Tag Archives: sewing for baby

Jungle Safari Diaper Cake and Sleep Sack

13 Mar

Our friend Kay and her husband (who works with Mr. Right) got a positive pregnancy test about six weeks after we found out that Vivian would be joining our family. They aren’t finding out the gender of Vivian’s future playmate, instead opting to go with a gender-neutral jungle safari theme for the new baby’s nursery. Of course, this gave me an excuse to go to JoAnn Fabric and find some appropriate material for a sleep sack:

I’m co-hosting Kay’s baby shower with another girlfriend, who is due a few weeks after Kay (and whose husband also works with Mr. Right). We’re sticking with the jungle safari theme for Kay’s shower, too. On Friday I had the good fortune of having no obligations other than a morning appointment with my OB, and gathered the supplies to make an appropriately-decorated diaper cake. Whew, diapers are expensive! We’re planning on using cloth diapers with Vivian and had already done plenty of research about cost savings, but I still had sticker shock looking at the shelves of disposables. Fortunately, the store’s generic brand happened to perfectly match Kay’s shower motif.

Fun, isn’t it? I’m looking forward to putting the rest of the shower together. And to more sewing for babies – I’m considering making some matching bunting to welcome Kay’s shower guests and will definitely sew a couple of bibs out of the leftover sleep sack fabric! Meanwhile, I have yet another scrappy sleep sack for Viv waiting to be sewn up, and need to start thinking about sewing for A’s baby, too. And then there’s that whole school thing… So much to do! Seven weeks until finals and seven weeks until Vivian’s due date. Yikes!


Vintage Vivian: Bib Sewing Tutorial

5 Feb

Simplicity 3043

On Thursday afternoon I decided to pull out a few of my most recent vintage pattern acquisitions and see what I could make of them. Of the three envelopes I chose, the first was strictly toddler patterns (making the size-season guesstimation a little bit risky), and the second contained lots of fancy things involving pin tucks (I have neither the material collection nor the patience to mess with tiny garments that appear to be part of intricate baptismal sets), but the third envelope, Simplicity 3043 from 1949, appeared to be just about right in terms of complication and cuteness. Sort of. Upon closer inspection, the simple patterns for baby shirts and swaddling bags seemed almost too simple, and in definite need of fancier fabrics than what I had on hand. So, I decided to sew a bib. I’m not sure what about it is especially vintage, other than the fact that it’s cut from an old pattern, because different decades don’t exactly have distinct bib shapes. Oh, well. It’s cute even if it doesn’t scream retro awesome and I’m sure it will come in handy.

If you want to make one too, you’ll need at least 10″ each of two varieties of fabric, and around 1/2 a pack of double fold bias tape that’s either 1/4″ or 1/2″ wide*. Here is the pattern – just print it out; it’s full-sized and doesn’t require any adjusting, although the very top and bottom edges are cut off (but not enough to make any difference).

Short version of directions: Sew a length of bias tape all the way around the outer edge of the bib, then repeat for the inner (neck) section, using long piece of tape so that you have a couple of ties. Or, just sew the tape all the way around the bib and use a snap for closure. (I haven’t tried the snap version, but I have full confidence in the ability of snaps – especially the no-sew variety – to triumph in just about any issue involving closing stuff.)

More in-depth directions:

Step 1: Cut two pieces of fabric (a front and a back) on fold. I used leftover flannel for the back and an old Amy Butler cotton for the front. I’ve also used old towels for bib backing with nice results.

Step 1: Cut fabric

Step 1.5 (optional): Baste with 1/4″ seam allowance around entire bib edge. I skipped this step because my fabrics weren’t sliding around on each other and because I’m lazy all about expediency.

Step 2: Pin bias tape around outer edge of bib and sew on fold closest to bib edge.

Pin bias tape around outer edge of bib

Step 3: Fold newly-sewn bias tape over raw edges and stitch in place. I like to sew from the front side, just inside the bias tape. You can also “stitch in the ditch” if you want your sewing to be less obvious.

Stitch over bias tape to secure folded tape

Step 4: Your next length of bias tape should be somewhat longer than the remaining raw edge of the fabric as you’ll need it to serve as a tie, too. Find the center of your length of bias tape and begin pinning in the center of the neck of the bib. Sew only the part of the bias tape that is pinned to the fabric. If you’re having trouble positioning the tape at the corners, check out this awesome tutorial from Smashed Peas and Carrots.

Pin bias tape around neck hole with excess for ties

Step 5: Cut notches around the curve, flip your bias tape over the raw edge, pin, and – beginning at the very end of your bias tape, sew again.

Finished bib! Hooray, bib!

