My first sewing project – A Belly Band!

I finally had time this weekend to complete my first sewing project!  I decided to make something simple (although simple is relative) and functional – and I ended up with a pretty cool belly band that is comfy, made of really nice material, and way cheaper than any store bought version that you can buy! First, I brought out my basic sewing stuff, my bent 9 1/2 inch dressmaking shears and new pinking shears:

And my self-healing mat, ruler, and rotary cutter:

To make the belly band, I picked this great tutorial to follow and started out by cutting out my spandex (purchased at Expressions Glorietta).  I decided to make my belly band that is 35 inches wide and 8 inches across (adjust this according to your preference)  since I don’t really like full panel maternity wear. You can adjust according to your size and fabric but I think 35 inches is safe especially if the fabric you have stretches a lot.  Given these measurements, I cut out a 36 x 17 inch piece of fabric, allowing for a 1/2 inch seam allowance on each side.  Tip for extreme beginners like me: make the seam allowance a little wider since you might be making some mistakes along the way both when you cut and sew the fabric!

It was more difficult than I expected to cut this out since I’m not used to working with fabric, much less a stretchy one that curls around a lot and is impossible to mark with the white dressmaker chalk pencil that I tried to use.  The rotary cutter was a godsend for this one.

Once I had the fabric cut out, I folded it in half lengthwise and pressed it to make it a bit easier to work with.  Then, I basted the fabric together by hand using white thread as a guide for me when I got to sewing the seams.  I did this since I couldn’t mark the surface with dressmaker’s chalk and I knew it would be pretty difficult to sew a 35-inch long straight line.

Then, I finally started getting ready to actually sew!  I set up my Brother CE8080 (I think it’s exactly the same as the CE8080 Project Runway version only without the PRW label since I got it in Canada instead of the US) on a desk and plugged it in.  The manual was pretty straightforward, so I just followed all the threading instructions and pretty soon I was ready to begin sewing.  I started by sewing test stitches on some scrap fabric first, then I went back to sewing the first seam on my belly band.  🙂  The tutorial specifies using a zigzag stitch so I started with that, but it was difficult since the  fabric started to bunch up a bit.  So I took out the first stitches with my seam ripper and went with a stretch stitch which worked out better for me.  🙂  I went pretty slow, since sewing in a straight line is harder than it sounds!!!  But pretty soon, I had a long tube like this:

I turned it right side out, matched up the inner seams, and started stitching it closed.  I did this slowly since the fabric was twisted around because of the tube shape.

When I was getting close to the other end, I hand stitched it closed.

And voila!  My finished first sewing project, my very own belly band!  🙂

Given this experience, here are 5 things to consider when working on your first sewing project:

  1. It’s probably best to work with cotton or some non-stretchy fabric for a first project (the spandex worked out for me but not without some struggling)
  2. Test whatever stitches you intend to use on scrap fabric similar to your project so you can see how the fabric reacts.  This could have saved me the time I spent ripping out my zigzag stitches
  3. Slightly increase your seam allowance unless you’re confident that you can follow the guide exactly
  4. Related to number 3, basting is a quick, easy way to get a guide for straight seams for beginners – and you can be sure your fabric won’t move around
  5. Just do it!  No matter how much you read, and I read a lot, it’s totally different – and fun and fulfilling – once you start actually doing it!

The Belly Band vs the Belly Belt…For the belly bumps out there!

When I first found out I was pregnant, I had somewhat mixed emotions.  It’s not that I wasn’t happy to be having our first baby but there were so many questions like “Am I ready for this?”  and “Will I be a good mom?”

But like many first time moms, my anxieties quickly turned into pure joy and excitement…not to mention that being pregnant is an awesome excuse to shop because things don’t fit you anymore (although that in itself is somewhat stressful sometimes…I’m sure you ladies out there know what I mean).  Two of my first purchases when I was around 2 months pregnant were the Belly band and the Belly belt in preparation for when I couldn’t zip my jeans up anymore.   I didn’t want to wear maternity jeans since I couldn’t find any that fit me well here in Manila.  I got both of these at Havin a Baby or HAB in Greenbelt 5.

It’s been 4 months since then and I’d like to share my experiences with these two products with all of you!

