23 August 2011

Sewing and knitting for the babies

I don't remember doing any knitting for my own babies. I didn't sew for them either. My mum knitted beautiful booties and jackets for them, and I remember when I lived in Germany, just after Shane was born, mum used to send a couple of letters per week, and in each of them was a pair of booties. It seems like such a sweet and quiet thing to do and I doubt I appreciated it as much as I should have when she sent them, but I love the memory of it very much. My sons were both born in July, just 12 months apart. It was very busy in those early years. I started sewing for Shane and Kerry when I had more time. I guess they were around 5 and 6 by then and I made shorts, tops and marble bags; easy things like that.

So it surprises me how compelled I feel now to sew and knit for my grandchildren - Jamie and Alexander. I am enjoying the planning of each project and when I went to Spotlight yesterday and found very good quality polar fleece for $2.50 a metre, then got 20 percent of that because it was a little bit dirty on the edge, I felt like I'd won the lottery. I scooped up those fabrics and took off out of there with a smile as wide as the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

This is Jamie, he's almost six months old now. I hope to get more photos of Alexander when we visit next time.

It's tough and a little bit sad to be too far away from our family to see them regularly. We try to get there every month and there have been visits here but still, I feel like we're not really close enough to be of help if we're needed. That is no one's fault, it's just how it is, so knitting and sewing lets me feel a little bit closer to all of them. I focus on how my project will look on them, or help in their care and that makes a difference.  It's not as good as being there but it's better than not being involved at all and it makes our visits something really special. That is when we see not only how much the babies have grown but also how much their parents have grown into their new roles. I am one proud grandma and mother.

Both babies have a lot of clothes - mainly second-hand, or lovely organic garments, so there is really no need to make clothes. But all those little pieces, the wipes, fleece and wool covers, bibs and little hats, they're all mine to make. :- ) The babies will never remember how I sewed for them, and knitted little bits and pieces, but it's an important part of grandmothering for me and I'm enjoying every stitch and every needle I thread.

I'm looking for more tutorials or patterns for all the little odds and ends that make this first year of life a bit easier or more comfortable - for the babies and the parents. If you know of anything that you used, or think is really cute, or a must-have, please leave a link so I can see it. I have a large stash of fabric, organic cotton, alpaca and wool yarn and I'm all ready to go.



  1. I really enjoyed your post.Seems I anticipate grandbabies for the reasons you have shared here. When my children were small life was busy and although I made things for them, the time to make things took me long into the night and I would then get up and go the next morning.

    I am certain your son's wives really appreciate your efforts as momma's because times are different. Times are now where we are truly seeing what and where things come from...so they know-I am sure.


  2. Just as I read this post Rhonda, I realise how much I miss my mother doing such things for my little one. My daughter is also almost six months old, and I miss a granny making lovely skirts or socks for her...
    I haven't got much time left to sew some clothes for her ór my little boy (5), although I know it doesn't take a lot of time to make something.
    I hope someday my mother will see how much it means to me to be at home for her grandchildren, to be a granny who loves to make something for them or to spent some time with them. I miss that. And just by reading your post of today it hit me a little bit harder than it already does.

    Never the less.. thank you..

    Love from Holland

  3. Good Morning Rhonda,
    I so love your attitude that it's nobody's fault that you live apart, but just the way it is and that doing these little things for the babies connects you to them. I am sure your family greatly appreciates and values that. I know I would.
    I have used quite a few sites to make things for my little ones - some are free and some are not. Here are a few of my favourites:
    www.sewmamasew.com If you go to their blog they have archived a whole lot of free tutorials - the holiday lists are usually full of things. It takes some time looking through them all but it's fun!
    The other place is etsy for inexpensive downloadable patterns. There are hundreds on there and I use it alot. If you type in 'patterns' in the search bar and then choose which category you want. It's usually only a few dollars and the download is generally instant or within 24 hours. I've made all sorts of lovely hats, cloth shoes, bibs, toys and knitted things using etsy.
    The other place is ravelry.com for free knitting patterns. Tons on there.
    Also, I just thought of www.youcanmakethis.com. You usually have to pay for the patterns, but they do have some lovely ideas.
    Hope this is helpful.
    Have a great day!
    Rachel from NZ

  4. I knitted and sewed for my daughter and stopped when she was about 10, when it was no longer cool to wear homemade. It's great to look back at photos, and in most of them she's wearing something I made. I did the same for my son, knitting and sewing his baby clothes, and shorts and tshirts until he went to school.
    Then when the grandbabies came along... 4 of them.. I started again. They are all in the US, so visits were few and far between. I think I'd have been quite happy to have them just a couple of hours away. It was hard to see my daughter struggling with twins and 2 toddlers and I couldn't help in a practical sense,but sent lots of handmade love....Nanette

  5. It has been much the same for me Rhonda. I did sew a little for them and once they were at school I started doing a little knitting, but nothing like what I'm doing for the grand children!

