Two completed dresses! (More Alabama Chanin for babies.)

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Look at me!  I’ve been posting and I’ve finished two little dresses!  Yesterday and today Monday and yesterday I even altered some patterns and cut out a couple more pieces to have them queued up for sewing.  (However, I probably haven’t cleaned quite as much as usual or put away any laundry all week, oops.)  So, I was working on the pink wrap dress that only had a tiny bit left to stitch, and that is done.  Let me write in more depth about it…

The pink dress was made as a test for my own, conveniently used scrap fabric, and will be nice for Mini to wear once she is done crawling.  It did work out well in jersey, and I don’t need to change anything about my pattern.  Hers could do with less width in the front panels, and I already made a new pattern piece to eliminate an inch.  Otherwise I love this little dress!  I even like the dusty pink now.

Here are some of the me-sized original versions of the dress as it progressed.  It began as a loose tunic initially, then I made a longer dress with more fullness and sometimes a belt (not shown,) and I turned it into a more fitted and flared medieval inspired dress before finally getting to a more form fitting wrap version recently.   The photos aren’t too good with wrinkled fabric and a less shapely mannequin, but they’ll have to do.

It was fun to do a more elaborate (yet simple without embellishment) dress than the a-line t-shirt style I’d been getting bored of.  I think the design is really cute and more unique and worthwhile to put the work into.  Of course it takes longer at every step and requires so much fabric that most t-shirts cannot be used to make it.  Sigh.  It seems that every shirt I grab, thinking “gorgeous colour, yes, this one!” is too small.  It’s disappointing.  I’ll need to seek out some really big shirts and can’t wait to get back to the thrift store.  Thus I also worked out a new pattern and tried it.  I completed the first of that style bodysuit-dress today  yesterday too!

I really love this one!  The grey is lovely and with the A.C. type stitching looks so interesting.  I’m looking forward to getting Mini into it and hopefully making more to fill out her wardrobe.  It’s hard to sew fast enough though.  After making this test one I’ve discovered little things to change about the shirring.  It can easily be eliminated to fit into more thrift Ts too.  This pattern eats up a lot of “yardage” too, so this is important although I prefer a little more width personally.   Upon trying it on her for a photoshoot I now know that the dress portion must be shortened more for crawling.  Drat.  I already cut out the next dress, and I hope she’ll be able to wear it before growing.  The entire point was to have things to wear now, so ugh…

I’ve cut another out in deep red and also squeezed in pieces for a matching bolero.  I used blue-grey scraps to make the bolero two layers.  Now I’m in the middle of cutting a scrolling stencil to use on it.  I’ll do a running stitch and reverse appliqué and outer felled seams?  Although, after cutting the stencil more I’m considering using a different one.  Once that is settled I’ll baste the layers together and get to the fun.  Here is the way I fit the pattern pieces onto the T-shirt:

 

I don’t have any more photos so, in the interest of actually getting to post this, that’s all for now.

Another completed Alabama Chanin style piece (and a sneak peek of what’s in progress now.)

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I finished this a few weeks ago but couldn’t post about it until I’d presented it to the recipient, so first I’ll ramble a bit about the other pieces that I’ve begun since and will be posting about:

Yesterday I traced out and drafted a little bodysuit pattern for Mini in her current size.  It has spaghetti strap shoulders for the upcoming hot weather, the usual onesie shape, and an optional overskirt.  It was based off a sleeveless bodysuit that I really like but without a ruffle flutter sleeve, and then I added the overskirt from another dress waiting in her closet.   I began a 12-18m size too, but then I thought I better test the smaller pattern first.  If it looks good then I might do another pattern adding to the chest area and giving it long raglan sleeves?  With the overskirt it takes a very large T-shirt to fit all the pieces, so I couldn’t use the first pretty colour I hoped to… or the next seven.  Oops.  Finally I found a large enough shirt in a colour that made me happy and cut out all the pieces.

