What I’ve learned in my first year of motherhood

It is hard to believe, but it has been a full YEAR with Andy in our lives!

Now that the roller-coaster first year of parenting is under my belt, I felt like it was a good time to reflect on what I have learned in the beginning steps of this journey.

Andy, 10.5 months {Portrait by Studio 46}

 

1. I respect my body more now than ever before

Watching your body grow and change so drastically in such a short period of time can be a tough adjustment. For nearly a year, watching your stomach expand and grow was celebrated, but suddenly [literally overnight] the extra weight you’re carrying is less exciting.

In the early days, I was in such a daze from lack of sleep that giving a $h!+ about my jiggly midriff wasn’t even on my radar.

Undeniably, the luxury to care about such trivial things made its way back onto my to-do list. Only this time I had a different perspective. My body created another human. It nourished that little body until every piece of her had grown to perfection and she was ready to enter the world on her own. My body even provided life-sustaining nutrients for this sweet little child for another few months after she was born.

How cool is that?!

Ridiculously cool if you ask me.

So I had a little extra fluff in my mid-section (and still do). If you find yourself in this position, do what I did: buy a good pair of high-waisted leggings (favorites: for work and play). Then wear said-leggings as pants for the next year because YOU CREATED LIFE WITH YOUR BODY (which, in my opinion, exempts you from any obligation to be stylish…ever again).

 

 2. My style has completely changed

I wasn’t expecting this, but the clothes I prefer to wear now are completely different from the outfits that filled my pre-pregnancy wardrobe.

My style was already tilting towards frumpy, but now I’ve totally embraced a preference for what I like to call “uncomplicated silhouettes” (aka: I like the fabric skimming my body not hugging it 😉 ). On the bright side: These styles are so much easier to sew.

I’m not sure if this is more specific to Cesarean births (likely), but previously worn waistlines (some would call these “mid-rise” or the never-worn-by-me “low-rise” pants) are no longer comfortable for me. I happily accepted that and donated all of my jeans to a local middle school.

Also, I now totally understand the phrase “Mom jeans” and I will never, ever [again] judge my Mom for wearing them.

 

 3. Clicking “share” feels like a monumental responsibility

Let’s talk social media.

The urge to share every milestone is intoxicating (in fact, receiving “likes” on Facebook can trigger the release of dopamine). But once something is out there, it moves from being a private experience to a public/shared experience.

As someone who researches social media strategies for fun, this may sound a little wacky, BUT: my husband and I made the decision to share less when it comes to Andy. We are not opposed to sharing pictures and snapshots into our lives with Andy (and we still do), but we try to be conscious with our sharing by reflecting on why we are posting the content before we do.

I could go on and on about this decision, but it really boils down to our focus on Andy as an individual. Her accomplishments are not OUR accomplishments. While we undoubtedly helped her (and will continue to do so throughout her life) to reach these milestones, they are hers.

 

 4. Breastfeeding doesn’t work for everyone (and it really doesn’t matter)

I thought breastfeeding would be a magical bonding experience for Andy and I.

It. Was. Not.

I’ll save the drama for a later post, but needless to say: It didn’t work for us…despite lots of help from Lactation Consultants.

Looking back now, I couldn’t care less.

Andy and I worked our way through a tough season and are forever bonded – not because I fed her at my breast, but because she is a part of me and I am a part of her.

 

 5. Medication is not the enemy

Whether you get an epidural (check) or take medication for your postpartum depression (check), modern medicine is available for a reason. You do not need to suffer to prove you are worthy.

I’m not ashamed that science played a role in both my birth experience and on my parenting journey. I am healthy, happy, and proud to be the person I am.

 

 6. Prioritizing self-care for myself AND my husband is equally important

Self-care for me (sewing, yoga) looks different than it does for my husband (hockey, lacrosse, mountain biking). Before Andy arrived, we had identified the activities that made us feel like our best selves and were already in the habit of setting aside time for these activities. We vowed to continue to do this. And I think we’ve done a good job!

Pouring into ourselves allows us to be the best parents we can be (because you can’t pour from an empty pitcher, right?).

