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The Perfect Diaper Bag!

perfect diaper bag inside

I have been wanting a new diaper bag for a while.  Because I have had 7 babies, I knew exactly what I wanted in a diaper bag.  I’ve had enough experience and enough bags to know exactly what I wanted, what worked, what was annoying, etc!  So this time around I decided to sew my own.  These are the things that I wanted in a perfect diaper bag:

the perfect diaper bag

  1. Washable fabric on the outside.  Most diaper bags have the smooth, wipeable fabric on the inside thinking any messes can be easily wiped up that way.  But I’ve had 7 babies, so, being the expert that I am, I wanted the washable fabric on the OUTSIDE.  You see, I’ve learned that the outside of the bag gets so dirty from being dragged around everywhere, used as an impromptu picnic basket, or a seat cushion while sitting for hours on metal bleachers, and the laminated cotton on the OUTside makes it so easy to clean when (not if!) it gets dirty, and resists stains too!  I had extra fabric left from making Annie a rain jacket, and it was perfect for this use.pockets inside the perfect diaper bag
  2. Pockets on the inside, but not too many!  I was gifted some (more) fabric a while back and in it I found the beginning of an apron the giver started to sew from some really cute fabric and then quit.  They had just finished attaching to pockets to the front piece when they stopped!  apron beforeWell, that’s exactly the size of pockets I wanted.  Big enough for a change of clothes for 2 children.  The baby and the next one up…they are the ones most likely to need them!  inside diaper bag
  3. A ring on the inside to clip things to.  There’s nothing like searching around in the bottom of a deep bag among the crumbs, empty wrappers and unidentifiable things for those elusive keys while juggling a baby, a toddler, a few bags of groceries, all the while your cell phone is tinkling your husband’s special ring!  I also keep my bag in a bag.  This is where I put dirty diapers and soiled clothing until I can get home and wash them.perfect diaper bag inside
  4. BIG pocket for everything else.  I keep the diaper clutch, a swaddling blanket, and a small pouch with all my first aid needs.  Yes, with seven offspring, I do carry an entire first aid kit in my diaper bag!  Creams, gels, pills, a small toy, extra pacifier, bandages, snacks, etc. all go in this little zipper pouch.pocket for mom on the perfect diaper bag
  5. One zipper pocket on the back for MY stuff!  It needed to be big enough to hold a tablet and wallet, but not so cavernous that every extra thing gets thrown in there and it’s no longer MY pocket, but my-and-everything-including-the-spare-parts-for-the-kitchen-sink-pocket.back of perfect diaper bag
  6. Two side pockets of different heights.  One short enough for a cell phone one tall enough for a water (or baby) bottle.  This way a leaky bottle doesn’t get put on top of my cell phone because the rice-in-a-bag trick doesn’t work!Diaper bag and clutch
  7. A short strap.  Most diaper bag tutorials have instructions for an adjustable handle, but I really don’t need it banging around my knees while I’m already trying not to trip over my toddler, or 6 year old, or 8 year old, or the odd teenager or two!  I don’t need it to be long enough to be cross body either as I’m already probably balancing a baby on one hip and a toddler on the other!messenger diaper bag
  8. A flap over the top long/large enough to cover and protect the contents, but not tied/latched/snapped/connected as I need to be able to open it one handed while using the other hand to keep the baby on the flimsy changing table, and one leg to block the toddler from crawling out from under the stall wall while yelling, “Mom, what’s that lady doing?  I heard somebody toot!”diaper clutch with changing pad
  9. A grab and go diaper clutch.  Why I waited for the seventh child to make myself one of these is a mystery.  Chalk it up to too many recurrences of pregnancy induced baby brain!  But this little thing is a sweet!  Most often, the whole diaper bag stays in the vehicle and I grab the clutch and go.  It holds only a few diapers and a slim container of wipes.  It also is a changing mat that folds up and buttons together.  This is so handy for when I run into somewhere for just an hour or so and don’t need the whole perfect diaper bag.  fold up changing pad

For specifics, I loosely used this tutorial, but changed the dimensions to be shorter and wider as well as all the perfections I made above!

The Perfect Diaper Bag!

Take it from me, a Mom of many, this is the perfect diaper bag!