 

 

Before that I’d been sewing a little every day to make a Mini sized test version of my wrap dress.  I wish so badly that I could already dress in all the things I plan to make.  If only I could!  There are long, elaborate, and flattering A.C. dresses and skirts; full linen skirts topped by slim singlets or flowing tunics; cloak-coats; layers of harem pants or skirts with draping hems of wrap tunics and scarves; long wrap dresses…  I want to dress like this and feel comfortable, but alas it would take ages to complete (especially any elaborate and long A.C. clothes!)  Instead I can make a piece or two for Mini each month.  Eventually I hope to make a few of my wrap dresses in knit, but I need to test the pattern first to make sure it doesn’t need to be altered for the difference in fabric type.  Making a little dress is so much faster, less a waste of material, and as a lonely bonus leaves a nice dress for Mini to wear!  Wonderful!

For several days now that little dress has been entirely done… except that I still need to fell one long seam.  It is ridiculously close, but I’ve chosen to begin other things when I had a little time for sewing.  Today or tomorrow I’ll complete it.  I’m very pleased with the way it turned out, but it is probably too large for her to wear yet?  Oh, and I used the leftovers of a T-shirt from the project I’m supposed to be writing about now.  I only purchased pink for that reason, but I actually like it now and may look out for more.

 

 

 

On to what I meant to post about: One of the first things that I thought to make when I was getting the hang of A.C. techniques was a little gift for a friend who owns our favourite local pub.  She encourages the arts and has a lot of cool artwork displayed and decorating the place, and I’ve never had anything that I could contribute until I thought of making a tapestry piece.  Perhaps I could have been more imaginative, but I simply copied the bar logo and carefully made stencils from it.  (I just cut bits out of the paper with an Xacto knife and trace with Sharpies.)

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I went to the thrift store to find the right colours in men’s t-shirts, and it was lucky there were any left at all in greens unfortunately, because it was at Saint Patrick’s.  Oops.  I did find two in about the right shade though.  I only needed a tiny piece of pink for the nose, so I had plenty for that little dress.  There is a bunch of mustard yellow to use too, so I had better begin to like it better heh!

A bigger stencil would have been far better for all the detail and stitching, but I couldn’t enlarge it any more on one piece of paper.   T size of the t-shirts also limited the dimensions of the square besides.  I started by determining that base size on the white and black under layers, basting at the eventual cutting point, and basting around the area to stitch.  Then I used a silver Sharpie to trace out the words before stitching them.  The logo has a little green around the letters, so I used green thread, but you can barely tell it isn’t black.  I decided to embrace the knottiness throughout the piece (except in a few details later.)  At first I was going to have a white background like the actual logo, but I didn’t like how that would look with fabric or to think it may eventually turn dingy.

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Then I cut the green layers and appliquéd them.  The yellow layer was next, but I decided to unpick the green a little to allow placement behind rather than over as I’d first planned to.  I switched to black thread to mimic the logo.

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Then it was time to cut away and reveal the white!  I traced out the teeth with chalk, but it didn’t wash away even after a few rounds.  Shoot!  I had to leave off the knots in the teeth and select other portions of the backstitched details to keep it from looking like a mess.

 

 

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Getting there!  Time to make circles…

 

 

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… and to finish with a blanket stitch and DONE!  It took forever and a day (late March until June!)

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Clip Clop the Wonder Horse is done!

Well, almost done.  I’d like to clear coat it after it dries and cures for a while.  Mode Podge seems like an excellent thing for the job, but I only have matte and semi-matte but figure this horse should stay shiny?

Today I wanted to work on it, but I still hadn’t settled on a plan.  I thought I’d start by using the paints that I have on hand and see how things went.  Obviously I made a decision or two, and it is done.  Gold isn’t really a tone I’m fond of, but my husband is even less keen on it.  It is classic though, and suddenly Clip Clop has been gilded!

