Monday, March 24, 2014

Tutorial for Awesome Baby Burp Cloths

When I had my first child, a co-worker gave me some handmade burp cloths and I quickly found out they were far superior to any purchased ones, not to mention a whole lot cuter.    They were soft, absorbent, not too bulky for the diaper bag, and the perfect size.    My second child was a big-time spitter so we needed to always have a burp cloth handy.  He used to clutch his burp cloth like a blankie while in his infant seat.  These burp cloths also work in a pinch if you need to cover up a not-so-clean public changing table before putting your baby on it.  Here is a tutorial for making your own set, either as a wonderful baby gift or just for yourself.

Supplies:
  • 3/8 yard flannel, print number one
  • 3/8 yard flannel, print number two
  • 3/8 yard flannel, print number three (optional)
  • rotary cutter, ruler, mat
  • iron
  • basic sewing supplies
  • bowl
  • pinking shears (optional)
A note on fabric:  each burp cloth requires two prints.  Two 3/8 yard cuts yields two burp cloths.  If you can find three coordinating prints, you can mix and match and make three  different but coordinating cloths.   Fat quarters will also work, but there will be more waste.

Another note on fabric:  Use flannel.  Do not use fleece.  Do not use quilting fabric.  Do not use minky or cuddle fabrics.  Use flannel.

Directions:

1.  Prewash and dry all fabrics.  This is important!  Flannel shrinks tremendously.  I buy 3/8 yard cuts so that I can have 1/3 yard cuts after washing.  Also, if you buy craft store quality flannel, washing and drying it first makes it softer and fuzzier. Here are the two prints I am using.


2.  Press fabrics.  Cut each piece in half on the fold.  This will give you two pieces that are approximately 12" x 20".  You don't need to be especially precise at this point.  It's okay if it's a little bigger or a little smaller, just aim for around 12" x 20".



3.  Cut off selvedges.

4.  Layer the two fabrics with right sides together.  If your fabrics have linear prints like mine do, try to make sure the patterns are straight.  Smooth the fabrics flat using your hands.  


5.  Using your rotary cutter, mat, and ruler, square up your fabrics.

6.  Place your bowl upside down on a corner of your fabric.  Trim around it using your rotary cutter.

7.  Here is my fabric, layered and trimmed.  Now you are ready to sew.  You will probably want to place a few pins around the whole perimeter to hold everything in place nicely while you are sewing.



8.  Start sewing about 2/3 of the way down one of the long sides.  Make sure to back tack at the beginning of your sewing line.  I use a 1/4" seam allowance.  A 3/8" allowance is okay too.  Continue sewing around the entire burp cloth, stopping and back tacking about 1/3 of the way down the long side you started on.  In other words, you need to leave an opening for turning.  A four inch opening is good.



See...there's an opening for turning!  This one was a bit tiny.
Make it easier on yourself and leave a bigger opening!
9.  Double check both sides of your fabric to make sure you didn't sew too close to an edge.  If you did, go back and stitch it a little better.

10.  If you have pinking shears, use them to cut around all four corners.  If you don't have pinking shears, you need to clip the curves around the corners so that they are smooth when you turn the cloth right side out.  If you aren't sure how to clip the curves, click here for instructions.



11.  After the corners are clipped, turn the burp cloth right side out.  It will probably be pretty lumpy and bumpy at first.  Notice that I have a wooden stick with a point on one end in the picture below.  That is a turning tool that comes free in some bags of polyester fiberfill.  If you don't have one, you can use a chopstick, the end of a crafting paintbrush, an unsharpened pencil, or something similar.  Just make sure it's not sharp since you don't want to poke holes in your fabric.  What you are going to do is run the pointed end of the tool around the seam in between the layers, all the way around the perimeter.  This will help to push your seams out nicely.

Before using the tool.
After using the tool.
12.  After you have pushed all the seam allowances out, press the burp cloth flat.  This is important.  Don't skip the pressing.  Pressing gives a quality, more professional looking finish.  You will also need to turn the seam allowances in on your opening.  Try to line them up as well as you can and press them.



13.  Topstitch in coordinating thread.  I topstitch at 1/8".  This helps hold the seams in place and also is enough to hold your opening closed without having to hand stitch it.  It also looks more professional.  : )  In the picture below, you can see my (quilt) piecing foot.  It is foot 37 for a Bernina.  Most machines have a piecing foot available and there are also generic ones for machines that don't come with one.  On this particular foot, the outside is 1/4", the inside is 1/8", and the very inside opening near the needle is 1/16".  Very useful for topstitching!  The two feet I use most often are this one and a walking foot.  If you don't have them, I highly recommend them!



14.  Give your finished burp cloth a good pressing.  You are done!


Final notes:  You can embroider on one of the fabrics before layering and sewing if you want.  I did that once for a gift.  I would suggest that it be a tiny embroidery in one of the corners, using cotton thread if possible so that it is not stiff and scratchy on the baby's delicate skin and so that it washes better.  Wondering why I say only flannel?  Plain cotton quilting fabric is not thick enough.  Fleece and minky may look cute but they are not absorbent.  The point is to catch and absorb the mess, not have it run off the fabric.  Remember, I had a major, pro-level spitter.  I know what works.  Use flannel.  : )

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