiety started to fade.

My husband appeared by my head and I felt so grateful to have him there.

As they were operating, the team was discussing another woman who was having contractions against her previous c-section scar. They needed to get her in the OR immediately after me. I would’ve gladly let her go first…Again I thought about how grateful I was that I was not in that situation. I was safe and so was my baby.

As Andy emerged, I heard the doctor say, “Oh look, her umbilical cord was around her neck” so nonchalant. I’m sure she’s used to seeing that, but I will never forget hearing her say that and AGAIN thinking how grateful I am for the path we took.

Andy Magnolia, 2 days old.

The Nurse Anesthetist who was standing by my head was amazing. She made sure my hair was comfortably tucked under the surgical cap and talked me through everything that was going on with the operation which was comforting. She was so attentive to my needs. When they handed Andy over to us, she asked if we wanted a picture. Neither Jeremy nor I are great at stopping to capture moments like this on camera so we hadn’t given it much thought. However, we both felt the weight of this moment and immediately said “yes!” She captured photos we will treasure forever. I am so incredibly grateful for her offer. It may have been a simple offer during another average day-on-the-job for her, but it was the moment that changed our lives forever. To have that captured is so special.

Honestly, the procedure itself was not as bad as I had feared. For weeks I described it as a “pleasant” experience when people would ask (I would still use that term!).

The same is true for recovery. It was no walk in the park, but it was not how I feared it would be. Sitting up from bed in the days after Andy was born was difficult. My doctor ordered a wrap for my stomach that really helped a lot. I was able to walk around the hospital halls the day after surgery. In the weeks following, I started taking Andy for daily walks in our neighborhood (which we still do – it has become part of her evening routine. We usually meet our neighbor whose daughter is a month younger than Andy. It’s so nice to share this experience with them – we both enjoy having a friend who can relate 🙂 ). Seven weeks later I returned to my favorite yoga class.

Andy Magnolia, 5 weeks old. On a blanket knit for her by a lady in my yoga class 🙂

So here we are 14 weeks later and I’m starting feel like my old self. It took some time (I’ll save that for another post), but I am enjoying motherhood more than I ever thought I would.

My tummy maintains the squishy remnants of having carried a baby and nothing in my wardrobe seems to fit the way I wish it would, but I’m coming to a place of content. I’m continuing to walk daily and am back to going to yoga a few times a week. It took nine months for my body to construct another human being. That in itself is amazing. I can forgive it for not bouncing back to the starting point yet.

I’m grateful for the chance to be in this body, in this moment, and to have the energy and ability to be mobile and active. And every time I see Andy smile I feel so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be her Mom. She is truly amazing.

Andy Magnolia, 13 weeks old.

My wardrobe needs changed overnight – my old clothes are too small and my maternity clothes accentuate areas I no longer want accentuated – so I’m trying to catch up. I can’t sew that fast so I’ve had to invest in some transitional pieces. I’m in desperate need of pants that fit so I’ve started working on a pair of Arenite pants (after falling in love with Meg’s version!). Slowly but surely I’m gaining my sewjo back (so stay tuned!).

For more inspiration, check out these gorgeous C-Section Scar Photos – pretty powerful!

And remember: motherhood is hard enough. Don’t judge another mother’s experience. Very [VERY] little went as planned throughout my pregnancy and now throughout motherhood. This experience has taught me so much. We’re all just trying to be the very best we can be for our children. Sometimes we fall short of our own standards, but we’re all working really hard. Nothing we’ve done (including birth) was easy, but it was totally worth it.

2017 Holiday Gift Guide – To Make

I’m always torn on whether to make or buy holiday gifts. I have this debate with myself annually: Will the recipient appreciate all the hours of labor I put into making this? Will I become bitter from the stress by the time I finish making this? Wouldn’t it be easier to just buy something? Will I feel as excited about gifting something I’ve purchased instead of made?

Do you ever find yourself spinning in that same internal cycle?

Well, if you’re like me and your DIY spirit animal usually wins, here are some fun handmade gift ideas!

Gifts to Sew

1. Ultimate Sleep Mask by Ohhh Lulu

I have long been admiring Ohhh Lulu’s patterns and makes on Instagram and her sleep masks are so classic!

Find the pattern here and more inspiration here.

2. Mug Rug

Mug rugs are the best for practicing your piecing and quilting skills! Also a good way to use up stray blocks. They make the perfect gift when paired with a cute mug and some cocoa mix.

You can find mug rug inspiration and a free printable gift tag in this post!

