Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Friday Night Sew-In Results

Someday I'll actually get the post with my FNSI results up the next day like I'm supposed to, but this time I was just too busy trying to keep plowing ahead on this project. This is a gift for someone, so I can't go into details yet on how it is all going to come together, but I got these 16 blocks pieced during the sew-in:

Sienna helped.

And then both cats decided it was time for a mini photo shoot.

Gotta catch them when you can. :)


Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Night Sew-In

Everyone should come and join in the Friday Night Sew-In tonight over at Handmade by Heidi. What's more fun than tucking in for an uninterrupted (ya right ;) ) evening of sewing late into the evening? :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

One Thing, One Week Challenge 5

This week Amy of Amy's Creative Side is hosting another One Thing, One Week challenge. This was a short week for me as I was visiting my parents and away from my sewing machine until Saturday, but I was able to use the challenge to motivate me to complete a small, but important WIP. When my son was born I had made myself two pairs of pads for absorbing breast milk leakage using flannel on the inside, fleece on the backside, and a layer of Warm n Natural on the inside. I wanted to try them out before making more to make sure I liked them. Turns out I did like them, but it's two months later and I still hadn't gotten around to making more!

I decided to play around with a couple more different materials. I decided to use the fabric form an old pair of 100% cotton pajama pants that had finally torn beyond use. The cotton is old and worn, and thus very soft, so I thought it'd feel nicer against the sensitive skin. I also wanted to play with the inner absorptive materials. I ended up making one pair with Warm n Natural again, one pair with a pair of disposable breast pads inside, and one pair with a couple of outgrown diapers cut down to size inside.

Not the most glamorous finish, but an important one.  I will be trying them out this week and will be sure to report back which is the most comfortable after wear and washing, or if there was no noticeable difference.  :)


Linking up at:

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Friday Night Sew-In

My goal for November's Friday Night Sew-In was to finish this set of four pillow shams for my mom for Christmas, but since she follows my blog I couldn't post about it until I had the chance to give them to her. We are visiting my in-laws this Christmas, so we had Christmas with my parents early this year, putting up the tree and opening presents the day after Thanksgiving. I'm only a week late. ;) Perhaps my tardiness can be made up for in the epicness of my sew-in - I actually pulled an all-nighter to finish these before my flight the next morning!

This gave me a chance to try piecing some more complicated blocks. I spent a while on the internet seeking inspiration for different blocks that would both look good in the fabrics I had purchased and would match the style of the couches.

This block I developed myself. I wanted to use this sort of pinwheel/star shape I had seen online, but wanted it to be a little more complex, so I added a border and turned it on point.

The pattern for the next pillow came from here. I think it may be my favorite of the set. It was the last one I made, so it definitely was the best constructed.

This was adapted fairly faithfully from here, with a slight change around in which pieces I made share the same fabric.

And last but not least, this pillow was taken from here.  This one was made first and has the most construction issues. The only real piecing I've done up to this point was just rows of squares set on point, so I had a bit to learn along the way here. :)

This is what the shams all look like on the back, and each is stuffed with a 16" pillow form from Joann's.

Overall I am quite pleased with the outcome. :)


P.S. The solid pink is really more of a rose than it shows in these pictures....but my flight left before it was going to be light again, so all I could get was night photos. :)

Fantabulous Friday!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Quilted Halloween Table Runner

This is officially my first entirely complete quilting project, and my piece for the Blogger's Quilt Festival. :) I've been binding like a maniac all day trying to get it done before the linky closed; finished with just 36 minutes to spare. :P Obviously I've totally blown my original goal of Halloween, but hey, I'll have it for next year, right? I love the colors, so I'll probably keep it out until Thanksgiving anyways.

I've recently been falling in love with a number of Robert Kaufman fabrics. I'm still drooling on the inside waiting to start on my Dr. Seuss quilt...but I digress. I spotted this fabric in my LQS, and loved the colors so much I had to buy it, even though I had no project planned. I didn't actually notice it was a Robert Kaufman fabric until I started working with it weeks later - gave me a little chuckle. The pictures here really don't do the fabric justice.

This project is significant to me because its my first completed quilt project (though not the first to be started - I've got a couple UFOs/WIPs laying around yet). I didn't actually do a true binding, but rather folded the back around to the front. I wanted to do a traditional binding, but I ended up realizing I wasn't going to have enough fabric to do so and keep the lines all running in one direction, but I think it looks fabulous anyways. I've never done any binding by hand before - I think I much prefer the look to the machine binding I've done.

