Nursery tour

Although we plan to have our baby sleeping in our room for the first six months of her life, we recently spent a bit of time organising our spare bedroom into something of a “nursery”. A place for her clothes to live, somewhere to change her, and a quiet space for me to feed her during the night. Luckily, our spare bedroom was was already painted pink – very handy when we discovered we were having a girl! So all that was left was some sorting and clearing out, adding shelves for my craft books (rather than the, ahem, pile on the floor) and children’s books and toys, and folding away some tiny lady clothes.

We bought an antique chest of drawers for storage, and I succumbed to the lure of Elisabeth Dunker’s famous Pirum Parum poster, which I’ve been lusting after for years! It also happily ties in with the loose pink and grey colour scheme of the room. We made shelves out of the original floorboards from our house, and used antique brackets to attach them to the walls. I have already amassed a small – but growing – collection of adorable knitted cardigans, some gifts and some vintage. I think I need that pink cabled wonder in my size!

I have an old pretty nursing chair, and paired with a sheepskin rug, it will be a cosy place to sit with our baby. I love this room, and although the nursery will also double as a guest bedroom for now, we’ve made the most of the limited space in our little house. I sometimes find myself standing in the doorway, just looking around and taking in the quiet calm before the baby storm. Not long now, my due date is 16 days away!

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Go pink or go home

Another baby project today, in the form of a dip-dye baby blanket. A little while ago my friend Mel gave me a white cotton blanket for our baby, which was lovely, but I planned to spruce it up a bit. Knowing the sex of our baby has definitely given me free reign to go a bit more girly than usual when making things – but then again, I’m a fan of pink anyway. So after a bit of Pinterest inspiration, I decided to try my hand at dip-dying the blanket a very bright and bold shade of PINK! I chose Dylon’s ‘Flamingo Pink’, because, go pink or go home, right?

There are loads of DIY ombré dip-dye tutorials out there, and they all tend to suggest slightly different hints and tips at getting the perfect ombré dip-dye. After doing lots of research and reading, I realised the best thing to do was probably just to go for it. I covered our kitchen table with copious amounts of newspaper, and, following the instructions on the dye packet, filled a bucket with water and mixed in some salt – a lot of salt, actually, as this helps the dye to take to the fabric.

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First off, I rinsed the blanket in cold water so it was damp – one great tip I read was that any bits you don’t want dying should stay totally dry, as the dye will only spread up the wet parts. So as I wanted the top of my blanket to stay white I kept that part as dry as possible. Generally, with dip-dying, I found that you can either submerge the fabric in the water and then pull it out a bit at a time, or go the other way and feed the fabric into the dye. I decided to submerge the blanket and then gradually pull it out, onto a towel on the table. Each time I left the blanket for around 10-15 minutes, as I wanted as really good, dark pink at the bottom. Another good tip is to sway the fabric slightly in the water, to avoid getting a rigid line of colour between the sections.

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Once the dying was complete, I emptied the bucket and gave the blanket a rinse in cold water in the sink, then washed it in the machine to set the dye. Then hung it out to dry. Done! Although I really enjoyed the whole dying process, I would have preferred to have a longer fade from white to pink, whereas I ended up with a huge dark pink section and not much pale pink/white at the top of the blanket. I did wash the blanket again to see if this would help it to fade, which it did – but only slightly (probably all that salt). Considering this was my first attempt at ombré dip-dying I am pretty pleased, though!

To complete the blanket, I continued with the all-out pink theme and, inspired by this great blanket, made some bright pink tassels and sewed them onto the corners. And there you have it – a full-on girly baby blanket! Just hoping they didn’t get it really wrong at the scan and a boy pops out…

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Maternity style: 35 weeks

I’m a week behind with the maternity posts, as these photographs are from last week, when I was just over 35 weeks pregnant. Today I am 36 weeks pregnant – officially 8 months! Over the Valentines weekend we took a trip to Betws-y-coed, for a night away and to eat all the delicious food. On the way home we stopped off in the tiny village of Carrog to snap a few maternity photos. Sunday was bright and clear, if rather windy, and the view was stunning. We also happened across a chance passing of a steam train!

This is my current uniform of late: comfortable trousers or leggings, and a loose smock top or dress. This Topshop dress isn’t maternity, but it has served me very well over the last few months (although I think wearing it as a dress nowadays would create a bit of scandal). I’ve lately began to get bump-and-back pain when I stand up for too long. Still, I love knowing that my bump is growing steadily and these are all good natural pains, telling me that I’m getting bigger by the day. My stomach has been making some very odd shapes lately as our baby moves about, which isn’t painful but a bit uncomfortable and odd! I have enjoyed whipping my top up to show friends when it happens, haha.

I finish work for maternity leave this week, hooray! I’m looking forward to having a few weeks of knitting, relaxing, Netflixing and finishing off a few baby projects. That is, as long as the baby doesn’t have ideas about coming early!

My rad jewellery is by Loela, a wonderful jewellery and clothes-maker based just down the road from us, in Manchester. I have designs on her beautiful silk mustard shorts and coral trousers – perfect for the summer, post baby-bump! I love the colour combination of this necklace and bracelet, great for jazzing up an everyday outfit.

