I got some great new fabric in the mail from fabricworm so i decided that with my favorite print of which i bought 2 yards i would make a baby sleeping bag. again driven by the expense of buying a sleeping bag, making one myself seemed like the cheaper option. plus it would be a learning experience and i am all for those! this sleeping bag will make an equivalent 2.5 tog rated bag. that’s a guess, but i’m pretty sure it’s right.
to make your own baby sleeping bag you will need:
a baby sleeping bag (to trace around)
lining fabric ( i chose to use cotton interlock)
outer fabric (i used cotton quilting fabric and cotton interlock)
fabric for bias binding ( i used cotton rib)
a long zipper
optional: a french curve. while i say a french curve is optional, having just bought one, i am in love with it and it’s my new best friend. french curves are possibly the greatest sewing invention ever.
total cost of project: $53.69
cotton interlock: 1.5 m at $10.95m = $16.43
robotic robots quilting cotton approx $9USD a yard, i used about 70cm of it, so about $7.00
cotton rib 25cm at $9.95 a meter = 2.49
wadding 2m at $12.99 a meter = $25.98 (this is called pellon sew in at lincraft)
zipper 61cm = $1.79
so a little bit cheaper than the usual $65 + for a tog rated bag am i right? if you’ve already got most of your materials it would be even cheaper. the wadding was the real killer because it was only 94cm wide so i had to get 2m of it. i did see some wool wadding for $30 a metre at lincraft, and i have a feeling it was 150 or maybe even 180cm wide, so it could be a good option (and be very lux).
to begin, fold you baby sleeping bag in half vertically and trace around it placed with the fold of the sleeping bag on the fold of your material, approx 1 cm out from the edge. this will be your seam allowance. if you want to upsize from a sleeping bag your bub is about to grow out of, i’d add about an inch to the sides and extend the length as desired.
use this piece as the base pattern for the rest of your sleeping bag (sans sleeves). You will need to cut 3 back pieces and 6 front pieces. (lining, wadding, outer). when cutting the front pieces, position your pattern piece 1 cm away from the fold, so you then have added an extra 1cm seam allowance to the front pieces. you do this so you can insert the zipper and still have the front pieces matching the size of the back pieces.
cut the front pieces down the middle (along the fold). this will give you the 6 pieces required for the front.
next cut your sleeves (6 pieces, 2 of each layer). to do this you can trace around your existing sleeve, and “guesstimate” the curve for the sleeve cap. OR you can use your french curve to measure the curve, and draw it accurately. the next step if using a french curve, is to open out your sleeve (once cut) and then alter the the shape of the curve creating a “bell”. you could do this by eyeballing the sleeve cap too, and to be honest you’ll get a much nicer sleeve if you do. see my tip on sewing in a sleeve for a picture of the bell shape i’m referring to.
leave the cutting of your binding to the end to make sure you get a good fit. there’s nothing worse than cutting something too small, and then having to chuck it out and start again!
by now you have a nice pile of fabric ready to begin sewing!
before i go on, i chose to have 2 panels in my front and back pieces, which was fairly easy to do, just add a 1cm seam allowance to each piece where they are going to join when cutting. if you do this, your first step will be to sew these pieces together. do this, turn the seam to one side and sew it down. this looks nice and neat and gives it a bit of class i think!
okay, so first things first. we need to insert the zipper. yikes! just kidding, doing a centered zipper is actually really easy, it just sounds hard.
make a zipper sandwich. lay your lining fabric right way up, your zipper right way up, your outer fabric right way down and your wadding on top. PIN your zipper. if you want your zipper to look good, pin it in place.
using your zipper foot, sew as close to the zip as possible. i know it feels like you’re sewing too close to the zip, and that surely the material will get in the way of zipping up and down, but don’t worry! it won’t. sew to the end of your zip, leaving a tiny bit of tail, just enough to grab, so about half a centimeter. now make another zipper sandwich the same way. you’ll be stacking your material under and above the side you’ve already sewn. stack in this order, liner right side up, sewed pieces (zip), outer right side down, wadding on top. pin in and sew.