 

 7. Mama doesn’t need wine

As someone who has been sober for many years now, I was already annoyed with the number of gift suggestions for women that always involved wine or that 90% of adult socializing involves alcohol, but being a mom who doesn’t drink wine can really drive home that outcast feeling.

Luckily for me I was already in a comfortable place as the community “Sober Sally.” My avoidance of alcohol bothers others far more than it bothers me.

Yet I can’t help but notice the Mommy-Needs-Wine culture around every corner. Some say it’s masking alcoholism or our need for self-care – whatever the reason, over-simplifying the complexities of motherhood to something that can be “fixed” with a glass of wine devalues the importance our role.

{If you’re interested, here’s a brief-but-good read about Being a Sober Parent in a Wine Mom Culture.}

 

8. Babies create space in and for relationships

Andy’s presence has created both space in existing relationships as well as created space for new relationships.

Distance has slipped into some of my existing relationships. While I may not be in as regular contact with some friends as I was pre-Andy, it does not mean that I’m not thinking about them regularly, sending love and light their way, and also appreciating the space they are allowing my little family. My appreciation for them may be higher than ever before – rather than demanding my focus or energy, they are kindly allowing me to focus that energy on nourishing my budding relationship with Andy. As Andy gets older and our relationship’s foundation grows stronger, I know less of my focus will be required and I will be able to return my energy to these long-standing relationships.

Additionally, Andy’s presence has created space for new relationships. I’m not talking (much) about new people. Rather, becoming Andy’s mother has softened my edges and allowed me to connect with others [who were already in my life] in a way I wasn’t able to before. Not to say “now that I’m a mother, I get it” because I DO NOT, but becoming a mother changed me in ways I could never have foreseen – including allowing me to become closer with certain people who were already in my life.

 

 9. Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint

Over the holidays I had a few days off work. Andy went to daycare for several of those days while I stayed at home sewing. I would describe Andy’s current stage as “busy” – she teeters between entertaining herself and demanding more interactive play. It’s a fun stage, but it also requires mental vigilance – my focus can never fully be on a project I’m working on when she’s around. All that said, I took advantage of a few days to myself.

One night I was wondering aloud whether this made me a bad mom when my husband looked me straight in the face and said: “Jordan…parenting is a marathon, not a sprint.” He elaborated that there was no finish line, we were in it for the long haul, and would have [hopefully] endless opportunities to connect with Andy. We are building a life-long relationship. Sending her to daycare for a few hours so she could play with friends and maintain her routine was not something worth worrying over.

 

 10. Routines are soothing for everyone

In the early days when I was exclusively pumping for Andy, I read Baby Wise cover-to-cover…twice (it helped keep me from falling asleep during those middle-of-the-night pumping sessions). My main take-away was that Andy needed a predictable routine. We mastered the recommended SLEEP > EAT > WAKE cycle and began implementing an “evening routine” (bath > bottle > sleep).

To distract Andy (and ourselves) from the “witching hour,” we would take her for a long walk around the neighborhood before her bath. As she got older and the days got shorter (walking around the neighborhood with a baby after dark is a little too scary-movie-esque for me), we replaced walking with “dinner.”

Not only did this predictable cycle of events help Andy acclimate, it also helped US (the parents). We knew what was coming next (or how much longer til bedtime on the hard days).

 

11. It was easier to judge other parents before having a baby of my own

We all know that “Comparison is the thief of joy” and as cliche as it may sound, you know it’s true. Becoming a parent made me realize how complex this role truly is. Every kid is so incredibly different in so many ways that comparing what works for one to what works for another is bonkers.

I also realized that, as parents, we are all just trying to do the best we can with what we have and what we know. Expending energy to compare your kid to my kid or my parenting style or yours is exhausting and so pointless.

Instead, when I see a new mom, I try to make eye contact and give her the most genuine smile I can muster. I want her to know that I see her and I support her. We may walk very different paths, make very different decisions, and have very different children, but we’re doing the best for our families.

 

Andy, 10.5 months {Portrait by Studio 46}

 

What a journey it has been!

Having Andy in our lives is such a gift. I’m continuing to keep my mind (and my heart) open to what lies ahead. So far, nothing has been what I expected. I’m excited see what the future holds!

