How to make a baby soccer ball

Posted April 27th, 2010 in crafts, folio by Mitsy

I wanted to make Sonya a fabric soccer ball. (For Rice alums and chemistry nerds, it’s a buckminsterfullerene molecule or “buckyball“).

While I know that other people have surely made these before, I couldn’t find any online tutorials, so I made my own template, which you can download here.

First order of business: cut out 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons from a variety of fabric scraps.  (I glued the template shapes to cardboard in order to make them sturdier for repeated tracing).

Then, I used tailor’s chalk to outline my 1/4 inch seam allowance on the wrong side of all the beautiful shapes. I just happened to have a stack of purple batik print fat quarters in my craft drawer for years, waiting for this project!

Then I carefully started piecing the shapes together, using my marks for the seam allowance to start and stop 1/4 inch from each edge.  I used a really short stitch length (1.6 was the smallest my machine does), and I slooooowed down the speed.

First, I sewed a pentagon and a hexagon, right sides together.  Then I opened those up, and started going around attaching hexagons until I had a flower— a pentagon center with five hexagon petals.

The first trick to making a soccer ball is to add new shapes from left to right.  For example, after attaching the first hexagon petal, attach the second petal to the first hexagon, then to the pentagon center.  When you sew the second petal to the pentagon, you fold the first hexagon corner inwards and sew carefully on the marked line you drew for the seam allowance to make a nice, sharp corner where the three shapes meet.

The second trick is to have the pieced-together shapes right side up, and then whichever shape is being sewn next should be placed wrong side up so that you can see the drawn line for the seam allowance.  It sounds complicated, but it makes sense after you do it for awhile—

Whenever I had to attach a pentagon, I started with the left petal, then worked my way around, always creasing the previous petal inwards to make the next 1/4-inch seam.  I just chose pieces at random, trying not to have two shapes cut out of the same fabric touch, but if you wanted to plan out how the fabric pieces attach, this is how a soccer ball looks unfolded:

Eventually, the project became 3D! I could see the makings of a deflated sphere! And I kept adding pieces until I came to the last tricky-to-attach pentagon.  Then I sewed up three sides of this last shape on the machine and then gently stuffed the ball with polyfill.

To finish up the ball, I found this great tutorial. I had to use a few pins to hold the seams in place, but my ladder stitch was nearly invisible.  Drex had to turn the ball over in his hands a few times before he found the last pentagon.

Hooray! It turned out beautifully! The finished ball measures 30 inches in circumference, or roughly 19 inches in diameter.

44 days until the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa!

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It has been decided.

Posted April 26th, 2010 in adventures by Mitsy

September 1st— back to work. Better dust off my stethoscope!

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Something special for small hands

Posted April 26th, 2010 in crafts by Mitsy

Sonya is like me— she doesn’t like to sit still.  And when she’s forced to sit still, she fidgets with her hands.

So since we have a lot of plane flights this summer, I wanted to make her something— to keep her busy.

First, I got inspired by these ribbons.  Real Canadian, eh?  They’re different textures, too! Velvet, grosgrain, and satin to keep little fingers busy.

Sonya helped get the project started by unspooling all the ribbon.  Velvet was a favorite— so soft to touch.

I followed a fabulous tutorial for making a baby tag blanket found here. This is an easy-to-make afternoon sewing project that provides tremendous satisfaction—

The finished project looks a little Canadian Christmasy, but after investing in four spools of sale-bin ribbon, I wanted to economize even more by using a scrap from my craft drawer. The end result, with the asymmetrical folded ribbons?— well, it looks holly jolly to me.

And in just a few days, Sonya’s tag blankie has already developed signs of love— wrinkles, stains, and a few well-chewed tags. And that brings a lot of joy to a young mother’s heart.

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Posted April 22nd, 2010 in adventures, inspiration by Mitsy

This week, I have to make a tough decision.

I’ve been accepted to the residency program at McGill to finish my training in pediatrics. The program has been extremely understanding, and will allow me to postpone starting until September, when Sonya will be almost fifteen months. By then, I should feel comfortable leaving her in daycare, right?

Drex and I’ve been going back and forth, pros and cons flying like ping pong balls late into the evening, discussing the possibility of postponing, but knowing that a now-or-never opportunity presents itself.

We’ll make sure she goes to the best daycare, staffed with nurturing women who might even provide more enrichment to a curious infant’s mind than one mother alone could do. Sonya’s days will be filled with fun and friends.

This decision is so hard. I don’t know how to make it.

A few nights ago, after we were done making intellectual assessments of the situation and we had moved on to emotional evaluations, Drex made a profound observation:

Zen moment: I probably could have had someone else taking care of me, and I would have turned into a great and successful person if Mom had gone to work. But I can’t say for sure, because Mom stayed home with me. And that made me who I am. And looking back, it could have been someone else whose mark was put on my life. But it wasn’t. It was Mom’s. It was her mark on my life.

