28 February 2013

New Project

Ive got quite a lot of time on my hands at the moment after making the hard decision to stop with the phd. It just wasn't going in the right direction.

So while I search the tight job market for something to do, I wanted to be doing something useful too. 

** Just a warning - the rest of the post refers to late term baby loss **

This is quite a long post, but even if you don't read it properly, I would really appreciate it if you could skip to the end and let me know your thoughts on my dilemma!

Through a friend I heard about Gum Blossom. They are a group here in Perth who supply clothes and blankets for babies who die before, during and shortly after birth. 
A lot of these babies are way too small for anything their parents may have bought them, or arrive before they have got as far as thinking about that. Having a supply of lovingly crafted outfits on hand to provide when needed hopefully helps make a very hard moment the slightest bit easier. 

I've been waiting for the "approved" patterns to arrive, as there are a small range of outfits the hospitals ask for specifically- mostly kimono style wraps that are easy to put on and adaptable to a range of sized babies. In the mean time, I used the initial burst of energy that comes with any new project to pick up a crochet hook for the first time in a while. And first time crocheting something that isn't a flower!

Preemie sized hat and booties. 

Newborn sized hat

Another newborn hat.

I plan on making at least a matching blanket for the top two. The bright coloured one was a bit of a trial, and I think the yarn is too scratchy so it might get un-picked. I don't know. Maybe it could be a doll hat... The hats are all a mish-mash of the myriad of hat patterns out there (basically 6 hdc in a magic circle, then ?5 rows of extension then another 7 rows straight down, plus the little fringe on this last one.) And the booties are these, though my lack of crochet prowess meant that they weren't quite so quick! I'm going to try aome open heeled booties though, as they are easier to get on and off.

When I checked the mail at lunch time I found that the "official" patterns had arrived, so I whipped one up in some jersey that has been sitting in my stash for a while, to see how it came together.

Its so tiny! Note earphone for scale!

I plan on running with the wrap theme to make some dresses that are closer to what you might buy in the shops, with a bit more definition and maybe some cute ruffles on the girly ones. I don't work much with jersey, but it makes it easier to get the sleeves on so I might have to see how I can work around that! Maybe some gentle shiring lines? Or upper body knit, skirt woven?

While I was looking around for inspiration I also came across some one saying that their husband wished they didn't have to bury their son in a dress... but the issue is that it can be hard to get delicate baby legs into trouser legs, so they are often simply dressed in wraps. 

An idea jumped into my head to attempt to make trousers that do up with buttons on the outside legs. I'm not sure how feasible it will be for the very small preemie sizes, but the newborn size should work. I'll make a few test pairs and see how they are received.

I'm not sure what direction to head design wise. 
I like modern kids clothes, but if I was a mourning parent would I still want them in mini-boden inspired clothes? or would I prefer the more traditional white and pastel? 
Would I still want to dress them as the child I was hoping they would become? Or would I feel bound to tradition and want something mournful? 
Part of me thinks that they are still the child they were going to be, so I would pick a dress that I could imagine presenting them at their first major gathering in (like a party dress). But everywhere I look online I see pastels (and patriotism... hmmm... no).

Whem I volunteered, I was told that "it takes all sorts" but I don't want to send something that is at best un-useable, and at worst disrespectful. I've never been in the situation, so I can't really tell!
Am I just over thinking it?!

If you have any thoughts on this, I'd love to hear from you-
 either in a comment below or an email (anikissed (at) yahoo dot co dot uk)

I'm going to try and work on boy-specific items, as I have a hunch that they get lots of quite girly items, but fewer for boys. As in the sewing world in general I guess.
Maybe I could do some West Coast/Dockers outfits/hats too :)
Even if they only get used as photo props, I'm sure they would be much appreciated by the AFL dads (and mums) out there.


  1. I think that is a wonderful cause! We are always the most critical of our own projects, but i'm sure they will love everything you make. I would agree your statement that they would "want to dress them as the child I was hoping they would become". Go ahead and do happy colors and the pants sound like a cute idea. For the knitted hat that feels a bit itchy, i'd whip up a little hat lining out of a lightweight knit fabric - just 2 half circles sewn together and then slipstitched to the brim of the hat. best wishes =)

    1. I'm so glad its not just me who would prefer happy colours.

      I'll see what I can do about lining it. I think the problem is more the impression of itchyness- as much as I love the colours it just doesn't look comfy! Hmm...

  2. That is great that you are doing this. I agree that you don't need to shy away from colors. I think most parents would appreciate that someone even took the time to do this. Clothes with a LOT of ruffles and lace that scream "celebratory" might be too much, but you wouldn't put those on boy clothes anyway! As for the pants, what about velcro (hidden under the side seams)? would that be bad...just an idea if the buttons seem too fumbly on a tiny pair of pants.

    1. Don't worry, I'm not much for ruffles, even on girls clothes. At most it would be a bit of a flounce around the hem.
      Velcro is a great idea! I think as long as you make sure the rough side is facing away from the body and there is some fabric over hang on both sides for double protection it would be a good way to do this. Just need to find some narrow velcro strip as the stuff I have I bought for cycling high-vis bibs and its about 5cm wide!

  3. The whole time after someone loses a baby like this they need people to be reaching out and supporting them. Make the clothes colourful, and full of the life the child won't get the chance to live. The leggings idea is a good one! I would get some tiny press stud snaps, and use those down the sides instead of buttons, because they're much much much easier to get on to little babies, and if you accidentally do them up wrong, it only takes two seconds to re-do them, rather than 10 minutes. Velcro on baby clothes sometimes works, but it tends to be pretty bulky and can scratch the kids if it's done up not quite perfectly. (This is just my experience, I'm not being trying to be rude to your previous poster!). Some very very close friends of mine lost a baby at birth, and it was hard, but we all spent as much time as we could cuddling him until the very end. We had to dress him in whites because dolls clothes were the only things that fitted him, and I think it would have been great to be able to put something colourful on him, to remind us all about bright happy moments, rather than dark ones. Good luck with the sewing and crocheting!

    1. Little press studs are definitely preferable to buttons, but I think carefully thought out velcro could definitely be an option, especially on the smallest sizes.
      I got some plastic snaps, so that the items can also be used in the special care baby unit on the heat pads (metal can cause burns), so I will give both a try and see what I hear back.

      Sorry to hear about your story. Hearing stories like that definitely spur me on to get making. I look at the clothes that are so tiny, and get tears in my eyes just from that! I can't imagine how painful it must be to be in the situation to need them.

  4. oh this is such a lovely thing you're doing, I can't imagine the pain of those parents in this situation. As to what fabrics to use I guess the organisation is right that it takes all sorts, personally I preferred to dress my newborns in soft muted colours because they look more peaceful and serene, especially for a baby that is eternally sleeping and a photograph of that time is all the parents will have. Not necessarily blue and pink, but also soft yellows, grey, mint green etc.


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