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What I’m Lovin’ in December

 1. This lovely post about handmade gift-giving

I really loved this reflection on what it is like to make and give a handmade gift.

There is love in the decision to make by hand, love in the choice of project and love in the hours spent making. Our handmade gifts are infused with many gorgeous thoughts and feelings and we often seem to simply trust that the recipient will comprehend this…

Jess of Willow and Stitch for Seamwork

 2. This Comb Quilt

I love quilts with meaning and this Bicentennial Comb Quilt has a really neat story!

 3. Becoming a more conscious fabric lover

I didn’t realize that the seemingly innocent act of washing clothes (or fabric) can send plastic into the ocean (source).

As you may know, I’ve been following the zero waste movement and working to reduce my family’s impact on the environment in any way I can. I recently ran across a claim that synthetic fabric leaches microplastic particles with each washing. These microfibers weave their way through the water supply and into rivers and ultimately the ocean.

Now there’s a scary realization.

As a garment sewist, I have slowly become more knowledgeable about the different fibers and the benefits of each (and which I prefer to work with and wear). I know that synthetic fabric is readily available both as yardage as well as ready-to-wear garments so the opportunity for impact is there for all of us whether we realize it or not.

Through my research spiral I found Patagonia’s GuppyFriend Washing Bag – it’s claim to fame: “protects synthetic garments and reduces the amount of microfibers that may enter rivers and oceans from washing”

GuppyFriend Washing Bag from Patagonia

This bag is on my wish list!

You can read more about microfiber pollution here.

 4. Instagram Stories

It took me a little while to jump on the Instagram-Stories-Train, but I like them! AND Buffer now has a free tool you can use to create graphics for Instagram stories! Try it out here.

{Click the image to hear How to Make an IG Story: 10 Great Instagram Tools to Use}

5. Craftfulness

I loved this article about craftfulness and how creating can positively impact mental health.

6. The Experts on Experts podcast

My husband sent me a link to this episode of the Experts on Experts podcast. From the discussion of our call-out culture to Jonathan Haidt’s view on parenting independent children, I was holding onto the edge of my earbuds the whole time – such thought-provoking viewpoints.

I also enjoyed this interview with Jerry Buting and this one with Dr. Drew.

 7. A Holiday Break

I have been soaking up time lately with family and lots of holiday festivities. I hope you have been having a lovely holiday season as well!

Happy New Year!

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 November

Winter trampled all over Fall this year and we went straight to freezing. Between the crazy weather shift and having a germy baby this season, I spent most of the month sick 😦 I’m feeling better now and excited to share what I’ve been lovin’ with you!

 1. This 5th grader who wrote a children’s book about depression

A fifth grade student at one of the elementary schools in the district in which I work wrote a book for children about dealing with depression.

Once I saw the story, I immediately ordered the book.

 2. My sewing tip was featured in Maker’s Journal

I recently submitted a tip and it was chosen to be featured in Closet Case Patterns‘ Maker Journal (vol. 14).

{Click the image to read the full issue}

A friend of mine is actually to credit for this tip – she told me about it many moons ago and now I trace all of my patterns with freezer paper! You can find freezer paper pretty readily at most grocery stores (this is what I use).

Submit your own tip here & sign up to receive future Closet Case Patterns newsletters here.

 3. These holiday rules

I know I’m not the only one that gets stressed out at the holidays. On that note, I saw this and had to share.

Be kind to yourself this season.

 4. Tips from Waste Free Living

Earlier this month I stumbled upon Waste Free Planet on Instagram and fell head-over-heels for their posts!

They share lots of tips on reducing your waste as well as waste-reducing DIYs. A few of my favorites:

 5. #icareaboutwaste Challenge

This month I participated in the #icareaboutwaste Challenge on Instagram hosted by Sew in Love and Sustainable Wraps.

Click the image to read more about this challenge

 6. This post about sewing for an insulin pump

I really appreciated this post about sewing for an insulin pump on the Sewcialists blog. Sewing allows us a lot of “flexibility” with modifying and constructing clothing to fit our needs – something I often take for granted.

