When I had my first baby almost 5 years ago, I received a small stack of burp cloths from the wife of my husband’s boss. They were the perfect size and she had sewn cute coordinating ribbons on them. Of all the burp cloths I received, these were definitely my favorite because they also covered my entire shoulder and partially down my back. But the best part (for me, at least) was that they were so durable. I have washed them countless times and they don’t fray or fall apart and the spit up has washed right out. That’s what I call a good burp cloth!
I remember talking to a friend one day after having my second baby (and receiving more burp cloths from the same lady) and she commented on how it was so smart to use cloth diapers as burp cloths. I was like, “What? I’ve been wearing a diaper on my shoulder?” (Obviously, I was not familiar with cloth diapers.) She kindly enlightened me and from that point on I’ve been wanting to try my hand at making some cute burp cloths. I mean, if you’re going to be wearing one around for the first few month of your child’s life, they should be stylish, right? *wink*
I found a tutorial on The Thinking Closet that I liked, however, I did modify it slightly. This is a very simple tutorial and one that even a beginner can do since it only involves straight lines.
Let’s get started!
Step 1: Gather your materials. I found a 5 pack of pre-folded 6-ply cloth diapers at Target for $12.99. They were the only place around that carried them in-store and I was impatient to start sewing. (In the future, I will be ordering these cloth diapers.) I bought 1/3 yard of 3 coordinating fabrics from JoAnn’s for just over $5 which is cheaper than buying the pre-cut fat quarters at $2.50/each. (Plus I can accent at least 4 burp cloths from each piece, instead of the 3 I’d get from a fat quarter.) If you have some scrap fabric laying around, you could use that or you could purchase some fat quarters.
Step 2: Pre-wash your fabric and iron. I don’t normally pre-wash my fabric but since I wasn’t sure if there would be a difference in shrinkage between the cloth diapers and the patterned fabric, I decided to this time around to be safe. Just wash in cold water and dry as you would your clothes. Adjust the settings on your iron for the type of material you are using (mine was cotton).
Step 3: Measure and cut. The cloth diapers I used measured about 18×12 after washing them. My final measurement for the patterned material was about 5 1/2″ x 22″ but that was approximate due to the different shrinkage I saw in each fabric that I bought after washing. The most important thing is to have a piece that is long enough to fold under around all sides so you end up with a clean edge.
Step 4: Press your seams. Pressing your seams makes the fabric lay nice and flat so you don’t have to fight with it when you are sewing the pieces together. It’s not absolutely necessary but it definitely helps. A neat tip shared on The Thinking Closet tutorial (who got it from Diary of a Quilter) is to use a piece of cardboard that has been cut down to the desired dimensions, then simply fold over the excess on each side and iron it. (You can see that I used a cereal box.) I cut my cereal box down to 4 3/4″ wide and about 17″ long.
Step 5: Pin your fabric to the cloth diaper. Line up your patterned fabric on top of the middle section of the cloth diaper. Use pins to keep it in place. You shouldn’t have to go too crazy with the pins if you pressed your seams, maybe 3 or 4 total, since the purpose it to just keep it from moving around while you get it situated on your sewing machine. Remember to fold the top edge under so you have a nice, clean edge.
*Note: Since cloth diapers vary a little bit in how straight the lines down the middle are, so just center your patterned fabric as best you can.
Step 6: Stitch across the top and bottom. Before you start sewing, move your needle position all the way to the left. Line up the right side of the patterned fabric to the faint center-line on your presser foot. (see picture) You want your stitching to be as close to the edge as possible. Since you cut your patterned fabric longer than actually needed, you will need to trim it at the bottom and fold it over just like you did with the top. Remember to backstitch at the beginning and end.
Step 7: Stitch across the left and right sides. Follow the same directions as step 6, remembering to leave the needle in the left position and backstitch at the beginning and end. You should now have all four sides stitched.
*Note: If you make a mistake (like I did on the first one I sewed) and sew the top and sides first and are left with the bottom side, just cut down the fabric and fold it under and tuck it inside and sew across like you would have done in step 6.
Step 8: Admire your darling new burp cloth!
And there you have it! A super simple, super cute burp cloth. The first one took me longer than the rest, but once you get into a rhythm, you’ll be whipping these out like nobody’s business. I love that these are handmade and can be completely personalized for whoever you are giving them to. The possibilities are as endless as the patterns available!
What are your favorite handmade baby gifts to give/receive?