For Baby: Bibs, Burp Cloths and Bath Towels

DIY Baby Shower Gifts: Bibs, Burp Cloths and Bath Towels

Ok. Surprise. I broke my own rules.

Having sewn three stuffed sea turtles in as many months, the thought of making another left me completely uninspired. So for my last baby shower gift of the summer, I undertook what eventually amounted to a much more ambitious and time-consuming project: making burp cloths, bibs and a hooded towel for baby.

I know, I know. I deviated from the registry. I’m basically the worst. I justified it to myself by making necessary items—items of which new parents, so I’m told, can never have enough.

Relying on the wisdom of others—as is my wont—I did a fair amount of interneting and found this easy burp cloth tutorial and this towel set on The Homes I Have Made. Which then led me to this towel tutorial and then this bib tutorial from Sew4Home—both of which include PDF patterns that you can download and print on standard 8 1/2 x 11 paper. The internet truly is a magical place.

Next: the fabric store. The nursery for the baby-boy-to-be in question was already decorated in green and gray, so I knew I wanted to work within that palette. I also carefully noted the bibs, burp cloths and bath towels on my friends’ registry:

TrendLabLaurenNurserySet
Top to Bottom:
Trend Lab Bib Set, Green, Lauren, 4 Count
Trend Lab Lauren Burp Cloth Set, Green, 4 Count
Trend Lab nursery bouquet set-lauren-hooded towel & wash cloth

Clean. Minimal. Elegant. With those qualities in mind, my plan was to use printed flannel for the fronts of the bibs and burp cloths as well as the hood of the towel, and solid white terrycloth for the backs of the bibs/burp cloths and the towel itself.

Immediate curve ball: there was no white terrycloth to be had at Joann. I called an audible and went with green terrycloth instead. (Yes, I know I’m mixing my sports metaphors. To the penalty box with ye!)

As for the flannels, I found quiet, neutral, green and gray prints quite quickly.

BUT ALSO ROBOTS. And MONSTERS. And TRUCKS.

Fabric_Options

Conundrum: do I choose the safe, registry-complementary fabrics? Or the riskier but vastly more entertaining kid-centric prints?

I spent forty-five minutes stomping up and down the aisle, dragging around different combinations of bolts and bolts of fabric, trying to make up my mind. I even called my mom, imploring her to bestow her impartial parental sagacity on my situation.

Ultimately (and probably obviously by this point), I indulged in my own preferences and picked the more vibrant, interesting fabrics. Because when CAN you use monster fabric, if not whilst making burp cloths? “Roar! No naps!”

DIY Baby Shower Gifts: Bibs, Burp Cloths and Bath Towels

First, the bibs: here is the Sew4Home tutorial again. A few production notes/modifications:

  • Deferring to the closure style of the bibs on my friends’ registry, I opted for velcro rather than snaps. Velcro also seemed like the easier solution, both in application and in use. If you’d like to try something similar, I recommend applying the velcro before sewing the fronts and facings together—that way the velcro stitching isn’t visible on the reverse side.
  • I used the more traditional method of applying the bias tape binding (sewing twice) rather than the tutorial’s approach of simply encasing the raw edges in the binding (sewing only once). It took FOREVER. I can’t at all explain why I dug my heels in over this particular shortcut—since it was a gift, I guess I was feeling unusually adamant about Doing It Right. Honestly, I’m not sure that there would have been a noticeable difference in the final product either way.
  • Applying the bias tape binding around the narrower arms of the bib back was a STRUGGLE. I don’t know if there is a trick to keep the tape from bunching, but I really could have used some more detail shots in the original tutorial. Mine turned out a little rumpled and puckery—by no means perfect—but for wiping up applesauce drool, I guess they’ll do. Perspective, people. (The image below is a little blurry, but hopefully you can see what I mean. You can also see the velcro tabs.) If anyone has binding tips for future reference, please share.

DIY Baby Shower Gifts: Bibs, Burp Cloths and Bath Towels

DIY Baby Shower Gifts: Bibs, Burp Cloths and Bath Towels

DIY Baby Shower Gifts: Bibs, Burp Cloths and Bath Towels

DIY Baby Shower Gifts: Bibs, Burp Cloths and Bath Towels

The burp cloths were BY FAR the easiest and quickest of the pieces. No bias tape binding!!

I followed this tutorial from The Homes I Have Made almost down to the letter. The only significant modification I made was adjusting the final size to 10 x 13 —matching the dimensions of the burp cloths that were on my friends’ registry, just to be safe. Disclaimer: I really have no idea if there is an ideal size or shape cloth for dealing with Baby Spew. Ignorance is bliss, as they say.

