Baby blanket quilt

On (Not) Sewing for Baby

When you’re pregnant and you sew, a question you often get is ‘Have you made something for baby yet?’, or even ‘You’ve probably made a lot of baby clothes already’. I know I was looking forward to diving into this new realm where everything is made out of unicorn and rainbow cuteness, but until now my answer has been ‘no’. First it was ‘no, we’re waiting to find out the gender’, but after we found out, I still didn’t feel like it. I was even starting to get worried a bit – was this a sign of denial, or fear or some kind? But no, the main reason for me is sustainability. When I sew for myself, I want to make my clothes in a way that they last as long as possible. Babies grow so fast in their first year that they’ll be growing out of their precious handmades in just a matter of weeks. Even though the cuteness appeals to me, I don’t feel like putting time and money into something that will only get worn a handful of times.

Baby scrap quilt
Onyx shirt and Gabriola skirt, linen shorts, Camí dress, another Onyx shirt, bug shorts, and an Archer.

Besides, who do we really sew for when we sew for baby? I do want our baby to grow up amongst handmade items, but those first years, baby really couldn’t care less. As long as it’s soft and comfortable, where it comes from doesn’t matter. We sew for baby but mostly for ourselves, until he or she is old enough to appreciate it. So even though I’ve gathered some cute baby fabrics already, it’ll have to wait. Still it is a new domain to me and I don’t want to pass it by just like that. So I’m making things that will last – in this case I’ve started on making quilts. We’ll need a big play blanket and crib blankets, and I happen to have saved a lot of scraps with just this goal in mind. What I love about this already is that all these scraps remind me of the garments I made with them, some of which I still wear but some I’ve already tossed. If I incorporate them in a blanket I still get to look at all the fabrics I love all the time.

For the play blanket I’ve settled on the design on the right, the triangles just randomly distributed. The ombre version is nice too but would require some more planning and I wanted to not plan for once. I could do with some mindless sewing, and if I’m going to sew in short bursts it’s better to just be able to start and not check a plan first. I was torn still by the argument that the ombre looks like I actually put some thought into the design, but practicality wins over looking smart this time.

Baby blanket quilt
Baby Blanket Quilt

I didn’t put in the shibori dyed linen (from the wrap top that became the tiny pocket tank) in the end because it just didn’t fit in, but instead made a little blanket quilt to practice and because we needed one anyway. So interesting to read about quilting and the ‘rules’ of it, it’s a whole different subculture in sewing that I knew nothing about. I only quilted the dark blue triangles, and I love how it turned out. I makes me even more eager to start on the big one now!

Do you/ have you sewn for your baby? Why (not)?

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  1. Your quilt is lovely, really beautiful. I’m with you on the sewing for baby. I had these wonderful dreams of sewing mountains of things for my babies. But then the reality of life (sheer exhaustion mostly!) set in and that finding time to do things like sew with kids is precious. If I get that time, I really just want it to be for me, selfish maybe, but part of it is self-preservation. I sew a bit more for my girls now when I find a really great fabric or when it’s absolutely necessary. I did knit a pram blanket during my first pregnancy, and it’s seen lots of use and has become so special to us. I’m sure your quilt will be the same for you. =)

    1. Thanks Melissa! I have a feeling it will be much the same for me after the baby is here as well. I enjoy sewing for myself the most, after all.

  2. I have only made two things for the bean, 1 onesie that turned out impractical because it had snaps instead of a zipper, and a knitted hoodie that he wore a lot thanks to its stretchieness. I might make one thing for number 2, a fair Isle sweater in size 80.
    The reason was that we got the famous Finnish baby box, plus a lot of presents and hand me downs from friends and family.
    If you want to make something that will be worn longer than a few weeks, make stuff in size 74 or 80. Bean at 20 months has been wearing some of the size 74 pants for at least 9 months (he’s skinny).

    1. Thanks for the tip Aline! We’re getting lots of stuff too, and there’ so much to find at second hand stores (because barely worn) it just makes more sense.

  3. I totally agree, your reasons are sound :-) I am feeling a bit evil at the moment because I’ve recently realised I don’t want to sew for other people’s babies really either – it might be cute and everything, but no-one’s going to appreciate it as much as me, least of all the baby. There, I said it out loud. I feel better already for having admitted it!

    Lovely, lovely quilts though, those are a great idea and will get years of use. I LOVE the way you just quilted those few triangles on the little one. Super cool!