This was also my first time piecing, and of course I had to decide to do my squares on point just to make it harder. :P My points don't nearly line up consistently, but I don't really notice it when I just look at it as a whole. It's amazing how those flaws fade from a distance compared to up close examination while working on it.

I also changed up how I usually do my applique. I usually turn it under as I go and stitch by hand with an invisible stitch, but this time I instead first stitched around each letter, turned it under and pressed it, and then used a zig-zag stitch all around on my machine. Definitely went much faster, and I like how the thicker lines around the letters help keep the prints from fighting as much as they did otherwise by creating a barrier between them. Plus that bright orange thread is just pretty. :)

I'm thinking I'll use the scraps to make a 2-4 matching mug rugs. :)

I didn't have a chance to wash it before taking pictures, so please pardon the visible washable marker. I'll be updating the post with better pictures of it washed in the morning when I have a chance.


Linking up to Sew & Tell.

Fantabulous Friday!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween Table Runner Sneak-Peek

With Halloween just a week away, I figured I better finally settle on a project for my Robert Kaufman Halloween fabric, or it was going to end up sitting in my stash until next year, and I just like it too much to let that happen! Good fabric doesn't belong sitting in drawers where no one can see it!

So for this week's One Thing, One Week challenge, I challenged myself to decide on a project and cut into the fabric. I ended up deciding on a double-sided Halloween table runner. The following show the general idea of my plans,  with the pieced side using 2-inch squares.

Not only did I finish cutting the pieces for my top, I  pieced together and pressed all of my strips, and even began attaching the strips together.

I'd say challenge met. :)


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Paul's Nursery

Finally getting around to posting pictures of Paul's nursery here. :)

I made the canopy from a pale green organza that I picked up at Joann's and a curtain rod I picked up at Ross. Structurally it is basically a set of curtains with a button and loop fastener in the middle so I can close it around the crib. It reaches to the floor and is essentially our second line of defense against the cats in case the door to the nursery accidentally gets left open. (Yes, everywhere we've read cats aren't usually a problem, but ours have sat on our faces in the middle of the night and forced us to move to breathe, so we just aren't taking a chance of a cat misguidedly trying to snuggle up to Paul.)

We aren't allowed to paint our walls,  and one of our friends gave us those lovely tree decals to help break up the walls. They come off really easily and can be used again at our next place; they kind remind me of the stickers we used to put on windows as a kid. They actually look really nice, and not like stickers at all - a wonderful invention for us apartment renters. :)

I also had made a color-coordinated gathered bedskirt a while back which I already wrote about back here.

The other major piece I made for the room is a quilted rug shaped like a monkey, inspired by the nursery rhyme "Five Little Monkeys".  (Poor little monkey fell off the bed....) The top is made of a fuzzy fabric similar to a stuffed animal, and the bottom is a heavy brown corduroy, and is quilted together using very loose free motion quilting. This was my first time quilting using my machine, and all I had was my zig-zag foot. (I've since purchased a free motion foot, but haven't gotten to play with it yet - another day.) The fur was so thick that a single strand of thread all but disappeared, so I used a different stitch on my machine where it went over each stitch about 3 times. The tail is a separate piece attached after all of the quilting was done.

Here's a picture of the other corner of the room with the rockers, toy box, stuffed animals, and a painting I did a while back in college a couple years ago. The rocker was given to us by a coworker who no longer needed it for her kids. We've been incredibly blessed with gifts for Paul altogether - we've hardly had to buy a thing for ourselves other than the crib and dresser!

At some point I'll get around to making a pillow with an applique monkey for the rocker and a cover for the top of the dresser, but I'm well pleased with the nursery as is. :)


P.S. linking up to the following:

Party Button NightOwlCrafting

Saturday, October 9, 2010

My Latest Creation

Sorry it has been so long, but I've been working on a different sort of creation:

Paul Stanley Prantis was born on September 24, 2010, at 5:22 PM, weighing 7lbs 7oz, and measuring 21 inches.

I woke up Friday morning, and after cuddling in bed with my darling kitty a while I started to feel a pressure in my lower abdomen. I just figured I needed to use the restroom (I had lost the ability to tell when I needed to go other than by pressure when lying down or sitting sometime in month eight), but when that didn't make it go away and I started to feel the pain get worse and then subside a bit in waves, I started to suspect it might be time.

