The making of a superhero (or 2)

This week, as well as Joel’s first birthday, has included the 31st October. Now to lots of people that means Halloween, but we’re not into celebrating something that originated in dark things, even though these days it’s just a vastly over commercialised festival that most people take part in without any intention of deliberately celebrating evil. Instead we like to join in with the annual ‘Light Party’ that’s put on at our Church, celebrating all things light, including Jesus who we believe is the ‘Light of the World’. We still have lots of fun dressing up, eating treats and spending time with friends, we just do it in a way that doesn’t remember anything like witches, ghost and the devil.

This year’s theme was ‘superheroes’, and children who went were encouraged to dress up as a superhero if they wanted to. I knew that Andrew would want to join in, and thought it would be cute if Joel did too. I also knew that I didn’t have much time to make costumes (a couple of hours last Saturday morning), but I did a quick search on Pinterest and got a few ideas for quick and easy superhero costumes.


I decided that the superhero kit would include: a cape with letter design, a belt, wrist cuffs with lightening bolt design, and a mask. They then wore ordinary clothes with these accessories – for Joel that was a nappy, leg warmers and a plain top; for Andrew that was trousers and a top that I painted a star on last Christmas for the Nativity Play, with pants on the outside. Andrew’s colour theme was yellow (mainly influenced by the star), and Joel’s was green (mainly influenced by his green star leg warmers).

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The capes were made from an old black t-shirt of Daddy’s. I hemmed the edges quickly, and folded over the top, sewed it down and passed a length of elastic through to make a simple cape. I also appliquéd a letter in the centre for each of them: A for Andrew and J for Joel.

The belts and wrist cuffs were made from duck tape stuck onto paper, and then coloured card stuck on with double sided tape to make the ‘buckles’ and lightening bolt details. I was inspired by Martha Stewart’s blog to use duck tape for these. I then used snaps (which I use for nappy making) to secure them around the waist/wrist.

For the masks I simply cut out a mask shape, cut eye holes in, and fastened some elastic to go around the head using tape. I was amazed that Joel actually kept his on his forehead for the whole party, and Andrew wore his on his eyes for a while before it broke after some rather enthusiastic bouncing on the bouncy castle.

superhero Collage 1

superhero Collage 2

It was really hard to get good photos of them in the costumes at the party, most of mine are really blurry because they wouldn’t stay still! But I think you get the idea from the photo I took of the costumes before the superheroes got into them 😉 We had a lot of fun at the party; the boys (and I, and Grandma and Pop who came too) were all exhausted afterwards because they were constantly on the go exploring all the different games and activities that there were on offer, just like little superheroes who can never really rest with all the important work they have to do!

superhero Collage 4

Sew, sew, sew your nappies

Just recently I’ve been finding a real enthusiasm for sewing. I used to do quite a bit as a teenager, both in school as part of textiles GCSE and out of school, making a few clothes and bags for myself. It’s my love of cloth nappies that’s really got me into it again. When I figured out that I could make my own washable wipes and good quality wet bags cheaper than I could buy from retailers or work at home mums (WAHMs) (that reminds me, I still have one large wet bag spare if anyone would like to buy it 😉 ), I was happy with my end products and enjoyed making them so much that I then decided to make some more nappy-related items – in fact nappies themselves.

wet bags

I started with some fleece soakers, i.e. waterproof nappy covers, instead of a PUL (laminated fabric) wrap with velcro/poppers. We’d started using them when I bought some reduced in Real Nappy Week back in April, and they work really well over night for the boys, but we needed some more as Andrew had already outgrown the XL ones that I’d bought (so they got passed on toe Joel). For the first one I made, I used an old fleece dressing gown that neither of them had worn much because our flat has a pretty consistent temperature all year round with efficient heating. For the next ones I made, I used some fleece jumpers that my parents were going to take to a charity shop when they sorted out their wardrobe. I’ve also bought some new fleece which was reduced online, and will be using that soon (see the zebra print nappy below, plus another frog print fleece).


My next creation was what I call a ‘nap’ nappy for Andrew – he uses the potty/toilet when awake, and often doesn’t wee at all during naps, but he still has the odd day with a wet patch so I’m keeping nappies on him for a bit longer when napping. It is an all-in-two design, similar to our itti bitti nappies that are a little tight on him and they don’t make an XL. I came up with my own pattern for this nappy, based on one I found on the internet and adapted to give it a higher rise and a slimmer crotch. The fabrics are again up cycled old clothes – a couple of colours of fleece jumper and a cotton jersey babrygro. The shell of the nappy of course needs to be waterproof, so I bought some new plain white PUL (the waterproof but breathable fabric used in nappies and wraps) for this.


