we are swaddle junkies. it took about 10 minutes of having baby judah home for us to realize that he NEEDED to be confined and swaddled to sleep well. it makes total sense considering that, upon birth, babies' appendages have never been not touching their bodies for their entire existences.
my kids' first swaddler was my uterus: strong like bull. but eventually they busted right out. had to happen. then there was the receiving blanket method that the hospital nurses have down pat and which we tried desperately to learn before we got sent home. a few good newborn startles and we realized how hulk-like a baby can be and that we needed more than origami to hold them in.
so then we upgraded to this one that comes in a cheap 2-pack at target and stays shut with velcro. it was great for when he was tiny even though he could sometimes bust the closures, but really we were just biding our time until we could use the *trumpet fanfare* MIRACLE BLANKET!
our friends tiff and jorge had touted the heck out of this blanket when their daughter madison started using it, and then when judah was about to arrive they gave one to us as a gift! they even gave us a tutorial on how to use it with a teddy bear standing in for our as-yet unborn judah. we believed them, but the blanket was a little too big for him for the first few weeks.
well, once he grew into that baby, we never looked back. this thing really is a miracle. instead of velcro, it uses the baby's own body weight to hold the arms down. at a few months old, they can wriggle their way out over a few hours time, but it is by far the best thing we have found, and our kids have both been AMAZING sleepers, so we're faithful. plus, by that age, they are starting to be a little less startle-able, so being loose by morning is okay because it serves to sort of wean them off of it. who cares if they totally look like straight-jacketed mental patients while wearing them?
so we knew we'd be getting lots more use out of it for layla. and we have. it's totally faded and even has a little hole near one seam where we pull super-tight to get an optimum swaddle, but at $30 a pop, we aren't ready to put the old fella out to pasture. it still works great, even though layla busts out of it with her right arm every night. in the morning she is a toga-clad little roman senator.
the color has almost all disappeared, but none of the effectiveness has
having only one of these is tough too because i can never keep it clean. there is not enough time to wash and dry it in between naps. our girl sleeps ALL THE TIME. seriously, her schedule is: wake up, eat for 30 minutes, play for 45 minutes, fuss for 30 seconds, get swaddled, put to bed without a peep and sleep for 2-3 hours. repeat.
inevitably, a healthy layer of drool/milk crust forms on the outermost layer that is up by her mouth because her paci falls out and she starts gumming away on the blanket. additionally, somehow jesse spilled lasagna on her while she was wearing it so that stain had to go too. when it gets to be the texture of stiff paper mache, i give up and wash it and she just has to wait, or go for a car ride.
so i was thinking of buying another one on ebay or something so we'd have a backup. then the other day i was looking at it unfolded while she played and i started wondering if i could maybe make one. it never occurred to me that i might be able to reproduce a miracle of my own. but the pieces and construction seemed really simple, and i have tons of knit fabric in the form of $2 XL tshirts that i stock up on when they go on sale at joann that i never seem to use.
and then i remembered this fabric:
these adorable owls deserved to be in a project, so i plunged in last night with no advance planning or research at about 6:30 pm. it was actually really really easy, just the weird shape and length made it tricky. i was done by 10 and that was with doing it 2-ply and taking breaks to watch house.
i only had 1 yard of the owls so i turned to the t-shirt stash for trim and lining.
really quick and dirty and probably confusing tutorial for how i did it:
*this includes no pictures of how i used the original because i only had enough time with her out of the swaddle to trace my pattern pieces, not to take pics too, before she needed it back. see why i need 2!?!?! i hate tutorials that are not well documented, but i didn't know i was going to make this into a tutorial when i started, so cut me some slack.*
i laid the original down on top of a long piece of knit (my yard wasn't enough so i had to sew an extension piece on to be able to trace the whole thing) and traced around the main body with my fabric marker. i did the same for one of the inside wing pieces and cut out two of them.
the leg pouch i just sort of eyeballed knowing the the bottom curve would line up and match the exterior piece and then i added extra length between the edges for depth and space for her feet.
then i doubled each piece so that it would be 2-ply. the real miracle blanket is only 1-ply and works just fine, and sticking with that would have made this project twice as quick even. but layla's room is drafty so i wanted a thicker overall blanket.
so this was where i got to line it in a the solid green. you could totally keep it simple and use all one fabric, you'd just need to get about 2-3 yards for a lined version. i did all this with 1 yard of owls and 3 XL t-shirts and had lots left over.
i sewed it all together by pinning the main lining and main exterior pieces wrong-sides facing and then zig-zagged around the outer edge. dirty seams would be covered with trim later so i just trimmer down the places where there was excess, being careful not to cut my stitches.
then i added trim to the top part of the pocket pieces (that i had sewed into 2-ply same as above) that wouldn't be covered by the outer perimeter trim later on:
arm-holder downers (sewed on at the end by sewing the raw edge to the inside of the main body and then folding away from that new seam and re-sewing on top of it near the edge for reinforcement)
now, i have always said if i for some reason started a sewing blog, it would be called "i hate bias tape dot com." i hate working with and making the stuff. i love how polished it makes things look, but making and sewing it are beyond me. i cannot make that junk look good for the life of me and navigating corners with it is impossible. i can't believe how well the factory workers in lord-knows-where are able to put it on so many things that i own and make it look flawless. hats off to them. and higher wages and better working conditions too, i hope.
well this project called for seemingly interminable amounts of bias tape trim. thank zeus the material is a knit and not a woven fabric (no fraying) so i could just do it kind of ghetto-like with unfinished ends and not have to double fold it in or iron it.
i didn't even have to pin it in place, as you can see below, i just sandwiched as i went. this made for some dirty edges, but i went back afterwards and trimmed the excess down to almost the stitch line for a cleaner look. perfectionists should probably make themselves insane and stick with the ironed, pinned, double-fold method.
i made all this stuff by taking my yellow t-shirt and cutting 1-inch thick strips parallel to the bottom of the shirt (i even cut the already-folded hem off and used it too), which created long loops that become trim with one snip to open the loop and make a long skinny piece of trim-material.
my first ever pic of sewing in action...no real purpose, just wanted to pretend. sandwiching as i go, damn the consequences!
now the cute contrast-color lining and arm holders will only be seen by jesse and me or anyone who happens to wrap/unwrap her (which the grandparents are sort of hopeless at) because we dont take many pictures-mid swaddle. when she's wrapped you can only see the owls, but even still i love the cheery surprise interior. like a candy-center. well, really, she's the candy center i guess. ok: the swaddler is the candy wrapper, the cute inside lining is the lollipop and she is the tootsie roll center. forced metaphor complete. worth it.
this project was totally fun and easy and no-brainer. bonus: it used materials i already had on hand and made me feel less guilty about never using my knit stash. you could even make a cool patchwork version using old t-shirts only.
i cant even get over how cute it is with her all wrapped up in those colorful owls. little love nugget.
*i realize now that you'd have to have a swaddler already to be able to do this since you need the original to make your new pieces. i have never done it before, but could probably make a pattern and real instructions for this if anyone wasn't turned off enough by my ghetto explanation and really wanted to make one from scratch. unlikely since i can hardly understand myself, but let me know.*