 7. Slow cooker vegetarian chili

This is perhaps THE EASIEST recipe I have ever made. For years I’ve been searching for the perfect chili recipe that did not require me to pre-cook my vegetables. Well, folks, HERE it is!

Top it with avocado – DELICIOUS!

 8. These 7 Things That Shouldn’t Impress Us Anymore from becomining minimalist

My favorite quote from the article:

But I’m starting to wonder if we have been using the wrong measure. Maybe the number of dollars in a bank account is not the greatest measurement of success. Maybe instead, the amount of good we are able to accomplish with our lives is a truer measure of success.

 9. A system for managing sewing waste

In Sarah’s post How I Am Learning to be More Sustainable on the Sewcialists blog, she mentioned a 4-bin system for waste in her sewing room: recyclables, fabric scraps to recycle, things that cannot be recycled, and thread scraps and bits of material to reuse for stuffing a pillow (brilliant!).

I loved her ideas and hope to implement them in my sewing room too!

 10. Holiday Gift ideas

In case you missed it, I shared 10 Environmentally-friendly gifts and a few of my favorite DIY lip balm recipes.

Are you planning to DIY any holiday gifts? I’d love to hear your ideas!

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.}

DIY All-Natural Lip Balm

A few years ago I was battling cold sores and started doing some research. I ran across some claims that color dyes can cause lip irritation. Then I realized that the Vaseline lip balm I had been using had yellow dye in it. That may not have been the source of my issue, but I figured it was worth eliminating.

I really like a thicker lip balm like Vaseline so I set out to try to find a DIY that would make a good replacement.

Young Living essential oils are therapeutic grade so they are safe for use on the skin and many have great healing properties (particularly Lavender which is said to have antiseptic and antifungal properties making it a great oil for lip balm!).

Today I’m sharing my favorite lip balm recipe! The great thing about this recipe is that it can be customized using any essential oil or blends that you prefer.

diy lip balm

The consistency of this balm is a bit more solid than petroleum jelly, but it is still on the “soft” side so I recommend using a jar for storage [rather than the twist tubes – I’ve got another recipe for those so keep reading!].

Speaking of jar, I recycled a Mary Kay loose powder container for my balm. Once it was empty it was easy to pop the sifter out. I cleaned the container by soaking it in hot, soapy water with a few drops of Lemon essential oil (it helps with removing stickers and other gooey residue from contains) for about a half hour and then scrubbed it really good.

The recipe below makes enough to fill the MK jar. While I realize not all of you will have an empty powder jar to use, here are some alternative ideas for containers:

  • You may have a little empty space (you could try doubling the recipe), but you could also use a 4 ounce jelly jar (like these)
  • An Altoids tin (don’t have one? Ask your friends. I did that once on Facebook and several people shared their empty tins with me)
  • Several of these cute little sample jars (just ordered some & they’re great, but teeny tiny!)
  • Small baby food jars
  • Or really any small [clean] jar with a lid

If you are planning to use a Citrus essential oil (like Lemon, Orange, Grapefruit, etc.), I recommend avoiding plastic containers because the citrus oils can breakdown some types of plastic over time.

Rather than using a fancy double-boiler and making it forever slimy from the oils, dig through your cabinet for an unloved, empty mason jar (or recycle a marinara / salsa jar – just clean it really good using the same method I used to clean the powder jar above and/or run it through the dishwasher). It’s tough to get the jar clean once you’ve melted the oil in it so it’s best to reserve it for your oily projects.

To create the double boiler, put some water in a pot (no more than half full) then place the mason jar upright (lid removed) into the pot. You’ll add the ingredients into the mason jar while the water in the pot boils around it which will melt the ingredients. You will want the ingredients in the mason jar to be below the water line so it will melt your ingredients evenly.

I don’t bother stirring the oil as it melts because it will just dry onto whatever you’re using to stir and make a mess [warning: don’t ruin your silverware]. You can pick up the jar (use oven mitts!) and gently swirl it a few times during the process if you’d like, but it’s certainly not required.

You will want to wait to add the essential oils after you remove your double boiler from heat.