DIY Baby Shower Gifts: Bibs, Burp Cloths and Bath Towels

DIY Baby Shower Gifts: Bibs, Burp Cloths and Bath Towels

Lastly, the towel and washcloth. Here is the Sew4Home tutorial again. SO MUCH BIAS TAPE BINDING. That is all I have to say.

DIY Baby Shower Gifts: Bibs, Burp Cloths and Bath Towels

All together, the pieces make quite a nice set, don’t they?

DIY Baby Shower Gifts: Bibs, Burp Cloths and Bath Towels

As a finishing flourish, I bundled the pieces and affixed little tags to them with baker’s twine and mini clothespins. When in doubt, distract with Presentation.

DIY Baby Shower Gifts: Bibs, Burp Cloths and Bath Towels

And there you have it! Hopefully my friends will find this gift useful in the coming months—even if it’s not exactly what they expected!

Vintage Finds at the Newberry Library Book Fair

A major highlight of summer for me is the Newberry Library Book Fair. I went a leeeeeetle crazy this year (well, every year) and ended up with a couple of armloads of books. I can’t help it—I’m an addict.

With a background in graphic design and English, I love visual communication from pretty much every angle. And I’m completely fascinated by first editions and primary sources; the content AND the design (deliberate choices of size, format, font, photography or illustration style, printing method, color palette, paper stock, etc)—combine to tell a larger story about a very specific moment in time. And if there are notes in the margins or train tickets stuck between the pages… well, be still my heart.

I thought I’d share a few of my finds that are the most interesting—at least visually and sociologically.

Vintage Paperbacks, including a couple of Penguin books—icons in the book design world.Vintage_Novels

A collection of Today’s Secretary magazines from the 1960s, a blank shorthand notepad, and a file box.Secretary_Montage

The magazines are weirdly fascinating—some sections are printed entirely in shorthand—and the cover art would leave one to believe that all secretaries of the time were young, pretty brunettes with flippy hairstyles. Basically Megan Draper.

Note the encouragement to vote in the Nixon/Kennedy election on the cover of the November 1960 issue.Secretary_Montage_2

A selection of 1940s–60s ballet programs for the Bolshoi Ballet, Ballet Theatre, Sadler’s Wells Ballet and Ballet Russe feature vastly different styles of cover art.Ballet_Program_Covers

Inside, caricatures for Margot Fonteyn and Frederick Ashton:Cinderella

Arresting black-and-white photography:Ballet_Photos

And beautiful and/or amusing ads that act as individual time capsules themselves:Perfume_Ads

I might end up framing the Dior ad below.
Dior

My one complaint about this sale is that there always seems to be an inexplicable lack of sewing books. I did find the below magazine: Lady’s Circle: Instant Skirts. Which is pretty awesome.Instant_Skirts

Inside: Inspiration photos and instructions for drafting and making all types of skirts…MakeanA

…including this gem. Oktoberfest at the convent was never so much fun.Skirts

I could maybe get in to a maxi skirt though.SkirtsB

Anyway, if this is kind of thing is your jam too, check out the Book Fair’s hashtag on Instagram, #nlbf15, to see other book lovers’ finds. Now I have to wait a whole nother year… sigh.

Blooming Champagne Shift Dress

I am hooked on making simple, easy dresses right now. I would like to think that this is because I actually really want to wear simple, easy dresses and not because I’m lazy, but in reality, it’s probably a combo meal.

This shift dress was a cinch to make, and it feels surprisingly lovely and sophisticated, if I do say so myself.

FloralDressA

That lovely-and-sophisticated impression is owed in large part to the fabric, I think—my mom picked up 1.5 yards secondhand at a quilt fair for $4. Given the limited yardage and the scale of the print, I had to be pretty strategic about flower placement. I really didn’t want to have an Adam and Eve moment.

FloralDressB

FloralDressBack

The pattern is from Simple Modern Sewing by Shufu To Seikatsu Sha, a great resource for creating your own wardrobe basics. The step-by-step instructions are easy to follow, and I also appreciate that the accompanying diagrams are big-picture oriented.

SimpleModernSewing

SimpleModernSewingDresses

FloralDressD

Detail of the lapped shoulder—a new design element for me. I’m a fan.

detail

FloralDressC

Yeah, I don’t know. A dress can only do so much for one’s loveliness and sophistication.

MontageA