Monday, November 24, 2014

Creating a Modern Baby Layette

Joyous in my new role as a first time grandmother, I am having so much fun creating wonderfully simple... but soft and beautiful pieces for a modern baby's layette.

"What exactly is a layette?" you might ask.

noun: layette; plural noun: layettes
  1. a set of clothing, linens, and sometimes toiletries for a newborn child.
And just exactly what does a modern parent and their new baby actually need and what is fluff. Well, considering that babies once slept in wooden boxes or dresser drawers, you can make do with a little or revel in a lot.

Today's modern baby layette is a blend of both old and new. Modern babies still use receiving blankets and swaddlers, but they may use home sewn double layered flannel rather than the cheaper single flannels sold in stores. Or, they might even prefer the very thin gauze ones that are so popular now, and can make those yourself, as well!

And while newborns may use disposable diapers for a week or two during the family adjustment period, a large number of today's mothers and fathers prefer cloth diapers in the new styles with outer covers made of PUL (a new waterproof laminate) or even wool fabrics covers,  with inner gauze or flannel pads...or folded diaper like liners, as I made. Known as all in ones or all in twos, they no longer require the use of clips or safety pins but feature velcro or snap closures, often adjustable to a multitude of changing sizes.

There are always the standard sleepers, sleepsacks, t-shirts, or onesies (once the little navel has healed) and lots of other cute things. But it's the basics that one needs first, since newborns are often dressed and wrapped very simply in the first few weeks.

So, think of things like little simple (but double sided) receiving blankets, comforters for wrapping up baby up for outings, burp pads and bibs, for the inevitable spurts that happen just as you are all ready to leave for a special occasion,  and lots and lots of cloth wipe ups, face and body wipes and towels, changing pads and pad covers,

crib and co-sleeper sheets...the list can be as simple or as complicated as you have the time and money to create.

With my first grandbaby on the way, I spent the last few months creating hundreds of simple items that gave me an incredible amount of joy to make myself and to give to her mother and father, at the baby shower as creative, home made, (think American made!) in a clean sewing shop without pethair or cigarette smoke or other issues that may occur in unknown homes or sweat shops.

Using the simplest of cottons, flannels, organic or other natural fibers, and armed with coupons galore in repetitive shopping experiences, I was able to make dozens and dozens of gifts for either my granddaughter, or for the other newborns that we wanted to bless with homemade gifts.

For now, I chose to purchase some quick little starter outfits...sleepers, onesies etc... but knowing that I once sewed all of my own three children's clothing, I know once I get going that I will have great fun continuing to sew and create many more items in the future! (and yes, I ended up buying a few more ;-) It's my first grand baby, I couldn't help myself!


Sewing a Modern Baby Layette: What do you really need? 


Crib Quilt:

(1 to hang for display, 1 to cover baby when old enough for that)

Waterproof Crib Pad: 

 I used a simple rectangle of PUL waterproof fabric that was the same size as the top of the crib mattress.

Crib Sheets

I made three in different colors to match the variety of  colors in my baby quilt and the baby nursery. Many modern parents prefer not seeing colors as 'boy' or 'girl' colors as was seen in the past. In the right place in the right amount, any color is beautiful and works great!

Crib skirt:

The one I made is white with a tiny floral print in all of the colors you see in this post. It fills in the spaces of the lower rails to the bottom rail but is modern and minimal.

Here's the one I made just being cut out to the size of the new mattress. They tend to be slightly larger than older crib measure yours! A crib skirt goes under the mattress on top of platform in the crib. It added just enough to hide the metal rail that peek out beneath.

Crib Mobile:

I made this mobile out of different sizes of  bumblebees  and circles for our own little 'Baby B'.  3D fabric circles and ovals are all the rage now but I wanted ones the baby could actually see.

Strung on invisible fishing line from a wonderful Manzania branch.....way cute. I have lots of other colors of circles, as well..pinks, yellows etc. to change it up for fun..and to match all 3 sets of crib sheets ;-)

I know that every time I visit and walk by her nursery, I want to laugh out loud at how cute they are..and babies love black, white and yellow, and big eyes, of course!


Super soft layers of flannel, tied with crochet cotton. Great for swaddling baby up in a carseat or stroller. Soft and flexible and so sweet!

 Car and Stroller Blankets: 1-2 

These can be a 22" square of double sided fleece.

Receiving or Swaddling Blankets: I made 6 in lots of colors. "36 squares. Sew wrong sides together. leaving an opening to turn. Turn and top stitch all around. Round the corners as you cut them out using a bowl as a template.

 Burping Pads: 6 or more

I made mine out of all of the leftover pieces of receiving blanket flannel. So easy and cute, and they matched my larger blankets as shown above!

Bibs: 3 to see if they are used, up to 12 if they do use them!

This was my starter set. Two to match receiving blankets and the newborn comforter, and one cute little french print because our little Baby B. ends up being almost as French as I am with french from both sides of  our family.

My French mother, who would now be a 'great grandmother' would have loved all of this so very much. I only wish she were here to welcome our little one, too!


