Hunter stayed home from school today after a middle-of-the-night onset of a stomach bug. I was sorry for her to feel so bad, especially since the nighttime episode involved a very difficult hair-washing. But when the morning came, and she had slept 3 hours later than normal, and her stomach was feeling better, I think she and I both agreed that the nighttime upset was worth a day at home together.
After a movie, some crackers, and a morning of attempted work and chores, we finally ended up in the bonus room, which I am trying to dub the Creative Studio, on a Hunter-and-Will-style camp-out. Since Will has joined the Cub Scouts and has already had his first camp-out, sleeping bags are all the excitement in our house right now. Hunter grabbed her sleeping bag, and I came dragging her comforter to set up camp in the open space between the boxes, the ironing board, and the childrens’ library, which desperately needs shelving. I had full intention of napping on that fluffy pink comforter while Hunter did whatever you do when you pretend to camp out. She did not have that same intention.
Five minutes after I got nice and comfortable and nearly to snoozeland, she realized we were within arms distance of my sewing corner. And there was her brand new Janome Sew Mini sewing machine she got for her 6th birthday, perfectly boxed up and sitting amidst the boxes of fabric and craft supplies. And guess who didn’t bring a sleeping bag? The teddy bear. Before I knew it, Hunter had plopped the Janome box right in front of me and was picking tape off the box in preparation for making the sleeping bag she determined we would sew.
As I lay there, half awake, I kept making up excuses of why there was no way we could create a sleeping bag for her teddy bear right then and there, with no planning and no prep, and no idea how to use the new sewing machine. She wasn’t buying it. She knows we will attempt to make anything in our house, and the more complicated the better.
So out came the manual, which I, in my nerdiness, read cover to cover while she unwrapped the foot pedal and AC adapter. (I did, fortunately, get to read in the comfort of my camp-out palette.) The whole time I was thinking, am I really doing this? I can’t even think straight right now, much less think of how to concoct a sleeping bag zipper. And with a machine I’ve never used. I tried to convince her to think of something easier. Maybe something that didn’t need a pattern or a plan. Or something we already had a pattern for. Nope. The afternoon project was definitely going to be a sleeping bag.
We finally agreed on some striped flannel I had just 1/2 a yard of and some light pink flannel to line it. After a quick inspection of her sleeping bag, I determined that this really was quite a simple project. We folded the fabric over her teddy bear to get some dimensions, and then I just started cutting away. I found some quilt batting in my closet too, so it ended up being fluffy like a real sleeping bag, even though Hunter thought it needed to be flat.
I did the prep work, and Hunter did most of the sewing on the new Sew Mini. My new (old) Singer sewing machine table from Bill’s grandmother’s house turned out to be too high for Hunter to work at, so we moved her Mini down to an end table, which was the perfect height for her little self. I was extremely pleased with the Sew Mini, and I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to teach a child to sew or just wanting to learn themselves without a huge investment in a machine. It really sews beautifully, and it was fast and easy to learn. The simplicity does mean it lacks a few things that I’ve grown accustomed to on my Bernina Virtuosa, but the Sew Mini truly is a great little machine. I can already see Hunter putting the miles on it.
I’m going to write the sleeping bag up like a tutorial, though a quick and un-photographed one, because it truly was so super quick and easy to make, that nearly any novice seamstress should be able to make one in under an hour. I’m sure there are dozens of tutorials or patterns out there for this very thing, and there are a couple of things I would do differently if I wanted to take more time, but for a quick, one-hour little girl project, this is what I came up with.
P.S. That Singer sewing machine table? It still has the original sewing machine in it. Talk about Heir. Loom. I’ve thought of shabby-chic-ing the table, but I just don’t know. It’s decidedly full of character and deliciously brown and musty.
- 1/2 yard each of 2 coordinating fabrics
- 1/2 yard of quilt batting
- 2 15″ x 22″ Rectangles of fabric, cut with the 15″ side going with the grain
- 1 15″ x 22″ Rectangle of quilt batting
Notions and Tools I Used
22″ Coordinating Zipper, Coordinating Thread, Scissors, Iron and Ironing Board, Seam-ripper, Straight Pins, Tape Measure, Fabric marking pen
This tutorial assumes a 1/2″ seam allowance, unless otherwise specified. All seams should be back-stitched at beginning and end, and corners and curves should be cut. The size could be completely varied; we made this for a teddy bear, and a small 12″ doll fit it perfectly. It would need to be slightly larger for an American Girl doll or a standard 18″ doll. This is such an easy project to custom fit.
This would make a great fat-quarter project!!
1. ROUND THE CORNERS After cutting your rectangles of fabric and batting, place the fabric right sides together, and lay on top of batting. Cut the bottom two corners of all three layers in a rounded shape.
2. SEW TOGETHER With your fabric still right sides together, place the 3 layers on your machine with the fabric side up, and stitch around the entire outside edge, leaving a 3-4″ opening to turn.
3. TURN AND SEW CLOSED Trim the Seam Allowance, turn right side out, and press. Edge-stitch opening closed.
4. QUILT With your fabric marking pen, draw some quilting lines on the inside of the sleeping bag in any desired pattern. Our striped fabric came in handy with those lines, and we chose a typical comforter-type pattern of vertical lines that connect, alternating at the top and bottom. I’m sure there’s a technical term for this. Stitch along those lines.
5. INSERT THE ZIPPER This is the tricky part. And the part I would do differently if this were a bigger project. You’re going to do the zipper one side at a time–pin, sew, then pin, sew. Place the bottom of the zipper in the center of the sleeping bag, and pin one side of it around the edge of the sleeping bag, with the sleeping bag edge on top of the zipper tape. This is leaving the inside of the sleeping bag with an exposed zipper tape. It’s not my usual perfection, but it’s for a doll who won’t know the difference. Cut a few inches off the top of the zipper (with the zipper pull below where you are cutting). Be sure to fold the end of the zipper tape down at the top edge before pinning it so your zipper doesn’t fly off. I left 2 or 3 inches at the top of the sleeping bag zipper free. Stitch the zipper tape to the sleeping bag with whatever sort of edge-stitch or top-stitch you want. Repeat on the other side. I had a regular type of zipper, so when I got to this part, I actually had to hand-stitch the end of the zipper tape. This would be much easier with a zipper that separates completely (forgive my lack of technical terms here), but then you would have to keep putting it back together for your child. I opted for the painful one-time hand-sewn method as opposed to the easy-to-insert zipper that creates constant requests to put the zipper back together. If you get stuck on the zipper, I’m just sorry about it. Google a zipper tutorial or call my mom. She’s a zipper expert.