Then I decided to concentrate on night nappies for Andrew, because we have to boost some of his so much that he really looks like a weeble and the fleece covers are hard to get on. I don’t mind night nappies being a bit bulky, as they’re in bed and it doesn’t bother them, but some of Andrew’s are a little ridiculous. I think being dry in the day means he still wets quite a lot at night, but hopefully not for too much longer. I wanted to try some ‘Zorb’ fabric, which is a blend of various fibres, natural and man-made, and is supposed to be very absorbent relative to its thickness. I found a small piece going cheap on a pre-loved site, so bought that as a trial. My first creation with it is a Zorb-lined pocket with PUL and fleece outer, for maximum waterproofing! I didn’t really know how it would turn out, but in the end i’m very pleased with it. We stuff the pocket with a couple of hemp boosters, and this easily lasts him the night and is much slimmer than his biggest bamboo night nappies. The Zorb catches the wetness first and spreads it away from the wet zone quickly (because that’s what Zorb does), and then the very thirsty hemp picks up all the wetness that goes through the Zorb, and the PUL and fleece outer of the pocket stops that wetness escaping. So far we’ve had no leaks, and the extra high rise and extra layer of Zorb that I sewed into the front of the nappy is great for a boy tummy sleeper.

zorb pocket

The next nappy I wanted to have a go at was a ‘hybrid fitted’. The idea of these (such as the ‘A Mama Knows’ brand which we have one of) is that it has a hidden layer of fleece in the core, which repels water back into the absorbent bit of the nappy, meaning that for light wetters in the day you don’t need a separate waterproof wrap and for heavy wetters and at night you still need a cover but you have an extra layer of water resistance to help stop leaks. Whoever knew that nappies could be so scientific?! The researcher in me loves reading about all this kind of stuff! So I made one of these using my pattern from the other nappies that I made, which has seen a few minor alterations with each new nappy, to try and optimise the design. The inner absorbent bit is cotton terry, with 2 layers of Zorb and one layer of fleece inside, then a burgundy corduroy outer with an appliqué monkey on – the cord was from an old pair of trousers and the monkey from a badly stained t-shirt. This works well too. Andrew has worn it over night and again it’s less bulky than some of his other night nappies, and I could probably use this for his nap without a cover though I haven’t had chance to try this yet.

hybrid fitted

My next nappy project is going to be a wrap, made with some lovely bicycle-print PUL that I got in the sale at one of the online fabric retailers. I haven’t used ‘fold over elastic’ before, which is the stuff that I need to sew around the outside as a binding to the raw fabric edges, so we’ll see how that goes. I need to have a day when I have plenty of time to experiment, so probably a weekend.

And finally, I’ve even been inspired to branch out into clothing for the boys. Andrew has recently grown out of his 2-3 years trousers, and his 3-4 years ones are a little big around the waist but he needs the length. As I have quite a few pairs of old trousers of mine that are worn through in some part or are just too small since having kids, I thought it would be great to use a pair to make him some trousers. I chose some jeans, plus an old red fleece to make the waistband, as well as a fire engine embroidery to appliqué on, which was on a baby vest that was stained elsewhere. This was very simple to do, and Andrew is very impressed with his new trousers! I made the length with plenty of growing room, but the waist and hips fit him well so they shouldn’t fall down!


I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at and reading about my projects. So far the feedback I’ve had on them has been very positive, which is lovely to hear. A bit like writing the blog, I sew because I enjoy it, but it’s also nice to know that other people are benefitting from the end result – blog post / wet bag / nappy / trousers.

Silk butterfly painting for kids

This morning we had a bit of free time while Joel was napping (having been up since 5am) before we went to our usual group. With all the nice weather, we’ve done less craft and baking recently because Andrew just loves being outside on his bike. So for a change I asked him if he wanted to do some painting, and he replied with a resounding ‘yes, oh thank you’!

The best paints for kids that we currently have are a set of children-friendly fabric paints, because our finger paints went a bit weird, not sure why, and I haven’t got round to buying any more like that. I have some scraps of fabric that I’ve used for various projects in the past, so I dug into it and found a small length of silk from when I did some silk painting with proper silk paints ages ago (when I was a student!)

I decided that it would be fun to do some ‘butterfly’ painting – you paint some blobs of colour on one side of a piece of paper/fabric and then fold it over on itself and squidge the paint across and along, and when you open it up again it looks a bit like a butterfly with a similar pattern on each side (or wing).

PicMonkey Collage  1

Andrew enjoyed the blobbing (along with an enthusiastic “BLOB” for each touch of the fabric with the brush), and I held my hand on one side of the fabric so that he could only paint on one side. He also enjoyed the squidging (only the finest technical terms are found here for art work 😉 ). I then painted a couple of antennae on to each butterfly for him, and once they were dry, I trimmed them to have more of a wing shape.

