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October 2009

September 2009

baby essentials

Many soon-to-be-first-time-mamas have asked me the following question: What, exactly, do I need to have for my baby? 

This post is for you!

The good news? Most of what your baby (and you) will need in those first few months is free. For example:

baby essentials :: the fan

If you have one of these, you're SET. Oh, how I wish we didn't live in a rental and that we had the money to put in pretty fans, but hey, Finn loves them anyway. He talks to them. He laughs at them. I worry that, instead of speaking human language, he will just click, clack, and whirl in a rhythmic fashion.

But seriously. 

I hesitate to give a laundry list of baby essentials, because what works for us might not work for you. Every family has its own needs and priorities, and ours are highly influenced by my Montessori background, our decisions to co-sleep and practice EC, and our budget. The bottom line? Do what is right for you, your family, and your little one. Follow your convictions, follow your budget, but most of all, (in Montessori-speak) follow the child. What your child needs is YOU - your love, your smiles, your voice - not stuff! Stuff can be nice (and very helpful) but keep in mind that you shouldn't feel pressure to accumulate it. 

Also, do keep in mind that most of these items can be found second-hand. We have yet to buy new clothing for Finn, as we've been pretty determined to hit every Saturday yard sale in our neighborhood. We've found baby wraps and plenty of clothing. You might try looking on for other, larger items.

That said, here's a list of what our family has found helpful in the first four (almost five!) months of Finn's life:

  • the Moby Wrap. I've talked about it before, but this is our go-to option for soothing a tired baby. Daddy wears the Moby, and I wear ...
  • a ring sling. I've found that it's easy to get on and off and great for covering up while nursing out of the house. Our current favorite is the hip hold - we get a lot done in the kitchen and around the house thanks to the sling.
  • at least 50 pre-fold diapers. They are cheap, super absorbent, and perfect for EC backup around the house, worn with a diaper belt (known affectionately around these parts as Finn's sumo belt). Amanda Soule's book, Handmade Home, includes instructions on how to make your own pre-fold diapers from recycled cloth. We don't use diaper covers unless we're out and about (and we used g diapers with much success while traveling) but I'd say you'd need three covers to be safe.

baby care area in our bedroom

  • a dresser with the top drawers reserved for baby diapers and clothing. No need to get a special baby changing dresser - we already had ours, a mid-century-ish find from a thrift store. The above photo is our "baby care station" - a changing pad (with two cotton terry covers - one for the wash, and one for the pad), Finn's Baby Bjorn potty on top of a waterproof mat, a toy or two for potty time, wipes, and two burlap buckets - one for the 20 or so washcloths that we use constantly for cleaning up spit up, drool, milk - you name it, and one for holding my cotton breast pads.
  • a water repellent wool pad, topped with a flannel receiving blanket, for sleeping on top of in our family bed. You can make your own felted wool pad, or buy one here. You'll need lots of receiving blankets. I think we have about ten. You can make your own by buying cotton flannel at a fabric store and simply cutting them to small blanket size - zigzag the edges and you're done.
  • a co-sleeping pillow. This makes all of us feel safe and secure at night. Finn slept in a sleep sack for the first few months.
  • kimono shirts, baby legwarmers, socks and hats. Finn doesn't really have that many clothes - figure that your baby will go through one, maybe two, shirts per day (depending on drool and spit-up) and two or more pants if you choose to use pants. I rarely put Finn in pants because we EC. We prefer to use legwarmers and socks to keep his lower extremities warm. We do laundry every other day, so we only really need about four shirts, two pairs of pants, and a few pairs of baby socks. If you don't want to do laundry that frequently, then you'll need more clothes (and more diapers, probably!)
  • a wool fleece pad or lambskin, for hanging out on the floor, playing with toys, watching mobiles, cats, etc.
  • several mobiles from the Michael Olaf catalog or made by hand. Finn loved his black and white whale mobile.
  • Montessori baby toy set from Pink House Handworks.
  • and, finally, a Svan baby/youth chair. We've just started using it with Finn (because he's just begun to sit up on his own) but we LOVE it. It is an expensive item, but we knew we wanted it and spread the word - several family members went in on it together to purchase it for us as a gift. The chair is so great on many levels - the tray comes off so you can scoot the baby right up to the edge of the table to socialize with you as you eat meals as a family. It's beautifully made of wood. Perhaps its biggest selling point for us was that it converts into a toddler and youth chair which the older child can get in and out of himself with the aid of a step/foot rest.
That's all I can think of for the moment - I'm sure I've missed something. How about this - if you're a mama, think about something that you couldn't live without in those first few months and leave a comment. Let's make this post a go-to resource for mamas-to-be.

the best things in life are messy

What a great week we had - full of cool weather walks, sitting up, exploring squishy pumpkin innards, wonderful guests, and very, very little computer time. I needed the time away - and I'm back, rejuvenated and ready for some sewing! Thanks so much for sharing your excitement with me about the book, the website, and the new patterns. I'm constantly blown away by your kindness. You people are super cool.

sponsor giveaway :: wonderfluff fabric

I'm super excited to have Liz Scott, the creative mind behind the fabric shop, WonderFluff, on as a sponsor. I have a few of Liz's fabrics, and they're awesome. I especially love my sample of organic cotton interlock knit. Liz draws her designs by hand, colors them digitally, then has them printed off at Spoonflower. Read on to learn more, and check out the giveaway and discount info below!


