June 11, 2013

Infant Carseat Neck Pillow

Ever have this problem?

I know that if I fell asleep in this position,
my poor neck would be a-hurtin' for sure!

We are going to be driving across Texas again in a few weeks. So to prevent my little man from getting a sore neck, I made him a special support pillow. 

Click HERE to print off the pattern.

First you will need to fold your fabric in half - make sure that the skinny part of the pattern is placed on the folded edge. When you cut it out and open it up it should look like two connected crab claws.

Cut (2) pieces for the back and front. I used plain cotton and minky fabric so it would be reversible for warm & cold weather.

TIP: You should be able to get both pieces out of a fat quarter

The triangle cuts will become darts. To sew the darts closed, fold and pin as show in the picture below.

When you have sewn all 4 darts, pin the back and front pieces together (pretty sides facing each other).

Either make or repurpose a pacifier tether and add it to your pillow like so. The tether should be sandwiched between the layers (with the velcro loop end inside). 

Stitch around the outside edge of the pillow (1/4 inch seam allowance) leaving a small opening in the back of the pillow large enough to fit two fingers in - you will need this for stuffing. If you are adding a pacifier tether, then make sure to double stitch over the end of the tether. Be careful not to get any other part of the tether caught in the stitching.

Turn the pillow right-side-out and begin stuffing with fiberfill. 
In order to be able to stitch up the back opening, you will need to overstuff the fat sides of the pillow and leave the back portion mostly empty. After you have stitched the opening, you can shift the stuffing around evenly.

TIP: The more stuffing the better - It will work best if it is quite stiff. Shifting the stuffing around after it has been stitched up will be difficult, but just work away at it while you are watching TV or something and you will figure it out ;)

You will use waaaaay more stuffing than you think you will need. This is about how much went into mine. 

This is what the finished product looks like!

...and the minky side!

Here is my son, modeling it for me.

He really doesn't use his pacifier anymore, so I will use the tether for his O-ball. He always drops his toys while I'm driving and can't retrieve them for him.

This pillow will give his head something to lean against when he falls asleep, even if his head falls forward.

I have seen some baby pillows that have magnets sewn into the large front parts so that they stay together. Maybe I will try that next time. 

This pillow should fit him for quite a while. I designed it to fit from 6-12 months. If you have a larger or smaller child, then you can always expand/shrink the pattern before you print it.


The carseat in these pictures is our "new" convertible carseat. A friend gave me a carseat that was in fantastic condition, but a bit faded from the El Paso sun. I decided to re-cover it, by taking apart the seams, basting a new layer of fabric to each piece, and sewing it back together (minus the piping). Here are the before/after shots. It was pretty difficult, especially since my sewing machine isn't very heavy duty. I broke 5 sewing machine needles and my best pair of fabric scissors on this project! So I guess I don't really recommend it to anyone else, and I probably wouldn't do it ever again. But I'm proud of how it turned out and I'm glad I persevered to the end!


May 25, 2013

Goodbye Prefolds? - The Flats & Handwashing Challenge Day 6

Have I found a replacement for my prefolds? I feel like I'm cheating on them!

Since the Flats & Handwashing Challenge started on Monday, my prefolds have not been touched. This is the first time in almost 6 months that they've had a break - they really are quite the workhorses! But as much as I love them, I think I'm starting to like flats even more! Here's why:

- They dry much faster! I am a really bad procrastinator when it come to doing my diaper laundry. I've been doing good with the handwashing this week, but on a regular basis I often forget to do it until there is only 1 diaper left. Anything to speed out the drying process is a big plus!
- They stay put in the covers. My prefolds also stay put, but not quite as well. 
- They are just as absorbant. My little guy is a pretty average wetter, but last night I put him in a Flip cover with two pad-folded flats and he lasted all night long with no leaks! If I tried to double up a prefold for nighttime he would probably be very uncomfortable ;)
- They are very "handwashable!" If for any reason I had to handwash my diapers (if we are camping or on a road trip or the washer breaks) I don't have to worry about what I'm going to do with my diapers. Flats are super easy to wash by hand!
-I'm in love with FSTs <3 Flour sack towels are proving to be a little more "stay-dry" than my prefolds and the other flats that I have. Obviously they aren't as good as my pocket diapers, but my baby's sensitive little tush likes them!

