Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sewing the Perfect Swaddler

Aden and Anais muslin swaddle blankets are the hot luxury baby good of the moment. Their website has lots of cute products and tons of info about why and how to swaddle your infant in a muslin blanket. Their blankets come in really trendy patterns, but the price can be a little steep, considering that fabric stores sell muslin for a few dollars a yard.

We found swaddling to be a huge help when Lydia went through a fussy period around 4 weeks old. I blogged about issues with sleep here, here, and here. Of course, I now know that Lydia was just beginning to react to the double wammie of milk allergy and renal reflux. At the time, we just knew we had very upset baby and wanted desperately to help her feel better.

A friend had given me The Happiest Baby on the Block DVD and the technique of swaddling, shushing, and swinging that were described really helped us. The Wooden Spoon blog has a pretty good overview of the basic ideas, but to really master the technique you need the video and the right blanket. Swaddling requires a large square of fabric. Unfortunately, most of what is sold as baby blankets are smaller rectangle receiving blankets.

I initially saw the idea for making my own gauze swaddling blanket on the Made blog. She has some really good tips for buying muslin fabric and even some ideas for finishing the edges and decorating the gauze blanket. Reading her blog post was my "aha moment". Lydia was a summer baby so blankets often seemed too thick for the warm weather. Making my own gauze blanket meant I could customize colors, size, and save some money. In short, gauze sounded GREAT!

I selected several gauze fabrics from fabric.com because they were around $4 a yard for solid color gauze in wonderful bright colors. If you want designer prints, they currently have a line by Kokka, (including the ADORABLE bear and bee pattern above) but those will cost you $18 a yard and defeat the point of doing it yourself. (But still those bears ARE tempting!)

I needed a yard and a fourth to create a perfect 45 inch square swaddling blanket. (Aden and Anais blankets are 47 x 47 but gauze is made in 45 inch widths.) Fabric.com sells in half yard increments, so if you are making two blankets, buy two and a half yards. Otherwise, get a yard and cut off a few inches of the width to have a 36 x 36. Or buy a yard and a half and cut off a few inches of the length to create the 45x45 inch blanket. I folded my fabric on a diagonal to cut the length to match the width. As shown above, you may need a large workspace to lay out and square up your fabric.

Trimming the fabric was easy. Just snip one end and the fabric will tear in a nice straight line. Mine didn't even fray too much, so if it were just for me to use, I might be tempted to not do anything to the edges! However, some of the blankets I am making are going to be gifts, so I need to do something to finish the raw edges.

I was planning to do a quick hand sewn rolled edge hem. I wanted to bring the fabric squares to the beach to sew while relaxing or being driven home. Sadly, they didn't get packed. I could still see them by hand in my down time at home, but today I stumbled on these Muny Dohar Blankets and I am in LOVE with the contrasting binding! Because my gauze is solid color, I think this could provide a fun pop of color.

The Made blog has a tutorial for making your own patterned bias tape that would work perfectly for this project. It seems a little tedious but, for the blankets that will become gifts especially, I think the effort might be worth it. Because half of them are gift.... and because I can't work on them right now anyway... We will all have to wait to find out!

3 comments:

Traci said...

I totally read that book and I swear it helped so much!!!

Mrs. Swaddle said...

The brand name muslin swaddle blankets are expensive like you said. I should look into making one if they are that cheap on the fabric website. The good thing is they will be unique in a good or bad way (I'm not a good sewer :)

Nicole said...

I am curious what your experience has been with this gauze from frabric.com? I have heard that it gets stiff.. thanks for your help!