The Belly Band

The Belly Band costs around 500 pesos (around 12 USD) and you wear it over your unzipped jeans.  It’s pretty long, I folded it in half for this picture:

It looks like this when you wear it over your jeans:

Pros:  Easy to use, comfortable, looks good under normal shirts or clothes, it just looks like you have a tank top under your shirt.  Full coverage and you don’t worry about your jeans falling down since it’s pretty snug.

Cons: Can feel a little hot for Manila weather since it’s stretchy, full panel fabric and it sometimes rides up a bit when I sit down.

The Belly Belt

The Belly Belt costs 1,100 (around 25 USD) but I think I got it on sale.  It looks like this and comes with extra pieces for you to extend your jeans or slacks.

As your tummy gets bigger, you wear the belt with a fabric cover in the middle to cover any skin that might be showing, like so:

Pros:  Comes with different size belts for you to use as your tummy gets bigger, I really like the concept.  When you use this for slacks, the black fabric cover is all right but still a bit bulky.

Cons:  You’re supposed to use the first, smallest belt when your tummy isn’t that big yet, but I found it left an awkward gap that showed some skin above my underwear since the fabric doesn’t fit in the smallest belt.  I also find that the buttons on the belt are quite small for jeans so they keep coming off, and the fabric covers are bulky and too long (you have to stuff them into your pants).  I’ve only used this once or twice since I don’t have jeans that exactly fit the color of the fabric covers so I have to wear longer shirts to cover up the waist area which makes me just want to use the Belly Band instead.

The Verdict:  Belly Band all the way!

I looked up some tutorials and I’m thinking recreating this on my own might even be my first sewing project since it looks pretty simple to make.  I’m just rounding up the sewing stuff I need and getting acquainted with my new sewing machine through browsing through the operation manual in my free time.  🙂

Music for Baby – a Bellybuds review

Every mommy wants to do everything perfectly during her pregnancy to give her baby the best headstart possible in life.  This is why I purchased Bellybuds through Amazon after much research on all the contraptions that allow your baby to listen to music in the womb. I’m not sure if they really do work in terms of enhancing mental development since there’s no definitive research proving or disproving that playing music to the baby in the womb does make a difference later in life.  But I figure it couldn’t hurt and besides, she seems to like it, well at least that’s how I interpret all her kicking and thumping around whenever I play some music.  Our baby listens to baby Mozart and nursery rhymes, you can get CDs in any Odyssey or SM for around 100-300 Php for a compilation.  We bought our CDs in Odyssey Greenbelt 1 and SM Makati.  She also gets a little Metallica and Coldplay every now and then for good measure!  🙂

I’m not quite sure how loud I’m supposed to play music for the baby but I figure the sound has to travel through my skin and all the fluid surrounding her so I make it a little louder than I’m used to.  She gets her music fix for around 30 minutes a day during the evenings when she’s wide awake.

Bellybuds come with a pouch, additional adhesive rings, silicon covers, and an audio splitter so you can listen to your baby’s music too.

Bellybuds, neoprene storage pouch, audio splitter

Pros:  Quick, convenient way for baby to listen to music no matter where you are.  Just plug them into your iPod, iPhone or computer and you’re good to go.  When you’re done, the pouch slips easily into your purse!  I find these less conspicuous than the music belts that I’ve seen online.  Adhesives allow the Bellybuds to stick easily to your tummy but I prefer to use them under my maternity pants to keep them in place instead.

Cons:  You have to change the adhesives every now and then and refills cost extra.  But you don’t really need to buy them if you secure them with your maternity pants.  Also, don’t lose the white peanut shaped thing that the Bellybuds are mounted on or you won’t have any place to store them without damaging the adhesives.  Here’s a picture of the adhesive portion of the Bellybuds:

All in all, I highly recommend them for any expectant mommy.  We are hoping that she turns from her current footling breech position to cephalic before she’s ready to come out.  A lot of the reviews online say that playing music is effective in helping a breech baby to turn since babies apparently try to move their heads towards the music.  I’m skeptical but hopefully it works!

Update:  Our baby changed her position from breech to cephalic around 3 weeks after I started using the Bellybuds.  There’s no way to conclude what exactly made her turn, but we’re just happy she did!  🙂