You may also want to wear an oven mitt when pouring the mixture into the tubes or jars. During the heating process, the glass mason jar can get quite hot and we want to avoid DIY-induced-injuries! If your oven mitt doesn’t have grips, the jar could slip out of your hand so be careful.

Supplies

  • Clean container(s) for your lip balm
  • Glass jar to combine ingredients (don’t use a fancy one you plan to ever use again 😉 )
  • Small sauce pot
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Beeswax (I ordered pellets on Amazon, but I’ve heard you can get beeswax from local beekeepers which is a wonderful option if you know any)
  • 2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Almond Oil
  • Essential oils for scent (I used 4 drops of Thieves essential oil)
  • Stir stick (this can get messy so keep that in mind – do not use your fine china. Chopsticks or a plastic straw work great.)

Directions

  1. Clean the glass jar you will use for your “double boiler” and the container(s) you will use to store your balm. Dry them completely (I recommend letting them air dry overnight).
  2. If you are using pellets, skip to step 3. If you are using a block of beeswax, grate it until you have enough (2 TBSP).
  3. Fill the small sauce pot half full of water and place over medium-low heat. The water should simmer slowly.
  4. Set the empty glass jar upright in the pot. The water should surround the glass jar, but no water should be coming into the glass jar.
  5. Add beeswax and coconut oil to the empty mason jar and heat slowly until both are melted.
  6. Once the beeswax and coconut oil have melted completely, remove from heat. Using your oven mitt, remove the glass jar from the hot water/pot. Do not pour out the hot water yet (you could leave it on the stove to keep it warm or just set it aside in case you need it to remelt your balm).
  7. Add olive oil and almond oil to jar and stir using your stir stick. Then add essential oils and stir again.
  8. Slowly pour mixture into your container jar(s). If the mixture begins to solidify, place the jar back into the hot water (just like you did for the double boiler) until it melts again.
  9. Leave the balm uncovered so that it can set for a few hours before use. I have 2 dogs who shed like it’s their job so I covered mine with a paper towel to avoid pet fur contamination. If you want to cover the balm while it sets, I recommend using a paper towel or lightweight cloth so that the balm can cool without condensation diluting your recipe (like it may if you use the container’s lid). 
  10. Label your balm container and enjoy!

If you are looking for lip balm that will make a cute gift, you could use the recipe above in small jars (like these tiny pots I ordered on Amazon recently. Be warned: they’re super tiny!) or you can make a sturdier balm for twist tubes.

Lip balm tubes are super easy to find online and are pretty cheap (I ordered these and they work great!).

Making the balm is exactly the same as above, but the recipe will be slightly different. I followed this recipe for Lavender Honey Chapstick from Practically Funcational and it turned out great!

chapstick

homemade chapstick in the cooling process

Before I made this balm, I heard that having a small funnel was key so I ordered this one. I used it at first, but it made the process more frustrating because when I removed it, the oil would rise up and overflow the tube. All that said, I ended up pouring [very carefully] from the glass jar straight into the tubes and it worked out just fine.

Because I was feeling fancy (and I knew I’d be gifting these), I ordered sticker labels for my chapstick tubes:

balm label

It was easy to find labels on Etsy. I ended up ordering these stickers from Chickydoddle and having half of them printed. Winnie (of Chickydoddle) was super easy to work with – she sent me proofs before printing and I received them quickly thereafter. I am really pleased with the quality and will certainly order printed labels from Chickydoddle again! I also ordered these 1-inch circle stickers – they fit perfectly on top of the tiny balm jars I ordered.

I gifted the lip balm tubes with a handmade lotion bar. I used this recipe from Wellness Mama that a friend recommended and added 10 drops each of Lavender and Ylang Ylang.

lotion bars

lotion bars while cooling

I just so happen to have 2 of these heart shaped silicone molds which made the perfect shape for the lotion bars. The heart makes a great shape for these because the indent at the top is perfect for rubbing over knuckles!

Lotion bars might be one of my favorite new discoveries. I love rubbing the bar on my hands and feet before bed. They are so easy to make and are incredibly effective at moisturizing!