From Liz:

I was born and raised in Michigan, and now I reside in Los Angeles. I'm a 32 year old Capricorn living with my husband and one gray cat named Zipper. I am a graphic designer by day and a free-form stuff maker by night. Whenever I see a fabric swatch from the late sixties or vintage Scandinavian cookware, my heart beats a bit faster. I love to paint, draw, sew and constantly rework the look and feel of all the rooms in my apartment. I've always made stuff and I always will because it gives me peace and energy at the same time. 

I make what I like and what I enjoy making. I strive for expression in my work, not perfection (that part is hard sometimes). I am consistently drawn to all that is bold and graphic. I love rambunctious color palettes, optical illusions, repetition and insane amounts of detail. I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember.

Here is some additional info about the fabric:

All fabric designs are available in the following fabric types:

-Quilting weight cotton
-Upholstery weight cotton
-Organic Cotton Sateen
-Organic Cotton Interlock Knit
-Bamboo Cotton Rayon

All fabrics are available in sample size, fat quarter, half yard, and full yard increments up to five yards per continuous piece.

If you would like a certain design in a different fabric or a different amount than listed in the shop, please convo or email me and I can create a custom listing. Special orders do take approximately 2 weeks for delivery from time of order depending on your location.


Email: liz{at}lizscott{dot}com


Liz is giving away a bundle of four fat quarters from her Mod series (pictured above). The names of the fabrics are Mod Flowers, Mod Buds, Mod Trees and Mod Leaves. Leave a comment by Sunday, September 20th at 8 p.m. EST and a winner will be chosen at random. In addition, Liz is offering a 15% discount to Sew Liberated readers on any item in her store, WonderFluff, from now until the end of September. Enter SewLiberated in the notes to seller box at checkout, she will refund your money via PayPal right away.

Thanks, Liz, and good luck!


Congratulations to Cinnamon, who won the stack of Mod fat quarters! Remember that Liz is offering 15% off of all items in her store to Sew Liberated readers for the rest of September. Thanks again, Liz!

the book! the website! the new patterns!

my book!

*Giddily smiling and clapping my hands*  Here it is! My book is now available for pre-order, with an anticipated ship date of December 7 - just in time for last-minute holiday making (or as a gift for your crafty wife/girlfriend ... hint, hint, poke, poke, guys!) 

It's been so hard keeping things so quiet about this long work in progress ... so many days I was sewing up a storm, yet I would have to blog about my cats. Or my breakfast. Because, let's face it - when you are writing a book and your deadline is approaching, you don't leave the house much! But I digress ...

I'm excited to share more about the book writing process once the book is on the shelves in December. In the meantime, head on over to my new website and check out both the book page and the homepage slide show for pictures of some of the projects in the book. All of the projects include some element of applique, but each of them can be made up without the applique elements as well. So, what I'm sayin' is ... it's a sewing project book with the added benefit of teaching you a thing or two about applique!

Which brings me to announcement number two ... the new website! Have I ever mentioned how much I love my husband? This man worked for weeks into the wee small hours of the morning to make my website vision a reality. That, plus he was the chief photographer for our (many) photo shoots while I bounced around with the baby. (And I'd like to thank my brother-in-law, David and his darling girlfriend, Natalie for traveling here to be our models!)

And finally, announcement number three ... a sneak peek at three new patterns coming out in October! They are being printed right now and will be available for purchase on Monday, October 5th. Check out the patterns page for pictures, and check back here soon for a behind-the-scenes look at each new design.

With that, I'm officially beginning my first day off in weeks. Lunch out? A lazy day with a novel? A pint of ice cream? All of the above? Yes.


My book is also available for pre-order on Amazon and Indiebound, but just FYI - they have the title, publishing date, and descriptions wrong - the book has 20 projects, not 30 or 25! It will be out on December 7, not January, as Amazon wrongly states. Head on over to my site for signed copies and for a full description and some project photos. Hopefully they'll have their sites fixed shortly!

Thanks a bunch for your enthusiastic response!

finn and the leaf at four months old

finn and the leaf

How does this feel on my fingertips? How does it feel on my cheek? What happens if I move it around really fast? What happens if I pull it like this? What happens if I put it in my mouth?

finn and the leaf

(LOVE the baby boogers in this one ... so sorry, 15 year-old Finn.)

How does it feel on my lips? How does it taste?

finn and the leaf

What does it look like?