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Wearing: vintage aran cardigan, eBay | dress (worn as top), Topshop | maternity jeans, Topshop | boots, Sainsburys | jewellery, Loela

Dog days

More baby stuff today (sorry – this has become a baby blog! for now at least), in the form of presents for friends’ babies. If you’re a sewing fan, you may be interested to know that you receive a free pattern when you sign up to the Purl Soho newsletter. When I did this last year, I chose the pattern for the Purl Soho pup, an adorable sausage dog made from cotton and wool felt. When cutting out the pattern pieces, I knew it was going to be fiddly, but the accompanying tutorial (with photos!) was really easy to follow and I actually enjoyed the whole sewing process a lot. Rather than, ahem, other times when sewing makes me stressed and sends me into a rage. I just took my time and followed the instructions, and before long, I had a pup!

I love this little sausage dog, the cute face and ears, and the squishy body is the perfect present for a little one. The first pup was made for Jim’s cousin, who had a little girl in the summer. Hence, pink and florals. The next one (sewed up a lot quicker) was for my friend’s little boy, born in October. I love the combination of beige and polka dots on this one – and, of course, the pom pom trim for a collar! I die.

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I often think I’m not very good at sewing (I certainly have yet to master curtains or dressmaking) but achieving small projects like this – and for them to actually look good – is really satisfying. It’s definitely helped to build up my sewing confidence. They’re not perfect, but in my mind that’s what makes them special: the little bits of handsewing, the slightly wonky ears! Of course, choosing the fabric combinations is one of the best parts, but seeing the faces of loved ones receiving a gift you have handmade with love – well that’s got to be the best part of all.

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Maternity style: 34 weeks

We’re nearing the home stretch now, so these days I’m all about comfort. It is in equal parts interesting and frustrating to find out how little of my wardrobe I can still fit in – and I am very grateful that I have a penchant for oversized smock dresses! I have also recently fallen for maternity leggings. Obvious, I know, but SO COMFORTABLE!

I wore this outfit this past weekend for lunch – I love a good striped dress, and this one is still comfortable enough to throw on with tights, and great for layering in the chilly winter weather. My awesome necklace is from Benu, and I love wearing it to add a fun pop of colour to my outfits. It’s also a good talking point!

Our little one is wriggling as much as ever, and she must be getting pretty cramped in there now as I’m feeling some of those kicks and rolls quite sharply nowadays! Our nursery is coming together, and we are ticking off the last few baby things from our list. I can’t quite believe how quickly the last couple of months have gone and the excitement/nerves are starting to kick in. How am I almost 8 months pregnant!? I’m still loving it, though, and am trying to savour the feeling of carrying our little one around with me as much as possible before we get to meet her. In around 6 weeks! Come on time, give me a break.

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Wearing: jumper, Zara | shirt, Topshop via eBay | dress, H&M | vintage moccasins, Beacon’s Closet, Brooklyn NY

Baby knits

Today I’m sharing a couple of knitted projects that I’ve recently finished for our baby. Although I usually shy away from knitting clothes for babies, as they grow out of them so quickly, I couldn’t resist these lovely patterns. The first is a very cute jumper that I found on Ravelry. I couldn’t believe how easy it was! Simple garter stitch, knitted in a T-shape, with some casting off for the neckhole, and some more knitting in a reverse T-shape. You then simply fold it in half and sew it up. So great! I admit I have a thing for pom pom trim, so I added that to the hem to finish the jumper off, along with some heart-shaped elbow patches. SUPER CUTE.

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The second project was actually a request from Jim. Back in 2011, when on holiday in New York, we found an adorable child’s hat in the gift shop of the American Folk Art Museum. With thoughts of babies in the waaaay too distant future for us to even consider buying it, we left it in the shop. When we found out I was pregnant Jim immediately remembered it but alas, the shop no longer stocks it. So he set to work finding a similar pattern online. And he did! This actually only took me about a week to knit, and although it was slightly fiddly in places, it was pretty fun to make with all the different colours. It’s a great stash-buster, too. I really love how this hat turned out and can only imagine the cuteness when our baby is old enough to wear it! You can find the pattern for free here.

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Shop crush: Polka Dot Club

I’ve already talked about my love of discovering independent shops selling lovely baby wares, and next up on my new favourites list is Polka Dot Club, a dreamy venture run by a very talented lady named Jennifer Murphy, who clearly has a thing for old things.

A second-generation teddy bear maker, Jen takes toy-making seriously. As it says on the Polka Dot Club wesbite, “At the turn of the 20th century the finest teddy bears and stuffed animals were made with mohair, wool felt, and wood stuffing. Inspired by the longevity of its love worn predecessors, the PDC continues to use only natural fibers. We use mohair fur woven onto cotton backing, and improve on safety and feel with the inclusion of safety eyes and 100% cotton stuffing…These are bears that pay homage to the past but are wholly modern playthings for today. They are heirlooms for now and forever.”

After discovering Polka Dot Club on Instagram, I hot-footed it over to the website and immediately fell in love with their Big Bear, a gorgeous mohair two-tone panda with big eyes and a snazzy bow. We decided that this should be our baby’s first teddy, and within a few weeks he had arrived in our home. He is so handsome, in beige and black, with a pink PDC bow. He was bigger than I expected, and really so sturdy and well-made. I love the feel of the mohair, and know this little fella is going to get a lot of love and wear – and most importantly, last for many, many years of playtime. I love that Jen’s bears retain that lovely vintage feel, it’s such a charming (and rare) thing to find in new toys.

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As well as the adorable bears, Jen also makes bear head rattles, cuddle rabbits and even clothes for the smaller bears! Truly adorable. I’ll leave you with some of my favourites from the shop, and probably also a yearning to get yourself, or a loved one, a new (old) teddy. Sorry about that…

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