I'm going to hang on to my prefolds for a little while because I'm sure that his diapering needs will change quite a bit as he gets older, but I am definitely starting to prefer the flats. When/If we have another baby, I look forward to using flats with a newborn!

May 24, 2013

The Good, The Bad, and the Stinky - The Flats & Handwashing Challenge Day 5

Today's the day when we give the run-down on what's been working for us and what hasn't. I'll try to be as honest as possible ;)

I've heard several people say this past week that The Flats & Handwashing Challenge really makes you more in tuned with your child's potty rhythm and just how many diapers they use in a day. That has certainly been true for me. I've found myself scheduling out when he will wear each diaper based on when I think he's going to poop (I'd rather have him poop on a receiving blanket than my brand new Geffen baby flat!). A friend of mine has been trying elimination communication this week with her baby and another friend is potty training her daughter. Nothing like handwashing to make you wish that the diaper count was lower! 

So I'll start out with the things that didn't work, so we can end on a positive note ;)

#1 Fancy Folds: Last week I practiced a bunch of fancy diaper folds and had great plans to try a new fold each day to determine which I liked better. But then his rash (which turned out to be a yeast rash) started to get a little worse because the flats were wrapped tight against him. He has always done better with stay dry materials. So on the third day started using the simple pad fold and its been working great. I've also found that the fancy folds and jellyrolling isn't really necessary to hold the poop in. The flats (especially the birdseye weave) absorb the poop super fast down into the layers of pad-folded fabric so it doesn't spread out to the edges of the cover. Which means I can reuse it! The folds didn't let me down or anything -- they just weren't necessary.

#2 Washing once a day: I started out washing in the evenings and switched to washing throughout the day (every two diapers). It's hard to explain why but it just worked better for me.

That's really the only negative things I can think of. Everything else about this challenge has been great! I will list a few of my favorite parts.

#1 Super customize-able washing: I am seriously tempted to just handwash our poopy diapers from now on. Our high efficiency front-load washing machine can be a bit of a challenge at times. I will quite often have to send the poopy diapers back through for an extra wash. But with handwashing I can see the diapers getting clean and where they might need a little extra scrubbing. I can tweak the amount of soap or add an extra rinse because it's easier to see the suds. 

#2 Endless diaper possibilities: Flats are amazing! They can be folded into literally any shape whatsoever to give your baby absorbency where they need it. If I hadn't been struggling with a rash I would have experimented more with different folds. I wish that I had used flats when Liam was a newborn -- the Jo-fold  with jellyrolled legs and a Thirsties cover would have been perfect for him! 

#3 Fresh Air: I love drying outdoors! I wish so bad that I had a clothesline so I could dry all our clothes out on the patio :) I just love the way things smell when they've dried in the fresh air!

#4 CLOTH!: I just love cloth diapers in general! I had to use 4 disposable the last couple days so that I could put a special diaper cream on Liam. Two of those diapers became a poopy blowout! I have only had 1 or 2 leaks of poop from my cloth diapers and they were my fault for not putting the diaper on tight enough. And I forgot how much disposables can stink. With his cloth diapers I have a hard time telling whether Liam has pooped or not because I can't smell it - I have to peek in the leg hole. With disposables, I can smell it across the room :-P Yuck!

Overall, I have really enjoyed this challenge. We have 2 1/2 more days to go! Is it just me or has this week been going by fast!?! Okay...maybe it's just me ;)

May 23, 2013

No washer? No Dryer? No problem! - The Flats & Handwashing Challenge Day 4

As you may know, I am participating in the Flats & Handwashing Challenge from Dirty Diaper Laundry. I'm on Day 4 now, and it's been pretty fun so far!
Today's topic is handwashing! 

