In my second post for Minerva Crafts, I’m doing something I’ve never tried before, and using some new materials, I’ve made a baby sleeping bag. If you’re not familiar, sleeping bags are a great way for getting your little one cosy, and they promote safer sleep by reducing the risk of SIDS, and ensuring that the baby can’t get tangled or smothered in loose blankets.
There’s a great range on the market, but they are quite expensive, and as a new mum with a baby who’ll spend most of its time sleeping, pooping and spitting up, it’s wise to invest in a few so that you can have one in the wash one spare!
I’m using a lovely pattern by Burda, which has a variety of accessories for new mums, including a cot bumper and baby blanket, which would make really nice presents for a mum-to-be.
It also comes in a range of sizes, so you could use this pattern again and again. I like the idea that you could vary what type of wadding you use for the lining of the sleeping bag, so that you could make a lightweight sleeping bag for summer, and a heavier, fleece-lined bag for the winter time. The sizes are pretty generous, so you know it’s going to last for a while.
I was a little overwhelmed by the succinct instructions (what – only 4 pictures?), but it was actually really simple to construct and put together. The only tricky thing was the binding around the top, but I’ll talk about that later.
I’m deviating from the pattern slightly, by making the whole of the back panel in leopard print, and I cut this out by putting the top and bottom halves of the pattern together.
Although – I forgot that the pattern does include a 1.5cm seam allowance, so I should have overlapped the pieces, and I had to rectify this later.
I used the bottom pieces to help me cut out the winceyette, and laid the top pattern piece on top, so I could cut the lining in one piece, which I thought would be a bit smoother and more comfortable on the inside, so the baby’s not lying on a bulky seam.
I added a 3cm seam allowance on the front panel to accommodate for the mistake I made by not removing the seam allowances on the back. This just means that the bag is going to be slightly longer than the original pattern, but should still stay in proportion when it’s constructed.
I’m using pattern weights here (just ordinary washers) to weigh down the lining on top of the wadding. I’m doing this because the wadding is quite thick, and I was worried about it not lying flat. I also though the tissue pattern would buckle a bit, so I’m using the lining piece to make sure I get a good shape.
I’m using a walking foot to construct the sleeping bag. It’s a handy foot that’s used for quilting, which has a separate inside piece which stamps up and down one the fabric and compresses it so that it can easily move under the foot, and the stitches don’t get pulled or buckled.
The first stage of the construction is to make a sandwich. Place your lining pieces together, right sides together, and sandwich the fuzzy wadding on top, so that the wadding is on the outside. This is going to make an inner sleeve which will slip inside the outer case, and be sewn together at the top. This allows for a little movement with a wriggly baby, and also means you can pull the lining out to soak it in case of a poop explosion!
I took this part really slowly and trimmed the seam allowances right down, to make sure that it’s not too bulky on the inside. I trimmed the wadding at an angle, so that it’s securely attached but not quite as thick.
For the outside portion of the sleeping bag, sew the top front (mint green section) to the bottom of the bag across the middle. I’ve added a little ‘M’ as this baby’s name is going to begin with M… well, it’s going to have to now! Stitch the two pieces right sides together again, and trim the seam allowances. Make sure you give the edges a really good pressing on the inside and outside, to make sure that it’s going to lie flat when you put the wadding in. I’ve also top stitched down the middle seam allowance to make sure that it lies flat when the wadding is added, and again, not too bulky. It’s all about the little one’s comfort here!
When it’s pressed, and be careful along the curves, pop the inner pocket into the sleeping bag, making sure to poke out the curves of the bottom.
It’s starting to take shape! You can get a good idea of the finished sleeping bag at this stage, and if you need to trim down the wadding, now is a good time to do it. The inner and outer linings are secured only with bias binding, so you want to make sure you’re working with a nice clean edge.
I’ve applied some tacking stitches all around the top edge of the sleeping bag, making sure to match up the front and lining of the bag. I had to trim the wadding slightly around the straps.
Now to apply the binding, and boo, this was not my favourite part. i’d really recommend going for a slightly winder binding, especially if, like me, you’re not very confident with binding. I’ve pinned it out in sections, laying the pins sideways so that it pushes out the folds in the binding. I’m starting on the inside, so that the front will be the folded-over portion, which always comes out neater for me.
Again, I’m using my walking foot to apply the binding – but I think next time I’ll use the bias-binding or a regular foot. I was just a little concerned that it would be a bit thick to go under the foot, but I shouldn’t have worried as it was pretty smooth. I took it mega slow on the corners, which I sewed down by turing the hand wheel (and giving myself a weird thumb cramp!).
To sew down the front of the binding, I changed my bobbin colour to match the lining, so if I went a little wobbly and onto the lining, it wouldn’t be too noticeable. I’ve always struggles with binding, so I wanted it to look neat. luckily, the friend I’m making it for is well aware of my bias phobia!
I took the binding slowly, in section, and pressed really well in between. I fastened it at the sides, so that again, the seams would be as invisible as possible.
I finished the binding and realised -oops! I haven’t marked the placement of the snaps. But not to worry, I measured the correct placement, and whereabouts I wanted the sleeves to fold over. I think I’ve pulled he back sleeves ever so slightly further down than the pattern suggest, but I know from experience with Mini, that the back will ride down a little as she’s sleeping, so it’s probably going to work out quite well like that. I pinned together the front an back, and roughly marked where I want the studs to go.
I’m using a punch and snaps by Prym, which are so cute and easy to apply – plus, they can be removed if you make a mistake. Take a look at the back of the packet, there’s lots you can do with pliers like this, so they’re a great investment.
They’re great for baby clothes because they’re safe and secure, hypoallergenic and won’t rust in the wash.
I’ve poked a hole through all the layers with a bradle (aka pokey stick), you can do this with a thick needle too.
You can see that on the inside, it’s slightly left of centre, so I’ve evened it up before applying the second snap.
The pliers are used to press together the front and back pieces of the snap, so that they are secure. The metal part of the pliers crushes the spike of the outside portion, forming a secure bond (though you can remove them with scissors if really necessary).
This part is really fun and super satisfying!
You can see here that there’s a smaller portion of the snap which fits inside the bigger side, giving a secure fit. You can also see how much I struggled getting round that top curve! I was a little disappointed with the shape of the strap on that side, it was a little difficult to get the binding to lie flat along the curve (even though I snipped it), so it wasn’t perfect, but at least it’s not too noticeable on the outside.
Doesn’t that look super cute!
So here’s the finished sleeping bag, wobbly binding and all:
I really like the colours and the overall look of the bag, and I can’t believe how simple it was to make. It’s going to be so comfy But, I was a little disappointed with the binding and the shape of the neckline – maybe I’m being picky but I may just do it again before I give it to her. Practice makes perfect, and now I’ve used a walking foot, I think i’m definitely going to have another go at making a blanket in this style, I might even have a bash at quilting.
It’s really one-of-a-kind so I hope the mum-to-be likes it, she’s very quirky so I’m sure it’ll be right up her street.
Unfortunately, my own little animal got paint on the back of the fabric, eek, so it’s going to have a wash before I give it to her!
So that’s it. Overall, pretty simple construction and a really worthwhile project. It works out so much cheaper than buying a sleeping bag, and it’s great that you can personalise it too.
What do you think?