PicMonkey Collage  2

This was a quick craft idea that filled a nice amount of time and kept his attention, and afterwards he carried on colouring on the paper that we had put down to protect the table from paint. We now have some pretty butterflies, which we will stick on to cards for sending as notecards.

Nappy-related sewing projects: wet/dry bag and fleece soakers

Just recently I’ve rediscovered just how much I love sewing. I did quite a lot as a teenager, but since having kids I haven’t had the sewing machine out much. There were a couple of nappy-related items that I thought would be very practical to have, and these became fun sewing projects to get my teeth into it again.

I realised when Andrew started wanting to wear pants when out and about that I really needed to invest in a good wet bag because we have quite a few accidents still, and I have two children with wet nappies/pants/trousers to take home when we go out. I also wanted one with a ‘dry’ area, as I always had loose spare clothes in my change bag and thought it would be easier to keep them in a bag together. But when I looked online, all the wet/dry bags that looked good quality were a bit too expensive, so I decided to buy some fabric myself and make two wet/dry bags.

Wetbags Collage

The outside is cotton, in Bob the Builder and Animal Alphabet prints, and the lining is a thick and durable sandwich PUL (the laminate layer is sandwiched between two polyester layers – makes it very easy to sew with and is extra thick for wetness protection) in bright orange (Bob) or blue (animals). The front pocket is for dry clothes/nappies, and there is a poppered handle that can attach to a buggy (for example) which is triple stitched for durability. I bought enough fabric for four bags, and I have swapped one with a friend for a night nappy that I wanted to try and a daytime wrap for the Nappyness library, and I sold one on a cloth nappy forum. As far as I know, both recipients like them.

During Real Nappy Week, I bought a couple of fleece soakers for Andrew because I’d read that they were good at night and I was also buying some bigger night nappies for him at the same time as he’d grown out of some of his others. The soakers worked brilliantly, and having seen one in real life as opposed to a picture on a website, I realised that my sewing skills were up to making them. So I set about making some more, using fleece from old clothes and blankets, so they are completely upcycled. In fact for one of them, I accidentally cut the fabric to include the ‘The North Face’ logo on the jumper I was cutting up, but then I decided that it actually looked rather cool with the logo, to show that it was an upcycled item of clothing. The next one I made, I deliberately cut the leg cuff fabric to include the ‘Regatta’ logo.

Soakers Collage

Andrew is now getting a bit big for the XL ones I bought, so I’ve made a few more XXL and Joel is just about fitting into the XL (he has a well boosted night nappy and needs it for the rise height, though it’s looser around the thighs and waist on him than on Andrew). I’m also making one of each size for the Nappyness library, and the medium and large are already available for loan – I originally made the medium thinking it would be for Joel but forgot that it needed to fit over a night nappy rather than day nappy (baby brain moment!) The patterns that I’m using are those I found on Katrina’s Sew Quick Soaker Pattern blog. I’ve also sewn some more washable wipes (as I explained in this previous post) from upcycled nappies and clothes, and these are also available to borrow from the library.

Wipes n bags Collage

As I’ve been sewing, I’ve been dreaming about having a better place to do this other than our kitchen table in quite a small flat. I have a little picture in my head of a cafe with a toy corner (like Livng Stones, the one we go to for meet-ups) which is also a shop that sells cloth nappies (new and preloved) and accessories, and there is also space for me to sew wet bags, soakers, wipes etc. All the mums I meet up with in Living Stones agree that  there should be more cafes like that in Cambridge, and I think the city is the kind of place that parents would welcome a shop where you can actually buy cloth nappies having seen them for real, not just online. Of course they could try them from the library first too.

But then I usually hear a noise from one of my boys, or both, and I come quickly back to reality 😉


Creative Challenge

Washable wipes – homemade and upcycled

The fluffy epilogue that I wrote after Real/Cloth Nappy Week this year talked about my realisation that washable wipes were a very simple concept and that I could make some myself rather than buy the branded or even WAHM-made ones (WAHM = work at home mum). I do like to support WAHMs where possible, but in this case I’m being my very own WAHM and saving myself the cost of buying washable wipes even from them.

Although these took me very little time to make, the process taught me that I would actually find it very hard to be a WAHM myself at this stage when the boys are still so young, because I found I could only grab the odd five or ten minutes here and there between doing things with them, for them and around the flat. I don’t know how WAHMs do it! At least all the blogging I do is when I’m sitting down feeding or have a sleeping baby on me and can’t do other stuff anyway. And at least the wipes were simple enough that I could flit in and out of doing them easily.