finish the center seams on your inner and outer pieces. pinch the ends of the zipper towards the lining when sewing the outer seam, and towards the outside when sewing the lining. this will sandwich the zip in between the two pieces. while doing the seam on the outer piece, as you reach the zipper stop, slightly curve outward from the seam, so that your seam continues up slightly past the zipper stop. this will give you a more complete finish around the bottom of the zipper. don’t top stitch your zipper yet! we’ll do this later on. you should stop and admire your handiwork though, you’ve just sewed a perfect lined zipper. easy right?
next up, we need to sew in the sleeves, and to do this we first sew up the shoulder seams on our lining and outer. so right sides facing inwards, sew your outers together at the shoulder seam only, and do the same for your lining.
pin and sew your sleeves. i’ve never been much of one for pinning until i made this garment, and let me tell you, i have been converted to pinning. i am so happy with how my sleeping bag turned out, and i credit pinning for it. so as a new convert PIN PIN PIN!!!
when putting your sleeves together remember that when doing your outer sleeves you need to include the wadding.
now that you’ve got beautifully sewn in sleeves, you can do your outside seams. pin and sew from sleeve tip to bottom on both sides, inner and outer. when sewing your lining, sew the seam allowance slightly bigger (so if you have a 1 cm seam allowance, then sew it as 1.25cm ) this stops your lining bunching up inside your sleeping bag. an extra pinning tip is to remember to match up your seams. so make sure that your correctly place the underarm seams for a nice even finish.
we are getting close to the finish line! it’s time to now pin our lining to our outer, and sew it down. this stops it moving around inside the bag. sew the lining down to the seam allowance of the outer. again, start at the tips of the sleeves and sew all the way down each side. sew across the bottom last. this way if your fabric has slipped at all then it wont really show.
turn your sleeping bag so it’s the right way out. looks pretty good right? all that pinning has paid off and with a few more finishing touches it’ll blow any store bought sleeping bag out of the water!
finishing touch number one is to top stitch your zipper. unzip your bag and reattach that zipper foot. a nifty thing i like to do when top stitching my zipper is to use the opposite side of the zipper foot as my guide, it gives me a nice amount of space between my seam and my zip, and it helps me keep it even the whole way down. it’s most likely that this is a proper function of the zipper foot, i’ve just never looked that up anywhere.
cut some of your binding fabric to fit your sleeves and collar about 2.5″ wide and however long you need. remember to give yourself a seam allowance. i just used a 25mm seam allowance on the sleeves. for the collar, cut the piece of fabric longer than you need, you can trim it while you sew it down.
seam the sleeves, the place the cuff of fabric over your sleeve. sew your binding down to your sleeve, being careful not to accidentally sew your sleeve together!
pin and sew your binding to the collar.
when sewing your binding to your collar, fold over the vertical edge so it’s hemmed onto the collar. see the next pic to understand what i’m talking about.
okay so we have now finished machine sewing! just a tiny bit of hand sewing to go and your sleeping bag is slumber ready.
as someone who loves to sew, i loathe hand sewing. it’s tedious and makes my fingers ache, and i’m not too brilliant at even stitching. it does however finish off a garment nicely, so i persevere. to finish off your cuffs and collar, fold the binding fabric over the top of all 3 layers of fabric, folding the underside under so the edge is flush with the edges of your fabric. pin into place.
to get your needle and thread ready, cut some thread to an appropriate length for when it is folded in half. fold your thread in half and thread your needle using the two ends. this gives you a loop at the opposite end, which you will use to anchor your thread. choose a hidden position in the seam to begin sewing and pull your thread through, stopping before you’ve pulled it all the way through and bring your needle through your loop. this will bind your thread to fabric without having to do a knot.
sew down your seam, hiding your stitches by sewing under the binding. when sewing the collar, make sure you begin at the zipper edge, anchor the thread to the main fabric, then hide your thread up the inside of the fold to the top, then stitch back down the seam covering the zipper ends closed, then continue around the collar and do the same at the other end. to tie off your threads, un-thread your needle, then thread it again with one strand, do one small stitch with this thread, then tie a knot using the two strands of thread.
admire your hard work! you’re finished!
other ways you can make a sleeping bag is to upcycle some old woolen blankets. here’s a good link for a tutorial on doing that. it’s for a bag without sleeves.
you could also use an old quilt, or for a summer sleeping bag, leave out the wadding. use your imagination! there are lots of different things you could try.