So first of all, here is my handwashing routine:

The first two days I waiting until the evening to wash all the diapers from the day. Yesterday I decided to try washing the diapers as they were dirtied (two diapers at a time), and that worked better. I didn't have to fill up my tub and wash a bunch of diapers at once -- I just washed them in my bucket. 

We have an extra bathroom with a tub, so I don't have to worry about needing the tub for anything during the day. When he dirties a diaper I toss it in the bucket (If it is a poopy then I rinse it in the tub first - I don't have a diaper sprayer). When I have two diapers in the bucket I add warm water and let them soak about 10 min. Then I dump the water out, add super hot water, a sprinkle of detergent, and start plunging! I plunge until my arms get tired which is about 10 min. I rinse the diaper 2-3 times and then wring them out.

Drying the diapers is a little tricky. We only have a balcony to dry thing s outside, and the sun only shines on it for an hour in the early morning.

If there is a breeze blowing then my diapers dry super fast. If there isn't a breeze then sometimes I get impatient and take them down while they are still a bit damp. I just give them a quick iron and they are perfect :) To take the stiffness out of the diapers after they hang dry, I twist them as if I was wringing them out.

 Since we are now battling a little bit of a rash, I am pad folding the flats. That fold lets my little guy's bottom breathe a little better.

I like the have the diapers in the covers and all ready to go! For his naptime, I put a flat inside one of my Rumparooz pocket diapers, so that he could have stay-dry material on his bottom.

Handwashing is not as difficult as I was anticipating! While washing the diapers a few times throughout the day might seem time consuming and annoying, it really isn't. Handwashing and hang drying will be totally doable the summer for camping. And if the electricity goes out or something, I will have a backup plan already worked out!

If you don't have a washer or a dryer or neither, why not try handwashing! 

May 22, 2013

Yeast Rash - The Flats & Handwashing Challenge Day 3

This morning I wasn't sure what I was going to talk about for our open topic day -- I figured I would wait until after I returned from my son's doctors appt to make a post.

2 pad-folded flats in Flip covers & a wet bag, ready for our trip to the doctors

His 6 month appt went well, but the rash that he's had for about 5 days turned out to be a yeast rash. The doctor said that a combination of bad teething and the El Paso heat is what caused it. She gave me some special cream to use to help it clear up, but it's definitely not a cloth diaper safe cream.

I don't have any disposable liners to protect my diapers from the cream; and I don't have a local cloth diaper store to buy liners from. I'm not against using a disposable twice a day when I have to put his cream on, but that means screwing up my flats challenge!

So I guess I will just go ahead and use a disposable twice a day, but continue to use flats (and handwash them) for the rest of the day. The pad fold seems to let his butt breath a little better, so I will continue to do that. I will also let him have some naked time every day.

I'm glad that our doctor is "cloth diaper friendly" and I'm grateful for her help and the diaper cream. But I would like to know what advice you guys (my cloth diaper guru friends) may have for me about yeast rashes! What have you done to care for & prevent them? I'm still pretty new to cloth diapers and would appreciate any help at all!

May 21, 2013

My Flat-Diapering Set Up - The Flats & Handwashing Challenge Day 2

Today is the second day of the Flats & Handwashing Challenge!
Click HERE for yesterday's post.

Today's topic is "Supplies & Preparation," so I will be showing you all of my flats & accessories!

I have 21 flats altogether. I only used 7 yesterday, so technically I have 3 days worth. Yesterday I washed everything at the end of the day and then let them dry on the balcony overnight. Today I'm going to try to "wash as I go" and see how that works. 