  6. What a lovely post Rhonda. It's very precious the love and time you are putting into your grand-babies. It isn't easy when you live so far away from family, my boys are 13months apart and both Grandparents live at least 3 hours away so we don't get to see them anywhere near as much as we like and it was tricky when I needed that spare pair of hands during the baby stage. I love the photo of the bib, your post has given me some ideas for later on, we would like to have another baby at some point and with both boys at school I'll be able to breathe a bit easier with one baby at home, so hopefully will have some time to make similar items to what you are making for your grand-babies. Love seeing your work and I'm sure your daughters-in-law really appreciate it also :) Regards, Ruth

  7. I can't wait to be a grandmother but I reckon it is about 5yrs off yet. I think plenty of bids are a good idea because I never seemed to have enough. I cringe when I see mothers swiping away at little wet faces with coarse bibs and cloth, making little mouths and noses red raw.

  8. Just lovely - it is so nice to see children in something homemade; it just has that little something extra.

    Sew Mama Sew is a great blog for tutorials.

  9. The babies won't remember the clothes but when they are children they will. When we look through the family photos comments like "Nana made me that tracksuit" or "Aunty Jo sent me that nightie and I wore it to death" will be mentioned. Aunty Jo is nearly 90 and doesn't sew any more but she will be remembered long after she's gone because of the items she sent my children. I sewed items like school uniforms (girls and boys), school sweatshirts and everyday clothes until they were in high school. Oh, and a boned dress for Uni graduation back in Mar/April 2011! It's posted on my blog.
    Here's a really good bib from a great bag maker.
    I have to make a few of these as 8 month old granddaughter pulls the regular bibs around and her clothes become all grotty at meal times.
    Some more free tutorials to do with children are available here
    Happy Sewing,
    Cheers, Robyn

  10. Keep your eye out for a couple of "Topkids" magazines. I've picked up a few in the op shop and a lot on ebay. They're wonderful - they have patterns that you trace out, sized for babies to teens.

  11. I've never segregated my cherubs' clothes into for play or for good categories, to me, they are all there to be worn because they grow out of their clothes in a heartbeat, so there's a decent possiblity that if anything is saved for good it won't be worn! So I say make them not just the practicals, but the gorgeous stuff that will make their mothers swoon. Oliver and S make divine patterns for cherubs, classic, beautiful pieces. I've just sent my 4 year old off to kinder in a beautiful made by Mama dress for her kinder photos, and guess what, I shed a tear when she left the house with her backpack on, her hair in pigtails holding her dad's hand...

  12. Hi Rhonda, I was a long time ago a SAHM for 10yrs and I sewed nearly every day for my sons. My best friend and I both had two boys and we shared patterns and went fabric shopping together and the kids played together while we sewed. They're all grown up now (wonderful memories of those days), but I'm happy to say I have a grand niece and another on the way that I am currently sewing for. These two new additions to our family has given my mother (their great grandmother) a new lease on life and she is knitting constantly for them, which is a delight because not so long ago she declared to me that she was 'past it'. Her knitting is just as good as ever so between us these babies will never want for clothes to wear. TFS

  13. Look at Jamie sitting up so proudly. Gorgeous! Its such a cliche but my how time flies.
    I love the thought of your Mum sending the little booties in the letters. What a gorgeous thing for her to do.
    I sewed lots of clothes and bits and bobs for my three but I didn't learn to knit until last year. Sometimes I yearn for another just so I could rug her up in handknits. Oh well, looks like I'll have to wait for my grandkids.

  14. Rhonda, everyone has their normal, bought outfits, but when something is made with love, it will be cherished. To know that someone is thinking of you, or your children, and put care, time and love into a garment is something no amount of money can buy. When I was given hand knitted and sewn baby items, they always seemed softer, warmer and were admired by many. It is hard - sometimes very hard - when you don't live as close to family as you would like. My only consolation in this area is that we don't take family for granted and visits are so special for everyone.

