Wednesday, October 26, 2011


In case you are wondering why my blog has been so dead lately, I'm finally writing up a post to tell you. Recently, Brittany over at Bella Lane Boutique had asked me to make a felt doctor set for her kiddos. I had found a pattern for a doctor kit in Jeanette Lim's Big Little Felt Universe, but the idea wasn't really unique. Knowing Brittany had her youngest baby in a birth center with midwives in attendance, I started to ruminated on what a felt midwife's kit would look like instead. I asked on the MFC Facebook page what items should be included in the birthy set, and got lots of great responses. I ultimately decided on a kid-sized fetoscope, blood pressure cuff, red raspberry leaf tea, bottle of homeopathic arnica, measuring tape and a carrying bag. Here is a little run-down of everything in the set and how real life midwives would use each item.

Before the days of hand-held dopplers and readily available ultrasounds, midwives used fetoscopes to listen to the baby. Many midwives still use fetoscopes as the safety of ultrasound devices is still rather questionable. The flat end generally rests against the midwife's forehead and the cone end is placed on the mother's belly. You can see my silly husband demonstrating on my 37 week pregnant belly here:

Next is the blood pressure cuff:

This item is used routinely in prenatal care to keep track of the mother's blood pressure. Her pulse is also taken. High blood pressure can be a sign of complications like pre-eclampsia, so it is important to keep an eye on it throughout pregnancy. I sewed a bellowed squeaker toy (ok, it's really a Kong dog toy squeaker) into the bulb part of the cuff so that it would have a realistic pumping feel.

Red Raspberry leaf tea has been used by midwives for ages. Raspberry leaf tea helps tone the uterus, making contractions more effective. It is also known to help stave off hemorrhage, ease morning sickness, reduce labor pains, and aid in milk production. Red raspberry leaf contains a slew of good vitamins such as C, E, A, and B complex, as well as minerals including phosphorous and potassium. 

Arnica Montana is a yellow flower that looks like a daisy. This remedy has also been used for centuries to relieve bruising, sprains, reduce inflammation and promote healing. I took arnica right after Asher's birth and the day after when I was one big ball of sore. This felt bottle has a removable lid and a bell inside so it makes a fun sound when the "medicine" is dispensed. 

Brittany, who sparked the first midwife set I made, requested a bottle of "Juice Plus," the brand of vitamin supplement she takes. The label has a little apple applique on it. 

I originally made the measuring tape 12 inches long. After the first set, I decided to switch the unit of measure. Most midwives (especially those outside the US) use centimeters to record fundal height (how big the uterus is growing), dilation and baby's measurements. Since there are 30 cm in 12 inches, this tape also has more digits for number recognition and counting fun.   

Lastly, there had to be a bag to carry all the midwifery items. The first one I made was cranberry (placenta?) red with a cream colored lining. It's always important for a midwife to keep her bag packed and ready, as you never know when a baby decides to enter the world!

This set is probably the best I've created and closest to my heart. Making each one is a labor of love. If you would like me to make one for you, you can find it on Etsy. Ten percent of the purchase price goes to Citizens for Midwifery, a non-profit organization working to increase local access to midwives and supports the Midwifery Model of Care. 

 Encouraging midwifery play is important. If we wish to normalize birth for our children, we must give them the tools to understand the mechanism of birth and allow them to process the information in a way that makes sense to them. Imaginative play does both.  I have seen parents who are planning home or out-of-hospital births look for ways to help prepare their child for a sibling's arrival and come up rather empty handed. There were no other midwife play sets on Google or Etsy, though doctor toys are common place (and medical idolization starts early in our culture). But as an increasing number of families look to have their baby outside the hospital setting, we can work with the next generation to make peaceful birth a realized, every day occurrence. 


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Felt Veggie Garden, Revisited

A couple weeks ago,  I asked my friend Kristin over to photograph my felt veggie garden. My pictures never did this set any justice and I was hoping she could capture them in a more favorable light. Over pumpkin oatmeal bars, she snapped a few photos I wanted to share. Felt garden building basics are HERE or I would be happy to make one for you.

Thanks, K!

Happy Felt Fooding!


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

We're Off To See The Wizard--Felt Witch Hat Tutorial

Wizard of Oz is one of my all-time favorite movies. I watched it over an over as a child and still know most of the words by heart. I carried a lunch box donning Dorothy to my first day of kindergarten (and I still have that lunch box). I even recently commissioned Kasie over at Miss P's Bowtique to make this adorable set of bows for me:

Yes, I will be wearing them in my hair around the house when no one is looking as I have no daughter to make wear them. Sigh. 

When my friend Helen mentioned a family Wizard of Oz theme for Halloween costumes and the need for a child sized witch hat, I jumped to the task of finding one. I came across this Elphoba (the Wicked Witch's real first name) hat tutorial from Momtastic, which I thought was so cute. I ended up making several changes to the original design and thought I would share my alterations. Be sure to check out the pattern on Momtastic for the hat making basics. 

I cut my pieces according to the original tutorial. I don't have a glue gun or sewing machine (I must not really be that crafty) so my version is totally handmade. 

I knew the rest of the costume for the Wicked Witch was going to involve a purple and black tutu and wanted to incorporate those colors into the hat. I cut half the flowers out of purple felt and I made my cuts rather wavy so the petals weren't uniform and stood out a bit more. 

Since I am glue gun-less, I stitched the underside of the flower layers together. I worked from the center outward, making sure to thread through all the layers so the flower won't come apart. 

I decided rather than sewing all of the flowers on to the brim of the hat, I would make them removable with safety pins. I took a little square of coordinating felt and stitched a little tab to hold the safety pin. 

These flowers can now be pinned on other items, too, like scarves, hats, shirts, backpacks, fabric headbands, whatever. Too cute to just say put! Here are all the flowers after they were sewn and tabbed: 

When it came time to make the brim, I wanted it to stick out stiffly rather than be floppy (though floppy is cute, too). To achieve this, I used the brim pattern and traced it on cardboard. 

I trimmed it up a bit so that I still had room to sew the seam on the inside and outside of the brim. 

Because we are not permanently attaching the flowers, our base is a great basic black pointy hat. This could be worn by a wizard or warlock as easily as a witch. We can also change up the flowers so it can be used for other costumes or dress-up at another time. 

Now, to pin the flowers on, start with the pin on the inside of the hat. Poke the pin out to the front, loop through the sewn tab and close the pin. Keep the stationary part of the pin towards the inside of the hat so if it accidentally opens, it will stab the felt flower and not your child's head. 

Now our witch hat is done! I bribed my son with the Wii mote to let me take a photo of the hat on an actual child. He let me take exactly 3 pictures:

I wonder what I'll have to give him to try out those Wizard of Oz hair clips. . .

Happy Sewing!



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