3. Drawstring Bags

I have now made 6 of these and have several more planned. The bags are intended to be knitting project bags, but I think they are so handy for anything! And they’re a great bag to wrap up a few little goodies.

{See another version I made in this post}

You can find the tutorial from Very Shannon here. These are great for assembly line sewing – cut out several to sew at a time.

4. Biased Bibs for Baby

If you’ve got babies on your list, bibs are an easy go-to! For the perfect set, make a matching diaper cover!

bib front

bib back

I made this bib for my newest niece! I followed See Kate Sew’s tutorial with a few modifications: I chose to quilt the bib rather than use fusible fleece because I had a ton of batting scraps lying around. I drew the grid onto a big square of sandwiched fabric and quilted it before cutting the pieces (to avoid it shrinking too much). I also made my own bias tape from the lining of a Lilly Pulitzer dress I chopped up.

These elephant baby bib & binkie holders would also make an adorable baby gift!

Gifts in a Jar

Check your local thrift stores for glass jars with lids to use for these fun gifts!

You could even upcycle glass jars from your pantry – run them through your dishwasher if you have one and that should loosen up the labels. Alternatively, you could soak them in hot soapy water with a few drops of lemon essential oil {see my process in action here}. If the stickiness from the labels is stubborn, add a few drops of lemon essential oil directly to the area and scrub {it’s magic!}.

1. Gluten Free Cheerio Mix

This is a great idea for the GF friend on your list. As someone with a self-inflicted dietary restriction {I’m a vegetarian}, I find it so thoughtful when someone gifts me something that shows they remembered and/or took it into consideration.

Dress it up by putting it in a mason jar and adding some festive fabric to cover the lid.

2. Chocolate Chip & Oatmeal Quickbread

This recipe looks super easy and sounds delicious! You could turn it into a basket gift by wrapping it up with a loaf pan and spatula.

3. Carpet Powder

Gifting carpet powder to someone may be weird unless they are an unapologetic neat freak like several members in my family. The carpet powder can double as an odor absorber in any room just by adding a ventilated lid or leaving the lid off.

Find the tutorial here.

4. Shaving Cream

Anyone else find it near impossible to find DIY gifts for guys?! Shaving Cream or Beard Oil are my go-to’s. For the perfect gift, pair them with a new toiletry bag!

Find the tutorial for the shaving cream and beard oil here. For more ideas, you can find 7 DIY Beard Oil recipes in this guide from WiseBeards!

5. Infused Olive Oil

Not only do these look incredibly chic, but they look super easy to make! For the perfect basket, pair them with a loaf of fresh baked bread (if you’re not a baker, find your local bakery and support them!).

Find the tutorial here.

Don’t forget to whip up a handmade holiday card to go with your gift! You could even make your own envelopes to go with the cards – use any large paper scraps you have lying around (paper grocery bags work great!).

For more DIY gift ideas, check out this post!

What I’m lovin’ in November

I hope you had an oh-so-fulfilling Thanksgiving!

The cool weather has finally reached us in the South and it is fabulous! I love wearing cozy clothes and staying warm by the hum of my sewing machine inside 😉

Read on to hear all about what I’ve been lovin’ this month!

1. Hot Cocoa + Sewing Quilt Blocks

This one is a double whammy! 😉

While I still love the smell of fresh coffee, this pregnancy has totally thwarted my taste for it. As you know from my Pregnancy Tips & Tricks post, I have been enjoying ginger turmeric tea, but sometimes you want something a little…creamier. I’ve been lovin’ this hot-cocoa-for-one recipe. I make it with almond milk and it is totally delightful – particularly when paired with sewing!

Speaking of sewing: I took a skills building class a few weekends ago with one of the quilt guilds I’m a part of locally and learned how to construct the Hanging Gardens quilt pattern. I think it’s the perfectionist in me, but I am so methodical with how I do things that I never even unpacked my machine during class – I spent the whole time cutting (despite having my strips meticulously cut weeks ahead in preparation for class…). One of my fellow class-goers pointed out that at least by the time I get home I have the least fun part out of the way and can actually start sewing.

Honestly, I learned so much in this class! Lots of tips and tricks that will save me time {which in my case is invaluable since everything takes me forever!}.

The blocks are coming together quickly now and I’m lovin’ constructing them! I’m using fabric from Rifle Paper Company‘s Les Fleurs collection with Cotton + Steel for my quilt and I can’t wait to see how it all comes together! I’m kind of ashamed to admit that I had more than enough fabric in my stash for a queen size quilt… “Hiiiii! My name is Jordan and I have a fabric hoarding problem.

