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Monday, 28 September 2015

A Quilted Baby Sleeping Bag

More quilting – a baby sleeping bag. (Just in case you thought the heading referred to  quilted baby!)

I wrote here and here about making cot quilts for baby cribs and cots.

After making my third baby cot quilt, I also had a few of the quilting squares left over, so I decided to experiment with a diamond pattern (actually just squares used on the diagonal).

Sewing a diagonal pattern needs more squares than a straight rectangle. You can work it out mathematically how many more, if you want to! I found I needed about 15- 30% more, but it all depends on the shape you are making. My original plan was to make a long rectangle, on the diagonal. 

The idea was that I would have a lovely long patchwork strip that I could use to make a nice little gathered skirt for a baby girl.This failed, as you will see below, but I ended up with a very nice baby sleeping bag. You can find out how to avoid my mistakes, and make a quilted sleeping bag (or just a sleeping bag) for a baby, below. 
Attaching diagonal rows together can use the same approach that I described in the earlier post (and which I found and adapted from this You Tube video). 

However, with this tiny project I decided I would create each of the diagonal columns, then join all the columns, rather than linking pairs first. (I still think the linking pairs way is best for a normal quilt without the complication of making the squares sit diagonally.)

It is a little more complicated than a squares type quilt, in that each row has to be offset by 1, and there may be half or quarter pieces to attach as well, at the sides and corners. (Or pieces to be cut off to make the sides straight lines.)

It wasn’t actually difficult. But I made two mistakes which made me cross afterwards. Firstly and worstly,  I cut off all the corners, to make a perfect rectangle, before I had really thought things through. Next, I thought that there were going to be too many little seams inside the skirt, and I thought a full lining would make it too bulky. So I ironed on very fine interfacing to cover all the seams. But it was still too bulky. So I ripped all the interfacing off (not the easiest thing to do, if you’ve ever tried it).  I finally decided it wasn’t going to work as a skirt, and hence hatched the plan to make it into a sleeping bag, which would have a full lining.

But I’d cut all those corners off – lots of them. If I hadn’t, it would have been easy to add a few more squares to the widest end of the sleeping bag. As it was, I had to remove all the half and quarter squares, replace them with whole new squares, and THEN start adding my width to the complete squares. Very fiddly!

Anyway, Dear Reader, enough of my travails – in the end I had a piece of hand-quilted fabric ready to be cut into a sleeping bag shape.

Back onto the internet to find a pattern. And thanks to Small Dream Factory, I found this one
Those of you who’ve read my blog before will not be surprised to find that I adapted it, mainly from a front-zipped design to a side zipping style.

The Small Dream Factory pattern uses three layers of fabric, but mine was to be a cosy sleeping bag for the British winter climate with some padding. I wanted to use my diagonal quilted piece for the front. So the front was formed with lightweight batting and an inner liner of some pale pink cotton (part of the valance material I used in some earlier projects, see here .....). I don't know why in the photo it looks as if one shoulder and armhole was shorter than the other - they were both exactly the same. Somehow they've got tucked in the photo.

The back was a piece of pre-quilted fabric similar to the one I used for the playmat, but this was white fabric with cupcakes. 

The two pieces, front and back, were attached together with double fold bias binding, more of the pale blue teddy bear binding that I like so much. The edges of the zip opening also had double fold bias binding, and the neck and shoulders, but of course each (the back and the front) was edged separately rather than sewn together.

TIP: Getting round tight corners with double fold bias binding is easier if you gather the edge on the inside before attaching it by machine.

The Small Dream Factory pattern is for ‘6-14 months’. Baby I was then about the size of a 9-12 month baby, albeit 15 months old, but I wanted something she could use for a while, so I re-sized the pattern. I made each of  the straps about 1" - 1.5” longer ((2.5 cm - 3 cm), added about the same  to the width of the back  piece, and to the total width of the front (more about that in a minute). I made the whole thing about 3-4 inches longer (8-10 cm).

However, the biggest adaptation I made to the pattern was to revise it to have a long side opening right down the (baby's) left side, and round the the first couple of inches of the bottom, rather than the opening down the front of the pattern. So, effectively, I had to remove the overlap bit in the middle front for the zip, but then add some extra so the front width was similar in total width to the back.

I used a 30” zip (white) which went from the left armpit down just a bit around the curved bottom corner. I thought this would make it easier to get a wriggling baby in.

I used hammer-in snap fasteners on the shoulders, as I had done on these dungarees:

Not a great photo, as it's blown up, but you get the idea. Some day I'll borrow  my handiwork back to take a photo of the snap fasteners on the sleeping bag, but it's in use right now. 

And we're done! A diamond patterned quilted baby sleeping bag.

And here's a sleepy little girl ready for bed.

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