We’re preparing for a baby minimally, mostly sourcing from hand-me-downs and the Buy Nothing, so we’re not exactly aiming for an aesthetic experience. But when it came time to fill in the gaps with some shopping I was surprised to discover that not only were so many baby products useless tat (which I expected), but that they were ugly, useless tat. Things I truly don’t understand: why is the surface design so predictable and generic? Why wouldn’t I want jewel tones and deep or dark colors? Why is so much baby stuff just plain boring? I have to look at it too! So, I buckled and sewed a couple things.
Definitely not clothes – I’m not really interested in kids’ clothes, with the exception of Megan Nielsen’s children’s Book Week costumes, which I hope she keeps making and sharing for a hundred years. But many people asked “So are you going to make baby clothes?” to which my answer was NAH, I’m going to make more me clothes, same as ever, as soon as the me in question settles down a bit size-wise – but I will make a few items of use/organization. First among these, lightweight sleep sacks.
I can’t sleep uncovered and it’s possible the baby won’t either, so I prepared for the spring/summer (i.e. the first few months of their life) with two versions of one design. It’s the Small Dreams Factory sleeping bag. I used the free pattern pieces though not the directions. And actually I resized the pattern too – I printed it at 96%, and then shortened it a further 2.5” because that puppy looked enormous. My top priority (at the advice of my delightful midwife) was sewing a sack with a zipper that opens from the bottom. That didn’t require any pattern piece adjustment, I just had to nudge myself to remember!
First up: my sassy sack. This was an opportunity to pick colors, prints, and combos I was unlikely to have used otherwise! I didn’t pay enough attention when cutting and I got some jarring almost-doubling right in center front, but I don’t think that’s the main takeaway. Was I aiming for the seventies? I was not. Did I hit it smack on the money? Boy did I!
As I understand it, the buttoned over-the-shoulder flaps are for getting the baby in and out more easily, while the buttoned front tab is to keep the zipper pull away from their skin (and later, their grasp). The upside-down zipper installation may have made the front tab unnecessary but this was my chance to use goofy little flower buttons and I was taking it at the flood! I sewed the buttons on, then interfaced over the sewing, then sewed them on again through the interfacing too. No choking, please.
I added a second layer of cotton to the curved tab ends to reinforce the button holes, a last-minute addition when I realized I hadn’t made accommodation for interfacing there. The button interfacing, however, is just hanging out fancy-free.
Otherwise, this bag is neat and tidy, with nothing scratchy or snaggy inside.
I added a shield behind the zipper and bound all the seams, plus the edges. I’m really pretty pleased with that binding!
And as a bonus, I tucked in a little selvedge tag. I’m not saying I’d buy a fabric just to get my mitts on the selvedge, but sometimes it’s tempting.
Secondly: my classy sack. I wanted to try refining the design as a fully-lined, no-binding-necessary sleepsack, because while I loved the finished look it certainly took a minute. This edition is made out of a pair of well-used linen pillowcases. We recently replaced our duvet cover because it was basically de-cohering; you’ll be seeing more projects made from this linen at some point. But just the pillowcases yielded the perfect amount of fabric for a fully lined sleep sack, provided I wasn’t too fussy about stuff like fading, which I wasn’t.
I actually learned a lot about how to sequence the bag lining from sewing waistcoats this past winter. I assembled the fronts, except for the long curved outer edge, then sandwiched the fronts between the two backs right-sides-together. Then I sewed the entire perimeter of the backs except for a little opening for turning, turned it right-sides out, and zip zap zooey, it’s a finished bag.
The curved ends of the over-the-shoulder tabs are less than perfect. I allowed myself to adjust them one time, and then considered it necessary practice in lowering my standards. If someone is going to pee on something I sew, it is not a good use of my time and energy to noodle endlessly on one tiny curve, let alone two.
Though I wish, wish, wish, I had made the zipper shield extra-long, long enough to meet the bottom edge of the sack. This separating zipper is wider than the one I used for the quilting cotton bag, so my initial plan – to sew each front as a separate unit first, and join them under the zipper later – proved misguided. A lengthened, pieced shield and a little topstitching to fix it in place bridged the gap nicely. But I could have skipped an unnecessary seam! Alas!!
This also got the sturdy button treatment, this time with ~classy~ flower buttons. I like a motif!
We’ll see if these get any use – I’m frankly skeptical that babies need much of anything, but these were fun to sew and I had a good time shopping uncharacteristic quilting cottons. And if they somehow prove essential I can make more, in yet wilder combinations!
Just think of the selvedges! What an excellent reason to add a entire person to the world!!
Pattern: Small Dreams Factory sleeping bag
Pattern cost: $0.00
Size: printed at 96%, shortened 2.5”
Supplies: 1 yard of Ruby Star Clippings in Honey, 1/4 yard Ruby Star Grid in Soft Blue, Gather Here, $16.60; zipper, 3 buttons, Gather Here, $4.12/2 linen pillowcases, from stash; 16″ separating zipper, Sewfisticated; 3 1/2″ buttons, Gather Here; thread, Michael’s, $6.59
Total time: 7 hours/3.25 hours
Total cost: $20.72/$6.59