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The fabrics I used were all old items of baby stuff that we no longer use for various reasons. We had a baby towel that was free with one of the supermarket parenting clubs (I think) but it’s only for newborns and both our boys grew out of it in about a month. I also found a fleece throw that we hadn’t used much and some old clothes (in cotton jersey fabric) that were either very worn out or had stains on one bit of them but the rest was fine. So I’ve done a bit of ‘upcycling’ (as seems to be one of the latest buzz words) in making these wipes.

The first batch I made with half the towel had this towel fabric on one side and half fleece half jersey on the other. I made them fairly big at 13x20cm. Now that we’re using them I would say that we could get away with them being a bit smaller than this as they clean up poo so easily, so the next batch I make will be a bit smaller. I’d seen washable wipes online made in two different ways: (1) two pieces of fabric overlocked together, or (2) two pieces of fabric sewn right sides together then pulled through back on itself and top stitched around the outside to seal the hole left in order to pull it outside in. I experimented with both methods, and found that the second one worked better with these fabrics on my machine – I don’t have a proper overlocker so was just using that stitch on my sewing machine and cutting off the excess fabric, but it was hard to make a neat straight edge, and although it still functions as a wipe perfectly well, it doesn’t look as nice (or ‘professional’ in Tom’s words) as the outside-in-method ones.

Here’s a tutorial with photos showing how I made these wipes (using the second method described above)…..

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1) Cut out the fabrics  – for a 13x20cm wipe you’ll need to cut 15x22cm of towel, and then fleece and jersey to cover roughly half each of the area of the towel, plus 1cm overlap where the fleece and jersey are sewn together. Here the photo shows the fabrics folded up in sets of towel, fleece and jersey all cut and ready to pin.

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2) Sew the fleece and jersey together down the one side that will be in the middle of the wipe – put right sides together and sew using a plain straight stitch along this one side, 1cm from the edge. When you’re done, open it out flat.

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3) Place the jersey and fleece piece right side down on the towel. (In the picture – this was the corner of the towel so I trimmed the jersey fabric to fit the curve of the corner here). Pin at right angles to the edge of the fabric every few centimetres along all four edges.

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4) Sew at 1cm from the edge all the way along three of the edges and about 2/3 of the way along the fourth edge to leave a hole where you can pull the fabric through from the outside inwards. Please excuse this photo – it DOES NOT show right sides together as it should – this was the one wipe that I overlocked instead and I must have taken a picture of this by mistake! Make sure when sewing the two pieces of fabric together that you can’t see the print of the jersey – if you’re just using towel and plain fleece, it wouldn’t matter anyway as there aren’t ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ sides.

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5) Remove the pins and then pull the fabric through the hole to turn it outside in and reveal the pattern on the jersey. Fold the edges of fabric sticking out at the hole (as seen on the top left corner here) inwards, following the fold of the rest of the seam.


6) Top stitch (using a plain straight stitch on the machine) along the length of the hole and continuing along all four edges of the wipe, at about 2mm in from the edge, to give it a nice finish. Here the picture shows the finished wipe on the right, along with the overlocked one on the left for comparison.

Now to make some more, as well as some wet bags… whenever I find the time!

A fluffy epilogue

Just when I thought there wasn’t much more to know about cloth nappies, Real/Cloth Nappy Week came along and surprised me! After having used just one sort (fitted birth-to-potty with wraps that we were given as a gift) for Andrew as a baby, I did loads of online research last summer and got my head around all the different terminology and mind-boggling options, to add to our stash for when Joel arrived. It was probably around that point that I got really hooked on them, but given that we’ve saved money overall by using cloth rather than disposables, I don’t think it’s an unhealthy addiction.

My aims for Cloth Nappy Week were: (1) enter all the competitions online to try and win some goodies (internet connection on holiday permitting); and (2) find out more about washable wipes, as our rather large supply of disposable wipes that we bought in bulk very cheaply with a load of vouchers we were given is slowly coming to an end.

I didn’t get anywhere with (1) – I never seem to win things, but I’m still of the old ‘if you don’t buy a ticket you won’t win the raffle’ mentality, and in this case all it cost me was my time in entering, which I had a bit more of than usual on holiday. I did, however, get somewhere with (2). I’d heard of Cheeky Wipes before, and they were certainly very involved in the fun of the week, but as I browsed the sites hunting for clues to the competitions, I became aware that there are so many work at home mums (or WAHMs) out there, who are beavering away at making some lovely nappies and accessories including washable wipes, and I didn’t know of most of them.

