It's about exploring and sharing my creative adventures (mostly sewing these days) ~
~those activities that sometimes obsess, usually inspire, occasionally frustrate
~and always provide a delightful maze to wander through.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sewing for Baby [EEK!]

The time has come...the babies in my life are starting to have babies! of them is, anyway. (ETA:  To be clear, this is not my grandbaby on the way - I'm content to "adopt" other peoples' of all worlds, imho)  ;-)    Baby shower time!  Cute baby gifts!  Adorable baby clothes!  What should I get???

And then it dawned on me...Hello?  I can SEW something!  And then....

Panic mode sets in.
Now, what on earth is so frightening about sewing for a baby?   I'm sure Freud would have something to say about that, and I have thoughts, but perhaps they're better left alone for this blog's purposes...

Fabric choice - WTF is it with all the warning labels?  Cute baby flannel prints all say "Not suitable for children's sleepwear"....huh?  So if I make something out of this and Baby catches fire it's my fault?  Eek!  Research about fabric flammability & laws left me with the following conclusions:
1.  The sleepwear that is worn right next to baby's skin should be tight = no airflow between skin & fabric.
2.  If you buy RTW sleepwear, polyester (that can, presumably, MELT onto baby's skin), is safer (translation = 'legal')  than yummy, soft, natural cotton.   All righty then.
3.  I think that the laws currently in place were determined at a time when more people smoked,  & left their ashtrays in baby's room (seriously???) & other fire hazards were more prevalent than today.
4.  I'm sewing baby clothes out of cotton, not polyester, thank you very much.  Perhaps I'll give them with a warning "This is not flame-proof, so please don't set your baby on fire while she's wearing it."   I should be covered, right?

After the research phase, the fabric choice was easy, based on their registry choices.  Natural color, organic cotton.  With thanks to all the sewing moms in cyberworld, I decided to make a baby sleep sack.  Or sleeping bag.  Or bunting.  Or whatever it is they're calling it these days..... McCalls 4236 was the pattern of choice (on sale at JA's, made that choice easy).   I gathered all of the ingredients, but it still took me until 5 days pre-shower before I managed to cut into the material.   (More Freudian fear....but we're not going there.....)   I still had decisions to make:  What size? First I cut a Large, which was GINORMOUS!   I cut it down to a Medium.   This pattern runs large!   How to finish the seams?  How to install the zipper?  Sleeves or sleeveless?  What if I make the wrong choice?   Sheesh, really?  (this is why I much prefer the Selfish Seamstress route!)   I mean, really, ALL there is to the pattern is 2 pattern pieces and a zipper.   But of course, I wasn't about to leave well enough alone, and managed to tweak just about every single step of the process.
1 pattern
1 zipper
3 pieces of fabric
Utter simplicity, right?
I found this variegated wooly nylon thread that put a smile on my face, and decided I had to use that in the serger.  The pattern calls for turning the neck & arm edges under & stitching.   That would be too easy.   I decided to make a binding, with the edges serged using the colorful serger thread.   One reason for this was practical - this is a REALLY thick cotton knit, and I figured that a serged edge would reduce a little bit of bulk.   Not that Baby cares about least based on my observations....   Anyway, the fabric is YUMmy feeling, and really warm!   Definitely something I would be comfy sleeping in :-)  My plan (fingers crossed) is that the new family will have lots of newborn-sized goodies for the Spring & Summer, and this will fit Baby on cold nights next winter.    That's the plan.....
Binding, cut on the cross grain, one edge serged.

I attached the binding (RS of binding to WS of the fabric), giving the binding a good stretch as I sewed it onto the body (those little curves are pretty tiny!).   Then trimmed the seam allowance, leaving just enough binding to fold over to the RS & give a narrow binding, showing on the outside.

The next change I made was to use a separating zipper & install it upside down.   This, again, was on the advice of the cyber-sewing Moms (thank you!)   There is no consideration in the pattern for a zipper guard to protect baby's skin, and I want to add something.    I was wishing at this point that I had made some time to go snoop shopping in baby stores, but I decided I could figure something out.