I went and woke my husband, who had been sleeping on the couch so we both could get a better night's sleep knowing we had a big day coming sometime soon. The best I can describe the next couple hours is utter confusion. I had always pictured contractions as pain for a short window with a clear peak, then a break with no pain when I would get some relief, and then another wave. Instead I was in a sort of constant pain, which would clearly be stronger at some points than others, but I couldn't make heads or tails of when a contraction was beginning or ending, nor tell what counted as a single contraction as they greatly varied in strength. We woke my mom up, and she and my husband tried to get the last minute things to bring to the hospital and get dressed themselves, while trying to help a very frustrated me figure out how far apart my contractions were. Once ready we decided to just go to the hospital. Our best guess what that my contractions were 3 1/2 minutes apart, but it was really just a guess, and I was in a lot of pain.

By the time we got to the hospital, checked in, and answered the barrage of questions about my medical history that always accompanies a hospital visit, I was in some serious pain. I even told my mom that this all had been a mistake and I didn't know what I had been thinking! I never imagined the pain would be constant without a break, and so strong so early. The thought I could have another 12-18 hours, or more, of this was overwhelming. The cervical exam at 8:30 AM revealed I was only dilated 1cm, well below the 3cm threshold for when you are usually admitted to the hospital. Typically they would just send me home at this point, but because they could see I was in a decent amount of pain they went ahead and let me stay. It's a good thing too, because not long after I was admitted my bags broke, and I would have been turning right around to go back to the hospital. Here I am, looking fabulous having gone from bed right to the hospital without any cleaning up:

We had an amazing nurse named Sue who took care of me during my labor. (In fact, she was supposed to get off at 3pm, but volunteered to stay on through my delivery, and even came back to visit a couple times in the days after Paul was born. A good nurse can make such a difference!) She gave me a quick-acting, short-lived narcotic that they can give every half an hour. This brought the pain down to tolerable levels, but before the half hour was even up the pain started to come back again. They decided to go ahead and give me my epidural, and another dose of the narcotic at the same time. (It takes about 30 minutes for the epidural to take effect.) I was a little afraid of not being able to hold still during the contractions while they put the epidural in, but in the end we got it in without incident. However, as I laid back down, the fluids leaking from my bags turned green, signifying that Paul had passed his meconium inside the womb. (Poor guy!)

After the epidural took effect it was a completely different picture.  The epidural completely blocked all of the pain. I couldn't even feel all but the strongest contractions, which presented as a slight pressure that was barely noticeable.  At 11:30 AM I was up to 3cm, so I was making good progress. Generally the first 5cm are the slowest. Throughout the day Sue kept having to re-adjust the monitor that is designed to detect contractions. She would get it to detect one or two, but then it would stop being able to detect them.  We really couldn't consistently detect when I was in a contraction, not even by pressing on my abdomen. Normally you can feel it as the uterus gets hard during a contraction.  The problem was some mix of the variance in strength, the depth of my uterus, and that some  contractions were actually lopsided and not affecting the whole uterus. It did at least make me feel a little better about not being able to tell when they were beginning and ending at home when no one at the hospital could figure it out either! You can see how much of a difference the epidural made just by my appearance. I am even smiling!

By 3 PM I had unexpectedly jumped to 9cm, and we started making preparations for the pushing phase of labor. This Friday was a particularly busy day for Labor & Delivery at El Camino Hospital, so the OB was spread pretty thin running between all the different laboring women.  I threw a bit of a wrench into things by getting to this phase earlier than was expected for it being my first child. So we put off starting to push while we waited for the doctor to be ready. 

During labor it is normal for the baby's heart rate to dip during contractions as long as he recovers and as long as they stay correlated to the contractions. But since we couldn't detect my contractions reliably, it was difficult to determine if he was dipping only when he should. As the labor progressed, the continuing and lengthening dips became more worrisome, so they decided we should go ahead and start pushing without the doctor, who would join us as soon as she could. They also suspected the cord could be around his neck, which happens for about 50% of babies. We started out pretty good. Mike and Sue could see the head after a few pushes starting to work its way through, but then things stalled when the widest point of the head needed to get through the pelvis. The pushes ideally should correlate with contractions so that the contractions help push the baby out, but we missed half our opportunities to push because we weren't sure if I were contracting or not until it was over, and as I mentioned before many of them were weak or lopsided. I was pushing plenty strong, I just wasn't getting much help from the contractions. They decided to have the anesthesiologist turn down the epidural to see if I could help determine when the contractions were occurring and we took a break from pushing while we waited for the drug to wear off.