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The handles needed a coat or two of something dark, and the eyes needed some life.  The other aim today was to add depth to the tail and mane.  By now I thought that the horse already looked splendid and wasn’t entirely sold on messing with it, but wouldn’t the hair look more alive with some shadows defining the moulded strands?  I had to just add a little of the dark iron paint in there…

 

Then I toyed with the dark and light silver metallics on the the saddle.  Impulsively squeezed out a bit of bright golden paint, dipped a brush into it, and painted the blanket stars.  Well, didn’t it need a bit more gold then?  I hesitated and pondered for a while not wanting to ruin what I liked.  Finally I went ahead and committed to a gilded saddle and bridle.  I didn’t start it timidly with a dull polish or anything.  No, it was to be a fully golden saddle for my little girl!

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It is actually a very true and less dull gold in real life.  I guess I need to change some settings on my camera to capture it, and my phone had trouble with the shine which led me to use the camera.  It seems I missed photographing the golden horseshoes, but Clip Clop has those now too!

I can tell you that she loves it.  Already she seems to know that this is her horsey and where to find it.  Although I’ve moved it a few times to different rooms for various reasons she has set off each morning on a rapid crawl directly to her horse.  Then she uses it to stand, slaps and bounces a bit, and smiles back at me.  I’ve lifted her into the saddle, and she surprised me by balancing without trouble and makes it bounce by whipping her torso ahead.  Obviously I’m there with hands waiting to catch her, and I don’t(didn’t) plan for this toy to be used for a while.  Anyway, I suspect she likes shiny things?  And Springs!

I can’t believe the difference Before and after:

During (and really good enough looking) vs done:

Details:

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In progress: painting a vintage Wonder Horse (Bouncing rocking horse)

Well, that was fast.

After posting this morning I managed to do some chores and spend time spraying the horse.  I started with medium grey (metallic) over the primer covering everything as a base.  Then I used the darkest grey (metallic) focussing on the muzzle, underbelly,  hind quarters and lower legs.  Finally I sprayed pearly white using cardboard scraps to mask the areas I wanted left dark.  Holes were cut to stay the dapples.

The dark layer went well and so did the white initially.  I was really happy with the dapples and look.  Then I thought “I’ll just add a little more…”

Shoot.  I did not take photos at the point, but just as well probably since it would only remind me.  I wasn’t pleased by the time I sprayed a little more.  Meanwhile my little one was getting sick of her play-pen inside, so I rushed on, took breaks, and rushed through.  I believe I’d have had different outcome if able to focus the way that I used to.  😉  Anyway, I left it to dry all afternoon and was somewhat more pleased when I saw it again.  Yes, the dapples were all but lost, but it still looks good if you didn’t know my original vision for it.  The white paint has turned into a very silver metallic that blends too much with the other two shades, and that is part of the dapple problem.  Again, it is pretty enough if you don’t know the intended look.  It seems that a rather aged and then polished iron kind of  style won out despite my plans!

During the afternoon I dug around the mess of our attic (my fault!) to find the little bottles of paint from the Borg Queen costume after not finding them in the basement paint storage area or in the sewing room.  They were in the attic, and I did find them eventually, and that is a win given a poor streak of luck I had the past few days.  (I wouldn’t have purchased more, because I already did that for the last Borg Queen when I couldn’t find the original paints!)  So next I’ll either enhance the details on the mane, tail, and tack with these paints and tiny brushes or I’ll detach the stand and spray that.  Tomorrow we’ll have some rain before clear weather again, so that and life may delay this.

Ideally I’d maybe like some blues or other colours in the saddle, but I have only copper, silver, black (spray,) and gold to work with.  Unless the project is delayed and I suddenly go shopping then those are all I’ll be using.  It already looks pretty nice as is and could certainly stay without any additional work.  Perhaps, but I don’t think I can leave well enough alone.  That would be too easy!  I still might mask off the horse fur area after today’s paint is cured and spray the saddle a flat black first?  I don’t know.

Here it is with the dark layer:

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and white:

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Dried later on and in different lighting:

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Closer:

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See how metallic silver it appears rather than pearlescent grey and white?  Notice that the neck area no longer shows the dappled paint I’d done?  Oh well, I suppose…

Let’s not forget before:

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In Progress: Reviving an ugly old “Wonder Horse” bouncing rocking horse

I’ve been working on many projects at once lately, and always the choice is between writing or making some progress (that and the treadmill of my normal chores.)  Tonight I could write about a few different things, but I’d like to take a break from sewing and feel inspired by a painting project that is only in the beginning stages.