If you’ve never used a lotion bar: you rub it on your dry skin like you would a bar of soap. Your skin will melt a thin layer of the lotion onto your hands, feet, whatever it touches. You just rub it on and leave it (when I describe the application like soap, everyone always asks: “Do I wash it off?” and the answer is no – let is soak in to your dry skin and enjoy!). I now prefer the bar to regular slimy lotion. Can’t get enough of it!

**Disclaimer: Links in this post are not affiliated with me in any way and I would not benefit from your purchase. I just wanted to share sources for ease of replicating the recipes. Enjoy! 🙂 **

Environmentally Friendly Holiday Gifts

As you know, I’ve been on a mission lately to reduce my waste and impact on the Earth (I’m currently participating in the #icareaboutwaste challenge hosted by Sew in Love & Sustainable Wraps). That said, I’m sharing some gift ideas with you today – some to make and some to buy – your choice!

{Bonus points: wrap your gift in fabric with this tutorial}

To Buy

 1. Beeswax wraps

Beeswax wraps are a great way to replace your use of plastic wrap – use them to cover dishes, wrap cheese, contain snacks, pack a sandwich, etc.

Buy: Sustainable Wraps

 2. Wool Dryer Balls

Dryer sheets are not only wasteful, but toxic. I love my wool dryer balls and have been using them consistently for a few years.

{Click the image to read about how to use wool dryer balls and why you should}

Read more about how to use wool dryer balls here.

Buy: Woolzies seem to be very popular, but you can find dryer balls from many different shops (like Amazon).

 3. A reusable mug or water bottle

By now, everyone likely has a reusable mug or water bottle, but not everyone has invested in a high quality version that will last them for years to come. Rather than treating them to a bottle whose cheesy quote will rub off on their hands before next Christmas, pick out a glass or stainless steel mug/bottle.

Buy:

  4. Locally Made Soap

Stop by your local farmer’s market and you are bound to find a local soapmaker to support. My local favorite (and good friend!): Penny’s Naturals.

Pictured here: “Carolina Coast with real ocean water. Wadmalaw with green tea from SC’s tea plantation. Palmetto Rain made from rainwater.” – Penny’s Naturals

Buy: Shop Penny’s Naturals online here.

 5. Glass lunch container

The Hubs and I switched over to using glass containers to pack our lunches in a few years ago and they are great. This frego container is on my wish list – the silicone sleeve is the selling point for me (the Hubs has dropped and broken one of our glass containers already and it also protects your hands from the heat of the glass).

Buy: Shop Frego containers here. {You can find more ideas in this list of Best Reusable Lunch Containers from Mindful Momma}

More gift ideas:

To Make

 1. Reusable shopping bag

Here’s an easy tutorial from Sew In Love on how to make a shopping bag from a pillowcase.

 2. Reusable sandwich/snack bags

I really like this tutorial because it doesn’t require any extra hardware/closures (no zippers, velcro, buttons, etc.) so you likely have all you need already in your stash.

Here’s a great article on how to choose food-safe fabric for your bags (also, cloth napkins from the thrift store are a great source!).

 3. A catch-all bag

Technically, this is a sock knitting project bag, but the size is super handy. I made one with oilcloth as the interior fabric to use as a wet bag for the baby. The tutorial includes an option for two fabrics on each side of the bag so it’s a great scrap buster.

I’ve made several version of this bag (including the one above!) – you can read about another one I made in this post.

 4. Gifts in a Jar

I absolutely LOVE gifts-in-a-jar! To make this gift environmentally friendly, use recycled jars (save your salsa/marinara/jelly jars, remove the labels with hot water+soap+lemon essential oil & a good scrub, then run them through the dishwasher). Buy your ingredients in bulk for extra environmentally-friendly-credit!

When reusing jars, you can paint the lids with chalkboard paint to disguise any labeling (& make the space usable for the future).

Inspiration:
For more ideas, check out my Gifts in a Jar Pinterest Board!

 5. Lotion Bars

Making your own lotion bars eliminates packaging entirely! Bonus: Make a drawstring bag (that can be reused!) for the lotion.

{Click the image to view the tutorial from Melly Sews}

Here is a tutorial from Melly Sews for lotion bars and a drawstring bag!

