Repurposing a Crib Bumper

easy sewing projects
Has anyone else ever wondered when you’re supposed to use the crib bumper that’s included in all the cute coordinated crib bedding sets?  Some people warn against using a crib bumper with newborns because babies can get entangled in it.  Others recommend avoiding the crib bumpers with older babies because they can use the bumpers to lift themselves higher in their escape attempts.  After I got my super cute bedding set, I realized there’s not really a time that is “safe” to use the bumper.  But, I really liked the look of the pink and brown matching set and especially love tulips, so wanted to find something to use it on.

When Beach Baby was born, I came up with a great solution.  I repurposed the crib bumper to serve as a teething bumper along the top of the crib rail. We’d tried other store-bought brands of crib teething guards and they didn’t work at all.  Our crib is heavily marked up from Beach Girl’s teething days and I was hoping we could avoid any further damage with Beach Baby… and I got a cute crib accessory to boot!

This is seriously the easiest sewing project possible (no button holes required!).  The crib bumper comes ready to repurpose (it even already has straps to tie it onto the crib!) and has worked perfectly for us for over a year now.

Here’s how to make your own crib bumper turned teething guard:

First, hold the crib bumper up to the top railing of the crib to get the proper length.  I kept one of the finished ends intact so that I could sew as little as possible and use the straps that were already there.

easy sewing projects

Cut the crib bumper to the right length, cutting an extra amount of batting out from the inside so that it doesn’t get bulky at the end.

easy sewing projectsIf there aren’t straps at the unfinished end of your teething bumper, cut straps off from an unused part of the crib bumper.  Then, sew them onto the very end of your new teething bumper with the top pieces of the straps inside the crib bumper.

Fold the ends in so they look finished and then stitch up the side. This doesn’t need to look very pretty because it will be flush up against the crib post.

Tie your new crib teething rail on tightly and you’re done!easy sewing projects

I still have 2/3 of the crib bumper left; any ideas for how to use the rest of it?

Pinterest Challenge: Kindle Case

Ever since I successfully repurposed Beach Dad’s shirt into a dress for Beach Girl, I’ve been wanting to try another sewing project.  So, when Young House Love & Bower Power announced their Pinterest Challenge last week, I looked through my Pinterest sewing board and decided to join in the fun! I decided to really challenge myself and try to sew a Kindle case.

I used these two tutorials as my inspiration, as well as an iPad case we got from Bertie’s Closet on Etsy a couple years ago.

I (selfishly) grabbed one of Beach Girl’s outgrown dresses (made by Zutano) to upcycle it.  I love the brightly-colored owls and had been dying to make myself something out of it.  I let Beach Baby keep the matching pants, but swiped the dress for myself.  For the lining, I used part of an Old Navy fleece scarf.

To make the case a bit more sturdy, I also used interfacing that my sister got me awhile back.  I used this fusible kind (which means you can iron it on) and it worked great!

Since I upcycled the fabric and fleece, the only real cost was the interfacing, at $2.48/yard.  I used about 1/4 yard of interfacing, bringing this project’s total to under $1! Woohoo!

I am so proud of how this turned out. I was super nervous and sure I was going to ruin it.  I certainly made more than my fair share of mistakes, but it’s done!  And, you can totally do this too.  Seriously. I’m sure I learned how to sew a button on in Kindergarten, but hadn’t sewn anything else until when my mom and sister started teaching me recently.  Up until about 6 months ago, Beach Dad was in charge of repairing any buttons that fell off, because I was even scared to sew a button on.

If I can do this, so can you.  Here’s how: 

My kindle – bought in December 2011 – is 4 1/2 inches wide by 6 1/2 inches tall.  This would also work as a case for another e-reader, an iPad, or even a small netbook; you’ll just have to resize it to fit your piece of electronics.