When I was a child there was a toy that brought me hours of screeching glee.  Memories of playing with it stick out through the vague mists of about 30 years, and I decided months ago that my daughter simply had to have a springy-bouncy-horse like mine.  Marketed as “Clip Clop the Wonder Horse” in the mid ’80s I was a lucky kid to own this newest version of plastic horse (now with sound effects!) suspended by springs from a metal frame to bounce on merrily like other fortunate children since mid-century.  Mine was named Clippity Clop, and I loved him.

It seems Radioflyer still makes a similar Wonder Horse, but I wanted a fixer upper.  (Shocking, I know!)  After all, the ’80s or ’70s orange and browns of these horses is just not appealing to my design sense, and the new ones look about the same.  For a while I’d check out Craigslist whenever I remembered to but none of the listings grabbed me until a few weeks ago when there was a Wonder Horse from the ’70s offered at the lowest price I’d ever seen and decently nearby.  (When we moved here it was farther away from all the wonderful listings to be found on Long Island to a less popular and overpriced CL region.  sigh.)

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The model isn’t the same obviously, but sound certainly isn’t required.  I thought surely Clip Clop was bigger, because I was surprised at how small this horse was when I picked it up, but as a little kid everything seems bigger.  Googling shows that they measure the same.  The downside of the horse I’ve picked up is that it doesn’t have the stepping rail to get and off that mine had.  Perhaps I can add something for that?

I did some reading on painting plastic but ended up grabbing all-purpose spray paint from Home Depot instead of hunting down Krylon.  In the store I was undecided and selected a variety of paints to play with or return once I figured out what colours and effects to use.  Some ideas ran through my head.  First being to use chalk paint or a super matte in greys and whites (typical, I know.) My next thought while looking at a wall of spray paint options was to maybe dive into colour with a little soft sea foam or purple or something (woah!) accenting a pearly white horse.  There was a great selection of metallics, and I always have found hammered finish very forgiving so that was another direction…  Either hammered or a smooth aged iron kind of look blackened in the crevasses.  I still like that idea a lot.  A can of silver glitter paint made me consider that my little girl may think a glittery horse is fantastic, but I couldn’t make the leap.  Lastly is a dappled grey and white horse reserving the metallic for tack.  This is the plan right now; dapple grey and white with darker legs etc and salt and pepper tail/mane.  Honestly I’m a little tempted to do glitter after all, but I don’t have that paint now.  😀  Let’s see how things go when I get spraying…

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First I had to clean the horse, then sand, and prime everything.  Last week I did this.  I scoured the stand too and probably will try some paint on that also but done thinly and using dark metallic just to freshen it up.  The springs polished up nicely to look brushed and silvery.  The horse itself is full of imperfections in the casting.  I cut off some of the worst seams, but I’m not about to fill all the voids and air bubbles so had to quit worrying about it.  The original paint was peeling a bit, besides being a hideous colour choice, and it was very sloppily done.  I’ll have to try to emulate that vagueness to a degree since the detail of the plastic is so rough.  Anyway, I sanded it well and washed it all down before masking the frame and carefully priming on a warm and dry day.  The primer instructs to wait 5-7 days before painting if the object is plastic, so I have been patient.  She isn’t going to use this thing anytime soon anyway, and so I’ll be going slowly and letting layers cure well between work although I’d like to just have it out of the way soon.

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With the primer it already looks pretty good!  Almost good enough to be done, heh.

Today I’ll test out the first base layer in either pearly white or shimmering grey.  If it enhances every flaw and looks horrendous then I’ll reconsider glitter or something else.

 

 

More Alabama Chanin DIY

I’ve been a busy bee.

Today (the 11th but let’s see if I can post today…) I completed another baby dress for my daughter done entirely in hand stitching a la Alabama Chanin.  This one had a complicated motif, comparable to the last dress I wrote about, but I was able to complete it much faster possibly due to more practice and since the design made for quicker stitching.  Between these two complex dresses I also did an unembellished version and made plans for several gift items.  The gifts took all of April, and now that we are into May I’ll be doing some sewing for D and myself hopefully.

