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Saturday, May 26, 2012

baby sleep sacks

Asher is a rapidly growing little boy. We like to keep him in sleep sacks at night as he kicks off blankets while he is winding down, doing the killer whale tail flop with his feet, and he likes having something not too constricting around his legs while he sleeps. This is my child who still likes to have his arms wrapped up to go to sleep, but never liked his legs swaddled in even when tiny.

Our first sleep sacks were by Halo from his Noni and Papa, with a very easy-use velcro swaddle to wrap his arms in and a zip front. He loved that. So did we. Then he outgrew them, and was sent two more sleep sacks as a Christmas gift. These are by SlumberSac, also with the zipper up the front, and a little heavier weight for cooler weather, which has been great through the rest of winter and spring. Now, his feet are nearing the end of these, too, and our Arizona weather is also hotting up. So I am looking at sewing him some new sleep sacks!

I threw together one in fleece pretty quickly using these instructions.

It is pretty basic, and my first effort so not the most gorgeous of sacks, but it definitely looks and functions as it is supposed to.

I have my eye on these. Aren't they gorgeous? And so is the price, which is why I would like to make some of my own.

I love the shape of these Merino Kids sleep sacks. The zipper is up the side rather than the middle, which seems like it might be a little simpler to sew, and they only sell two sizes (0 to 2 years, and 2 to 4 years) because only the bodice part of the sack needs to fit to the child. The rest of the sack can be lovely and loose, really only serving as blankets they can't kick off, and snaps under the arms serve to tighten the bodice around the chest as needed to prevent the sack slipping up over the child's face. I really love them! And so begins my next project. It might take me a while, as I have no patterns and am quite inexperienced with sewing, but I am going to take my usual approach, jump in the deep ends, and hope it works out.

Monday, May 21, 2012

my cloth revolution

I cloth diaper my 8 month old (today!) son. I also cloth pad myself. In fact, I started using cloth pads each month for my period about two years before I ever used a cloth diaper.

I had experienced two miscarriages fairly close together, bled lots, and my 'moon days' are never a whole lot of fun anyway, and then I discovered that using a tampon even months after those miscarriages was painful. It had never been exactly comfortable for me, but now it was unbearable. I guess my body just changed somehow. We expect our bodies and all of Australia to be different after a full term pregnancy and delivery. I had not anticipated a change after my pregnancies ended at 14 weeks and less. Nonetheless, this was now my new body. Tampon-free. I used a lot of pads. I tried several brands, trying to find the most comfortable with heavy flow, the least danger of nightly leaks, the lowest risk of moisture rash. (Oh, yes. Moisture rash. And I live in Arizona to boot, so even during the winter if the day was not overcast I was going to sweat and add to the ample flow constantly chafing my tender skin.) It was disgusting. Not only did I feel gross all the time until my period was finally over, but even the more expensive paper pads would ball up and start to disintegrate, I was chafed and rashy, the quantity of merely one day's worth of bathroom trash was beyond revolting and the smell as it sat there was even worse. Ladies, don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about! I'm sure your husbands can enlighten you if not.

Thus began my search into reusable menstrual products. I quickly discovered Gladrags, although there are quite a few companies out there who sell cloth pads, cup catchers, sea sponge 'tampons', and all the accessories. I bought a basic trial kit. Loved it. They are still in fabulous quality two years later and it is so very easy to use cloth instead of disposables. Cloth hardly smells, cleans very easily (you throw it all in the washing machine -- really!), saves a ton of money, and for me I was sold simply on the comfort factor. No more chafing or moisture rash! No night leaks, no irritation, I could actually go out in public wearing a cloth pad and not feel as though I was walking around in a giant plastic diaper. But I didn't have enough to last me a full period, and while Gladrags are financially worth it in the long run I have had lots of other places where our money had to be prioritized instead. So I used the cloth I had each month until it was all gone and then switched back to the dreaded plastic and paper ickiness I had learned to loathe for the remainder of each period.

That is, until recently. Last month, with a basic sewing machine borrowed from a wonderful friend, I easily churned out 10 more cloth pads made from cotton flannel. Two went to a friend I'm trying to convert to cloth, and I still more than doubled my stash of regular and heavy flow pads. Here is the best part. This was my very first ever sewing project by machine! I know how to do basic hand stitching, but it really is a pain in the bum in that it takes forever, and who wants to sew a month's worth of cloth pads by hand?! With the number of seams each pad requires, it's just not worth it. Machine all the way, baby. But it was so easy... There are about a gazillion tutorials online already, so I won't add to the profusion by typing my own out here. But really. So easy. I modeled the basic size and shape after my Gladrags, but instead of doing the stuffing kind they sell I decided that an all-one no-stuff would suit me better and sewed it all up accordingly. Within days, I had the opportunity to test drive my first few homemade pads. I actually love them more than my Gladrags, which I not not expected!

The photo, from left to right, shows a Gladrags stuffing-type regular pad, my regular all-one pads that have been used already, and the other regular and heavy flow all-one pads I made that will be broken in shortly, I expect. I do plan to make quite a lot of cotton pants liners, as the three I have by Gladrags are brilliant, in constant use throughout the month, and I want lots more! I would love to revolutionize all my friends to using cloth menstrual pads. Ditch the disposables, ladies. I have quite a few friends who cloth diaper but don't CP themselves. This is bizarre to me. I would by far rather handle my own period blood than my son's poo. Poo is gross. My own blood is at least my own monthly, normal blood, not germy, very well contained by the absorbent fabric, and I certainly don't have to handle it any more than I do when it is caught by a disposable product. Quite often even less, actually, as overspills in my sleep are now a thing of the past. My own comfort in cloth is what has spurred me on to use cloth on my child. I would love to challenge my friends to consider giving a cloth pad a try someday, and hopefully sooner than later. You may be pleasantly surprised at how comfortable they are. Your wallet will certainly thank you, even if your own Australia can't tell the difference.