And I did :)

I cut a strip of the fabric wide enough to cover the zip (which was a wide, sports zip - plastic teeth) after it was folded in half lengthwise, and serged along the edges:

Then I attached it to one edge of the zip, leaving a lip about 1/2" long peeking over the neckline:

Folded over and tacked down, this protects Baby's neck from the zipper:

Inside.  The serged edge is sewn onto one edge of the zipper:

Bottom of zipper.  I extended the zipper guard to cover the tail of the zipper, and gave it some reinforcing stitches.

Last step was to finish the armhole edges (same as the neck), serge around the edges of the bag, give it a wash (I had already pre-shrunk the fabric, as I always do, but I wanted to package it up sparkling clean)

It's very simple, with just the pop of color.   I hope they like it.

Just so they can have something to use right away, I'm adding a receiving blanket, with serged edges to match the sleeping bag.   Or Baby Sack.  Or bunting.   Or whatever it is.

Silly, really...all that fear over sewing a simple baby item.   Now when baby is big enough to wear real clothes....that should be fun!!!!   I actually did sew a fancy christening gown my former sewing life, 30-some odd years ago....   And a wedding gown for that baby's Mom.   Part of me really wants to see those garments again, part of me thinks I might be better off never really knowing what the construction of them looks like.....  Conveniently, I keep "forgetting" to ask about them....

Next up.....   Gosh, I don't know!!!!   Maybe a raincoat.   I have a plan.....  Or maybe I should catch up on the undone housework.  Or bill paying.....

Does your sewing take priority over other household tasks?  Do you have dishes piled in the sink while you're happily stitching away?  Do you, too, sew first, pay bills later?   Or do you actually manage to [gasp] do it ALL?   (if so...what are your secrets?)


  1. I am glad you made something for the baby. It used to be common for the baby to get many hand made gifts. Not so common anymore. There are less of us to carry this banner, and that is kind of sad. I wonder often if anything I made was really of use. Not to worry, one time I was shown the shreds of what was a nightgown made for a friend's daughter. She and her younger sisters all wore it until it was worn out.

  2. So cute and comfy looking. All concerned with baby will be delighted, no doubt. My grandbabies have all used and love these. I have one GS who has mastered the skill of walking in his.

  3. Awww yarndiva - love the image of the well-loved nightgown in shreds!

    Martha I hope I get to see this baby trying to walk in this lol. Too cute :)

  4. I love it! The bunting is so sweet, and very practical as well. If you get the urge (Freud be damned!) to sew more baby stuff, one of my favorite gifts to sew is double sided blankets, using minky (yum) on one side and flannel on the other in a cute print. I made some pre-blog, but I don't think I have pictures.

    To answer your question, I have internal debates all the time that go something like this: Hmmm. Sew or do the (insert responsible thing)? It's a tough battle sometimes!

  5. You're so lucky to be able to sew for your babies' babies! I hope I'll be able to do that myself one day. I still have a few handmade gifts I received for my kids when they were born. And friends have told me the pj's I make for them are always the ones they choose first.

  6. Oh, good for you! My friends and co-workers are starting to get to that stage (finally... ok, I was a bit precocious in that regard :P) but so far I've been chickening out/dodging. Sooner or later I'll have to give in, though...

    I love that variegated thread! :)

  7. I wish you'd been around when my daughter was a baby! Alas, she's twenty-one now. Too early for grandbabies, but your post has given me fodder for thought for the future.

    LOVE!! the variegated thread. SO YOU, Jilly.

  8. Very very cute bunting! That will get a ton of use, I'm sure. The variegated thread is a cute touch. And that photo you found of the baby. OMG. So cute!!

  9. JillyBe, you did it! It's cute and useful and I'm sure the mom and dad will love it. baby won't care so that is not really a concern yet. Can you use that variegated thread in a SM? I love it.

    I do chores and errands before sewing. I'm retired so I can arrange everything to my schedule...housework gets done but we could do better.