As I looked in more detail at their wipes, I realised that I could in fact make some myself. Essentially they are a square of towelling backed with a square of fleece or cotton jersey fabric. I’ve always loved sewing and used to do quite a few projects, though like many things in life, I’ve done far fewer since having children (my most recent ones were a toddler tie and the hungry caterpillar curtains that you see in this post). Seeing all the other mums who have put their sewing skills to use on nappies etc. since having children has really inspired me to be creative myself.

Fabric that I've found to make some wipes with
Fabric that I’ve found to make some wipes with

So instead of buying some wipes, I’ve found various bits of fabric stashed away in the flat that I can upcycle (love that word!) into wipes. I’ve also spotted some new fabrics online which I’m going to order to make some wet bags, which I could do with more of. And whilst I’m at all this sewing, we could do with more dribble bibs as Joel is getting through a couple a day at the moment.  Who knows, I might even end up having a go at a nappy or two if I get on a roll and time permits. I doubt I would ever find the time and space (as long as we live in Cambridge) to be a WAHM myself, but I could imagine making these kind of things for friends and family as presents. Watch this space for more posts on the finished items when I get around to making them.

Apart from the inspiration to make my own kit, I’ve also been inspired to think about making cloth nappies accessible to more people. I know I love to ramble on for hours about cloth nappies, given half a chance, whether that’s in person or on the blog. So I thought it might be good to put this enthusiasm to good use on a wider scale. One way of spreading the word about cloth nappies and encouraging others to have a go is running a cloth nappy library – these are popping up in more and more places, though there isn’t one in Cambridge yet, which does surprise me actually. I have heard via a friend that she and some other friends are working on something, so I may get the opportunity to help with that. I need to read up some more on the practicalities of setting one up, but there are plenty of libraries already doing well that could give some advice. If you’re in the Cambridge area, let me know if you think you’d use a nappy library – I’d like to get a feel for how much interest there is.nappy-Collage-lower-res.jpg

Another option would be to become an agent for a particular brand of nappy. There are a few schemes out there, though I’d obviously be more tied to a particular brand than just offering advice on nappies in general. This would involve organising parties in small groups at people’s homes or in places where parents meet up, such as at baby/toddler groups or in cafes. I’d vaguely heard about these before Cloth Nappy Week, but in browsing more websites I became more aware of what opportunities are available. I also learned that nappy demo parties are called Nappucinos! I guess a reference to the fact that many of them are held over a cup of coffee at home or in a cafe. I could always just do this kind of thing on my own, not attached to a company in some way. If you’re in the Cambridge area, or the Coventry area (as we have a free hotel aka my parents’ house to stay at for weekends), let me know if you’d be interested in this kind of thing – again I’d like to get a feel for how much interest there is for nappy demos near us.

If I had more business sense, I’d really love to set up a shop in Cambridge that sells cloth nappies. When I did all my research into the various types and bought some online, I was going on reviews from others and what the online retailers said about the nappies; I kept thinking that all I wanted to do was walk into a shop where I could handle the nappies, see how big they were, look at their shape next to my boys, ask questions to a person there and then, and buy to support an independent business with a local premises. Tom keeps saying that I should set up a shop, but I think he’s not being that serious, and I have absolutely no clue about how to go about such a task, so it sounds incredibly scary!

Here I come to the end of my fluffy epilogue, in which I have talked about my conclusions from Cloth Nappy Week, that is to do more sewing projects and help make cloth nappies accessible to more parents in the future. Let’s see how much of this I get done by Cloth Nappy Week next year! 🙂

A blooming gorgeous changing bag (review)

Just before Andrew was born we got the Boots freebie changing bag that you get if you sign up for their parenting club and buy some nappies. It served us well for quite a while, but was beginning to fall apart in pregnancy with Joel. So Tom joined the parenting club too, and we got another free bag. But in the time since we got our first one, they’ve made the bag smaller, so it no longer fits all the paraphernalia that I have to take out with me for two children. I decided to wait a while before I did anything about this, and just got by using an extra bag, because I wanted to check that it really was worth spending the money rather than relying on extra bags. I can say now that it definitely is worth it! Also, until now I’ve had a separate handbag with my purse, keys, phone etc. in, but with 3 or 4 bags to remember and carry, it’s been a bit much, so I’d like just one to fit everything in.

So, one weekend I spent ages scouring the internet whilst feeding Joel. It quickly became clear that there were generally two ends in the market with little in between – cheap changing bags similar to our first one, or more expensive bags that looked more like hand bags but could fit lots of baby stuff in. I decided that as this was going to be my hand bag as well, I’d rather go for one that looked more stylish than a simple satchel design in a plain colour and was also good quality to last us through constant use.

