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!):

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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.