2. All the handmade baby goodies

Baby M is so spoiled. She has received so many handmade gifts already! My boss has knit her several hats {see 2 of them here!} and TWO blankets. The mother-in-law of a friend I’ve worked out with for years at our local YMCA made the most beautiful pink blanket for her {see it under the taggie below!}. And my dear friend Kristy made her the perfect quilt and the most perfect taggie! Fingers crossed this is an accurate representation of Baby M in a few years #FutureSewist

3. Knitting Progress

As I admitted in last month’s post, I made myself a knit project bag in hopes it would inspire me to work on the shawl I’ve been trying to knit since last year…

Well, I’m happy to report I’ve been making progress!

Since the photo above was taken, I’ve added the FOURTH ball of yarn and am plugging along. It’s far from perfect, but maybe one day it’ll be done and I can proudly wear my flawed shawl everywhere!

4. Nurture by Erica Chidi Cohen

I saw Laura Miller’s shout-out about this book and immediately jumped onto Amazon to order my copy.

It arrived just in time for my 29-week appointment where I had the pleasure (ha) of indulging in the most sugary of drinks for my glucose test and traffic court the day before. So, it was good company that week 😉

I’ve been really enjoying the message Erica shares. She takes a very non-judgmental approach to pregnancy, birth, and motherhood in a way that encourages you (as the reader) to practice more self-love and to open yourself up to the reality that nothing will likely go as planned {a hard pill to swallow for a Type A like myself!}. The book is so informative and [as a public health grad with a soft spot for nutrition] I really love how she has woven recipes into the book that incorporate foods your body will benefit from most during the differing months of your pregnancy.

If you have a preggo on your holiday list, get her a copy of the Nurture book!

PS: As is obvious in the photo – I’m lovin’ my new Birkenstock’s. Slip-on shoes that can loosen as needed when/if your feet swell during pregnancy = win!

5. I planned a Bake Off!

Staff in our building have been hosting monthly events for employee morale and this month was our turn! I was on the planning committee so I took the lead for my department. I kind of love planning events like this because I get to nerd out on organizing everything (and I got to see all the sweet treats being submitted – yum!).

One of the best parts about the Bake Off was that even our Superintendent participated! I had heard he’s a great baker so when he walked in with his cake, I was over the moon!

It says a lot when someone as busy as the man leading a district of 4,000+ employees & 24,000 students takes the time to bake a cake for the employee Bake Off…he’s great!

6. Chili

This weather is perfect for chili and I think there is nothing better than coming home to chili in the crockpot after a long, cold day! I was getting bored with the chili recipes I’ve relied on in past years so I found a new one to try – this vegetarian chili recipe is a winner! It’s smoky sweet and pairs perfectly with a spicy cornbread (try tossing 1/4 cup of jarred diced jalapenos into your usual cornbread recipe).

{Photo credit: Genius Kitchen}

7. The Nursery is coming together

If Baby M sticks to her due date, we’ve got 8 weeks left which I know will fly by! The Hubs and I are huge planners so he had the crib assembled months ago, but we only recently finished some of the final touches.

During our trip to Canada, I was 9-ish weeks pregnant. She was still our little secret since we hadn’t told family and friends yet. At the time we weren’t sure of the gender, but we both love animals so we were sure she would too. While in Ottawa, we stumbled upon Maker House Co.’s Craft Fest and picked up the bear and beaver prints for the nursery. They’re finally hung and I love all the memories they stir up from our way early #babymoon.

PS: If you ever visit Ottawa, you must stop by the Maker House Co. It is such a neat shop – filled with goods from local makers. You’re sure to find the perfect, unique souvenirs there.

8. my sister!

This month she threw a shower for Baby M and it was absolutely perfect. She spent a ton of time, money, and energy on this and I really appreciated it! We had a small group which was perfect – I had time to mingle with all of our guests.

After the party, my sister declared “Now Baby M’s closet has more than just blue in it!”

She has been my biggest supporter – constantly hand-me-down’ing clothes and baby equipment from Little Guy, sharing her maternity wardrobe, and calming all my fears. Without her, I don’t know what I’d do.

PS: My adorable sister greeted me at her door wearing a Canny tunic I made! She’s the cutest.

 

What have you been lovin’ this month? Let me know in the comments so I can jump on your bandwagon!

{Catch up on all of my monthly What I’m Lovin’ posts here.}

What I’m Lovin’ in October

October is one of my favorite months! My birthday falls on the 11th and it [usually] brings more fall-like weather which I love.

Read on to hear all about what I’ve been lovin’ this month!

