Sewing baby burp cloths with my sister

completed burp cloths

Set of three burp cloths sewn by my sister.

When people know you can sew it is inevitable that you will at some point get the question “could you make me *insert random item here*?”. At the start of your sewing career this question might still induce excitement. Yes! With my newly acquired skills I can make a set of 8 matching pillows for your new couch! And I don’t care that it will take me all weekend because I’m still really slow at this whole sewing thing!

towel side

towel side

After you’ve been sewing for a while it becomes a bit difficult though to get enthusiastic about hemming yet another pair of trousers for someone else when you have a list of about a hundred items that you really want to make for yourself. However, these question askers are your friends and family and you don’t really want to disappoint them by immediately saying no. They are asking you for some help after all!

My solution to this problem is that I now offer to show them how they can make (or fix) the item themselves. If they’re really motivated they’ll take me up on my offer and we’ll spend an afternoon or day making it. Yes, it will probably take about 3 times longer to complete the item, but I’m spending time with someone I enjoy spending time with and I can show them my hobby. While they might not fall in love with sewing at least I think they’ll appreciate more what it takes to create something. If they don’t take me up on my offer it apparently wasn’t that important to have it made anyway so I’m glad I didn’t waste my time.

My sister didn't want to pose so I had to...

My sister didn’t want to pose so I had to…

A couple of months ago my sister asked me if I could make her a cute baby item to give to one of her expecting co-workers. Hmmm, I don’t even know this co-worker so why would I make a gift? I offered to help her make something. Some grumbling ensued but she agreed to come, although no date was fixed yet. I wondered whether she really would.

Tracing

Carefully tracing around the pattern.

But she did and I looked around for a simple project for a first time sewer. I found it in the free “The perfect baby burp cloths” pattern from So Sew Easy. What I like about this pattern is that it is shaped so it fits better around your neck and shouldn’t slip down as easily as a rectangular burp cloth. I’m sure we’ve all seen parents carefully position a cloth that slips down as soon as they lift their baby, leaving their clothes dangerously unprotected, so this simple adaptation seems like a good idea. I also found patterns that have this type of shaping on both sides but those reminded me of oversized sanitary napkins…

Sewing two layers together.

Sewing two layers together.

For one side we used a white towel and for the other side some ten squares from the Urban Zoologie collection by Robert Kaufmann. Towel and fabrics were prewashed to prevent uneven shrinkage later on. For each burp cloth two ten squares were pieced together. We reasoned that a right handed person is most likely to burp a baby on their left shoulder and made sure to position the owl and bird fabrics so that some of the animals would feature in the upright orientation in the centre on the front. We ended up with three rather adorable burp cloths made by my sister. I only showed her how to do each step. I think she did really well and she preferred sewing curves to sewing straight. Will she sew more often from now on? Probably not, but that was not the point.

Lacking a real baby we made use of an imaginary one...

Lacking a real baby we made use of an imaginary one…

May 24, 2015

Emmely Treffers

About Emmely

I am a sewing enthusiast from the Netherlands. I live in the Leiden area with my husband and two daughters and I am currently working as a senior researcher in molecular virology. With my quilting patterns and sewing blog I want to infect as many people as possible with my love for sewing.

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17 Comments

  1. Thimberlina

    Brilliant idea to get your sister involved. I’ll remember that! And the burp cloths are cute too! 😀

    Reply
    • Emmely

      People don’t always realize how much time it will take to make something so letting them do it themselves can be a good cure. 😉 I think I’ll use this pattern more often, it is really fast to make and would make a good gift when I am time deprived.

      Reply
  2. katechiconi

    It’s like the proverb: Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Give a man a net, and he eats for life. I think you just handed your sister her ‘net’, the gift of being able to *make* something unique and special, all by herself.

    Reply
    • Emmely

      I really wonder whether she’ll come back for more. It probably depends on the reaction she gets from the recipient. She did really well though so if she wants to sew more we could easily do a more complicated pattern next time.

      Reply
      • katechiconi

        We can only hope. Some people just don’t feel the pleasure we get from creating something unique, ourselves.

        Reply
  3. Deby Coles

    They look great! I’m sure they will be very well received and then she’ll maybe get the sewing bug and want to learn some more. Great project to get her started. And thanks for linking back to my pattern at So Sew Easy.

    Reply
    • Emmely

      Thank you! I really like the pattern and think more burp cloths will make an appearence in the future.

      Reply
  4. Joy

    Super cute! Definitely a success. I need to make some of these too! Did you buy a new towel or towel fabric for the towel side or re-purpose one you already had?

    Reply
    • Emmely

      For these cloths we used half of a new 60x110cm towel, I can still get 3 more burp cloths from what’s left over. Because these cloths are a gift I didn’t want to use an old towel from my closet but otherwise there’s not really a reason why you couldn’t. Toweling fabric would work as well. I still have some dark blue fabric left over from making a bathrobe and I think this will be used for more burp cloths. White seemed a better choice in this case though because the baby is a girl, otherwise I think we would have used the fabric I already had on hand instead of buying a new towel.

      Reply
      • Joy

        All excellent points! Thanks for the tips!!

        Reply
  5. claire93

    very fun burb cloths and I love your demonstration with the invisible baby ^^

    Reply
  6. Oh Sew Tempting

    I just popped over to see your F2F post and got burp cloths instead LOL. They are so cute. I love the little owls fabric 🙂 Avis x

    Reply
    • Emmely

      Thank you! I’ll have a F2F post once my blocks are finished and shipped to Esther, you’ll have to wait at least two more weeks… 😉

      Reply
  7. Magpie Sue

    Those are darling burp cloths. Much prettier than the cloth diapers I ended up using when my grown children were babies!

    Reply
  8. Colleen Bell

    Loved your article, but to be honest, my favorite part was the imaginary baby. Nice touch! And a great sense of humor 🙂

    Reply
    • Emmely

      Thank you! I think that picture shows we had a lot of fun that day. 🙂

      Reply

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