Looking for more DIY holiday gift ideas? Check out my guide from last year!

The Making of Baby RBG: A Halloween DIY

It started out innocent: I was picking Andy up from daycare a few weeks ago when one of her teachers said they were going to have a Halloween celebration and the babies could dress up. At first I shrugged it off. Halloween has never been a real source of excitement for me so I was thinking I’d just put her in a festive onesie and call it a day.

BUT THEN I REMEMBERED I SEW (Ha! As if I’d ever forget). And that the internet exists (thus, “quick and easy” costume sewing tutorials would be in abundance…and they were).

Inspiration

I sent some ideas to my sister-in-law (because she always entertains my craziest ideas).

Initial costumes considered: Rosie the Riveter, a ladybug, a cookie sandwich, Cookie Monster, aerobics instructor, Iris Apfel, Frida Kahlo, Tina from Bob’s Burgers – we had some serious choices to make.

Ultimately, the vote was for Ruth Bader Ginsburg!

Originally I thought we’d go with a black onesie and a fabric doily (easy-peasy), but I decided to use what I already had on hand (aka: over-complicate this seemingly innocent costume adventure) with the picture below as inspiration:

Material

I’m really proud to say that I did not buy a single thing for this costume!

  • The black fabric (crepe I think – donated from someone’s attic) for the robe was in my stash (as was the fabric used for the bias bindings).
  • My Mom gave me a stack of vintage handkerchiefs a few years ago she got from an antique shop (I used some ivory rayon challis fabric [similar] scraps from my stash for the body of the bib).
  • A friend let me borrow some snaps (for the front of the robe & the bib closure) from her stash.
  • The glasses belong to the Hubs (no prescription – they are blue light blocking glasses).
  • I made the bow a few weeks ago for a separate occasion (tutorial).

If you are looking to make your own RBG costume you might be surprised at what you already have that could work. Any type of black fabric (a bit of drape/flowiness would be preferable) can work for the robe. The costume just needs a black “backdrop” so alternatively you could use a black onesie or solid black outfit of any kind.

Rather than making a separate bib, you could just safety pin a vintage handkerchief or some lace to the front of the onesie/outfit (that was my original plan) or pin that to an existing bib (try to stick with a light color/no print so you don’t distract from the detail of the “collar.”

A toy gavel would be a great addition to the costume.

The Pattern

I was limited on time so I immediately decided that the robe would be kimono style with no set-in sleeves. To get the “pattern,” I used a jacket she had that I knew fit her currently. I laid half of the jacket on top of the black fabric along the fold.

When cutting, I added space around the jacket for seam allowance. I wanted it to have a little extra volume (like an actual judge’s robe) so I graded out a little extra in the body. I didn’t include extra space on the length of the sleeves because I didn’t want them to be too long (and, again, to more closely resemble the fitting of an actual judge’s robe).

For the back of the robe, I cut on the fold. For the front of the robe, I cut the fabric on the fold the same way, but then cut up the fold afterward to create two separate pieces. I knew I wanted the front to open so it would be easy to get on a squirmy baby.

Since finishing a Dress No. 1 recently, I’ve been on a bias finishing kick (great tutorial from IndieSew here). I knew I wanted to – at least – use bias binding to finish the neck. After cutting the pattern out and sewing the front to the back, I tried it on Andy and realized that I didn’t want to lose much length. So, rather than flipping-and-stitching the hem, I decided to bias bind the bottom too.

Sewing the Costume

The Robe

I considered French seams (because you know I love them), but ultimately decided to use the overlock stitch on my machine to eliminate the extra step.

I stitched the shoulder (& sleeve) seams together at the top and then the front-to-the-back (including the underside of the sleeves) down the sides.

This is where I stopped and tried it on Andy to see about the fit.

Then I used scrap fabric to create bias binding which I used to finish the bottom hem > the front closure (like a faux button placket) > and the neck – in that order.

Last, I attached the snaps every 2 inches.

The collar

Because of the laciest part of the handkerchief as at a corner, I wanted to make a bandanna style bib to show it off. I traced a bandanna bib Andy already had that fit well and used that as my pattern (if you do this, be sure to include an extra 1/2 inch around the edges for your seam allowance…or you can use this tutorial and pattern).