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I adore the aqua colour  and feel of the fabric of this one!  Too bad there isn’t much of the original T-shirt left for anything else, because I love, love, love it.

I must rush and complete one gift by Saturday and have to hide its existence from my soon to turn 40 year old husband.  I’m not even sure I should write about it here in case he checks out the blog again, but he probably will not…  Of course I didn’t get the time to finish this post until after the gift was done.   

For L I made a T-shirt with a Star Trek inspired design on the chest.  I kept it simple in hopes of quick progress but also keeping in mind that he only wears plain shirts.  I would have liked to do a heavily stitched motif of the Enterprise or something cool, but due to procrastination and his tastes in fashion I skipped that and chose  “Darmok & Jalad at Tanagra” instead of an image.  I even planned to only decorate a purchased shirt, but then he told me how much he especially likes the seam stitching on Mini’s dresses, and so the project quadrupled in work.   I only made and cut the pattern (tracing off a shirt that fits him well) this morning, because I work best under pressure, and I didn’t get serious about making a gift until so late!  Unfortunately I discovered that 2XL Vneck shirts didn’t allow me to cut sleeves for his M sized shirt.  Drat!!!!  I had to run to the store and throw another package of shirts in the wash this evening, but I did cut the front and back, cut a paper stencil, traced with a Sharpie pen, and began basting the pieces.  The stencil is too small for the best results, so I’ll be using a back-stitch instead of running.  (I found the backstitch looked messy and went back to the running stitch.)  I didn’t want to enlarge the letters any more, and I hope it turns out okay.  Wish me luck!  I tried using a few nicer fabric options, like dark red and black, before settling on grey and black due to limitations of “yardage.”  I have three thread contenders: one matches the grey, one is a lighter grey, or I could go with black.  I’ll try swatches tomorrow to settle on something.

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The dress that I completed today was a sort of test for the motif of a gift.  There is a local artist who creates lovely black&white cut paper bee designs (I’d have liked to get one for the nursery, actually,) and I was inspired to rip off do something similar when brainstorming for a decoration that a good friend of mine might enjoy.  She has a couple of the artist’s works, and I’ve been trying to come up with a good gift for her for a long time now to show my appreciation of the many, many, many things she has done for me.  She had told me she loved the Mini dresses and loved the idea of making something for a mutual friend when I mentioned the idea as a test.  I’m excited to start that project, but I keep having to do other things.  The practice dress has helped me refine the bee and honeycomb, so it was worth the delay?

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I’ve been making these dresses a bit large, so they don’t look so great yet in the modelled photos, alas.

I didn’t copy any of the bees exactly but simplified one, and I wanted to add honeycomb.  For the next piece I might mix larger hexagons with smaller to work better with the bee?  I was extremely unhappy with the way the two stencils I made came out and had to play around with them a lot and even cut out new ones.  The plan was to have a bee at each end of the wrap, but I wasn’t happy enough with it to do the other panel.  Luckily the honeycomb stitches up super fast compared to anything else, so it worked out great to use that instead.

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The black blanket stick around the edge doesn’t show very well.  I like how it turned out. Perhaps I’ll make one similar for myself someday, but I’ll probably never get around to it.  😀  This post sure grew long in the nearly month that I’ve been adding to it!

First Impressions: ‘Head in the Clouds’ patterned Baby Nutty helmet

I have many blogs topics queued up and waiting for time to write.  So far I haven’t posted anything about biking, but I’ve been planning to do write a bit about our fairly unusual bakfiets and such eventually.  (That’s a Dutch term for “box-bike” and the easiest way of referring to our pedal assist cargo bike trike.  Otherwise we call it The Thing or the Chariot of Smugness.  More on that soon!)  Today I’ll start with the new cycling portion of this blog by sharing some photos of the brand new for 2018 ‘Head in the Clouds’ patterned Baby Nutty helmet by Nutcase.

