June 2, 2012

Hand Knitted and Hand Sewn Baby Wardrobe!


I have been LOVING knitting and sewing things lately!  Making them in anticipation of our baby girl was so, so much fun.  I'd love to share them with you!

This is a mint green hooded sweater, my first project.  Instead of buttons, I used ribbon ties, which I think look great.  The ends of ribbon may be easily finished by melting them ever so gently with a match- a trick I learned as a ballet dancer in my teens- you didn't want the ends of your pointe shoe ribbons unravelling!  Just be careful not to melt it too much, it can turn a darker color than the ribbon.  If you're nervous about this step, practice on a spare piece of ribbon.  This yarn is just acrylic baby yarn, I think the brand was Bernat.

This set is a bonnet and a pair of scratch mitts, the bonnet has a seed stitch border around the face and a simple stockinette stitch for the main portion.  The scratch mitts have a seed stitch wrist border and a moss stitch for the hands.  I thought this lovely pink looked great with this turquoise blue!  This is a cotton yarn.  I primarily like to use knitting needles made of bamboo, they don't 'slip' as much as metal needles (which, with some soft silky yarns are nearly impossible to use!!!).  These were made with cotton yarn by Patons.

Ah, booties :)  Booties are really a great beginning project because they will take you very little time- I have made one bootie watching television in the evening and the next the next night.  The blue pair, this yarn is really, really gorgeous.  It is from Italy and while you can't see it too well in the picture, it has some metallic aspects to it and a fuzziness that is a little like mohair.  I got this yarn at The Cashmere Goat in Camden, Maine last summer.  The pink pair is made from acrylic baby yarn.  The very thin ribbon I have used on both pairs of booties is very handy, you can thread it through pretty much any stitch without having to form eyelet holes in your knitting.  Just use a large enough embroidery needle or a needle you use to sew knitting pieces together (these are plastic).  To make your bows stay put, though, you will most likely want to tack them down with a little bit of thread.

This one is my husband's favorite!  This little a line jacket with pink ribbon is just so sweet.  The border at the bottom is garter stitch, the bottom part of the body is stockinette, and the bodice is a seed stitch.  The buttons are just small pearly-looking plastic buttons.  For a jacket like this, you could omit the ribbon and have much more dramatic buttons, or have it close with ribbons.  This is made from acrylic baby yarn, I think Bernat was the brand.

This one I am especially proud of!  This is a wrap sweater that ties with a ribbon in back that incorporates a lace knitting design that resembles feathers.  It involves knitting four stitches together, which was difficult to master at first, but I got the hang of it!  The background is purled and the borders are seed stitch.  (Yes, I love seed stitch!)  I love this design, I am in the process of making another sweater in a green yarn that has a climbing vine lace design.  (Yes, I love lace knitting, too!)

Now, I love knitting, but I also love sewing, too.  However, I will say this about knitting, it's more portable- I have knitted in the waiting room at doctors' appointments, at the car dealership, etc., which, you can't do as much with your sewing projects.  Sewing is a bit messier, too, the pieces of thread and scraps of fabric, and you need a table and a work area for your sewing machine.  With knitting, you can do it nearly anywhere, and all you need is your yarn and needles.

I was inspired to make our baby girl some things for her nursery, also, I bought some lovely upholstery fabric with coral embroidered on it, and I have made a quilt and also drapes for the nursery.  The quilt took longer than I thought, but I think the effect of the hand stitching around the embroidery already on the fabric is really lovely!

I have also sewn two day gowns, the first one you saw in our hospital pictures, the pink gingham gown with the smocking was her 'take me home' outfit.  The pink gingham day gown was my first experience with smocking, and although I was initially intimidated by the prospect, now I'm quite confident!  Smocking with a gingham fabric or a patterned fabric helps you by allowing you to use the fabric for the gathering.  Once you've created the gathers, you use embroidery thread to hold the gathers together, either in a basic stitch (like this one) or in something more elaborate (I'll work up to that!).

This day gown does not have smocking, it is just gathered around the neck and has a layer of lace trim.  The sleeves are also banded, whereas the pink day gown had sleeves that were partially smocked.  It is good to make day gowns out of very light fabrics, like batiste.  And, I'd recommend using a poly / cotton blend, because it can easily go through the washer and dryer and not need to be ironed.  I would, though, recommend putting it in a little mesh bag to go through the washer, especially if it has a lot of delicate embroidery, you wouldn't want it to get damaged going through the wash.  I know it seems counter intuitive to use a poly / cotton blend instead of a nice, high quality cotton, but, it's up to you how much time you'd like to spend ironing!  I am not in love with ironing, so I use poly / cotton!

This is one of my current projects, it is a white day gown.  I have created a guide for making gathers on fabric that doesn't have gingham or a pattern I can follow.  The guide is simply a piece of lightweight cardboard with points that are about 1/4" apart.  I use a fabric marking pencil to make marks on the fabric (both are shown in this picture).  I haven't decided what color embroidery to use in the smocking yet, the white makes it a good background for whatever color I choose!  I might use two colors and do a more elaborate stitch, maybe violet and pale green together, or coral and a beautiful inky blue.  I really, really love to use colors that are opposite one another on the color wheel, particularly orange and blue!

I hope these projects inspire you!  It is not as hard as it looks, and the satisfaction and enjoyment you'll experience are well worth the effort!  And, no one else will have one that is just like it.

For an original La Dolce Duchessa pattern for a Lace Baby Sweater, click below!

http://ladolceduchessa.blogspot.com/2012/03/lace-baby-sweater.html


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