Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sally bibs: part 1

Anyone who's had a baby learning to eat solid foods or a toddler mastering the finer points of using a fork and spoon will know what I mean when I say a good bib can be the MVP of your child's wardrobe. Good bib coverage means less mess, less clean up, less laundry, less work for mom.

Back when Jimmy was born my friend Sally gave me a set of three marvelous homemade bibs. She was famous among the new moms at our church for her bibs. They were always bright colored terry cloth with complementary seam binding in fun, matching prints. Jimmy's three bibs were in heavy rotation, and within months started to show wear from multiple washings each week. One day I was opining to my friend Michelle (also a recipient of Sally's bibs) how wonderful they were but that I just didn't have enough and she said, sympathetically, "They're really easy to make, you know." After some tips from Michelle, I was off on a few quick errands and within a day, I had expanded our bib wardrobe to one for each day of the week. I happen to be making some new ones for Audrey, so I'm sharing my bib wisdom with all.

You may scoff now, but if you've got a little one who uses bibs, put a Sally bib to the test. If you can't sew, find a friend or grandma who can and bribe her to make you a few. You won't be disappointed. Some people swear by those rubbery silicon bibs with the big pocket in front, but trust me, these are better: they absorb most spills, provide superior protection by completely covering a child's lap, and you don't have to wipe them down. Just throw them in the wash with your usual load of towels and you'll be ready to go for the next meal.

Materials and Preparation
You will need:

* about 2 yards of 1/2" double-fold bias seam binding (if you're new to sewing, I recommend buying it pre-packaged, but if you want to make your own you will need 1/3 of a yard of lightweight cotton fabric; either way, the binding must be cut on the bias so it will contour on the curves)

* thread to match seam binding

* terry cloth hand towel, dish towel, or larger towel or piece of terry cloth cut into a rectangle about 15" x 20" (you can afford to have an inch or two more in either direction but don't go any smaller or you will lose the great coverage Sally bibs are famous for)

* iron, ironing board, shears and sewing machine

If you are planning to make your own seam binding, I highly recommend using a rotary cutter, acrylic ruler and mat to keep your edges square and straight. I've made do with shears, a ruler and a straight edge, and marked lines on my fabric with a pencil, but it was a real pain. Before you get started, wash and dry your towels and seam binding fabric on the hottest cycle so they pre-shrink. Do not pre-wash any pre-packaged seam binding or it will lose its creases and start to unravel!

Step 1: Fold your pre-washed towel into quarters, smooth it out nice and flat, and round off the corners with your shears. Then unfold it by half and cut out a half-circle for the neck hole at the top.

Step 2: If you've purchased pre-packaged seam binding give yourself a pat on the back, eat some chocolate, take the rest of the afternoon off, and skip ahead to part 2, which I'll be posting tomorrow. If you're an overachiever like me and you want to have the cute contrast binding, stay put. Cut the fabric for your seam binding in 2-1/4" strips, on the bias. If you're new to sewing, "cut on the bias" means to cut at a 45-degree angle to the edge (or selvage) of the fabric.

If you're using a mat and rotary cutter, your mat will be marked with diagonal lines to show 45-degree angles for just such a purpose. You can also use a T-square and a straight-edge, and draw lines on the wrong side of your fabric to cut with your shears. Remember to cut on the bias or the binding will lay funny and not work correctly. When you're done you should have several long strips of fabric.

Step 3: Press your seam binding. Set your iron on the hottest setting, but turn off the steam so you don't burn your fingers while you're holding the fabric so closely. Fold and press each strip in half lengthwise (wrong sides together).

Then open it, and fold and press the bottom half down toward the center.

Do the same with the top half, folding and pressing it down toward the center.

Now, turn on your iron's steam, fold the binding in half, matching up the edges as exactly as possible, and press it flat and crisp.

When you finish ironing all your strips of fabric, turn off the iron (because sometimes I forget!), set everything aside, give yourself a pat on the back, and eat some chocolate. Check back tomorrow for part 2.

1 comment:

aubrey said...

hooray for sally's body bibs, which is what we call them. i love the body bibs and we have actually worn out two of ours to the point of having to use them as rags now. i need to get some new ones! what a cool tutorial!