Unfortunately, this did not have the desired effect. I still couldn't tell when I was in a contraction or not, and now I could feel the pain from his head pressing against my pelvis. When it was clear this still wasn't working, they decided to give me some oxytocin to strengthen my contractions so they could help me more. The doctor joined us, and the last bit of my labor was mild chaos. I was now hurting enough I kept crying out between contractions and the doctor and Sue were still trying to figure out when I was contracting, all with a rush because the baby's heart rate kept dipping and I was starting to get exhausted and lose it a bit. Finally we basically just decided to stop sitting around trying to figure it out and just push, contractions or no. (I also was most definitely lied to when they tried to motivate me by telling me the pain would be all over just as soon as I could push him out. ;) )

Now the general plan at El Camino is, once he's out, they lay the baby on the mother's chest, still attached to the umbilical cord and all. If the baby is willing, sometime the first feeding even occurs at this point. Mommy and baby get to bond, and then when ready Dad gets to cut the umbilical cord (which we were hoping to videotape). The baby then stays in the room with the mom for the rest of their hospital stay, where they staff show them how to care for their newborn, and mom and baby leave together two days later. Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans.... Since he had already passed his meconium, he would need suction applied right as he came out. If they couldn't clear his lungs well enough there, then they'd have to take him to the infant warmer in the corner of the room to finish getting it out. But not a big concern - happens pretty frequently.

So I kept pushing, and finally I felt a pulling and then release as they helped wriggle him out. I looked down and he was purple (which is normal) and he let out a big cry and looked nice and healthy. My mom rushed to grab the camera to video Mike cutting the cord, but they had Mike do it immediately and whisked him away to the infant warmer. As I mentioned before, they lied, and I still hurt quite a bit. Sue worked on giving me more of the narcotic now that the baby was out while the doctor helped me deliver the placenta. Meanwhile my mom had grabbed the camera and thought since she missed the cord, she'd video Paul getting cleaned up. But after a few moments it became clear something was not right with my baby. They weren't able to get all the fluid out of his lungs, and he wasn't able to breathe on his own.  The called a code white, and suddenly my room was filled with about 6-8 new people I had never seen before flurrying around my baby. (I later learned this group included both a neonatologist and a pediatrician, along with several other people from the NICU.)  They intubated Paul to help him breathe and continued to try to clear out his lungs. There was some kind of heavy mucus that they weren't expecting and were having a hard time getting it out. My doctor had moved on to my stitches, and I remember at one point getting a glimpse of Paul between two moving people and he was a shade of gray that no baby should ever be. That's when it hit me that my baby wasn't breathing on his own and after 9 months and the delivery and everything we had been through, I could lose my baby.  I remember looking at my husband and asking, pleading, "Why isn't my baby breathing?" My mom, my husband and I all said a prayer for Paul. Meanwhile the doctors were discussing the source of the mucus. They were worried he might have pneumonia, which is very serious for infants.

After what seemed like forever, but in actuality probably wasn't all that long, they were finally able to get enough fluid out that he could breathe on his own. I was allowed to hold him for about a minute, and then he was rushed off to the NICU with Daddy in tow.  I wouldn't be able to go and see him until my epidural had worn off enough that I could walk on my own, so I just laid there while everyone was cleaning up around me.

After a while Mike came back to update me. They took a culture to test if he had pneumonia, but it takes 48 hours before they would have the results back. They took an xray of his chest, and there were a couple small spots that could be infection, or could be nothing. They also wanted to monitor his bilirubin since my blood type is O+ and Paul's is A+, which can sometimes lead to jaundice if the breast milk causes excessive breakdown of the baby's red blood cells. The CRP test came back elevated, but that's not really a surprise given he had just been through quite an ordeal. In the meantime he had to stay in the NICU, and he was all hooked up to various monitors, an IV,  and a CPAP, but he was now a nice healthy shade of pink and it looked like he'd be just fine. He did bring me back some pictures of Paul that he took on his phone.

(Even hooked up to all those tubes and monitors, isn't he just precious?)

It was around 9 PM before I first had a chance to go see him. By then he was already off the CPAP and just had a nasal PAP.

All three of us together!

By the following morning they were able to take him off the oxygen altogether, and I was able to feed him for the first time. The next two days were pretty much cycles of eating, sleeping, and feeding Paul. We wanted to try to get my milk to come in as soon as possible to get him off of the IV. The doctors had him on a broad spectrum antibiotic in case he did have an infection, and that made him need a lot more fluids than newborns usually do, so colostrum wasn't going to cut it hydration-wise.  They decided to supplement him with formula in the meantime. Luckily Paul is a little champ and we didn't have very many difficulties getting feeding down.