Well, we both cried and reflected on that piece of wisdom for a while.

Subsequently, I’ve thought a lot about those words.

It makes me think of high-quality paper. When you hold the paper to the light, it has a recognizable image that can faintly be made out— the watermark. Most of the time a person doesn’t notice it, and as the paper gets used, written on or scribbled on, it becomes harder to see.

And so if you look beneath what age and education have written across the pages of our existence, you can discern the undeniable and unerasable watermark that our mothers put into our lives.

And of course, this is not to say that as a working mom, I wouldn’t make an impression on Sonya’s life. After all, she’s my daughter. It’s just that there will be other watermarks, too.

And maybe that’s a beautiful thing.

So I don’t know what the future holds, but life is about taking chances and following dreams.

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A Hipstamatic study of Miss Sonya

Posted April 20th, 2010 in inspiration by Mitsy

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Gumchops gets a tooth!

Posted April 20th, 2010 in adventures by Mitsy

Over the weekend, Sonya got a tooth, or really the edge of a tooth. The left lower incisor is peeking out through her pink gummies. According to a dental diagram in one of my anatomy books, it’s called Tooth #24.

I noticed it on the car ride back from Boston when she woke up from a nap, hollering. (This was more from being strapped into her rear-facing “Adventure Seat” than the emerging tooth).

Sonya is one tough customer.  She hasn’t been fussy or whiny about this teething business. So far.

Now ever since Baby Sonya became a connoisseur of fine purees at six months of age, we’ve given her the nickname Gumchops the Lap Dragon. Pretty soon, just like Eaterbot, this nickname will have to be retired for a new one. Currently, Drex has suggested Toofums the Lap Dragon.

Here is our ferocious lap dragon during last night’s dinner, gnawing on the remnants of a chicken bone. She especially enjoys snicker-snacking down on the ends.  And yup, Twofums is still nursing two to three times a day.  Chomp chomp chomp.

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Learning couture

Posted April 12th, 2010 in crafts, inspiration by Mitsy

Last week, when faced with the lack of a babysitter, I dressed Sonya as a bear, put her on my back, and went to the atelier where I’m learning the art of couture.

Which basically means I’m going to a sewing school to learn how to make well-tailored garments, although I think it sounds much more alluring in French!

Which is handy, because in the atelier, we speak only French, merci beaucoup.

Or in my case, some version of it.

So in addition to my usual headache from trying to comprehend what is being said (there’s a lot of specialized vocabulary and fast speaking going on), this week I also got a backache while trying to put together my high-waisted knee-length animal-print (is it cheetah? is it leopard?) pencil skirt.

Hopefully, I’ll finish it this week and take it for a catwalk around the park.

* Photo credit goes to mon amie Chantal, who is taking these classes with me.

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Making a baby quilt out of receiving blankets

Posted April 11th, 2010 in crafts by Mitsy

Last week, Sonya and I hosted a baby shower for one of our ex-pat friends who is due at the end of the month, and we made a baby quilt, which can be put together in one afternoon.  Of course, my little helper and I had to work on it in short intervals across three afternoons. Still, not bad. We have other important things to do every day, like sort blocks and stomp on leaves.

Organic cotton fabric can be pricey, but I found a pack of receiving blankets: budget-friendly, machine-washable, and already color-coordinated! Bingo!

We didn’t know if the quilt would be for a boy or a girl, so we decided on neutral beige colors. The fabrics were very soft.

Then we made our own binding strip.  It really was a team effort. And very satisfying to channel some creative energy into a finished product.  I think the mom-to-be definitely appreciated it!

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Hipstamatic iPhone App

Posted April 6th, 2010 in inspiration by Mitsy

This just makes me so happy.

The Hipstamatic for iPhone is an application that brings back the look, feel, unpredictable beauty, and fun of plastic toy cameras from the past.

And I find the story behind it quite interesting.

Hideki Ohmori beautifully describes the appeal of lo-fi photography in an interview for Wired:

We do not always want a faithful representation of reality. Sometimes we yearn for a dream.

These six photos document our two-hour journey home on the Greyhound bus this afternoon. The Hipstamatic settings were: Kaimal Mark II lens, Kodot Verichrome film, no flash. You can click on each of the pictures in the strips to look at a close-up. If you get the Hipstamatic app, I would love to see your photos!

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Ottawa: Easter weekend

Posted April 6th, 2010 in adventures by Mitsy

We enjoyed hanging out with my aunt’s family in Ottawa. On Saturday, my cousin Annie gave us a downtown tour of Canada’s capital (here’s Sonya in front of Parliament).

The past four days, we all basically hung out, ate a lot of food, and went for walks to off-set the calorie consumption.

Then Sunday morning, we had a terrific Easter egg hunt. Miss Sonya has developed quite the pincer grasp! She pinched little foil-covered Cadbury eggs in her teeny hands and then we had to pry them gently into the Easter basket.

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