Sewing baby clothes
September 9, 2008 3:30 PM   Subscribe

Sewing baby clothes- I have a friend's shower coming up, and I'd like to make something fabulous for an infant baby girl. Patterns you've made, pictures of clothes you love, general info on good and bad baby clothes, fabrics, fasteners, &c.

I've got a sewing machine and a nice serger, and I'm a decent seamstress. So far, the patterns I've browsed online have been pretty uninspiring. I'd like to make something cute, useful, (washable !), and just generally fabulous. However, if you know of something basic that's much needed by parents-to-be, feel free to suggest that too. Suggestions also don't have to be limited to purely baby clothes.

(In 'clothing, beauty, and fashion', because for some reason there isn't a 'kids' category.)
posted by oneirodynia to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (15 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Wonderful idea and I know the mom-to-be will love whatever you make her.
Our best gifts--besides diapers!--were these huge receiving blankets. Receiving blankets in the packages at the stores are only 30"x30". That's tiny and so not big enough to properly, adequately, tightly swaddle a baby. Most babies love swaddling, and it's the best way to get them to go to sleep because it mimics the womb. If you buy a yard and a half length of 45" flannel, that will be enough to make a good-size blanket. Wash it and then tack down a small hem around the edges--just enough to make a zig-zag stitch. That's it!
BTW, if your mom-to-be isn't familiar with swaddling, and many aren't, you can include swaddling instructions. You can find them online.
Another idea is sleep sacks--if you are good with putting in a zipper. You can find plans for those online I'm sure, or go to the local baby emporium to look for inspiration.
Of course the fabric will make the blanket in this case. I found some adorable flannels at Wal-Mart recently--a very trendy pink plaid flannel, and a flannel print with cowboys. I got both of them and will make my daughter some new blankets this weekend.
You can check Etsy for other good sewing ideas for newborns.
posted by FergieBelle at 3:46 PM on September 9, 2008

My favorite all-time gift that I received for my children was a handmade hooded towel. It's easy to do, but oh so fabulous and useful - and is big enough that it will follow them into toddler-hood.
posted by Sassyfras at 3:47 PM on September 9, 2008

I've never had much luck with current McCall's, Butterick, Vogue, etc for interesting baby patterns. I have some vintage baby sewing patterns that have some unique stuff, ebay has quite a few vintage baby patterns for sale.

Most new parents I talk to say they usually wind up with to much clothes (sometimes baby grows so fast they only wear an outfit once). My standard gift for baby showers is a simple quilt, Denyse Schmidt's pattern for "Steve" (from her book Quilts), and the baby booties from Amy Butler's book, Little Stitches for Little Ones (there's also some other super cute patterns in the book, I would definitely check it out). The quilt usually winds up being a well loved blanket or an heirloom and lasts much longer than clothes. I'm making all of these right now for a shower next weekend. Another book with some cute baby stuff is Last Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson, which is organized by the number of hours for each project.

If you've never made a quilt before, no worries, you say you're a decent seamstress and baby size quilts are surprisingly quick to crank out in a weekend. I recommend the forum on quilts if you need some advice or feel free to message me.
posted by pokeedog at 4:00 PM on September 9, 2008

These are cute.
posted by lottie at 4:10 PM on September 9, 2008

I so love the Oliver + S patterns for babies and young children. Lovely, straightforward directions for old-fashioned baby (and kid) clothes. There are lots of designers doing amazing prints nowadays (just look at the fabric suppliers on etsy, for example), but I love tiny clothes in really classic fabrics like denim, plain linen/cotton blends (surprisingly, linen works great for kids, soft and durable and kids look cute in casual wrinkles), ticking, seersucker, corduroy (especially baby-wale, it's soft and flexible).

Etsy also has a lot of inspiration. I often look at this seller and this one for ideas on simple, wearable, but sweet clothes for little ones.

Other than clothes, I think it's nice to get a stack of prefold cloth diapers and run a cute border along the bottom=cute burp cloths. If you have the time and the skills, one can never have enough baby quilts, but even sweet extra blankets (one side cute cotton print, one side soft chenille or similar, turn and topstitch) are nice to give so that every corner of the house has a blankie to throw over baby.

