My first baby sewing tutorial: So Sew Easy burp cloths

After a lot of deliberating about fabric choices for several baby sewing projects (see the ones I’ve thinking about here), I finally got started on the burp cloth project.

Using So Sew Easy’s perfect burp cloth pattern (download here) I’ve finally made a set for one friend who’s expecting. I’ve still to make another set for a friend who gave birth to her baby boy a couple months ago though!

I’m not a mother myself so I can’t say for certain whether using a square towel on your shoulder is the best. I can see though that the ergonomic design of the So Sew Easy burp cloth would be perfect:

  • it’s designed to have larger areas to cover the front and back from any spilled milk or regurgitation when burping a baby
  • the curved edge fits neatly around the neck area when slung over your shoulder
  • the fabric choice gives for cute and beautiful cloths while using an absorbent material makes it also practical
  • although it’s intended use as a burp cloth, the absorbent material means you can still use it for older babies and toddlers. They still tend to make a mess while learning to feed themselves, so use it for wiping their chins when eating or drooling

Whether you’re making it for your own expectant baby or for expecting mothers and fathers, this is your chance to effect change on the environment by choosing organic and sustainable materials (see my previous post about ethical and sustainable shopping here). I carefully selected and bought organic cotton fabrics from UK suppliers to ensure the fabric I used were as safe and is better for the planet.

Here I share my own step by step tutorial on how to make your own burp cloths using So Sew Easy’s wonderful pattern. This is really a simple pattern to use and the instructions that come with the pattern are easy to follow, but I know it sometimes takes me a few times of reading someone else’s instructions to understand what I need to do before starting a project, so I prefer providing step by step photos to help explain what I’m doing.

The other great thing is these cloths can be made using fat quarter pieces so you can get a variety of patterns from a bundle without having to buy half metre pieces of each design. Depending on the size of your fat quarter pieces, you should be able to make at least 3 burp cloths from each one (I got a bundle from the local fabric shop which gave me 3 of each piece, but a bundle from eBay gave me 4 burp cloths from each piece).

Now here’s what you need for making your own So Sew Easy burp cloths

Fat quarter cotton fabric pieces (each organic cotton bundle I bought came with 4 different designs)
Absorbent fabric for backing (I recommend using organic cotton terry cloth or fleece)
So Sew Easy burp cloth pattern (download here)
Dressmaking pins
Fabric scissors
Sewing Machine

1. Firstly, you’ll need to print the pattern. Make sure the pieces are the correct size by checking the measurement of the inch square box to make sure it is an inch wide. You should have both parts of the pattern printed on separate A4 sheets to assemble.

2. Along the grey shaded area of the bottom half, align the top half and stick the two together with sellotape. Your pattern is now ready to use.

3. Arrange your pattern on the cotton fabric how you like. For ease, I printed of 3 copies of the pattern so I can easily see how I can make the most of each fat quarter piece.

4. Once you’re happy with the alignment, cut out the pieces.

5.Repeat steps 3 and 4 for the absorbent backing material (in my case, cotton fleece).

6. Next, decide which side you want to use for the back side of the fabric. I decided to use the fleecier side (wrong side) rather than the smooth side as I preferred the look and feel to it. I also felt it would be more absorbent compared to the smooth, woven side.

7. Now pin the right sides of the fabric together (the coloured side of the cotton and fleecy side of the fleece) with the wrong sides facing outward (the white side of the cotton and smooth woven side of the fleece).

8. Sew the wrong sides together leaving an opening/gap of about 2 inches on one of the straight edges. This will be easier to close up once you’ve got it turned inside out to the right side of the cloth later. To leave as much of the size as possible, I lined the edge of the fabric I was sewing to the edge of the sewing machine foot so I left about a 5mm seam allowance.

I decided to leave my gap on the short edge of the burp cloth

9. To let the sharp corner stitching lay flat when you turn this inside out, cut the corners before you get to the line of stitching.

10. Stick two fingers through the gap and pull the farthest corner through so your burp cloth is now right side out.

Your end result should look something like this with rounded edges.

11. To smooth down those raised edges, flatten the edges as much as you can and tuck under the edge of the fleece so this isn’t visible from the top and pin. You’ll also want to make sure you pin down the open edges and that this is fully closed.

To sew around the edges to keep it flat and to close off the open gap, I lined the edge of the burp cloth with the inside notch of the sewing machine foot leaving a seam allowance of about 3mm from the edge.

Because the seam allowance on the inside was matched with the outer edge of the machine foot (5mm), to close off the open edge, we need to make sure the stitching on the right side of the fabric is smaller (3mm), otherwise it might catch the raw edge of the fabric on the inside and not close it off properly.

There you have it. When you use a variety of fabrics, you get different designs which make it more interesting for the prospective mother and father to see what other fabric patterns you’ve made available.

According to So Sew Easy, the whole project took an hour, but I was making a lot of them so the cutting, sewing, turning inside out and sewing again took me at least 7 hours. I thought about what it’s like to look after a small child and I’ve had my fair share of helping look after other’s wee ones for a while and it can be a bit of a pain to be using one towel all day. It easily gets soaked and you want to be prepared to have more than one on hand a day, so I made 14 of these in one sitting, which was probably why it took me so long.

I figured if you’re constantly feeding, burping and wiping drool or spilled milk from your baby’s face and chin, you’ll go through at least one a day. By making 14 burp cloths, my friend’s got 2 a day and if they need more they’ve got plenty more to use and can wash as necessary. If they only need 2 burp cloths a day though, that’ll last them a whole week before they need to wash the whole lot, also saving the environment by doing less laundry.

What do you think of the design of these burp cloth from So Sew Easy? If you’re a mummy or a daddy, can you see if they’ll be useful for you? Are you using something similar at the moment with your wee ones?

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