Monday, October 1, 2012

A New Look for an Old Friend

So, needless to say, despite the best intentions, I have not been back to this blog since bub was a few weeks old. I'll chalk it up to experience - don't start a blog moments before the pregnant belly deflates! We've had quite a few sleepless nights and colicky evenings. But we now have a boy who is sleeping through the night and letting me eat dinner without screaming the house down. It's bliss, but don't worry, I know it probably won't last!

Anyway, I might as well get this blog thing going, since I'm sick of looking at all these pictures I don't need sitting on my computer. They haunt me, reminding me of good intentions and missed opportunities. You never know, this post might even come in handy to somebody sometime.

When Emmett was on his way, I had six weeks of maternity leave before his due date, but then he ended up being 9 more days late before making his arrival. Needless to say, this gave me a lot of time to get things ready for him. This was in total contrast to last time, when our son Will was born. I was at medical school and he arrived two weeks early, just two days after my final exam for the year. I was not in the least prepared and certainly had no time to personalise anything for him. While I was very keen to create a gender neutral nursery for this baby (since I didn't know that he was going to be a he!), I didn't actually get that far in my planning. This was partly because I wanted to sand back and repaint his big cot before coming up with a design, and also because I knew Emmett would sleep in a bassinet in our room for probably the first six months of his life.

So instead of a big nursery project, I tried to personalise a little patch of our room for him. That started with making some changes to Will's old bassinet.

Unfortunately, I didn't think to take a good picture of it on its stand before launching into this project, and funnily enough I have no real photos of it from when Will was born (I obviously was never much of a fan of it). But never the less, this is what it looked like before:

I've basically just taken a few shots of it on the floor moments before I started unpicking it.
To get a better idea, this is the closest image I could find on Google to replicate what it looked like (though mine did not have the netting):

Not horrible, right? But a little generic and impersonal. However, I didn't initially have a really clear idea of what I wanted to do with it. In other words, I couldn't really put my finger on what it was I didn't like about it (though I think the ruffles and overwhelming pale blue were probably the key points!).

Figuring that someone, somewhere before must have wanted to make over their bassinet, I went to the web for some inspiration and found these fine specimens:

The one above is from Laura Thoughts. It's really lovely and got me really excited about the possibilities. Just swapping the ruffle to a nice pleat and changing up the colour made a huge difference. But I knew I probably wanted something a bit simpler, since this was my first big sewing project.

This one I found on a blog called Adam and Andrea.  It was a cheap Craigslist find that she worked her magic on. I loved the green and brown, but wasn't sure if I was having a boy or a girl, so knew I probably wouldn't choose quite this colour combination just in case. I loved how she painted the base and the simpler pleat of this skirt looked manageable.

The one above is by Larissa Hill. I loved the neutral tones and it was the one I went to for colour inspiration. I also liked the longer skirt.

So the plan was struck! I went to US retailer for the print since I couldn't find anything I really liked locally. I ordered Premier Prints Madison Twill Storm, and was lucky enough to find a virtually matching plain grey double sheet on sale at Spotlight locally for $5. I used this for the skirt and bedding itself.

While waiting for the fabric to arrive, I started on the bassinet. I removed the mattress and took some snaps so I could feel confident putting the whole thing back together again. This was my starting point.

Here I've just taken the mattress out, exposing the MDF base.

And here I've unpicked the seam at one end after removing the multiple ruffle layers. 
At the bottom of that seam (on both ends) there were two press studs to attach the fabric to the MDF of the cot base. You can see those better below.

My big concern was this: I am a novice. How was I going to place new press studs on the new fabric, let alone put them in the right position? I decided to press on with the unpicking and think about that problem later.

Below you can see that there are press studs on the base of the bassinet too - more `hard' stuff to worry about, and this one was actually a safety issue. I couldn't leave the press studs off because they were the attachment point the bassinet's stand. Without them, the bed part could fall right off.

I also had another problem. The blue fabric was quilted, and had a nice heavy texture thanks to that underlying batting. How could I recreate that without buying more stuff (I didn't want this project to get expensive). I'd also have to figure out how to attach the batting ... not skilled enough to worry about that yet!

Here's the part where I forgot to take photos for a while. But this was the solution I came up with. After using the old blue fabric as a pattern, I attached the new fabric right over the top! It meant the press studs at the base could stay right where they were and I would not have to go too far past my skill level.
On the base of the bassinet, I didn't even recover the blue fabric, since it would be covered by the  crib skirt anyway.

Above you can see the fabric positioned ready to slide up and over the tubing.
Getting there ...

Still getting there ...

Now, this is where you can tell I'm not a proper organised blogger yet, because I just forgot to keep taking pictures completely at this point apparently. In my defence, I was heavily pregnant and single-minded in my desire to just GET IT DONE.

Generally speaking though, once I finished that fitted base, I just pinned the grey fabric around it with what seemed like a bazillion pins, and fashioned the pleat. Then I just sewed around that sucker. A good sewer would have integrated the skirt when stitching the base components together, but since mine was an afterthought, I just sewed it on as neatly as I could in a matching thread. It looks OK.

 After a lot of mucking around, here are some shots of the finished product:

Obviously, you can se that I also took apart the original canopy and used my bedsheet fabric to replace that too. This was a big afterthought since it initially just seemed too challenging to attempt. However, since the baby didn't want to make an appearance, I eventually figured `what the heck?', and gave it a try to use up some time. Surprisingly, it worked! I also decided against putting new carry handles on this, as I didn't want to use it as a portable sleep space and I'd attached such a long skirt.

As for the bedding, I made the little pillow and quilt mainly for decoration (I obviously don't have them in there with the baby for safety reasons). Using the green ribbon allowed me to bring in those green elements I'd liked from the inspiration pieces. And I recovered the mobile hanger with the new fabric, removing an ugly gingham border from the little heart and teddy bear and hand-stitching them back on to the toy hanger using some ribbon.

When the baby was even more overdue, I decided to use the left-over print fabric to make some matching liners for the change table baskets. I can not even pretend to claim that these were examples of good sewing technique (I'd recommend doing what I didn't: use one of the excellent online tutorials), but they looked good enough in the end anyway.

Here is a final comparison:

This project cost me less than $20 (including fabric and ribbon). I hope you like what I've done with it, and that it inspires you to tackle something similar!

I am linking up to the Sunday Showcase Party at Under The Table and Dreaming and I Heart Nap Time's Sundae Scoop!


I Heart Nap Time


  1. this is amazing, sally! what a makeover! can't belive it :)
    i like the colors, design, bedding, everything!