The rayon challis scraps I was using for the bib base were [obviously] super slippery. So, I used a tip I heard recently on the Love to Sew podcast and laid the fabric on top of some terry cloth (a towel would work) to keep it from slipping while I cut. That worked so well!

I constructed the bib by sewing RST, leaving a few inches unsewn at the neck, and flipping to WST. Before top-stitching, I placed the handkerchief where I wanted it on the front of the bib. I folded the top of the handkerchief by the neck since there was no neat way to get it to fold over the curved edge. I top-stitched around the bib like normal which held the handkerchief down without any extra (messy) stitching.

Here you can see where the handkerchief was folded over and how only the edges of the bib are top-stitched. This held the handkerchief on perfectly and once around Andy’s neck, it looked much more unified.

I tried the bib on Andy before attaching the snap to see if I needed to adjust the placement of the snap before attaching. Then I added the snap.

Lying flat the bib looks a little wonky, but you can see here how the handkerchief is attached.

Accessories

The glasses

Originally I had asked the Hubs to buy some baby sunglasses that we could pop the lenses out of. Our local Target only had bigger kid glasses according to him and the two he brought home weren’t quite right (though one pair would have been perfect for Iris Apfel so I’m saving them for the future!).

On that note, I remembered that he had some blue light blocking glasses that could work!

The bow

Obviously, RBG doesn’t wear bows, but I needed something to hold the glasses on so the elastic band bows I’ve been making came in quite handy.

You can see the elastic from the bow holding the glasses on here. (Also, please excuse the dinosaur feet. This was on our wear-pajamas-all-day Sunday).

More inspiration

We are certainly not the first to dress our baby up as RBG – check out these others:

I was also excited to see Alex dressed as RBG on this week’s episode of Modern Family:

I especially love the necklace!

Not gonna lie, when I see Kate McKinnon slide on the screen during SNL‘s Weekend Update, it makes my day! Her impersonation is so funny.

Rock your RBG inspiration all year long

If you love RBG and want to stay inspired beyond Halloween, I found these super cool gifts (just in time for the holidays if you have an RBG lover on your list!):

What I’m Lovin’ in October

Libra season is officially over (le sigh), but I was really feeling it this year! Proof: I purged my sewing room to the point of justifying a formal destash, I started reading The Curated Closet and have been thinking way.too.much. about “my aesthetic,” and unsuccessfully attempted to start a meditation routine.

1. We need changing tables. Everywhere. For everyone.

Last month I told y’all about my brilliant idea that all changing tables need a coat hanger for your diaper bag.

BUT what we really need are actual changing tables... In places where everyone can use them.

Proof: This Dad

2. These tips for great photos

This post is super comprehensive and has tons of wonderful photography tips.

3. This gorgeous {FREE} cowl-neck hoodie pattern

The cool weather lately has me really feeling this hoodie!

4. French seams

Not a new discovery, but I love French seams. And I appreciate this tutorial from In The Folds on how to sew in-seam pockets with French seams (because I also love pockets!).

5. Serial is back!

Somehow I totally missed that Season 3 of the Serial podcast was happening! My sister and stepmom told me about it last weekend and I’ve been binge listening ever since.

So far, the discussion has me feeling really fired up. I can’t believe what I’m hearing.

6. Science says we need crafts

The research in this article about why our brains need craft more than ever is fascinating.

7. Destashing

In case you missed it, I shared all about how to host a destash on Instagram!

I’m a firm believer that by freeing up physical space, we free up mental space (for creativity!).

 8. I passed a big milestone

It’s my birthday month & this year I passed a big one! You can read a quick snip of my reflections in this post, but also–this:

LOL.

9. Shopping local for the holidays

One of my favorite things to do as the holidays approach is stock up on local, handmade gifts! My sister and I will be selling handmade bags at an upcoming market – if you’re local, come visit!

My husband said he was confiscating my wallet the morning of the market (Ha!) – he knows how much I love to support my fellow vendors at events like this 😉 Hope to see you there!

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.}