 Face or Body cloths and Baby Towels:

These were from some leftover terry cloth. I whipped them up in no time to keep at my house for those unforeseen grandma and baby emergencies!


Cloth Diaper Wipes:

Today's parent may seek to saves our natural resources by not using disposable diapers or wipes unless they absolutely have to. It's the best feeling to use homemade..over and over again!

These are made from all of those leftover border strips of flannel we all end up with. Just toss them in the wash with the cloth diaper liners after baby changes!
 Make  6-8" squares of flannel serged into wipes. You could also seam them, turn right side out and topstitch edge for fancier gift version.

 PUL  'wet bag' for cloth wipes:

Flannel over PUL fabric, shown open but folded over, in soft white print shown above.
Add a long velcro closure clear across, edge to edge. Almost completely waterproof!

These were a huge hit!!!

Cloth diaper stores now sell them...for a lot. Save those flannel or terry cloth scraps and just make them as extra gifts or for you own use. I have many of them for various uses in my home. They're wonderful fun! And the little wet bag was almost as easy to create, as well!

Changing Pad Covers:

I made three sets.. These were soft and baby friendly, washable sheet-like covers from cotton, flannel, and fleece.

 The 'Summer' changing pad  shown bottomside up, in white PUL above, is available from Target for under $20. It is waterproof and easy to design removable covers for. If you don't use the 'belt the baby in' straps, just tuck them under the elastic sides. They are hot glued on at the factory and would have to be cut off, otherwise. Save the straps!

And on the right,  is the fleece one, loaded up with gifts for a special someone!

I show the ones that I made.. two of flannel, and one of fleece.  This pink one was two toned, both sections of flannel nursery prints.

It takes 33" of flannel (after cutting a 36" piece before prewashing) plus width of fabric for the wrap under sides and casing.  So, 33"x 44" each, unless you make duo toned ones!

For those, I sewed on about 13" accent fabric first, you cut out the four corners as shown, sew them together underneath at the corner seam, and make a 1" or so casing for a piece of 45" elastic. Just like making a crib sheet, only a bit smaller!

Changing Pads to go ( PUL or fleece):

1 or 2 that can be tossed into your diaper bag)
Out of the leftover Diaper Cover PUL fabric, shown at the left as I am cutting out a homemade diaper pattern. So easy to make pads!

Just cut a piece about 22" square or larger from leftover diaper cover PUL fabric. I did double sides and serged the edges. It does catch the air a bit.You can also just use a remnant of fleece. Sew or serge the edges all around the square.

Gliding or Rocking Chair Cuddle Blanket:

Mine was about 60"by 72" and was generous enough for mom or dad and baby. Used and reused and appreciated by both of them.


Baby Catch-all Bag:

Wonderful to keep one near baby's rocking chair or glider.

Keep some essentials in here...burping pads, receiving blankets, an extra outfit. Wonderful to grab when just a diaper bag isn't enough for everything you need to bring along on a car trip or to keep your own book in when reading to yourself or baby!

I put lots of pockets on the inside and a big one on each side of the bag, itself!

Modern Cloth Diapers:

Mine are PULdiaper covers +flannel liners diapers. This combo is known as 'all in ones' or 'all in twos' diapers/cover combos.

PUL is available in the Babyville section of Joann Fabrics or online in many other sites.

Cloth diapers:

Today's cloth diapers are now actually folded inserts made of multiple layers of flannel or gauze..
Enough inserts for 4 sets per each diaper cover. Mine gave about 28 potential changes for a day ;-)

You can use a diaper shaped piece of fabric (coming soon) or newborn inserts of squares or rectangle shapes. Here, I sewed two sets of flannel squares that were folded into thirds creating 6 layers of padding. They can be folded into different configurations for changing changes as baby grows.

The multiple layers help with aeration during washing and drying unlike the oval pads some sewists are using that lay flat and stay damp.

My diaper covers were double sided PUL and can be wiped off and reused for multiple diaper changes, Gently washed and dried when needed. The inserts are washed ov er and over, hence the inside out seaming and not just serged edges.

And then of course, all of the fun outfits and accessories: sleepers, sleep sacks, two piece sets with booties or socks, mittens, that list goes on and on! If you look at free patterns online, be aware that you want ones that keep baby dry but soak up waste products for wash-ability.

I felt that my combo would work the best.

If money is a major consideration, really and truly a newborn only needs enough diapers, blankets, or clothing to get buy for a day or two, then just wash and reuse! Most parents save their sanity with a few weeks of disposables even when dedicated cloth diaper users as I was with all three of my children and as my own children are, today with theirs.

I had so much fun making all of this plus lots and lots more that I haven't shared yet. Make a couple of items or make a lot. It's all fun and all appreciated and used!

Michele Bilyeu blogs With Heart and Hands as she shares a quilting journey from Alaska to Oregon with thousands of free Quilting, Sewing, and Crafting Patterns and Tutorials. Help change the world, one little quilt, art quilt, and prayer flag at a time!