    1. Haha, so true Jo! I’ve knitted a jumper for a friends baby and fortunately it was his favourite, but only for two months. I mainly do it because I don’t get to see my friends and their babies that much, to be involved in some way still. And that was before my own pregnancy, now I’d knit for mine only. And I have to admit, maybe I also do it because these are non-maker friends and hearing them exclaiming ‘you MADE that??’, well :)

  4. Very interesting view (and beautiful quilts)!! I have similar thoughts but in reverse! I have already started sewing some things for the baby (except I’m not sure what I’m doing because I don’t have any other baby to try it on…) because I have an issue sewing for myself. Fitting my new pregnant and overall bigger shape is far from my regular style, and I had mostly sewing fails for myself. I am seriously considering living in maternity jeans/t-shirts and sewing only for the baby until I look like myself again!

    1. I can definitely see why you wouldn’t bother, since it’s just temporary. I’m trying to make things I can wear afterwards as well. 9 months is just too long not to sew for myself! I kind of want to want to sew for baby, but then I just don’t.

  5. I haven’t sewn much for both of my kids (3 and 1 years old) for the same reasons you have. Second hand clothes are really cheap, washed many times, so they are less chemicals in them and way better for the environment. And they have no sentimental value for me, do its easy letting them go for another kid. I like that. And you’re right, they grow so fast out of them. There is also very very little time when you have children so I enjoy spending this time to create something just for me.

    1. Good point about the sentimental value. Feeling sad when they grow out of something handmade and then just holding onto it because you made it, I don’t think I want to get into that.

  6. I made the mistake of getting far too much paraphernalia (clothes, toys, equipment) for my babies, even though it was nearly all second hand. You just don’t need that much stuff. Second hand is definitely the way to go though! I kept a small bag of tiny things, special baby gifts and handmades for each of my boys, now 10 and 12, and I’m so pleased I still have those things to remind me how small they were. It’s nice to look back and say “Nanny knitted this, I made this one and this is what you wore on your first day”. Your quilt is adorable.

    1. It’s kind of hard to know what to get right? Some lists are really minimal, others are very long. I don’t want to get too much but I also don’t want to have to run to the store every other day.

  7. i started sewing for my three kids/babies only because i copied outgrown RTW clothes that i loved for fit and practicability. wait till you know what works best for you (to put on and off, to wash, to combine etc.) and baby! i wish you all the best for the remaining weeks!

  8. I didn’t sew for my baby for the longest time after we got pregnant. I’d made some stuff for hypothetical baby before that but once we finally got pregnant I was just too nervous. I think we were past the half way point before I made my first thing that was specifically for her. It was a taggy blanket (two 8″ squares sewn together with ribbon loops sticking out). It can’t be outgrown the same way as other things so it seemed a safe choice. Some clothes have a longer usability period, especially if you’re having a girl; my daughter received some 0-3 month and 3-6 month size dresses that she was still wearing as shirts a year later. Sleeveless styles are the longest lived and have only just stared to get too small in the armhole now that she’s nearly three and a half.

    It’s also handy to remember that kids do not grow in easily predictable ways. Some are long and skinny, some are short and chubby, some are big all over, some are very petit, and some will pass through all these shapes as they go along. Last winter my daughter’s waist (the point where her skirts and pants sit) was 20″, this year it was 19″. She’s been gaining weight like normal but she also gained a whole bunch of height and I guess she has more space for her organs.

    1. Great tips Shelley! A few sleeveless dresses should go a long way then. We already know she’ll be tall at the start so I’m glad I didn’t make anything newborn size.

  9. Sewing things for your kids can be very rewarding, even when they are little. Today we have this idea that they fit in what they fit and that’s that. It is too big, then fits, then too small. Traditionally, when everything was handmade clothes were made to grow with the child. Pleats & Tucks come from this tradition. Some people choose deep hems and extra seam allowances. Additionally, what was once a dress can be a shirt as a little girl grows up. It can be a lot of fun to see how a single article of clothing can evolve with your kids.

    1. You’re right Kiera, and I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I will definitely use these techniques when she is a bit older. I’ve also changed my mind about this subject because baby clothes are so quick to sew and thus a perfect project if you don’t have much time.

  10. Back in ’72 I knitted a diamond patterned hoodie out of a variegated blue yarn. All three of my boys wore it, then all three girls of a friend wore it before it finally just fell apart. Spending a bit more on a good-quality yarn really paid off. But really, any kind of needlework with small children around is not easy. Tangled yarn, once even a busted sewing machine thanks to a lead-footed four-year-old! That taught me to keep the machine unplugged when I wasn’t using it.

    I’ve made hundreds of quilts over the last 40 years, I love the ability to make art out of even the ugliest fabrics. I’m finally getting a small longarm quilting machine next month; wrestling with a quilt under the needle of a table top machine is beginning to hurt my hands.

    I have always sewn all of my clothes (starting with hems and buttons when I was 5 years old) and all of my babies’ clothes up until they were in school and were too embarrassed to be wearing homemade clothes. Then “jams” became popular, and I couldn’t make enough for them. Now in their 40s, they’re begging me to make new quilts for them and for their children and grandchildren. Keeps me busy!

    Some of my more recent projects…

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