Saturday, October 26, 2013

Chicken Jacket

OK, so it has been forever since my last post and that is because we bought a farm! So add farm chores to my already long list of things to do and crafting pretty much stops all together! Well, that is not entirely true... instead of making baby clothes and cloth diapers I have been making animal things. Today I am talking about a warm winter coat for our hen "Broody" who was given to us this summer. She lived on a farm with far to many roosters and she was bred so often that her entire back was bare. No feathers. So this summer I made her a thin rooster saddle aka hen apron so when our rooster would breed with her he wouldn't hurt her. It looked like this:

Cute right!? Well my hope was that this would help with her feathers growing back and it did but just not enough... or not fast enough anyway. This is poor broody without her apron:

Kinda tough to tell because her skin is nearly the same color as her feathers but her back is still completely bare. Temps this morning were in the 30's and I just can't let poor Broody out in the cold half naked! So I switched things up a bit and made her a nice thick winter jacket using the same method as the thin apron. So whether you need to make a thick coat or a simple apron for your hen, this pattern will work!

Broody is a full size Buff Orpington hen. If you are working with a bantum you will have different measurements and such. You will want the total length of your jacket to stretch from the base of her neck to about mid-tail. And when measuring for the width (have a helper handy!) lift the wings and measure about an inch or two past each side where the wings will cover. For Broody that was about 8in long and 6in wide. For the straps you will want to measure from under the wing by her chest to the other side of her neck.

The shape we are going for here looks something like a hot air balloon. A somewhat thin part followed by a big round and then your straps. Something like this:

Now, you are going to need 2 of each. I have chosen fleece because it is warm and wicks away wetness. When I did the thinner apron I used a cute quilters fabric and backed it with an ugly but strong canvas so it was both cute but also strong so the rooster's nails and spurs wouldn't bother her. I do have cute colors and patterns for my fleece but I chose this color because it closely matches my bird and winter is coming and the places to hide from hawks are losing their leaves so I didn't want to put a big bulls-eye on Broody.

If your fabric has a right and wrong side you will be facing your right sides together to get started. Then we will turn, top stitch, stuff (if you plan to) add the straps...

Anyway, start with your jacket like this and work your way from one side to the other without closing up the top.

After you have stitched all around, turn through the opening in the top and stuff if you are going to stuff. I lightly stuffed with some down from another bird we processed a while back. Gotta make use of all the parts right! Did you know that 7lbs of feathers in your compost pile = 1lb of nitrogen for your garden once composted! It also makes for super warm stuffing in a chicken jacket!

After you lightly stuff (I am talking one handful of whatever you are using poly-fill, down, wool ect) then fold in the top so that the edge will be uniform with the rest after you top stitch.  Then you will be ready to in your straps and top stitch all around. Depending on your material you will need to add the extra step of hemming your straps. I used fleece which does not require hemming so I did not hem my straps. I did fold them at the base where it connects but I didn't hem because I want them to be nice and wide across Broody's chest to keep her extra warm!

Sidenote: you can also add a little loop of ribbon in between the straps so that your apron/jacket could double as a chicken harness that could be clipped to a leash!
After you have top stitched if you are just making a simple apron then you can jump to adding on your fasteners. Or if you have added stuffing then you can get creative with quilting a bit. I did a simple criss-cross pattern after I spread the stuffing evenly around inside. Then I folded over the ends of my straps and hemmed there so that it would be double layer where I would be adding my snaps.

This is to show how the straps will go. Lay yours out, look at it and make sure you put your snaps on the way you want them!
And now for the snaps! You can use velcro or buttons here if you want instead. I enjoy the durability of snaps and I conveniently have a snap press so that is what I went with. Because these are wide straps I also did double snaps on each side but you can do one snap if your straps are less wide. If you do snaps you will need 4 caps and 2 of each inside pieces for the snaps. If you do double snaps (2 on each strap) then you will need 8 caps, 4 of each inside piece for the snaps.

First you will poke a hole (your snap press should come with a hole poker, if not use a thick yarn needle)

The take your cap and and poke the sharp end through. Decide if you need a male or female inner part for your snap (I did male parts for my straps and female parts for my apron) and line up the inner piece. Then put the cap into the black part of your snap press (be sure you have the right side, or it can make your snap not snap properly). Line things up and squish as hard as you can!

Tada! Now do this to the other strap and then to the apron. You may or may not want to wait til sunset when your bird goes to roost so you can put it on her... or you can just chase her around for a while and hope to catch her! Take your time and lay it on her back, gently lift the wing so it lays over the coat, bring the strap around from the opposite side to they will criss-cross against her chest, snap the snaps and let her fluff herself out! Now your bird is nice and toasty or just has a good cover for when her rooster decides it's baby makin' time!

I snatched Broody up this morning when she walked out of the coop and she was super warm with her new coat on! Now: if your birds already have feathers and you just think they might be cold this winter do not make your bird a coat. Broody got this coat because she has NO feathers. A fully feathered grown hen will grow in extra feathers for winter. Adding a supplemental heat via heat lamp or coat will prevent your bird from growing in that extra layer of feathers and will actually make her colder (if you take the coat off). I ended up making the straps on Broody's coat way too long... long enough to criss-cross in front and then tie in a bow on the back. I will shorten them on a day when it isn't too cold so she isn't without he coat for too long!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Woven Wraps Revisited

Its been well over a year since I first wrote my Woven wrap baby carrier post and even more importantly I am a second time mom and maybe a bit more seasoned at this point. It's also my most viewed blog post so I thought it was time to revisit the DIY woven wrap subject. I have in fact learned a great deal in my babywearing and DIY baby carrier "career". So first off lets just come out and call a spade a spade. Name brand woven wraps are expensive! Even used these simple strips of fabric can cost you $300... or google "pamir" and let the jaw dropping begin... these limited editions are procured by auction and sell for over $1,000. Let me be clear here, this is a sheet of fabric that your little baby is going to puke, snot, and possibly poop on! This is a sheet of fabric that is going to drag on the ground while you wrap your squirming toddler in the walmart parking lot. If you are adventurous like me, this is a piece of fabric which will go hiking with you and get snagged on trees and dropped in mud. It will be dragged from your living room to your kitchen by your sick toddler who needs snuggle time while you need to cook spaghetti. I don't judge anyone for spending however much they chose on a wrap or carrier of any kind at all. But for me, I don't think I could live with myself if I knew I ruined a $1,000 piece of fabric.