I was discharged from the hospital Sunday evening. Since Paul was in the NICU I was allowed to checkout it in the evening rather than by 11 AM, but since his cultures took 48 hours, I was still going to have to be discharged at least one night before Paul would be out at the earliest. Thankfully I was able to get into one of the two parent rooms. It was a lactation room during the day, but during the night they opened it for parent with a baby still in the NICU so they didn't have to drive back to the hospital every two hours for feedings all night. The room just barely fit a flip out cot, a small end table, a sink, and a microwave, and it came with no one to help me get back and forth to the NICU and no other hospital support (up to being discharged I was always taken to the NICU in a wheelchair, was constantly monitored by nurses, had all meals and drugs provided, etc.), but it meant I didn't have to leave Paul in the hospital and go home that night, and for that I was, and am, extremely thankful.

The next morning all of Paul's tests, the culture, CRP, bilirubin, and xray all came back clear, so we got to take Paul home, which you can see made his mommy very happy!!!

Home at last. :)


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Android Cell Phone Case

So, recently I had my phone replaced by Verizon since its autofocus was never operational. Rather than getting another invisiShield, which eventually started peeling at the corners on my last Droid, I decided I'd make myself a little cloth case to put it in while inside my purse to keep it from getting scratched.

I used plain black cotton for the outside and a green cotton I had left over from my 23andMe quilt I'm working on for the lining. Inside I have some 100% cotton batting to help absorb moisture if it does get in, and a layer of jacket nylon to help it from getting in in the first place.

I definitely struggled with this one a bit. First I tried appliqueing on an Android logo using a blanket stitch, but the extra texture on the edge made it so it didn't have a graphic enough look to it. So I took that off and tried appliqueing using an invisible stitch, but that resulted in some slight puckering on the edge that I couldn't get to go away that led to the same problem of unclean edges. Finally I tried to just embroider the outline of the logo. This turned out more difficult than I anticipated to try to get straight lines and even stitches, but I deemed it good enough and moved on since I needed the case sooner rather than later.

This is also my first time trying to attempt binding anything. Again I struggled, this fighting to get the edges to be even, and my corners are far from perfect. It still amazes me how much easier it is to get straight lines by hand instead of with the machine, which is what I used for this. I certainly gained an appreciation for my fellow craft bloggers - they all make it look so easy!

But in the end it worked well enough - and my phone is nice and snug in its new home. (At least until I try again.)

A better view of the Android Logo:

A shot of the inside:

What it looks like closed:

If nothing else it was a learning process. :P


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Thanks Kim!

I'd just like to give a big thank you to Kim over at Kim's Crafty Apple. Over the past few months she has been hosting an awesome online quilting competition, called Project Quilting. Not only was it great to get to see everyone's entries and to have fun with the challenges, she constantly was giving away great prizes, both to the winners and via random drawings.

Today I won my second drawing from her: Project Quilting: Random Prize #10.

Woot! Thank you Kim!


Monday, September 6, 2010

Homemade Baby Changing Pad

After 3 hours at Joann's trying to find the right fabric, I came home last night a wee bit too tired to get started on the canopy for the baby's crib, so I decided to work on another of my awaiting projects and made a changing pad for Paul.

I bought some jacket nylon on clearance and used some left over foam from a seat cushion I made some months ago to make a wipeable pad:

I first split the foam in half so it'd be thinner. I didn't want the foam to be too thick for suffocation risks, and it gave me twice as much surface area to work with. I attached 4 pieces of it together very loosely with an overcast stitch and then moved the pieces to lay flat. 

The nylon casing itself was pretty simple - I just cut out two rectangles about 1" larger than the foam and sewed 3 sides together and most of the 4th, leaving a gap big enough I could turn it right side out and put in the foam, and then closed the hole by hand. I then ran it through my machine at each point the different batting pieces were joined, which both helps keep the batting in place and allows me to easily roll the pad for storage.

Since nylon isn't very comfortable to lay on, I also made a little cotton cover out of some monkey fabric. I also then will be able to remove the cover and toss it into the wash easily.

This was made almost identically to the nylon case, except instead of closing off the 4th end, I made one side longer than the other to be able to wrap around the pad and hemmed the raw edges. The longer end is then folded around the back and helps it stay in place both when laying flat and rolled together.

I have a couple more pieces of fabric I'd like to make into additional covers, so you'll likely see those at some later point. All-in-all a pretty successful evening I think. :)


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