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Girl’s Rain Jacket – When It Rains, It Pours!

wrap pockets

A while back I was at a fabric store getting buttons to go on Annie’s leather coat, when I had one of THOSE moments.  (Or am I the only one this happens to?)  I was innocently standing in the checkout line with a package of large white buttons in my hand when this bolt of fabric on the clearance table JUMPED out of the pile and grabbed my eyeballs right out of my head!

laminated cottonI gasped and exclaimed aloud, “Wouldn’t that make the cutest little girl’s rain jacket?”  The ladies around me looked where I was pointed, and agreed that I was absolutely right, it was perfect for that.  But I maintained my place in line and my grip on my wallet, and left the store without buying any of the laminated cotton that I knew would be perfect for a girl’s rain jacket.  I told Allegra and Aria about the fabric as soon as I saw them, and a few days later was browsing Elegance and Elephant’s blog when I saw the spring parka pattern she made and is thinking about developing into a pattern for selling.  (Heidi has now released this pattern! Go buy it!). The details on the parka were so adorable, that I was convinced!  I knew the next time I was in town, I was going to have to go back and get some of THAT fabric!  So I walked in to the store and of course there was none of that fabric left.  I searched through the entire clearance table, but that’s the way it goes with clearance fabrics sometimes.  So on a final, desperate whim, I asked some of the sales ladies if they happened to have any left, and their eyes lit up, they ran to the back room, and brought out the laminated cotton for me with (Bonus!) some contrasting print too!  Apparently they’d been holding it for someone who never came to pick it up, and had forgotten to put it back out; lucky me (it was now 90% off!) 

So then the planning began.  I knew it needed to be made into a rain jacket, but since Heidi hasn’t released her spring parka pattern yet, I started searching for inspiration.  Allegra is really good at drawing her own designs, but my art skills leave a little to be desired!  So I printed out several different jackets I liked elements from, grabbed a pencil and started planning. 

girls rain jacket planningProject Run and Play has released their themes for the next season and they are fantastic.  I was going to sit this season out and not sew along since we are going to be very busy with Challenge Create: Adult Edition during that time, but the themes were so inspiring, they wouldn’t let me go, so I made a plan!  I am going to sew the themes ahead of time (novel idea, not to save things for last minute, I know!) and link them to PR&P as they come up.  So I decided to use this rain jacket for my signature style piece for several reasons.  1: See above fabric story.   2: I currently seem to be in jacket phase.  3: I designed this rain jacket to have all my favorite details, a ruffle, bold floral patterns, a hood, and matching accessories. 

girls rain jacket with hood

I started with peek-a-boo Pattern Shop’s puddle jumper rain coat because it had many of the elements I wanted to incorporate into the jacket, and seemed the best starting spot.  You can make either a boy’s or girl’s rain jacket from this pattern.  I modified it by reducing the pocket size, changing the bottom band to a ruffle, placing a black band across the top of the pockets, and adding a contrasting button tab across the back, and adding decorative buttons on top of the snaps.

Pocket on girl's rain jacket 

I adore the way this jacket turned out, and Annie wants to sleep with it at night!  It was my first time to work with laminated cotton, and it went pretty well, with only a few glitches.  I made sure to read all peek-a-boo Pattern Shop’s hints for sewing on laminated cotton before I started, and was really glad I did! 

girls rain jacketFor the boots, I turned a pair of black rubber farm boots into a pair of matching girly splash boots by cutting out enough fabric to follow the design on the side of the boot, and glueing it down in place. 

matching boots“Excuse me,” you’re thinking, “but where is the skirt in all this?” Never fear, you won’t be disappointed!  Annie will show you!  

girl's rain jacket liningThe lining of this girl’s rain jacket (it is fully lined!) is cut from a skirt.  A (short) story about this skirt; it was the very first skirt I ever bought from a thrift store.  I wore it, and wore it, and wore it out, until the back slit was ripped beyond repair & the hook and eye at the waistband were missing. 

thrift store skirtI took a pattern from it before I cut it up, and here is what was left when I was done cutting out the lining pieces! 

lining cut from a skirtThere was actually not enough of the skirt for the black ruffle around the bottom, so I grabbed some black corduroy and made the ruffle from that.

black ruffleThe contrasting roll down cuffs and the back button tab will allow Annie to wear this rain jacket for more than one year…room to grow!

button back tabThe pattern explained the (optional) procedure for making each seam look professional and lay down flat, and I’m so glad I took the time to do this, even though no seam is exposed because of the lining.

back of girl's rain jacket

One other slight modification I made was to place the pockets so they are wider than long, thereby wrapping them around the sides of the coat and tying in the contrast on the back button tab a little better.

girl's rain jacket with hood

A detail of this girl’s rain jacket that I kept the same and Annie loves is the stay put hood!  It has a little elastic sewn into the black trim around the hood, and never falls off!  I think it echoes the ruffle around the bottom too!

wrap pocketsBring on the spring rains; Annie and her rain jacket are ready to splash through puddles…in style!

front of girl's rain jacketMake it beautiful,

Audrey