How DIY is Different From Specially Designed Woven Wraps

Not all wovens are really that expensive though. Sometimes you can find a good price on a used wrap. Don't be put off by the "used" condition... a used wrap is usually outrageously blankety soft and broken in. There are some brands or even different weaves and blends of the same brand that will fetch a different price. What makes a name brand woven wrap any different from your DIY wrap? Well that list could go on forever but suffice it to say that a name brand wrap is made specifically for babywearing. These are companies/designers/people who have studied the art of weaving and have used their knowledge to create something specifically meant to carry babies. Different weaves accomplish different things. For example, a diamond weave will be a bit more supportive than a simple twill weave. And then there are the countless fiber combination options. Cotton is soft and blankety but can lack some support for heavier babies or very extended periods. Silk is strong and soft but delicate and requires special washing. Wool is also strong and soft and warm but again, special washing. Hemp is outrageously strong and supportive for heavy babies and extended wear. Linen is also outrageously strong and often referred to as "beastly" in the babywearing world. Bamboo is usually described as "marshmallows" and for good reason! It is so very very soft but it can be less supportive. Also as a viscous material bamboo can be susceptible to damage when saturated, so extra care should be taken when removing from the washer! Even within the different fibers themselves content differs and offers even more countless options and differences! You can easily lose yourself completely in the world of woven baby carriers!

I now own three name brand wraps. A very well used (got it in a trade) dolcino bali 100% cotton which has been chopped to a size three (we will talk sizes and acronyms later). Also used, Linuschka Kalejdoskop Lila 100% linen in size 6. And also used again, a Natibaby Pearl Pancy 20% linen 80% bamboo in a size 6. I have made countless DIY woven wraps and while you can make a great DIY wrap you can't really compare a DIY to a wrap woven specifically for babywearing.

Chosing the Right Fabric for Your DIY Woven Wrap

My go to fabric for a DIY wrap is linen. It is strong and supportive and a good safe material. You really can't go wrong with a linen if you are DIYing a wrap. We live where the summers can be outrageously hot though and so in the summer I love a gauze wrap! But gauze can be "diggy" on your shoulders and baby's legs if you do a sloppy wrap job or wear for a long period. If you want to mimic the name brand woven material you will be best suited to check out the upholstery fabric section. Be careful there though... avoid all polyester and poly blends. They are just too "slippery". A 100% cotton is nice as is linen but linen upholstery is very rare. Look for a simple or diamond twill weave or some jacquard weaves. Also avoid all quilters cotton. It's not supportive or safe.

DIY Wrap Sizing

Since most wrap weavers are in Europe they are sized in meters which can be a little confusing when you want to DIY a wrap. Here's the conversion to help you along.

size 2 - 2.7 meters = 2.95 yards = 8.86 feet = 102.36 inches
size 3 - 3.1 meters = 3.4 yards = 10.17 feet = 122.05 inches
size 4 - 3.6 meters = 3.94 yards = 11.81 feet = 141.73 inches
size 5 - 4.2 meters = 4.6 yards = 13.78 feet = 165 inches
size 6 - 4.6 meters = 5 yards = 15.09 feet = 181.10 inches
size 7 - 5.2 meters = 5.7 yards = 17.06 feet = 204.72 inches
size 8 – 5.60 meters = 6.1 yards = 18.37 feet = 220.47 inches

Most brands widths are also measured in the metric system and vary between 64cm (25.2in) and 77cm (30.3in). Some of the thicker wraps are not as wide because they'd be too overwhelming. A thinner wrap can be quite wide or not. I prefer a wide wrap especially when wrapping my toddler! Most material on the bolt is 45-60in wide. So you can potentially get 2 wraps from one piece. When I get 60in wide material I split right down the middle and have two wraps 30in wide each. If the material I want is only 45in wide I still cut to the 30in wide and I use the remaning 15in width to make a wrap for my daughter or I find something else to do with it. You could even get really exciting and buy 5 yards to make yourself a size 6 wrap and with the other half of your material you can make two ring slings! Three baby carriers for way less than the price of one!

A wrap is the most versatile baby carrier you can get because the possibilities are nearly endless. There is a bit of a learning curve though and some people just get frustrated and find something less time consuming. The best thing about a woven wrap is the safety and structure is in how you wrap it! It's a simple piece of cloth and it is safe to use because you are going to tie it on there properly. Even a beginner seamstress can make a perfectly safe and wonderful wrap. A beginner may not want to make a ring sling or a mei tai but a wrap is just a rectangle with hemmed edges and anyone can do that! Here are a few pictures of some of my favorite carries in some of my wraps!

poppins hip carry in a size 3 dolcino

rear rebozo ruck with a knottless chest belt in dolchino (video below!)

ruck in a DIY gauze size 3

front wrap cross in a DIY linen size 4

rebozo slip knot in a DIY gauze size 2

When I find the time I will add some videos of my favorite carries. But right now my babywearing model is asleep in my lap!