Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ta Da! It's the uber bib!

So, in the last 3 1/2 weeks, my friends and I have had 5 baby showers. Yes, 5 wonderful little ones are coming into the world in my little circle of friends (wait, make that 4, one arrived this last week), and I love to make baby gifts. One of the things I came up with for my own little squishy has become a big hit at the showers.

Introducing the uber bib! It cleans, it sparkles, it even makes your baby cuter... Ok, your baby is already super cute, and it may not sparkle (although I'm sure you could add some bling), but it IS the best bib ever. No lies.

WARNING: If you continue to read this tutorial, you will have serger envy. Treatment includes purchasing a serger, which is pricey but so worth the cost... Seriously, I shouldn't have put off getting my serger because it is one of the best purchases I've made in a long time and I use it all the time. If you're considering it, just my little plug that I think you should do it... If you escape the serger envy, please just skip over my little serger notes. :)

Yeah, my baby is stylin'! There are so many great things about this bib: First, it cost me about $2 to make, which is much better than purchsing one from the store, which costs about $4.50 or more, sports a picture of Dora or Elmo, doesn't fit well and isn't as absorbent. Second, it covers everything. No more carrots on her sleeve, no more half-chewed cheese smooshed in her lap, no more drooly clothes. It also has plenty to wipe off her face and hands after she eats (which is particularly handy when we eat out and I don't have a wet rag handy). And unlike the traditional bibs with snaps or velcro, she can't pull this one off.

So here's what you'll need:
A hand towel
3" by 13.5" of ribbing (this is the same stuff on the collar of your T-shirt, really thick knit with obvious ribs in it)

**Ribbing, by the way, is a little pricey by the yard, but you don't need much. You can make nine bibs from only 1/4 yard.

I purchased this hand towel at Target in a pack of two for $3.49, and the ribbing at Jo-Anne's.

First, fold your towl into thirds. You'll be cutting a hole 1/3 down from the top. Fold the bottom part back out and leave the top part folded.

My hole was more of an oval, but it worked really well (and my baby is rather big -- she's about 20 pounds at 10 months old and this bib has fit her for a few months and I don't think she'll grow out of it any time soon; the ribbing really helps to let you have an opening big enough but pulls in tight around baby's neck). My hole was 6 inches wide and 2 inches deep, cut on the fold.

This is what it looks like folded back out...

If you made your hole a different size (or want to apply ribbing on a different project), here's how I determined the measurements for my ribbing. Measure around your hole with the tape measurer standing up like in my picture below (this hole was 18 inches around). Now you'll take 2/3 of that measurement (for us, 12 inches) and add a small amount for folding over (so 13.5 so you have some extra just in case).

Now, to cut your ribbing. This example is the first bib I made, and I only made it 2 inches tall. It worked, but 3 inches tall works much, much better. It pulls the bib in much closer around the neck. So your ribbing should look a little bigger than mine in these pictures.

When you cut your ribbing, make sure you have lots of short lines going up and down, not long lines going side to side. Cut a piece 3 inches tall and 13.5 inches wide.

You'll fold your ribbing in half with right sides out. Put your ribbing about in the middle of the back of the hole on the top (right side) of the towel.

If you're doing this on a regular sewing machine, I recommend going around the ribbing with a straight stitch (on a little longer stitch length), then going back around the whole neck with a zigzag inside the straight stitch and the edge.

SERGER NOTE: I used woolly nylon for this project. Woolly nylon is awesome because it is super soft (nice for baby skin), and it fills in well so you don't have so many pokeys sticking out from the towel material. I got extra thick woolly nylon, two spools: one for your upper looper, and one for your lower looper. Please note that woolly nylon is much thicker than normal thread, so you'll need to loosen (lower number) your tension dials. I've included my settings below, but don't forget to practice on test fabric because every serger is different. The leftover part you cut out for the hole was great to practice on.
Serger: Brother 1034D
Three-thread overlock, wide with left needle in (right needle out)
Left needle (Maxilock thread): 5.75
Upper looper (Extra thick woolly): 2
Lower looper (Extra thick woolly): 3.9
Feed differential: 1.2
Length: 2.5
Width: 5.2

Ok, if you're doing this on a regular sewing machine, start it just like I've got here. Leave a little extra at the top and start further into the ribbing.

If you're doing this on a serger, don't really pay too much attention to this picture. I started further into the ribbing, and it's easier not to do that on your serger. On all my other bibs, I made sure to put my ribbing right up to the needle and used the handwheel to put the needle into the ribbing material. I also removed the extra thingie to do this free-arm sewing.

Once you get your needle in and your ribbing is secure, you're going to stretch it as you sew. And I mean stretch it! Now, don't pull so hard you're bending your needle or something, but really stretch the ribbing as much as you can get it to go. It will stretch more than you think it will, and this is what gets it to lay inward. You've also got to get it to go all the way around that neck hole plus have some extra at the end. So stretch, stretch, stretch and stitch all the way around.

Now, as you come to the end, you'll want that ribbing to overlap. When I got really close to the beginning of the ribbing, I would carefully fold the end of the ribbing under and hold it in place, overlapping the beginning. Just make sure you've got it where you want it against the neck opening because you want to sew that in place as you go. Make sure to sew over the beginning of your stitches.

SERGER NOTE: Now, I had you start so your ribbing is sewn down at the beginning. I just stuck the folded-over ribbing as close down as possible over the beginning of the ribbing and made sure to cut in a little with the knife to sew it down as well as go over the beginning of the seam so it's secure.

I hope this helps a little. The left side of ribbing is the beginning, and the right side is the end and it's folded under (although coming out at the fold) and sewn in place just over the left side.

You'll stick the beginning inside the end, pin in place and stitch it up by hand. I use the blind stitch (or hidden stitch), like found in this tutorial here.

And that's it! Cute, messy baby, clean clothes. Now if only there was an easy way to clean up the floor after mealtime. I need a dropcloth for that too...

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