Recently we began biking again after a really long winter despite lingering chilly weather.  I used to bike all winter to get my groceries, but this year I’ll be needing to get back into shape.  Normally I can simply buckle Mini into a carseat in the bakfiets, but sometimes we will take our bikes to trails and need to to prepare by buying an infant seat and helmet for her.  So far I haven’t gone for the seat, but I just picked up the helmet a couple of days ago.  I’m not a helmet user, because I do not do the type of cycling that I personally deem it necessary for based on my own research and comfort level.  In my state children must wear them, and I would rather she be protected at such a fragile size.  For the youngest babies Nutcase is almost the only option, and that was fine by me since they have great helmets.  They are rounded (instead of dangerously shaped with a jutting rear portion,) have a nifty magnetic buckle, and while mostly not my taste there are a lot of patterns on offer.  The designs I like are all for larger helmets like the ‘Space Cat‘, ‘Timberline’, or ‘Constellations.’  The offerings for the Baby Nutty size did not appeal to me at all except the ‘Outerspace‘ one.  They are just too colourful and bold for me, but I suppose most people think it is pretty nifty, (but a nicely plain metallic black or grey would be so wonderful!)  The photos on their website do not do the helmets any justice as I discovered when I saw some in person.  That’s why I linked to image searches above for the patterns I’ve mentioned, because they actually have a pretty metallic sheen.  Anyway, I had planned for months that when the time came to purchase I’d choose the ‘Outerspace’ model.

A few days ago I noticed that Mini had grown some more, and I discovered that she had hit the 47cm head circumference required for a Baby Nutty.  (There are a couple other helmets for infants but the minimum measurement is a bit larger, and I wasn’t considering them anyway due to appearance and features.)  As it is finally warming up I decided to get the helmet and try to decide on a carrier (probably a Thule Yep Mini?)  Now, it isn’t on the Nutcase website or offered on Amazon, but I found a new pattern for 2018 besides the ‘Happy Hearts‘ called ‘Head in the Clouds.’ I really liked it!  The pattern is more subtle and light blue compliments Mini’s eyes, so I was happy to find a store nearby that said it was in stock.  When I was at the store I actually found it difficult to choose between it and ‘outerspace,’ because the sheen of ‘outerspace’ is nicer in person while ‘head in the clouds’ looked slightly less elegant than I had thought and more childish.  The light blue, for her eyes, won out over the cool factor of the space theme and metallic sheen but barely.

When we arrived home I wanted to check out the helmet.  As soon as I brought the box over Mini went nuts with enthusiasm.  Boxes are super entertaining!  The helmet fascinated her too, and she was more joyfully playing with it than most anything I’ve let her play with.  I’m not sure why she loved it so much, but it sure was cute.

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I’d forgotten how large a head looks with all the extra foam, and beyond that the Baby Nutty is surprisingly and ridiculously huge!  The shell of it is nearly as large as the youth or possibly even adult helmets despite the 47cm minimum for inside.  Woah!  As you can see in the photos it appears nearly as big as the baby.  I’m not sure how soon we’ll actually try biking and using the helmet yet, but it is light.  Mini has good head control, having begun holding it up on day three, but I’m still leery of the jostling on a bike.  Some people apparently begin riding by six or nine months although helmet manufacturers cover their butts by stating “one year” as suitable.  I need to research more.  In any case I’d like to get her used to wearing it by trying it on for a little while every so often.  Already she was never a fan of headwear and unties her hats as fast as I can tie the bow, so fingers crossed that there will be no tears or anything.  The magnetic closure is really nifty, just as expected, and she will not be able to remove it.  So, this is is just a first impression, but I like seeing people’s photos and thoughts of products when I research them, and I wanted to share this since I didn’t really find much on the new pattern.  (Only that it is supposed to also include an upgraded safety feature?  Mips?  There is no indication of that on the packaging or helmet, and I saw a release date for May, so???)

Meanwhile I have been working on a lot of Alabama Chanin style sewing and will write more soon!

Here’s a video of Mini playing with the helmet.