What is this?

Mama, how long has it been since YOU really explored a leaf?

Too long, my dear. But my curiosity is renewed by the earth-rich smell of chlorophyll on your plump little fingers.

the closet metaphor

Yesterday, things were feeling a bit piled up. Deadline upon deadline, un-washed hair upon "that-same-old-ugly-t-shirt" look that I seem to have day after day ... and then I went to pull something out of the fray (shipping labels, to be precise) and the whole thing came crashing down. On my feet.

closet before

Well, you all know exactly what I was feeling. Thank you for your words of kindness and encouragement!

Today, I felt a little more like this.

closet after

It's amazing what organizing a closet can do for your spirit. It sounds silly - but it's quite true. The extra benefit of organizing one's studio closet (which was previously completely useless as it had no shelving) is that I can now see all of the yarn I have in my stash. And boy oh boy, do I have plans ...

Just because it's good to keep those little blessings in mind when your figurative closet spills out onto the floor ...

I'm thankful for:

-My new dutch rubber broom. My good friend and fellow crafter, Karen, recommended it, and I will never go back to the broom and the swiffer. Best of all? I can attach an old, damp hand towel to it with rubber bands and my kitchen floor is mopped in minutes. No buckets. No water-sogged floor. No kidding.

-My beautiful Seasons Round Exchange package from Nicole. I'll post some pictures of the goods on our nature table once Autumn rolls around.

-My son who has taken to hacking when he laughs. "Kah! Kah!" I'm so in love.

-My little feature over on The Lovely List - if you haven't checked out the Lovely List before, you're in for a treat!

-My talented husband who is putting the finishing touches on our re-designed website, which will be launching next Monday, along with ...

-THE BOOK! Make sure you're here on Monday the 14th for a big book preview - and signed copies will be available for pre-order in my shop!

looking for pattern testers

****UPDATE**** Thank you kindly, everyone! I have all of the testers that I need!

I'm looking for a handful of pattern testers for three new designs. If you're interested and capable of working under a short-ish deadline, read the following req's and send me an email at meg(at) telling me which pattern you would be interested in testing, the garment size you would be making (standard dress size is fine), and a brief assessment of your own sewing level (beginner, intermediate, or advanced - all levels are welcome). Comments to this post are closed, so please send your statement of interest to me via email!

Two patterns will be ready to send to testers on Thursday, Sept. 3. These are both children's patterns: the the Flora Tunic & Twirly Skirt and the unisex Woodlands Shirt, in sizes 2T-10. I will need your feedback for these by Thursday, Sept. 10th.

The third pattern, a woman's tunic with sizes to be determined, will be ready for testers on Wed, Sept. 9th and your feedback needs to be in to me by Sunday, Sept. 13th - a quicker turnaround time. 

All of the projects can easily be completed in a day of leisurely sewing.

If you are willing to take a large PDF file and have it printed onto a large sheet of paper at your local print shop and work within the deadlines, then let me know! I need three testers for each design - and each tester will get a free, signed copy of my book when it comes out in December!

Thanks a bunch!


infant massage

infant massage

I've recently started to give the little babe a massage after he wakes up from his afternoon nap. He seems smiley and pleased with it - but for me, it's cathartic.

I can be feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, tired ... and when I sit down to massage Finn and take a deep, cleansing breath, all those negative feelings begin to melt away with each giggle, each touch of that butter-soft skin, and each soft word spoken with a smile while looking into his eyes.

infant massage

I learned some basic massage techniques by watching these videos. There's a book, too, which I'd like to read one of these days. If you're interested in the developmental benefits of massage, Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin, is the landmark book on the subject. It's a fascinating read.

What you need to begin infant massage:

  • a comfortable surface. (We use his wool fleece pad underneath a flannel blanket topped with a pre-fold cloth diaper in case of any pees.)
  • some vegetable-based oil such as olive, jojoba, etc. since babies put their hands in their mouths so often. I use a local, organic, unscented massage oil, but you could just as easily use olive oil from your kitchen. 
  • a draft-free environment. I close off the air conditioning vent during our time on the floor.
  • a happy baby with a full belly.

I've found this to be a wonderful time for listening to some quiet piano music in the background. Putting on the same music every afternoon during massage time helps Finn become aware of and comforted by this gentle daily routine. We're big George Winston fans in this house - a vestige of my own childhood in my parents' music-filled home.

Massage doesn't need to be restricted to infants - it might be just the thing to help a four year-old who has given up napping settle into an afternoon "quiet time". It might be just the thing you need at the end of the day to help you connect with your partner and release the stress of the day. One thing I've noticed while giving and receiving massage - even with a pre-verbal baby - is that massage seems to open up a space for conversation. You get to really focus on the person who you are massaging, which is a real gift.

Oh, and I should say (on behalf of the purring cat on my lap) that animals appreciate a good massage, too. :)