  15. Such a lovely post. My mum used to sew out of necessity for us as kids and only recently has she picked this up again, making dresses for the granddaughters and shorts and pants for the boys. I don't think you can under-estimate the value of handmade items. So much more love goes into them than a store bought item. I am currently making Soulemama's (handmade home book) prefold nappies from flannel. This is my second lot and they are cheap and easy to make. I also find little pants very useful. You can trace a pair from an adults t shirt or use the reversible pants pattern in the book Handmade Beginnings, which I have done many times. I did a tutorial on burp cloths here:


    But your littlest one may already be past that stage.
    Love your bibs too. Your grandkids are truly blessed xo

  16. I discovered crochet when my first baby was about 2 years old. Too late to hook him some cute baby outfits. I then crocheted for about 10 years.
    By the time I met my wonderful fiance I had had enough of crochet and gave it away for a couple of years. We then had two babies in quick succession. MIL knitted some cute bootees and matinee jackets that I just loved.
    About a year after my last baby was born I started crocheting again. Again a little too late to make baby things.
    Now I can't wait for grandbabies either. I'm only (nearly) 37 but I have an 18 year old step son so you never know, a grandbaby could be on it's way any time in the next few years.
    I have been collecting lots of pattens that I want to make, I just hope that my DIL will be into handmade stuff

  17. I love what you said Rhonda about loving the memory of what your Mum sent you all those years ago. My mother did the same for my children and I when we lived in Canberra and she was in Tassie. The gorgeous things she knitted and sewed for my children were so beautiful and so very special as memories now, especially as Mum is no longer alive.
    I now love making things for all the great nieces and nephews that are coming along - they are all in far flung places and it makes me feel connected to them as well.
    I am planning for little grand babies that are not even planned yet by the parents :)
    Thanks for bringing back those memories for me today

  18. It's such a pleasure to stitch for our grandchildren and as you know we have #12 en route now! That will make 8 boys and 4 girls and the one pattern I will recommend to you the Milo Vest from Georgie Hallum's tikki blog...the size goes up to 6yrs from birth so will be good for years for you.

  19. My kids were brought up in Germany too where we lived for 6 years, far away from both sets of grandparents. Unfortunately neither of the grannies knits or sews....but they wore things I knitted and sewed until they were about 10 or so. It´s lovely to have those memories of things the family hand made for the babies.
    Sami from Perth xx

  20. Even though my grandchildren live nearby, my youngest granddaughter was born 2 months premature, and spent a month in NICU. One of the ways I dealt with it was to sew her little preemie clothes, it made me feel closer to her when I couldn't even touch her when I was there. And now she is 2 and healthy and active and wonderful.

  21. Dear Rhonda,

    Everything that you are making for your grandkids is lovely. The only thing I would say is that, as a Mum of 5 kids, age ranges 17 down to 3 years, I never used bibs with strings attached ,as they are fiddly to get on (especially onto a moving toddler)! What I use and would recommend is terry towelling bibs in a single rectangle or oval-ish piece, with one hole for the neck, edged with soft ribbing, so that the chest, shoulders and back of the neck are covered. (You never know how far that food will go)!!
    I have 2 in particular that I was given 17 years ago, which I still use today, though a little frayed. One single movement to get the bib on, is a lot better than having to tie them at the back of their head. (Also could be a possible choking hazard). Sorry to be a wet blanket!
    If you are intrerested in what in mean, I can email pics of the 2 bibs that I love so much, and you could easily work something out from the photo alone.

    Love your blog,
    Regards, Kathy
    Sydney NSW

  22. Home sewn and knitted baby bits are always a thrill to give and receive.
    I always love looking through Chickpea Sewing Studio when there is a baby on the way. She has some fabulously sime patterns. I have made the bibs and nappy burb cloths several times. I thought you might like to see.
    Take care

  23. Hi Rhonda

    There's a wealth of info on patterns, etc. at Tipnut.com

    I thought these would be of interest:





    Take care and blessings, Bev :)

  24. A lovely thing to do for your grandchildren! I did some for our older ones in past years, but now find I am having a hard time getting motivated to get to a quilt I need to make for the youngest grandson. Harder to get motivated when I don't see him even once a year. Being a continent apart does have its challenges. Have fun, Grandma!!