In my search, I came across the lovely website of Pink Lining, a British company that started from a lady called Charlotte hand stitching hand bags in her London flat, then moved onto fashionable baby changing bags handmade with a sewing machine, and grew into a market leading brand in the UK as well as gaining much recognition internationally. I couldn’t resist the look of the bags, they were unlike any other that I had come across in my lengthy search. Not only did they look practical, but also had a unique style, made with colourful, pretty fabrics and a shape that shouted ‘hand bag’ at me rather than ‘changing bag’. I’d also heard good things about them from a few friends who have one.

It's Blooming Gorgeous it is

Pink Lining make various designs of bag which you can see here. After much thought I decided that I most liked the Blooming Gorgeous design, in the Blue Bouquet fabric. Very kindly, Pink Lining offered me a discount in exchange for my views on how the bag performs for us. So here’s my review…..


This is the most important feature for us given that our previous bag was too small! There is certainly no shortage of space in the bag; I can fit all the things I need to, both for the boys and for me (see the next section for more details).

The dimensions are: 38(L) x 25.5(H) x 19(W) cm; this seems to be around the standard for most satchel style changing bags from my online search, and Pink Lining point out that the Blooming Gorgeous bag is slightly wider than their other similar in style bags. The generous width is noticeable, because even when the side pockets are stuffed with things, there is still a decent space in the middle to fit bigger things like a change of clothes for both boys, and the fact that the bottom is stiff means that it holds its shape so you can see just how much space you have to stuff things into.

Access to bag contents

What I like even more about the space in the bag is it’s not just one big space – there are several handy pockets and things, which keep our stuff organised. I find this really important, because without it I would almost certainly fail to find the thing I need at the right time and end up with some very stressful change times, feed times, toddler entertainment times or unlocking the front door times!

Outside on the bag: there is a large canvas pocket, which fits various bits like a foldaway shopping bag and my hairbrush; and two side pockets in body fabric, one of which fits two drinks bottles (one for me and one for Andrew), and the other fits our foldaway fabric chair harness for eating out.

A bottle for me and a bottle for Andrew

Inside the bag: there are two insulated bottle holders, which fit our SNSs nice and snugly so they won’t fall out into the bag; two nappy pockets, which fit cloth and disposable nappies for a toddler and a baby; pen holder, key clip on elastic, phone pocket (big enough for my iPhone) and small zip pocket, all of which help to keep my personal stuff in an easily reachable place; a padded changing mat, which looks more comfortable to lie on than our previous non-padded foldaway mats; and a zipped wet bag, which holds one cloth nappy or 2 disposables.

Andrew's nappies (left), Joel's nappies (right), keys on elastic (centre). white folded, padded changing mat (centre)
bottle holders (right and left) - one with SNS and one with some Mummy and Andrew snacks in (they make good sturdy pockets eve if you don't need to take baby bottles out with you); phone (centre); changing mat (white with pink trim); change of clothes for both boys (between mat and phone

Ease of carrying (on me/buggy)

The bag has two options for carrying: a detachable, adjustable shoulder strap that is long enough to fit over any pram/buggy handle bars, and fixed handles for carrying in your hand or over your shoulder. I usually put the bag in the basket under the buggy, where it fits nicely, because with our old iCandy buggythe warranty was invalid if you hung anything from the bar, so we didn’t, and even though Bugaboo isn’t so strict on this, I’ve just stayed in old habits. But it’s handy that I can hang the bag if I need the basket for shopping. I did toy with the idea of getting a rucksack changing bag, but as I’m carrying Joel in the sling everywhere, I decided I’d rather carry the weight on the buggy than directly on my body.

The bag just showing from inside the basket under the buggy.

For when I am carrying the bag on me, like when we’re at a group and we go to change a nappy or two, I like the length of the fixed straps – they are long enough to carry on my shoulder and short enough that I can carry in my hand and not scrape it along the floor. It’s handy to have both options, as well as the adjustable shoulder strap.

Hanging from the handle bars

Looks and style

I came across very few changing bags that were made of such pretty fabrics – most were plain colours like black, red, blue or pink. In fact all Pink Lining’s fabrics are their own unique design, and I went for the Blue Bouquet colour scheme because I like the floral design. I love the fact that the bag looks so feminine and stylish (for anyone who’s wondering, Tom now has his own changing bag for when he goes out with Andrew alone – the freebie black one!) As my job is to be a mummy, it makes me feel fashionable in this role, just like I might have a funky bag for going to an office job.