Wanting to preserve as much fun owl fabric as possible for future projects, I tried using fabric from the dress’ sleeves at first.  As I pinned it together to sew it, I realized I hadn’t left myself enough of a margin for the seams, so had to start all over.  This was the first of many, many mistakes learning experiences that I made during this project.  Seriously, I’m pretty sure a better seamstress could have made at least 10 of these in the amount of time and sewing that it took me to make just one.  But, I did make one, so I’ll keep encouraging myself in that. 

I cut new pieces of fabric – this time, each piece measured 6 1/2 inches by 8 3/4 inches.  Rather than dutifully measuring each piece, I carefully cut one and then traced it on top of another chunk of fabric before I cut the next piece out.  I did the same thing with the fleece and fusible interfacing.  I’m sure my sloppy cutting breaks many seamstress’ hearts, but it saved me a ton of time and really, I don’t think I’d have been much more accurate if I’d carefully measured it all.

To attach the interfacing to the back of the printed fabric, I just followed the manufacturer’s instructions – line them up with the fusible side of the interfacing against the back side (known in fancy pants sewing circles as the “wrong side”) of the printed fabric.  Then, firmly press the iron over each segment for 10 seconds before turning it over.  Finally, iron the front (aka “right side”… see what they did there?) of the printed fabric to ensure a good bond.

You can see here that I was pretty off when I traced the interfacing, but I just chopped off the extra and celebrated time saved.  I needed that time for all my later mistakes.

Now, I was ready to start sewing.  I started with the front panel of the case.  Following this tutorial, I put one piece of patterned fabric and one piece of fleece together, right sides facing (which means that the “fronts” of the fabrics were touching each other).  I pinned along the edge that I wanted to be the top of the case and then sewed straight across so the fleece and fabric were connected at only the top edge.

After I ironed the seam flat, I sewed across the top on the the outside.  This is called top stitching and made the case look a lot more crisp when finished. 

At this point, I realized I needed to figure out a way to close the case.  I didn’t want to have to go shopping, but also didn’t have much on hand in the way of fasteners.  I found an extra button that coordinated with the owls well enough, but didn’t have anything to use as a loop to close it.

It seemed like my only options were going shopping or [gulp] learning how to sew a buttonhole. I’ve heard sewing a buttonhole is one of the hardest things to do as a beginning sewer, so I spent a long time trying to come up with any other option possible.  Since it was already almost midnight and I didn’t want to wait to go shopping, I figured this was my best option, but was terrified. After much encouragement from Beach Dad and a call to my sewing instructor mom, I decided to give it a try.

I made a flap by fusing the interfacing to the back of the fabric and then putting the right side of the fabric against the right side of the fleece.  I sewed around 3 edges (the two sides and bottom), snipped the corners, and turned it inside out.  I poked the corners out using a meat thermometer… because I’m high-tech like that.  My finished flap measured about 2 1/4 inches wide x 3 inches tall, but I just eyeballed it to see what size looked best with the sizes of the case and of the button.

The sewing machine manual guided me in figuring out what a buttonhole presser foot even is and then in getting it all set up.

I experimented on a piece of scrap fabric and the buttonhole didn’t look great, but was good enough.  Turns out, the sewing machine does most of the work for you.  At this point, Beach Dad teased me and my melodramatic ways, saying “Are you kidding me? The hardest thing you could EVER do in sewing and the sewing machine does it all for you?!” I felt pretty proud (and silly for being so nervous), but little did I know… things were about to get messy.  And frustrating.

Next, I tried to sew a buttonhole on the flap itself.  It started off okay and then the sewing machine needle got jammed in all the thread it had sewn to make the button hole.  It started screaming loudly at me and then stopped sewing. I tried again. Same thing. At that point, Beach Baby woke up from all the racket, so Beach Dad went to take care of her while I made yet another flap.  When I tried to put a button hole in that one, I had the same problem and it wasn’t long before I heard Beach Baby protesting my late night buttonholing yet again.

At this point – after 1 in the morning – I gave up and went to bed.  As you can tell, I’m not doing a great job with my goal of going to bed by 10:30!