You're a good friend!
posted by rumposinc at 4:13 PM on September 9, 2008

Baby clothes often fall into three categories:

1. Adorable, but wearable once for a photograph/church service/formal event because the clothing requires careful cleaning, pressing, constant maintenance (ties, bows, etc)
2. Impractical, poor access for diaper changes
3. Daily wear

For infants, you really, really, really, want snap-crotch clothing. I specifically avoided the overalls we had without nap crotches for that reason. I'd only dress my kids in those when all other options were exhausted.

It might be worth it to gussy up a plain onesie or two.

You might also consider a fleece hat.

The two most practical non-clothing textile items we got were a hooded baby towel. We still have the first from our 5-year old and still use it. They're also butt-simple to make.

We also had a flannel car seat liner from my sister-in-law. It was a large double layer of flannel shaped more or less like a trefoil with holes for the straps/latches. Basically, one lobe of the trefoil goes to the top of the car seat with the other two lobes sticking out over the edge. Baby goes in, straps go on, fold the bottom two lobes in to snuggle up. Great for cold weather!
posted by plinth at 4:47 PM on September 9, 2008

I made Rae's Itty Bitty Baby Dress for my little girl while I was pregnant. With a matching diaper cover and/or sewn/knit/crocheted booties it would be a great gift. Look at all the cool dresses people have made with that free pattern!
posted by littlegreenlights at 4:48 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've always gone with quilts. Sunbonnet Sue/Sam is adorable and easy. Plus the quilt doesn't have to fit the kid, so no guessing about how big a baby your friend will have.
posted by nat at 5:52 PM on September 9, 2008

I do a large receiving blanket, almost like FergieBelle, but twice as big.

Use 3 1/2 yards of nice soft flannel.
Wash it in hot water and dry it in a hot dryer to shrink it.

Cut 1/2 yard off. Be careful to keep the edges nice and square.
Make an 18" square.
Fold into a triangle, right sides together.
Stitch almost all the way around the three sides.
Turn right side out.
Press the piece, being careful to lay the opening flat and even.
Sew around the edge of this triangle with a zig zag stitch.

Take the remaining yardage and fold in half, right sides together.
Make sure all the edges are lined up and the ends are squared off.
Slip the triangle piece into the larger piece at a corner, and line up all edges.
Pin in place.

Sew almost all the way around, leaving an opening to turn the piece right side out.
Make sure the opening is NOT in the corner with the triangle piece.
Reinforce with extra stitches where the corners of the triangle piece meet the larger piece. (Backstitch a couple of times.)

Turn the piece right side out.
Press the piece, and pin the opening shut.

Sew all the way around the edge with a zig zag stitch.

You now have a very large, double-sided flannedl blanket, with a HOOD. Makes for a great after-bath blankie. Keeps Mom from slapping the back of Baby's head to keep that darn flap of blankie over Baby's head. Sometimes I sew ribbon at the corners of the hood so Mom can tie the blankie around Baby's neck.

It is wonderful for later on, when Baby goes to pre-school. And, it will last a really long time, becoming a favorite soft treasure. Naptime isn't complete without one of these blankies!

(With the small piece left over from making the hood, I usually make a bib, or bath washcloth.)
posted by Corky at 6:40 PM on September 9, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you, Everyone! These have all been very helpful answers. I'm thinking hooded towel or receiving blanket, and maybe a kimono or dress, though I'm also really liking the bootie idea.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:18 PM on September 9, 2008

I just did a ton of these - because I had to do gifts for five babies in a short period of time. I have a ton of cute fabrics that were easy to use little pieces of - cropping in some pin-up girl prints, day of the dead skulls, etc... personalizing for the parents and gender. Quick, cute and have been well received.
posted by librarianamy at 7:26 PM on September 9, 2008

Response by poster: Forgot to mention, thanks to those who reminded me about Etsy! I always forget about the fabric sellers there, and there's lots of cute baby stuff for inspiration.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:49 PM on September 9, 2008

Martha Stewart has instructions and pattern for baby kimono. I've always wanted to make one, but I never get to it before the kid grows up.
posted by cereselle at 7:21 AM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Nice, librarianamy. Now I can do something with the leftover bits of cutesy fabric I'm anticipating. I'll probably pick up some stuff from Superbuzzy or Etsy's huge selection of Kawaii fabrics.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:24 AM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

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