Voila – you should have a cute little bib! *If you’ve used 1/2″ bias tape, it may be a little bit sticky-outy around the neck. If this bothers you, use the 1/4″ version for a more subtle effect:

Bib with 1/4" bias tape

Original Inspiration For My Sleep Sack Sewing Binge

28 Jan

Friday is for finishing, and indeed, I finished another sleep sack for Vivian.

Lining and Label

The pink and green paisley patterned flannel is actually what got me started on the idea to sew sleep sacks in the first place – I found it at Joann Fabrics a while ago and was so smitten with the delicate yet bold design that I had to make something with it, and the only something I could think of that called for any sort of flannel was Anna Maria Horner’s sleep sack design.

An early Valentine's Day present...

Now that I’ve used the pattern a few times, the sewing goes along pretty quickly. In an effort to be even speedier I used my machine to sew the bias tape down – and, while it’s not terrible, I think the stitching looks too obvious. Next time I’ll stick to hand-sewing it for a nice, professional look. While this is the last sleep sack I’m planning on making for Vivian, I have two friends who are expecting, so I’m looking forward to making more of them in the future.

Sweet flower detail

Notice the tomato plant in the middle photo? It’s been growing in our breakfast nook for well over a year now – and, it’s finally starting to flower, too!

Trying New Things: Anna Maria Horner’s Sleep Sack Pattern

10 Jan

Viv’s quilt is well under way. I was a little bit anxious about hand quilting it, but chose to do so because I really wanted to put some time into it. And, it turns out that quilting is actually pretty meditative. I’ve finished the center and just have to choose a border and trace it onto the fabric, then quilt and sew on the binding.

I’m also working on some sleep sacks. The quilt is really rather large for a baby (I chose to make it toddler-sized, 42″x60″) and will probably serve more as a decoration than actual baby bedding, which makes me a little bit anxious. Besides, we live in Texas, and by the time Viv arrives the temperature will likely be in the 70s, if not higher.

The sleep sack pattern is from Anna Maria Horner’s Handmade Beginnings. Originally, I was planning on using a plain fabric instead of the patchwork, but I’ve had a couple of 5″ fabric charm collections sitting around for several years now, and this is a perfect use for them. With a 1/4″ seam allowance I managed to get a piece of patchwork fabric 19.25″ wide by 24″ long – but cutting out the pattern is much easier if you do it like this:

I’m loving all of this sewing, and am sort of sad that I’ll be returning to school tomorrow. My Tuesday/Thursday schedule should still allow me plenty of time for crafting, but I’m anticipating spending a good chunk of the week hunched over calculus homework. Guess we’ll see!

The Beginnings of a Wardrobe

4 Jan

One of my best friends, who has an eight-month-old son, recently advised me not to bother buying any clothing for Vivian, as she maintains that excited family members and loved ones will likely give Viv all that she needs for the first several months. She’s probably right (we’ve already had several generous packages arrive on the porch as mounting proof) and as a sort of compromise I’ve decided to focus mainly on sewing for Viv and thrifting vintage baby clothing. Taking full advantage of the last week of winter break, I went out on the hunt yesterday. While our city is sorely lacking the kind of cheap yet overflowing-with-goodness antique and thrift stores that I swear exist out there somewhere, I did come home with a few neat things:


Exhibit A: Sewing patterns, found for $0.50 each. Not a bad deal, although I haven’t had a chance to look through and make sure that all of the pattern pieces are present. I’m looking forward to trying a few of these out. And learning how to sew a French Seam, which is, according to one set of directions, absolutely essential for baby sewing. I might have a sewing machine foot that does something like it, but I don’t know. My machine dates back to at least the 70s, and some well-meaning sewing technician (after thoughtfully comparing it to a “Model T that’s nice to have around but not an everyday driver”) recently sold me a magical converter shank for snap-on feet (since it’s unlikely that feet for my machine have been produced since sometime around the year I was born) and a bunch of new-fangled Brother parts that are nice and shiny and completely foreign to me. I’m pretty sure they do stuff. Like seams.


Exhibit B: Two little dresses, purchased together for $6.00. The blue dress had some black stains. I had some bleach. I won. I’m making it my mission to find more cute little dresses like these. They were nearly as inexpensive as the well-worn and obviously stained Old Navy onesies that are so common in our local second-hand shops. And so much cuter. We’ll save the discussion about practicality for another day.


After driving around aimlessly for a while hoping that I’d magically stumble upon more cute stuff, I realized that I could easily score another dress if only I went home and got to work. And so I did. The fabric came from my meager stash, the lace was another thrift store find, and the pattern is the charming Itty Bitty Baby Dress from Made By Rae. I think it came out pretty well. I made a rookie mistake and basted the lace just a little bit too close to the edge of the bodice, which made attaching the gathered skirt (by serger) a little bit more difficult, but overall, I’m pleased. And excited to sew even more!