Here's the line-up:

(4) flour sack towels - Mainstays from Walmart $1 each
 (12) birdseye flats - Babies R Us brand  $1.33 each
(1) Hemp/Cotton jersey flat - Geffen Baby $6 
(4) flannel receiving blankets - $0 

The flour sack towels are one of the cheapest options available, and it turns out they are my favorite so far! (I haven't tried the hemp/cotton jersey flat yet).
Receiving blankets are also quite inexpensive (usually about $1 each) especially if they were baby shower gifts, as was the case with mine, 

(1) Snappi Fastener - $4
(1) pair of Boingos - $5

I can't decide which diaper fastener is my favorite, because both the Snappi and the Boingo are useful for different folds. 

(3) Flip covers - $13 each
(2) Thirsties Duo Wraps Size 2 - $12 each
Spray Bottle filled with wipe solution
CJ's Butter
Tons and tons of wipes

I own 14 diaper covers, but I'm only using my favorites for this challenge. You really only need a few if you are washing diapers daily. If you wash and dry as you go you will need even less!
I also have a ton more wipes than I'll ever use - I really only use my favorites which are the Circo baby washcloths from Target (80% cotton). They are $5 for a 6 pack, but I bought mine on clearance for $2.

(1) Thirsties Hemp/Cotton Prefold -$7

We are allowed to use special items for nighttime during this challenge, so I used a flat with this tri-folded prefold and a cover. Tonight I'm going to try a pad-folded flat instead of the prefold.

(1) new plunger - $3
(1) plastic bucket -$2

For instructions on handwashing diaper, click HERE.

Rockin' Green cloth diaper safe detergent (Smashing Watermelons scent) - $15

Drying rack - $15

Since we live in an apartment, we do not have anywhere to hang our diapers on a clothesline. I usually dry my inserts and prefolds in the dryer and the lay the covers on this rack to dry. Our balcony only gets a tad bit of sun in the early morning, so if I want to sun any diapers for stain removal, I have a very short window to do it in. We don't even get direct sun in any of our windows! It's a good thing for keeping the desert heat out of the house, but sunning diapers is almost impossible :(

All of these items cost about $140 altogether, but the only things I bought specifically for this challenge were the flour sack towels, birdseye flats, and a new plunger - about $23.
For someone who is interested in cloth diapering with flats and wants to go with the cheapest route I would recommend these bare minimum items.

4 waterproof covers (Imagine and Diaper Safari and Econobum are some of the cheapest)
8-10 flour sack towels (from Walmart or Target)
1 Snappi fastener (or a set of pins)
16 wipes (baby washcloths or homemade flannel wipes)

If you wash diapers daily, this should be all you will need...and for around $50!! Cloth diapering is very do-able, even for low income families!

May 20, 2013

Why am I Doing This? - The Flats & Handwashing Challenge Day 1

It's that time of year! The Flats & Handwashing Challenge is here! Oooo I just made a rhyme!

The challenge was started by Kim from Dirty Diaper Laundry. The basic rules for the challenge are as follows: Use only flat cloth diapers, wash them by hand, hang them to dry, and show everyone how easy it is to cloth diaper -- even the old-fashioned way!

Last year I found out about this challenge shortly after I discovered I was pregnant with our first baby. I was also just learning about modern cloth diapers and all the amazing options that are out there, so I was pretty curious about why anyone would want to step back several decades and use old-fashioned diapers....on purpose!

Well, here I am a year later and I am super excited to be doing this challenge with my 6 month old! Why would I want to do that? Let me tell you!

#1. I always like a good challenge! Now that I am fully immersed in the cloth diapering, crunchy mama lifestyle, nothing is weird or strange or scary anymore. I look forward to anything different or new or a little more extreme to "spice it up!" 

#2. I would like to bring everyone's attention to a great need they may not know or think about. Low income families really struggle to provide diapers for their little ones. There are programs for assistance with food (WIC), but no programs for diapers and such. As many of you know, disposable diapers are more expensive in the long run, and having to include diapers in your weekly/monthly budget can be quite a burden. The start up costs of cloth diapers can be scary to some, but what if I told you that you could start cloth diapering for about $50?? Check out Calley's blog to see what I'm talking about. And stay tuned to my blog for the next week while I prove to you how cheap and easy it can be to cloth diaper!

