Thursday, July 17, 2014

DIY Crib Sheet Tips & Tricks

The truth is, mamas, that most store bought baby bedding is sad.  It is sad, because retailers are still ignoring what trends and preferences moms have when it comes to decorating for a new child.  Visit the aisle of any store and you'll find  pink, blue, yellow, or green.  And...that's about it.  Most of those colors are still in pastel form. Barf-a-roni.  And "theme" choices? Elephants, Winnie-the-Pooh, monkeys, and princess are not going to cut it. Not anymore!  Okay, okay...kudos to Target for finally jumping on the chevron trend...but even those colors are limited too.

There are SO many blogs out there that already do an incredible job detailing the "hows" for making your own crib sheets---and you can find the great one I used as a reference further down. BUT I do want to add in some changes of my own that will increase the quality of construction and (hopefully) the lifetime of DIY sheets.

So, here are some things to think about for crib sheets. (Who knew there could be so much thinking about crib sheets? They're just crib sheets!)

1. Fabric choice.  Make sure that the fabric you are buying is not too thin--since they will be washed often....And sometimes need to be scrubbed like a freaking maniac when your little sweetie has a diaper explosion.  (True story--I was warned about little boy pee, never about projectile poo. So there its is. You have been warned!!!)  A busier pattern with a lot of colors will also help hide stains that just won't come out.

2.  Cost.  Here's where it gets tricky.  In a DIY, *usually* the goal is to make something for cheaper. Sometimes this doesn't happen. Cost of fabric can be pretty variable depending upon the quality of fabric, the designer, and where its being sold.   I happened to luck out and get my fabric on clearance for $5 a yard at Joann's Fabric Store. I already had thread and elastic (which would be the only other things you have to purchase for this project. Yay!)

3. Time. Making these took me less than hour. Mind you--this an hour without interruptions. Without kids. Because they are finally in bed. And are STAYING in bed. That's also a smaller amount of time than getting in my car to drive to Target, stare at the limited options, look at more stuff I don't need or can't afford, plus the toy section because one son will be yelling at me the whole time to do that, and the other telling me he wants a snack.... and checkout. Because let's face it: I CANNOT make it in and out of Target in an hour. But I can make my own sheets!

4. Skills required.  First, do you have a sewing machine you know how to use? (This might start to sound like an ed. video from a 1950's home ec class, beware!)  Do you know how to measure and cut in a straight line? Can you sew in a straight line? You're in luck, because this project is for you!!!

5. Tutorial changes. I used this one by Erinn over at Fancy Napkin.  I followed the directions for all the dimensions, and I had to be a bit careful since one of my fabric choices was slightly less in width than normal.

  •  Pre-Wash & Iron. I might be paranoid about pre-washing fabric, but I make sure to do this slightly annoying step before starting a sewing project.  My fabric is 100% cotton and I didn't want to lose even an inch after washing and risk having it not fit the mattress.  I also iron because it makes cutting much more accurate than leaving it all wrinkly...and because I never seem to pull things out of the dryer right away. 
  • French seams. It sounds all super fancy and super hard--but its super not.  When you are sewing up the corners of your fitted sheet, the directions tell you to sew RIGHT sides together.  This only gives you one seam, and leaves the raw edges of your fabric exposed.  Instead, I sewed the WRONG sides together first using a zig-zag stitch very close to the edge of my fabric.  Then, turned and sewed the RIGHT sides together at 3/8. This will enclose the first zig-zag stitches inside and give a very nice finish, and the fabric won't fray in the wash.  
  • Elastic casing. Many of the tutorials out there tell you to zig-zag your elastic as you stretch it along the bottom sides of your sheet.  I have never liked doing this if I can help it; because I tend to stretch the elastic too much or too little while I sew.   It also leaves the elastic exposed; which I did not want either. Erinn folds hers over, irons, pins, and uses a straight stitch.  Mine? Skip the ironing and pinning, and just eye-ball the width as you sew. To create the casing, I folded the edge of my fabric over (not a rolled hem!) just once, and made sure it would be wide enough for my elastic to fit through I used about 1/2" width elastic.  I zig-zagged all around the edge of my fabric to keep the raw sides where I'd cut from fraying.  This isn't as important on the longer sides, since you don't have to cut the selvage--but it gives a really nice look.  Leave a small opening to put elastic through. Be careful not to let the elastic twist and turn inside the casing as you stretch it through.

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