The next day, I checked out all my buttonholes from the night before and decided one of them wasn’t too terrible.  I was sick of all the sewing machine’s yelling and worried I’d break a needle or the machine itself, so decided to see if I could “repair” my best buttonhole by hand.  Thanks to Google, I found Martha Stewart’s instructions to repair a tattered buttonhole.  Since my buttonhole looked like a dog had chewed it, I figured “tattered” was a good descriptor and set to work.

Following Martha’s advice, I reinforced all the edges using a blanket stitch (look at all these new sewing skills just from one project!) until I felt like the buttonhole was secure enough. If you’re feeling badly about your sewing skills, check out this button hole. 

It went from “tattered” to “sewn by a toddler”.  Thankfully, the button covers most of it when the case is closed.  And, if the buttonhole starts to fall apart, at least I know how to fix it.  Sort of.

Once I finally had the button hole working well enough, things started to look up.  I set to work on the back of the case, starting with the top edge.  I layered the owl fabric (right side up), the flap (right side down), and the fleece (right side down) and pinned them all together.  I sewed along the length of the top and pressed it flat.

Next, you’ll want to top stitch along this edge.  I forgot to do this until later on and it was easy enough to fix, but it would have been much easier to do it here.

At last, I was ready to sew the button onto the front of the case.  I centered it and checked it against the length of the flap to make sure it lined up with the buttonhole and sewed it on.  My 4th button since Kindergarten!

From here on out, the steps were a lot more straightforward.  I simply pinned the front and back panels together – with right sides facing – and sewed along the two sides and bottom edge.  Make sure not to sew along the top! You’ve already finished those edges, and those will be the opening for your case, so they’re done.  As I sewed, I made sure that the top edges of the case were lined up really well. As you can see in the picture below, my two bottom edges ended up lining up poorly, but that was easy to fix. I’d recommend sewing each side, starting at the top, before sewing along the bottom.

Once I’d sewn along the sides and bottom of the case, I snipped the corners (this helps reduce bulky fabric in the corners so they look cleaner).  I used pinking shears along the edges to remove any extra fabric and to keep the owl fabric from fraying.

Excitedly, I turned it right-side-out and celebrated that my case was almost done!! The girls, who were eating lunch, clapped along with me while I shouted “yay mommy!!! I DID IT!!!! I sewed a Kindle case!”

I top stitched along the sides and edge and held my breath as I inserted my Kindle. Miracle of miracles, it fit like a glove.  When I showed Beach Girl, she said “Wow! I did not know you could do that!”  Neither did I.

Update: Here are the links to other lovely projects by: Katie, Kate, Michelle, and Young House Love. Enjoy! I’ve also linked up to I Heart Naptime.

How to Make A Dress Out of A Dress Shirt

I came into the kitchen the other morning and opened the trashcan.

How’s that for a great start to a story?

Inside, I found my husband’s old button-up shirt that he has had since high school. Since I’m a total sewing novice and don’t want to spend money on fabric just to completely botch it, I texted him and was excited to find he’d ripped the sleeve and did intend to throw it away! I texted back “don’t throw clothes away without asking… I might want to sew with them!” and got to work. (Don’t worry: the shirt was the only thing in the trashcan!)

I decided to merge two tutorials (here and here) and added my own lazy steps short cuts to make a cute toddler dress for Beach Girl.

Instead of a pattern, I used a dress that fits her well as my guide.  I traced the dress onto the shirt, adding a couple extra inches around all sides to allow for the seams and for room to grow. I made sure to keep the bottom of his shirt as the bottom of the dress to save myself some sewing.

I used the existing buttons from the front of his shirt as the back of her dress and then sewed a strip of fabric along the chest for a little extra flair. To reassemble the shirt as a dress, I simply sewed up both lengths (with right sides facing and then turned it right side out), finished the top of the dress, and added straps.

For the straps, I just cut the cuffs off the shirt and sewed them on as shoulder straps, using the existing button holes to attach them to buttons that I sewed on the front of the dress.

Super easy! I finished the entire project in one day and… Voila! Just like that, I have sewn my first independent project.

I’m linking up to: I Heart Naptime.