#3 I'd like to practice my handwashing skills! I come from a long line of campers - we do quite a bit of "roughing it" in the woods during the summer time. I will be needing to handwash my cloth diapers (possibly in boiled creek water....now there's old-fashioned for ya!) and after this week I hope to be a pro at it.

#4 I'm also excited to get more familiar with flat diapers. I've used receiving blankets as flats from time to time in a pinch, but never used a "real" flat diaper until this morning. I know that for many people they are the "go to" diaper. They are the most customizeable form of diaper available and I'd like to see what all the fuss is about.

So there you have it -- my reasons for doing this challenge. You may think I'm crazy and you may have several questions. Go ahead and leave a comment! I will be posting every day this week to tell you about my experiences :) To my fellow challenge takers, Happy Handwashing!!!

May 11, 2013

Easy DIY Un-paper Towels [No Snaps, No Serging]

I have been wanting to make myself some "un-paper towels" for quite a while now. Not only is it an eco-friendly alternative to regular paper towels, but it is also tons cheaper! I had leftover scraps from other projects and a re-purposed flannel sheet, so the only thing I spent money on was a $5 yard of french terry cloth. That is about 4-5 rolls of regular paper towels, so in about a month these babies will pay for themselves!

I've seen quite a few of these un-paper towel sets on Etsy, but usually they have snaps so that you can connect them together in a roll. That just sounded pretty tedious to me. So here is a tutorial for towels that don't require a snap press or a serger!

The great thing about this project is that you don't have to be good as sewing. You only have to know how to sew in a straight line. If your towels end up crooked --Oh well!--you are just going to use them to clean up messes and to wipe your mouth.

To make this project you will need:

11" x 11" squares of 
- regular cotton
- flannel
- terry cloth

[You should be able to get (12) 11" squares out of a yard of fabric]

Sewing machine/thread

As you can see, my flannel for the middle layer was from a bright red Christmas bed sheet. It really doesn't matter what the flannel looks like because it won't be seen, but keep in mind that it might show through when the towel is wet. 

 Layer your fabric like so: flannel, then terry cloth (fuzzy side up), and regular cotton (pretty side down).

 I used french terry cloth which is a shorter-nap version of the regular washcloth-type terry cloth. Any terry cloth will work fine.

Pin the layers together [with pinheads pointing in a clockwise direction - this will make the pins easier to remove as you sew]

Using pins, mark a start and end point [leaving a 3" opening] and sew around the edge of the towel.

Sew 1/4" from the edge

When you get to a corner, stitch almost to the edge (about 1/4" away) and then use the wheel on the right-hand side of your sewing machine to bring your needle down into the fabric. 
Lift up the presser foot and pivot the fabric so that you can sew the next side.
Lower your presser foot and continue sewing.
This will make a nice clean corner and its super easy.

Trim the edges just a bit [just don't trim where the opening is, or it might be difficult to stitch later]

This is where I had to pause to feed a certain little munchkin.
 Ain't he just too cute?? Look at those chubby legs!

Separate the terry cloth and the cotton fabric, and turn right-side-out.
I find it easier to poke the corners out first.

Straighten the edges [you may need to iron it and/or pin the edges flat]

Tuck the edges of the opening in and pin securely.

Sew very close to the edge all the way around the top of the towel.

The corner will be a little tricky because they are several layers thick. If your machine will let you, try lessening the downward pressure of the presser foot. You may also need to tug at the towel as I'm doing in the above photo.

And there you have it - your finished towel! Ready for as mess you can throw at it!

Make a bunch more and fill up a drawer with them.
I store mine in a grocery bag holder (see video link below).

To see the video version of this tutorial CLICK HERE