My 6 year old niece Allie: “What day is your baby going to come?”
Me: “Unfortunately babies come whenever they want to and don’t tell you when.”
Allie: “Thats not very nice of them.”
Oh Allie you are so right. Playing the waiting game all month is going to be interesting (and very frustrating!). I am slowly but surly crossing things off of my list of things I feel like I have to get done before the baby comes. Last night I finally finished making bassinet sheets for the wicker bassinet I got off of craig’s list and for the bassinet that snaps into our stroller. Hopefully two each will be enough, ideally I would have liked to have three each but I have other things I want to get done and so they will have to wait.
I had been hunting around for bassinet sheets to fit the two very different sized bassinets I needed them for and found that there is so much difference in sizing that it was a little difficult to find one that I felt would fit well so I decided to make my own to custom fit my bassinets. I took that a step further and made some darts around the curved parts of the mattresses so there would not be an excessive amount of extra fabric under the mattress making it lay strangely. If you want to do something quicker I am sure it would have worked just as well with out the darts but I wanted a really good fit.
Before I could make the sheets I had to finish the wool blanket mattress that I made so I got some heavy duty thread, an upholstery needle, and my thread snippers and went to work. I lined up all the layers of the mattress I had cut out (except for the two I lanolized to be the piddle pads) and starting at the middle worked my way out tufting them together. While the mattress is still a bit more floppy than I would like it does hold together for putting sheets and such on a lot better. If there is some kind of monster diaper leak on this I just have to snip the threads that hold the mattress together and instead of having a thick mattress to wash I will have much thinner layers that will wash and dry much faster. I also learned a trick for cutting drying time a bunch when lanolizing the pads that will work if I have to wash the mattress, place the washed or lanolized wool in the washing machine and do a spin cycle before laying them out to dry and instead of it taking a day or two to dry it seems to happen overnight.
To start making a pattern for the sheet (I knew I was going to be making more than one so wanted to make a pattern but if for some reason you only plan on making one you can probably do this part directly on the fabric) I taped a cut open grocery bag and some craft paper I had laying around together. You want to make sure that there is as least 6 inches of available paper all the way around the mattress (here I am using one of the piddle pads to make my pattern from since it is the same size as the mattress). If you are making a pattern for something thicker you should measure the thickness of the mattress and how far under the mattress you want the sheet to go and add a few inches for seam allowance. After you have your pattern paper taped together measure 6 inches all the way around the mattress making marks you can connect (like connect the dots!) and cut out.
Next I used my judgment and figured out where on the curved sections of the mattress I would need darts and cut a straight line into the pattern. When I made the pattern for the bassinet that snaps into our stroller I forgot about having the line be straight and in the middle where I wanted the dart to be and had a much harder time getting the seams to match up properly so be sure you do this part as pictured. Now lift up the two sides together and have them overlap as while holding them at a 90 degree angle from the table. Using a marker put a dot at each end of the shorter side of the triangle (the part on top).
Then take your marker and a ruler and connect the dot with the point of the dart and cut there (but only cut if you are making a pattern, if you are doing this directly on fabric don’t cut this yet!).
When you are done cutting all the darts into your pattern lay it out on your fabric and pin it down so it will not shift as you cut the main large oval shape out (again do not cut that darts yet!)
After the oval (or whatever shape you are making) is cut out take some tailors chalk or if you are not worried about it showing marker and a ruler and trace the darts onto the fabric.
For each dart you need to fold the fabric in the middle of the dart trying to match up the lines on both sides of the fabric.
Pin the fabric so it will hold its shape. It is actually much easier to put the pins in at a 90 degree angle from the line but I was not thinking about that when I was doing this and forgot to take another photo when I was making the other sheets. I also find it is easier to know where to start sewing if I put at pin in at the very tip of the point of the triangle. Now go to your sewing machine and sew all the darts. I decided that since I was going to be putting a hem on the sheet and due to issues I am having with my sewing machine that I would start the seam at the small point making sure that there was enough thread trailing for me to tie a knot instead of doing a backstitch. I may live to regret that but so far it seems to be working. Since I am putting a hem on the other side I also didn’t do a backstitch there, but again I may wish I had done so in the future so use your best judgment.
After you have sewn all the darts trim off any excess fabric to help reduce the bulk. I made sure to not cut very far into the seam as I assume most of the strain on the sheet will be at the tip of the dart and so wanted to have plenty of fabric to keep it from unraveling to the seam.
Now start pinning all the way around the sheet to make your hem. It will be easier to thread your elastic through if you lay all the seam allowance for the darts in the same direction when doing this. after you sew the fabric over repeat this making sure that you leave enough of a tube to feed your elastic through. Also make sure you leave about an inch open in your last hem to be able to put the elastic through with the aid of a safety pin.
I didn’t get a photo of my putting the elastic through the sheet (its kind of a two handed job) but I suggest threading the elastic through with out the mattress on and then place the sheet onto the mattress as you want it to fit and tighten the elastic as needed. I used 1/4 inch elastic though if you were making something larger like a crib mattress you may want to use something thicker. I can’t really tell you how much elastic you need since this is for custom sheeting but I got a three yard piece and was able to make two sheets for this bassinet and have some left over though I don’t think enough for a whole other sheet.
I hope that was clear!
The flannel I used for the sheet shown was on sale at Jo-Anne’s for around $2.50 a yard which is how much I bought and had some left over as well so I think I saved a substantial amount for this custom sheet. For the sheets I made for the bassinet that I snap into the stroller I actually used part of a huge flannel sheet set that I picked up at the thrift store for $1.50. I could not find a size on the label but we have a queen sized bed and they were to big for our bed (hence getting turned into other things). My point is that if you keep your eyes open you can find very affordable ways to get fabric for your projects. I know that just a few weeks before I started on my sewing projects I saw these absolutely beautiful curtains at the thrift store but there were only 3 and while we were actually looking for curtains I needed 4 so passed them up. Now that I am sewing I am kicking my self for not getting them as I have the perfect project for them but not the fabric. So if you are in need of a lot of fabric for a project don’t be afraid to look at the sheets, blankets, curtains, even extra large clothing at thrift stores and such to get it.
Now go put your feet up and reward your self for a job well done!