Monday, July 5, 2010

Sewing For Baby, part 2: Feathering the Nest

Have you ever had an idea for what you want a room to look like, but couldn't find the furniture, curtains or accessories to make it happen? Perhaps you want a particular fabric or color scheme, but it isn't this year's fashion. (Until I started working to feather my own nest a year ago I never imagined that there was such a thing as trends in baby gear.) Furniture can be painted if all you want to change is the color, but bedding and curtains can't. This is where sewing can come in really handy.

I love white muslin curtains. They are a classic, they are pretty, they are practical (aka machine washable). Unfortunately, they can be hard to find. (Though this may be because I hate shopping and thus didn't know where to look.) However, muslin is easy to find and tends to be pretty cheap. If a place sells fabric, they probably sell muslin. All you need to do is to figure out how big your windows are and make two panels that will slide on a rod and have a hem that won't fray. Each panel should be about the same width as the window, though if you want really fluffy, flowing curtains you will want to go wider. By making each panel the same width as the window the total width of the curtains winds up being about twice the width of the window which is generally considered to be pretty standard. Add a valance that matches the rest of the stuff in the room and you're set.

Another thing that I loved the concept of, but could never find just the right look for was a changing pad cover. The bedding set that we got didn't have a matching changing pad cover and none of the others quite went either and I couldn't see spending $15 for something that I didn't love. After using a receiving blanket for months I finally realized that I had the perfect flannel in my fabric stash and made this one. It goes really well with the bedding set and cost less than $5 to make (I bought the fabric when Jo-Anns was having a huge sale on their flannel). It also only took a couple of hours including drafting the pattern. To make the pattern I simply traced the ends of the changing pad and added seam allowances. Then I figured out how much it would need to hang down to fold under like it is supposed to. I cut two pieces that size and then measured out how big to make the middle and side panels. (Measure the size of each rectangle and add a seam allowance each place you want a seam.) Then sew the rectangles together, add an end piece on each end and make a casing around the bottom for 1/4" elastic. Voila, a fancy contoured changing pad cover! I have grand plans for making more of these because I love the look and I love that my wedding ring is no longer catching on the plastic of the pad itself.
The last thing that I made was gauze swaddle blankets. My daughter slept better when swaddled, but the receiving blankets get small fast. We kept using them for a really long time because we couldn't find anything better that wasn't really expensive. Eventually, I found some gauze for a really good price at and realized that I could make my own gauze swaddle blankets. I washed (to pre-shrink the fabric) and ironed the fabric, cut it to 45"x45" and then did a narrow hem all the way around. Now I can have fancy swaddle blankets in any color I want. Too bad I didn't think of it sooner. On the bright side, they make great playthings...

If you look around the internet you can also find patterns for making your own crib bumpers, sheets, slip covers for a glider or nursery decorations. Most of the things that go into decorating a baby's room are composed of rectangles and are a lot easier to make than you'd think based on the prices they charge for them. I love being able to choose my own fabrics to get exactly the look I want. I only wish I had known how easy it was earlier. I wound up making almost all of these things after my daughter was born (the curtains were finished about 30 hours before I went into labor). It would have been a lot easier to have made them before I was also dealing with a new baby. If you are expecting or know someone who is consider helping them feather their nest. If you already have a baby, it is never too late. I made the changing pad cover why my daughter was 8 months old and am just glad to have it. Even if you like what you have, sometimes a change of pace is good. What would you like to make for your nursery (or any other room, for that matter)?

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