  25. A very sweet post :)

    I wonder if your mother had some of the very same thoughts and feelings as she was planning, knitting, and mailing those booties?

  26. You should knit Petal Bib. It is from the book One Skein by Leigh Radford. This is a quick knit and it is so cute. You could knit red, blue or yellow ones for the boys.

  27. Rhonda, I was just 3 when my brother was born, and my Paternal Grandmother made him a nightgown, all totally handstitched. By all accounts it was beautiful - I do't recall it!
    However, I was given a Tiny Tars doll when he was born, and Grandma made a little nightgown for her in a similar style, made from an old tea-towel, all handstitched with little pintucks barely a stich wide!

    That I DO remember - infact I still have it and it now fits one of my daughters dolls. I have 3 girls, 14, 6 and 4. All 3 have played with it on their dolls!

    I'm sure your gradchildren will gain a keepsake in future years, and will remember you when they have their own children!
    Keep on sewing, I think it's a wonderful thing Grandparents can do! My mother always had something for mine when they were babies!

  28. Hi Rhonda,

    You know, it is so relieving to hear that you didn't do much sewing or knitting when your sons were young. I have three boys, the oldest not yet four, and the youngest 5 months, and I'm lucky if I get a few rows whipped out on a dishcloth (and that only after they are all asleep - goodness knows what they would do if I pulled out needles and balls of string while they were awake :)). I know it's a season, but it feels like a never-ending season at times.

    Before I had my third son, I was actually able to knit a hat for my newborn-to-be and make some pajama pants, but the thing I'm most proud of is what Americans call "Pull-ups." They're basically like pocket diapers, but they are more for potty training. They have an inner stay-dry lining and an outer waterproof lining, and allow you to stuff the middle with whatever you want - a prefold, etc.

    Though our oldest son is potty trained during the day, he still has regular accidents at night, which is why he needs these. We are on a very tight budget w/two in diapers and him in pull-ups, so I found a wonderful pattern at ladderhilldesigns.com for the trainers. It's not free, but it has saved us a lot of money and kept him from waking up soaked at night. Maybe you'll find it useful down the road.

  29. What a beautiful heart you have for your family - so lovely to see your love in action through your sewing.

  30. Hi rhonda!
    good on you for sewing for your grandies...i'm sure it'll be appreciated...
    i sew like crazy for my babies (still am, even though i have a newborn... i don't sleep much at the moment!)... some of the most useful things i've made my children are- apart from most of their clothes-
    nappies, cloth wipes, cloth washers (done on my overlocker with beautiful soft velour)... bibs ( i made 2 lots- small dribble bibs for when they're breastfeeding and large terry backed bibs for when they are eating solids- i also never use strings/ties on bibs... i put snaps on all of mine as they are safer, as well as harder for bubs to pull off), burp cloths, fleece rugs (these are a brillant must have for tummy time and play time on the floor- so easy to wash and care for... just get a large piece of pretty fleece and hem it on each side.. and done! i made quilts as well, but they don't get the same kind of use)... hmm crafting smocks, changemats for nappy change time (these are very useful)... gosh so many more things but that's a good start!

  31. How cute is little Jamie!!!!!!!!!! x Chrissy

  32. I love to read your blog. It is one of my daily reads!

    I have a few recommendations from one Mom to a Grandmom....

    The Floppy seat was a must have for me when my 2 were babies (not too long ago). Here is the site where they sell them http://www.floppyseat.com/ but I bet you could sew this without much difficulty. I used this in the shopping cart and the restaurant high chairs religiously.

    Piddle Pads. I made my own piddle pads for the car seat because I could not find any I liked in the stores. I used a quilters flannel (bright and fun patterns) with a vinyl in the middle. It saves loads of time and effort when there is an "accident" in the car. I just place them on the car seat where their little tushie sits and it is easy to remove the pad and not have to take the car seat out and wash the car seat cover. Your little ones are a far step from reaching this stage but just wanted to mention for the future.

    A flannel blanket. I made my own flannel blankets for the car and stroller for my little ones. I again used the quilters flannel with the fun and bright colors. I used 2 different, but coordinating prints on each side. My kids are 8 (as of yesterday) and 6 and they both love their blankets in the car. They are a perfect size for their laps and not too bulky to keep in the car.

    So these are my 3 must haves as a mother. I found each of these items made my life easier and less stressful.

    I hope this is helpful...and thank you for keeping your blog interesting and entertaining to read. I love it!


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