It’s amazing the amount of preparation that comes into play during the last few months of this having-a-baby business. The last few weeks in particular have involved a flurry of thoughts and discussions about bottles and diapers, the merits of various binkies, the importance of breathable swaddling blankets and whether we really need to spring for that Cadillac of a jogging stroller (I’m thinking yes — it just looks so sleek and zippy!). OK, so I’m sure my increasingly forgetful and distractible mind is much more occupied with baby gibber gabber than Jared’s, which is currently in the throws of starting grad school and gobbling hundreds of pages of looks-and-sounds-more-intellectual-than-baby-talk reading, but still, our house is on hyper baby drive (not to be confused with hyper-baby drive, which comes later I suppose).
To keep sane amidst this planning and preparation time, I’ve resorted to my old pal — list-making. I’ve got lists for everything these days: things we still need to buy for baby, things we still need to make for baby, non-baby-related things to get done before baby, groceries Jared will need to pick up right after baby. I even planned out my Thanksgiving menu last week. I know, I’m out of control. Ironically, the things I’ve been most apt to check off my lists are probably the things that aren’t as immediate of necessities. Hence my continued obsession with this sewing machine. Sure, the Bean probably won’t be using her room much until she’s at least a few months old (we’re planning to have her in a basinet in our room for a while. Jared’s college experience wouldn’t be complete without a noisy roommate, right?). But somehow it gives me an undeniable sense of calm to see her nursery come together bit by bit, piece by piece. And so I keep on sewing. That room will definitely be ready for her by the time she’s ready for it.
My latest sewing project was a skirt for the lovely crib that Jared’s parents were nice enough to gift us for their grandbaby to be. My mom gave me the genius idea to save on fabric by using a white sheet as the base of the skirt that goes under the mattress, then just using the cute patterned stuff for the part of the skirt that shows. It worked out really well, and I definitely recommend that method to anyone who decides to tackle one of these in the future (whether baby-sized or otherwise). In reality, this crib skirt is not only the easiest thing I’ve whipped up so far (can’t argue with straight lines and easy seams), but it’s also probably been the biggest money saver. Quality crib skirts can run you anywhere from $30 to $80. After our on-sale fabric and basic thread (plus an old white sheet I already had on hand), ours costs a whopping $10. Woo hoo!
What you’ll need:
• fabric (2 to 3 yards should be more than enough)
• matching thread
• flat white sheet you’re willing to part with (a.k.a. cut into pieces)
• measuring tape (to get your measurin’ on)
The first step for making the crib skirt is figuring out all your measurements. I was working with limited fabric, so I actually planned to make my skirt three-sided instead of four (I figured the back side will always be up against a wall, so there was no reason to waste extra fabric on an angle that could never be seen). So I had four panel sizes I needed to measure: the white-sheet base that goes under the mattress, one long end (the front of the crib) and two shorter ends (the sides of the crib). Here’s what I came up with:
Long side: 21”-by-52”
Short sides: 21”-by-28”
To make room for ½-inch seams all around, I added 1 inch to each measurement for the fabric panels themselves, which meant I needed to cut my fabric to these dimensions:
Base panel: 29”-by-53”
Long panel: 22”-by-53”
Short panels (2): 22”-by-29”
I’m pretty convinced at this point that cutting out the fabric pieces is about the trickiest part of the sewing process, so I like to get all of my cutting done before doing anything on the machine. Just like when cutting out fabric for the throw pillows, I used the fold-it-over-and-measure-half-the-width-you-need technique. Take your piece of fabric, fold it in half, then measure half your width all the way down and secure it with pins. Make your cut using the pins as guides. Then once that’s done, do the same thing in the other direction. Fold your fabric in half, then measure half the length, mark it with pins and make your cut. Then repeat the process until all of your panels are cut and ready. Easy peasy!
The next step is to make sure the patterned panels all have nice, crisp seams around the edges because those will show on the finished product. One long side on each of those panels ends up getting sewn to the white sheet base, so that means that you only have to worry about adding three seams (the two shorter ends and one longer end). To do this, use your pins to fold over the edge of the fabric ½ inch on each of the three sides.
Now it’s just a matter of sewing them in place. Using a reinforcement stitch at each end, slowly sew a straight line along your pinned edges, carefully removing the pins as you go. When you get to a corner, lift up the sewing machine pedal, turn the fabric 90 degrees, put the pedal back down and keep on sewing. Once you reach the end of the third side, add another reinforcement stitch to seal the deal.
Pretty easy, right? You do this same process with your three (or four if you’re being less lazy than me) patterned panels. By the end of this step, you should have three crisp seamed edges on all of your patterned fabric panels and one rough edge on each (remember, your one rough edge on each should also be one of the long ends on each). Now all that’s left to do is sew it to your white sheet base.
[Note: As an added step because I was only sewing on three patterned panels to my skirt, I did a quick seam on the back side of my white panel base, just like the seams I added to my patterned panels. It helps give a finished look if you’re only using three patterned panels. If you’re using four patterned panels, though, there’s no need to worry about it.]
To piece the puzzle together, I stitched one panel at a time to my white sheet base. To do this, I lined up the edges (meaning if I was stitching on one of my shorter panels, I lined it up next to a shorter end of the base) and pinned them together, allowing for another ½-inch seam. When you’re lining up the fabric, make sure that you have both “pretty” sides of the fabric facing in because you’ll want the seam to be hidden on the bottom when the fabric panel is flipped back over and hanging down the side of the crib.
Use the machine to sew the width of the panel, using a reinforcement stitch at each end. Voila! Now just repeat this step with your remaining panels, give the whole skirt a good iron, and you’re home free!
I’m super duper happy with how this thing turned out. The straight lines are way easier to work with than adding a bunch of ruffles, which definitely worked in my favor, not to mention I think the streamlined look of it all really complements all the modern twists and patterns we have going on in the rest of the nursery. My only foreseeable dilemma is going to come when the Bean gets big enough that we have to lower the mattress (the crib has three different mattress height options, and we have it on the highest spot right now). I’m contemplating the use of Velcro dots when that day comes (I know, Velcro. But so far it seems like the most convenient and removable option). But it will be a while until she’s able to sit up and monkey her way out of the crib anyway, so we still have time to think about it.
Happy September to you! Fall is right around the corner! Weeee!