Baby challenges

Don't you just love small projects that let you try out new techniques without investing too much time or resources? I know I do!

To me, projects for babies and small children are perfect for that sort of thing. The only problem is that I don't have kids, and I can't really imagine a time where I will want to have kids of my own. Fortunately, at my age, there are lots of women around me who do have small children, so while I don't have a tiny model that I can fit things on, I can make things off the pattern and hope they fit - or experiment with adjustable options, like my niece's Toddler-Proof dress. I have no clue about how small children develop, so I rely a lot more on patterns than I do for my own clothes.

If you read my last post, you'll know that my next project was going to be Meg McElwee's Surplice Dress from her Sewing with Knits Craftsy class. Despite my best intentions, as I was rummaging through my stash looking for suitable fabric, I found some super-cute laminated cotton that I found in a remnant bin a few years ago. Back then, none of my friends were having kids, so it sat patiently waiting for the perfect project. 

One of my close friends recently posted on Facebook that her son had just started crawling. So that means he'll start eating soon, right? (As opposed to breast milk... he will, right? I'm not kidding when I say I really have no idea about the developmental stages of tiny humans.)

Anyway, assuming I'm correct here, it occurred to me that now would be a good time to make a baby bib for him!

I'd seen Merriment Design's Extra-long Baby Bib for Toddler-sized Spills in the past, and thought it was a great pattern, with the pocket for spills, so I used that. I didn't have any coordinating bias tape, but I did have coordinating fleece, so I used that instead.

It probably would have helped if I took photos along the way, but I forgot, so bear with me please.

First, I cut out my pattern pieces, with the fleece piece a reverse of the main bib piece. To make it easier to clean, I cut the pocket piece so that both straight lines were on folds, effectively giving me a long oval shape.

I then folded my pocket piece in half and attached it with a topstitch to the front of the bib. I used a small seam allowance here so that the stitching would get hidden in the seam allowance when I attached the front to the back. In retrospect, I probably should have top-stitched along the fold to make it nice and crisp.

I should note here that it seems like the pocket piece is designed to be a little bigger than the bib, so that it pokes out a little and is better at catching spat-out food. Either that, or I cut it out poorly. Let's go with the first option, shall we? Anyway, with that in mind, you'll need to ease in the curves of the pocket piece when you're sewing that on.

Next, I sewed the front and back together (wrong side out, making sure the pocket doesn't get caught in the seams, with a gap to turn it inside out) then top-stitched. I didn't choose my gap very well and had to move it a few times so I could actually topstitch it closed. I'm sure you're all already aware of this, but when choosing a gap, try to make sure it's on a straight edge, not a curved one, and especially not on a concave curve. If I make this again, I'll be leaving the gap along the bottom of the bib - after all, the pocket's already sewn on, so I won't have to worry about anything getting into the gap if I sew it badly.

This photo sums up my three challenges in this project: snap fasteners, laminated cotton and tiny, tight curves.

This project presented three challenges for me: two firsts and a skill that I'm still trying to get the hang of.

  • First time using press studs ("snap fasteners" according to the packaging);
  • First time using laminated cotton;
  • Lots of tiny, curvy edges.

Surprisingly, the laminated cotton didn't really bother me. It slightly sticks to the presser foot, so you've just got to pull it through gently sometimes. No biggie.

PopStuds-and-Hammer.jpg

It did present a little bit of a problem with the press studs though; the little teeth weren't sharp enough to poke through the laminate on their own, so I had to poke tiny holes for them with my seam ripper.

I also accidentally put the inner half of the top stud on backwards... twice. Which meant I had to bend the teeth back out (twice) after I hit the little tool with the hammer. Fortunately, third time's a charm.

I found that had to really go to town with the hammer to get the studs to fasten from both sides. If you've never used them before, check if you can fit your nail between the fabric and the stud: if you can, put it down and hit it again; if you can't, it's probably fine.

And the curves... well, suffice it to say that it's a skill I'm still working on. I'd like to say that the little fleece collar around the neckline was done on purpose so it was softer on the little baby's neck, but that would be a lie. It was pure serendipity, a result of over-stretching the fleece along the curve as I was sewing it. Once I noticed what I'd done, I emphasised the overlap by topstitching it in place, because of the whole soft-fleece-on-baby's-neck thing, and I think it turned out well.

Now I just have to see what the baby thinks of it... oh, and his mum too.

How do you test out new techniques? Have any of your recent projects forced you to try new skills? I'd love to hear about them - leave a comment below, get it touch on Facebook or Twitter or send me an email.

EDIT: Super belated update!

I sometimes get a little bit obsessively particular about things, especially when it comes to printed digital design. Anyway, so when I was making this, I copied the original pattern into Photoshop or Illustrator (I forget which now) and updated it so it was more printer friendly for my own use... then I thought I probably wasn't the only one who would find it useful, so I sent it to Kathy at Merriment Designs, who then posted my version on her site! Yay! You can see it (complete with my name mispelled - that happens a LOT) at Merriment Designs on the Extra-long Bib for Toddler-sized Spills page.