  10. Awww, thanks everyone :) I do hope it gets a lot of use!

    The variegated thread is a Gutterman serger thread (from JoAnn) - I've tossed the label now, but they called it ________ Nylon...not wooly nylon (which is maybe a protected name? dunno....

    Mary This is the first time I've sewed anything other than a bit of practice serging with wooly nylon, & I know nothing about it really, except that it's stretchy. I would think it might create problems in a sewing machine, but I really don't know.

  11. I should have added that I do have some variegated thread meant for the SM - C&C makes it in several color combos.

  12. We used grobags a lot with my two children. They are wonderful. Baby can't kick off his/her blankets in the night.
    Amy Butler has a lovely book with sewing projects for babies. I sewed my niece some pjs out of it.

  13. I try, really I do, to get my house work a done first but I don't always succeed. As long as it gets done eventually it's fine. (usually about a half hour before I am expecting company)

  14. Jilly, you can always put a smile on my face...your to funny girl:)

    Your "bunting, sack or whatever they call it these days" is adorable and will no doubt be well received.

    I was just talking to myself about making more time for personal sewing, if I don't it will never get done, and I want it done. But I can't ignore the other "stuff" as it haunts me, so....I just created a new weekly schedule in the hopes that I can fit more sewing into it. Wish me luck.

    The Nest Effect has a great way to help you prioritize...if you like that kind of thing:)

  15. Congratulations, Jilly B! I am in the same situation - my first grandchild is due in June. I'm working on a baby quilt. I love your bunting and receiving blanket. It's much better than the pattern directions, and the baby will thank you for all the comfort someday! BTW - I am one to leave the dishes in the sink and sew happily along, hoping my husband will get to them. :-)

  16. "Grobags" lol - there's another term!

    I'm glad to know that my sink full of dishes has company - I have all sorts of justifications, but alas, no one is going to clean them but me. Same with the bills. ::sigh::

    Lynne I pretty much suck at following other peoples' guidelines for organization. But I'm checking out that site anyway, thanks :) I'm usually much more organized than I've been this past year, and I could probably use some more disciplined guidance these days!

  17. The baby sewing is practical and pretty.Handmade for a baby is special IMO.
    Your dishes have company here too.

  18. Super little bunting, and a welcomed gift, I'm sure. I tell you, there are so many warning labels on everything now, that I wonder how I managed to NOT kill my baby as she grew up!

    Humm--responsibilities or sew? Tough choice, but life is short. I never see men having those issues! I can't remember when my husband said, " should I do my chores or watch the football game"!

  19. What a beautiful little sleeping bag! I'm certain the new mum will be thrilled that you went to the trouble of making a lovely handmade gift, and the new baby will appreciate being all snuggly warm and cosy!

  20. Oh my goodness Jillian that is soooo cute! I LOVE it! And i know the baby will too! I know that I loved every single thing you made me as a baby and still treasure it all... especially the beautiful handmade book! I hope the baby shower was wonderful and I am still so sad I couldn't make it): I hope that I will be able to be even half the aunty you were to me! Love you!!! xoxo

    1. {{{Laurel}}} you were 100% there in spirit :) Your letter was beautiful, moving and so perfectly worded - Miss you, & love you so much! And I'm dying to see that book again - it's been so many years!

  21. I used to travel to Europe every summer and would always stock up on cute PJ's for my kids because I hate the cheap feeling of US PJ's. Now I just make them from nice cotton flannel. Flame resistant PJ's came about because of a a liability issue for sue crazy America. What a lucky baby to get such a cozy bunting!

  22. Thanks so much for this. I am making two of these for two different babies, and your zipper-coverage tips are awesome. I was a little worried about the baby feeling the zipper or getting caught on the zipper... and I'm a fairly beginner sewist so I didn't know how to fix that.

  23. Thanks so much for this tutorial. I'm a beginner, never sewn baby clothes (only clothes for me), and was worried about the zipper catching on the baby somehow. You're a godsend. My cousin is gonna be so happy with this!

    1. You're very welcome Lisa - have fun with the sewing and the baby!