Of course I can’t forget the bright pink lining, which naturally features in all the bags that Pink Lining make. Pink is one of my favourite colours, so it’s very me. But I think it’s great that the outside of the bag (and other colour schemes that Pink Lining make them in) isn’t pink, as I know it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Fabric care

As well as looking good, it’s important for me to be practical, so I was pleased to see that the outer fabric is a cotton/nylon blend coated in PEVA laminate (an environmentally friendly, food-safe vinyl that is made without chlorine or plasticisers). This makes it easy to wipe clean when it inevitably comes into contact with all sorts of mucky stuff – I have two boys after all, one of which already loves muddy trips to the park. Pink Lining do warn though that wiping clean with a damp cloth and some mild detergent will not eliminate all stains that may occur – of course that’s also inevitable, and I would expect a changing bag to get that ‘well used and loved’ look over time.

What I particularly like about this fabric is that it has a matt rather than gloss finish. From a distance you can’t tell it’s laminated, it just looks like untreated cotton fabric. Other wipe-clean changing bags I’ve seen are made of oil-skin fabric, which looks highly glossy, and I found this less appealing.

The lining is 100% nylon, like other changing bags, and is practical and functional (as well as being a lovely colour!)

A slight sheen on the wipe-clean fabric, but not as highly glossy as oil-skin


The higher quality of this bag compared to our previous free ones is very noticeable. The fabrics themselves look durable (of course I won’t know for sure until I’ve used it for a while, but first impressions are positive), and the fastenings and sewing are well executed. I particularly think that the appliqué flowers and ‘Blooming Gorgeous’ writing sewn onto the front pocket give it a high quality look and feel when you get close up. Clearly a lot of effort has gone into making this bag.


With changing bags it seems to be a case of you get what you pay for, so this bag is at the more expensive end of the market at £79 (from This would not be within our normal budget, but we were very generously given quite a bit of money from various people when Joel was born, which they asked us to spend on something we needed for the baby, as they didn’t know what he needed given that he has an older brother to pass things down to him – and they’re right, he has everything! So I saw the changing bag as a practical thing that was worth spending this money on. I did end up getting a generous discount from Pink Lining in exchange for this review, but I was willing to spend the money anyway as I think it’s worth it, if you have the money.


If you’re looking for a high quality changing bag that is both fashionable like a hand bag and practical in size and shape, I definitely recommend this bag. If people ask you what you or baby need because they’d like to give you a useful gift, this would be a great idea, or vouchers for a shop that sells them (e.g. John Lewis).

Disclaimer: I was given a 50% discount off the cost of the bag, but all views expressed are my honest opinions based on my own experience of using the bag.

Little man’s tie for my little man (with tutorial)

I did this bit of craft a while ago (I think around Easter time?), but haven’t got round to blogging it until now given everything else that’s been going on. We’ve been to a couple of weddings recently, and I thought it would be really cute to make a little tie with elastic around the neck for Andrew to wear to them, with a white shirt and smart pair of black trousers. A while ago I bought a metre of a lovely deep green-blue silky material to mend a dress of mine that needed a bit of patching up. That was far more than I needed, and I thought the leftovers would come in useful for something – indeed it’s the perfect fabric for making a little tie. I’ve never made one before, but I figured it couldn’t be that hard. I looked at one of Tom’s ties to figure out how they are made, and came up with a pattern for a smaller ‘fake’ tie – i.e. you don’t need to tie it each time, it looks real but it’s actually a fake knot at the top and held around the neck with elastic. I remember my brother and I both had one like this for school when we were little (ah the days when even primary school uniforms included ties!)

Here are a few pictures of Andrew proudly wearing his little man’s tie for my cousin’s wedding last week. I realise that I made the elastic a bit too long, but I thought it was better to err on the cautious side and not make it too small, and this means there is some growing room. Of course it was incredibly difficult to accurately measure a wriggly toddler around the neck in the first place! He did very well at keeping it on, and despite an initial few minutes of trying to pull it off, he soon got distracted by something else and forgot about it. By the evening of the wedding celebrations, we took it off, but he wasn’t the only one without a tie then – there were some grown men who were also going for the more relaxed, evening look.

Smiley boy 🙂
A side view of the tie
The three of us all colour-coordinated
Andrew and Grandad, both with smart ties!
Andrew and granny, jumping in the air!

Here’s a tutorial for how I made it, in case you’d like to have a go too. It was relatively easy and only took a couple of hours, but was quite fiddly at times due to its small size. First you’ll need to download the pattern here. Note that this is a not to scale pattern, so to make your own you’ll have to draw it out following the measurements given, on an A3 sheet of paper (or two A4 sheets stuck together will work just as well!) Then follow the steps shown by the pictures below. I hope it makes sense – let me know if anything isn’t clear or needs explaining better.