1. These tips on decluttering from Motherly

love to declutter. Maybe it’s the “nesting” everyone talks about with pregnancy but lately I’ve been feeling a little extra overwhelmed with the stuff in my house. I feel like I’m always decluttering and purging, but sometimes I go through bigger spells where I make a more conscious effort to organize and let go of some excess stuffI found the tips from this post really helpful and plan to put them to use very soon as I prepare for all the baby clutter coming our way.

The best part about the post is how it breaks your decluttering down by space and gives you sample items in each room/space that are an easy place to start with tossing/donating.

2. Chocolate Covered Katie’s Gooey Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Blondie recipe

I have always had a pretty intense sweet tooth and I think pregnancy has definitely amplified that. Since I have been baking almost weekly (it’s become a productive creative outlet for me 😉 ), I’ve been searching for “healthy” [or at least “healthier“] recipes to enjoy.

October makes me crave all-things-pumpkin-flavored so I’ve been lusting over every pumpkin-inspired treat I’ve come across. The most recent success was Chocolate Covered Katie’s Gooey Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Blondie recipe.

I’ve tried many of Chocolate Covered Katie’s recipes over the years and am never disappointed. This one is a gem! The Hubs declared it “probably the best thing you’ve made lately” so I’ll say it’s pretty tasty!

I’ve found that when baking with beans (something I love to do 😀 ), using canned white beans [like these] creates a much smoother consistency – I don’t think you can even tell they’re there!

PS: My sister has gone dairy free which is pretty common during breastfeeding if your little one is having a tummy issues. Most chocolate chips have milk products in them, but not Trader Joe’s chocolate chips! (But their chocolate chunks do so beware.) If you are making sweet treats for a dairy-free friend, try TJ’s chocolate chips out!

3. Breakfast at College Grounds

Try the seasonal pumpkin butter with your biscuits!

Our Sundays lately have included a big walk around downtown and breakfast at College Grounds. The Hubs and I have been frequenting the place for the past 2+ years after we discovered how delicious their breakfast is. We mourn every summer when they close for the weekends (since they’re right on campus following the student schedule makes sense but it’s still so tragic).

If you live in or are planning a visit to Columbia, stop by College Grounds for breakfast and a stroll around USC.

4. Apartment Therapy’s advice to Stop Trying to Change Your Habits: Change Your Habitat Instead

I know, I know! I’m still on this decluttering/nesting kick. But I really liked the perspective of this post. There are tons of great organization ideas out there, but my take-away was if the placement of where the thing goes makes it less useful to you, it’s not the right place.

We have a place in our living room where the Hubs keeps his shoes that has worked quite well for us. Reading the perspective in the post felt like a little bit of relief mixed with forgiveness for keeping our things (in this case shoes) where they make sense and not just where they “should” go according to someone with a much neater house than mine 😉

Photo from the post – a lovely & practical space for your “stuff”

5. DIY Drawstring Bags

I found this free tutorial from Very Shannon on how to make a reversible knit project bag and knew I wanted to give it a shot. It was so easy – I actually assembly-line’d and made 3 at a time. I think they’ll make great gifts even for someone who doesn’t knit – who can’t use another bag?!

TBH, I really made the bag to hold the shawl I’ve been attempting to knit since last year in hopes it would inspire me pick the needles back up. I’ve made a lot of mistakes with the shawl which makes my perfectionist heart very sad, but I’m trying to let that go/worry less and finish it!

I used some upholstery-weight fabric scraps for the bags which made them really sturdy. However, it does make the drawstring top a little harder to “glide.” Maybe next time I’ll try a quilting cotton on the interior to lighten it up, make the casing a little larger or use cording for the drawstring which would definitely glide easy.

6. Getting my sewjo back

During the first trimester of this pregnancy my sewing room basically collected dust. As the 2nd trimester approached I started feeling much more energetic. Finally my sewjo has returned!

I’ve been slowly working on a few projects here and there. One of those is the Almada kimono from Seamwork. I’m making it from a beautiful, super soft vintage sheet. I thought it would be nice to have after the baby arrives to throw over whatever I’m wearing to feel a little fancier [without a lot of effort] if visitors stop by.

BUT…I’m an over-pinner (#perfectionistprobz) and one of the pins slid under my finger nail while I was working on the sleeve cuff last weekend. I didn’t even notice until there was blood all over my machine! Somehow it didn’t get on the fabric {YAY}.

What have you been lovin’ this month? Let me know in the comments so I can jump on your bandwagon!

{Catch up on all of my monthly What I’m Lovin’ posts here.}