Baby Bib Tutorial: Repurpose T-shirt Fabric Into Practical Baby Gift
Sew Your Own Baby Bibs
Babies are adorable, squishy little bundles of joy. They are also quite the little mess-makers. Which is why baby bibs continue to be a traditional shower gift. It doesn't matter if everyone else has given bibs too, mom and dad will need all they can get.
If you have a particularly heavy drooler, a baby prone to spitting up, or a messy eater then you might want to increase your own bib stash. Store bought bibs can come in a range of prices and styles. The more interesting the logo or design, the more expensive the bib; and the fewer pieces you get for the money.
If you want a unique baby item that is easy and fun to make, and doesn't cost a lot (they are just going to get stained anyhow!) why not look to your closet for a way to make cool bibs? Turn your seldom worn t-shirts into bibs and let your baby eat in style.
Before You Begin
Assemble your materials.You will need
- T-shirt, either plain or with a cool logo
- A store-bought bib or printable bib pattern
- Washable marker or fabric pencil
- Sew-on Velcro
- Sewing machine or needle and thread
- straight pins
- Trims such as buttons and lace
Optional: If you want you can choose a stiffer fabric for the back of the bib to make it hold its shape better.
Homemade baby bibs can be softer, cuter, and tougher than store-bought bibs!
- Lay out your tee shirt, wrong-side out. You can cut your shirt apart at the seams if you like. I left this one together, since I was using the same material front and back
- If it is particularly wrinkly, you might want to run a hot iron over. Do this BEFORE you mark on it, else you run the risk of setting the ink into the cloth.
- Lay your bib or bib pattern on the fabric. If you are using a large, solid colored shirt, you can lay the pattern sideways and get two or three bibs from the same shirt.
- Center the bib over any logo you want to incorporate.
- If using a paper pattern, you might want to pin it to the fabric to prevent it from slipping.
- Trace around the bib shape with your marker or pencil. For light fabrics, use the lightest colored marker possible to make washing it out easier. For dark fabrics, use a light-colored fabric pencil or colored art pencil.
- Once you are done tracing, look at the pattern on the cloth and see if you want to make it larger, longer, or change the shape of the bottom. Make this adjustment with your pen or pencil. Note for beginners: A squared-off bottom is easier to sew closed later.
- When you are satisfied with your shape, pin the pieces together.
- Cut around your bib, giving yourself a generous seam allowance.
- Be careful not to pull or stretch the material while pinning or cutting. Knit isn't very forgiving, and stretching it can make your finished product crooked.
Now We Sew...
Now to sew this bib together. If you are using a machine,Set your sewing machine to a long stitch. This keeps the material from puckering badly. If you are hand-sewing, be sure not to pull the thread too tightly for the same reason. When you sew a bib, it helps to start from the bottom, a little off center. this is where your opening will be.
- Sew slowly around the curves, being careful not to pull or push the cloth.
- On the curviest parts, you may have to raise the presser foot and turn the cloth. Do this while the needle is in the fabric to keep your seam straight.
- Be sure to stop an inch or two from where you started. You will need an opening for turning the bib.
Now for the boring part.
- Trim the edges closer to the stitches, except where the opening is. I will explain this later.
- Clip notches into the rounded parts of the bib. This will be most of the bib if you have chosen a round pattern, so get some coffee. Cut the notches as close to the stitches as possible.
- If you squared your pattern off, don't forget to clip across the corners so that they will turn correctly.
- I also like to cut all the dangly threads, even though they will be on the inside.
Great Bib Idea
Use toddler or children's shirts to make bright, colorful bibs. They have kid-friendly designs that are small enough to fit inside the bib template.
Turning and Top-stitching
Next, turn the bib right side out through the opening. Use your finger or a pencil to push out all curves or corners.
- Press again with the hot iron to get all the seams aligned correctly.
- Turn the edges of the opening inside and line them up with the shape of the bib's bottom.
- Press with the hot iron to hold.
Now you can top-stitch the bib. This helps hold the shape, and encloses the seams.You can draw the line where you want your top-stitching to be. I stitched around the shape of the bib, while "feeling" the internal seam edge for guidance.
You can get creative here and do a pattern. With the blue and white bib in the first picture, I stitched around the bib shape, then did stitching that followed the zig-zag pattern of the screen-print. Just be sure to catch the edges of your opening when stitching.
When top-stitching, use thread that matches your cloth, or contrasting thread for fun. Two or three rows of multi-colored top-stitching an be a funky embellishment, if you want to re-thread your machine that many times.
Make sure decorations are secured to prevent a choking hazard!
Other good items to re-purpose for bibs include sweatshirts, fleece pants, stretch flannel pajama material, and soft terry from towels.
Bling That Bib!
After the bib is top-stitched, it is time for the fasteners and trim. I use sew-on Velcro.The kind you buy in a long strip and cut to fit. A good rule here is to put the scratchier Velcro on the 'facing up" tab, and the softer piece on the 'facing down' tab.
You can use the machine or hand-sew the Velcro to the tabs. There is a Velcro that sticks to the fabric, but I found that it washes off after one or two trips through the laundry.
After the fasteners are in place, your bib is functional and ready for action! If you want, you can jazz it up with a little decoration. I have used decorative buttons, embroidery, iron-ons, stenciling, rick-rack, lace, stamps, crocheted edging, and fabric patches. Stenciling or stamping works best if you do it before you sew the bib, if you don't want it to bleed through.
Whichever decoration you use, make sure it is securely fastened to prevent baby from swallowing or choking on it. Also, if you want the bib to remain soft enough to wipe messy little faces, avoid scratchy items on the main part of the bib.
Don't Stop There!
Get creative with your bibs. Consider making matching burpcloths, baby-sized cloth napkins, or a variety of other gifts embellished with the same fabric to create one-of-a-kind gift sets.
With just a little time and effort you not only clear out space in your closet, but provide your baby, your grand-baby, or a friend's baby with everything he or she needs to dine in style. Have fun making these bibs!