Pin the pattern pieces to your fabric, making sure the edge of the fabric runs parallel to the height (i.e. top to bottom) of the pattern pieces
Cut around the edges of the pattern so that you end up with two pieces of fabric – the main tie bit (piece A) and the knot bit (piece B). Remove the pins and paper.
Cut two more more pieces of fabric using the ends of the pattern piece for the main tie – about 5cm long for the thick end and about 3cm long for the thin end.
Take the ‘A’ piece of fabric and pin the extra thick and thin end bits of fabric at each end, putting right sides together (so the wrong side of the fabric faces outwards).
Sew around the edges of each end (1cm in from the edge, to give a 1cm seam), so that the separate end bits of fabric are fastened securely to piece A. I always position the pins at 90 degrees to the sewing machine foot, so you can sew right over them.
Remove the pins from each end. This picture shows the 1cm seam, with the fabric pieces still wrong sides facing outwards. Cut small slits almost up to the seam at each corner, to help the corners become well-defined when you turn it the right way out. Now turn the end bits the right way out, so that the right side of the fabric is now showing, and the raw edges of the seams are inside the end bits.
Fold piece A (with its now attached extra end bits) in half lengthways, with the right side of the main piece of fabric facing inwards. Pin at regular intervals along the length. Again, position the pins at 90 degrees to the edge of the fabric so you can sew over them. Sew along the length that you’ve just pinned, leaving 1cm gap the edge of the fabric for a 1cm seam.
You now have a tube of fabric, thinner at one end than the other, and with the wrong side of the fabric facing outwards. Turn this tube inside out, by poking the pointed bit of the thinner end down into the tube and pulling it through. Note that this is very tricky, as the tube is so thin at that end. But I eventually got it through, with patience and pulling it through a little at a time. This picture shows piece A pulled the right way through. Iron it at this point, so its nice and flat rather than a circular tube.
Take piece B, with the right side of the fabric facing up. Fold the longer edges over to the back by 1cm. Pin these edges down.
Sew 4cm from each end along the two lengths that you’ve folded, to fasten the folded edges securely at each end. Don’t sew along the whole length, because the seam would then show in the final (fake) knot.
Fold piece A in (roughly) half, so that you get something that looks like a real tie when its tied! I mean a longer, fatter bit at the front, and a shorter, thinner bit at the back. Iron this as it is, to make it easier to adjust piece B around it. Take piece B, and fold it around the top of (now folded) piece A, to create something that looks like a knot, as shown in this picture. Fold the sides at a small angle (rather than straight around the top of piece A) to give this effect.
Carefully remove piece B from around piece A, keeping the folds you made in place. This is what piece B should look like from the back when you remove it from piece A.
Pin the two ends of piece B together, as shown in the picture (I’m finding this quite hard to describe in words, so I think it’s easiest to get it from the picture). There should be a point at which a natural fold forms at the back of the fake knot.
Sew the two ends together along the fold at the back of the fake knot where you pinned it. You can see here that I folded the joined-ends bit over to the left once sewn.
This is what piece B looks like from the front once you’ve sewn the ends together and made the fold in the back. Cut off all the loose threads and neaten up the raw edges of the fabric at this point.
Fold the raw edges of the fabric (shown on the left in the previous picture) into the centre of the knot, a bit like when you’re wrapping a box-shaped present with paper. This picture shows the first step of the fold…..
…. and this picture shows all the excess fabric tucked neatly into the fake knot, so it is no longer visible on the outside. This fabric also gives the fake knot a bit of extra bulk, to make it seem more like a real knot!
This picture is taken from the bottom end of the fake knot, showing that you can still see through it (it’s a small tube), and I’m still holding the excess fabric folded into place as it’s not sewn down yet.
Now you should have 2 pieces that look like this. Piece A is the main bit of the tie, and piece B looks like a knot.
Slide piece B up along piece A from the fat end to the thin end.
Position the top of piece A (the bit where the whole thing is folded in half) underneath the folded over top edge of piece B. Hand stitch along the top of piece B to fasten piece A into place. Don’t sew through all the way to the front, just catch the folded over bit of piece B (shown here) to piece A.
Measure some elastic around your little man’s neck, to get the right size, allowing 1cm at each end to attach it to the fabric. Hand stitch each end of the elastic to each side of the fake knot. Again, be careful not to sew all the way through to the front, but just catch it onto the folded over edge of piece B, like you did when stitching pieces A and B together.
Finally, close up the top of the knot, trapping all excess threads, raw edges of fabric and elastic inside the knot. Do this by hand stitching neatly along the top of the folded over edges of piece B on the back, so any thread shows only on the back of the fake knot.
And there’s the finished tie! Now it’s ready to be worn by one smart little man 🙂



Crafts on Sea