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Archive for the ‘sewing’ Category

At a Baby Bjorn event they gave out a canvas tote bag that I’ve found to be almost the perfect size. It fits all the things I need when I go out with Alyssa – diapers, changing mat, extra clothes, etc. It’s sturdy because there is no seam at the bottom. It’s made of a single piece of cloth that’s sewn together at the sides. That also makes it very light, which is great because some diaper bags feel quite heavy even before you put anything inside. The length of the straps are also just right. Long enough to slip off one strap past my elbow while the other is still on my shoulder, yet not so long that when you hold it in your hand the bag touches the floor.

But when we got caught in the rain in Malaysia I realised the one flaw of the bag was that it wasn’t waterproof. In Malaysia I had to stuff my bag into my Mum’s oil-cloth bag so that it would stay dry. I decided then and there that I would try to make a waterproof version of that tote.

Initially I was thinking of oil-cloth or vinyl-coated cotton, but Spotlight didn’t sell those. So I went for waterproof canvas that’s meant for outdoor furniture. There was a nice range of patterns and I was tempted to go for a bright red in a geometric print. In the end I decided to stick with the classic and easy-to-match black and white stripes. If it’s good enough for Coco, it’s good enough for me.

The waterproof canvas frays easily though, so instead of regular seams I sewed French seams. I love the clean finish!

I also didn’t anticipate having trouble making the gusset. I thought I could just hem up the bottom bit and everything would line up properly. Only as I was doing it did I realise the method I had planned out in my head was flawed. Thankfully I remembered seeing a pattern somewhere that had squares cut out at the bottom corners and tried that method. It worked! At first I didn’t realise they had to be squares though, and cut out a rectangle, only to discover that the seams did not line up. I then had to expand the cut-out into a larger square, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise because now the bag has a wider gusset and my things fit even more comfortably inside!

I’m so very pleased with my tote. I tried putting a couple of drops of water on the bag and they just rolled off. Perfect for the coming rainy season and for our upcoming holiday to Hong Kong. I don’t have to worry about Alyssa’s things getting soaked anymore!

Making square cut-outs at the bottom corner to make gussets

Making square cut-outs at the bottom corner to make gussets. Note that this is a single piece of cloth, folded in half before cutting out the squares.

Makes a practical, wide gusset. And I love how the stripes lined up perfectly just as I wanted!

Makes a practical, wide gusset. And I love how the stripes lined up perfectly just as I wanted!

My beautiful French seam, if I may say so myself haha! It's the first time I did it!

My beautiful French seam, if I may say so myself haha! It’s the first time I did it!

Looks neat on the outside too

Looks neat on the outside too. Except for the fraying, waterproof canvas is very easy to work with.

The finished product stuffed with all the baby things.

The finished product stuffed with all the baby things.

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My pet peeve about changing mats is that most, if not all, changing mats are folded wrong. The OCD part of me gets very grossed out by how changing mats are normally folded. It’s usually folded in thirds along the width with either:

(a) the part where baby’s head rests being folded to the middle where some poo/pee might be found, or

(b) the part that touched the butt (and the poop or pee) being folded up to the middle, and the part where the baby’s head rests being folded onto the exterior of the changing mat (which touched the changing table and picked up all the yucky yucky germs from all the hundreds of other babies!)

Why is it like that??

I’ve thought for a long time, since Asher was a baby, about making my own changing mat, and I finally got around to it. I couldn’t stand to wait any longer because I have been using this tiny changing mat that came with the diaper bag Thomson Medical Centre gives out. Not only is it folded the conventional way, Alyssa’s legs and arms are also sticking out. I cringe whenever I see her hands touching the changing table.

I spent quite a long time searching for the right materials. I was initially thinking of oil-cloth, vinyl-coated cotton, or PUL fabric but Spotlight didn’t carry those. In the end I went with waterproof canvas that’s meant for outdoor furniture for the exterior. I considered using that same fabric for the interior but decided I wanted vinyl as that would be easier to clean, but Spotlight didn’t sell that either. However, one of the staff members had a great idea to buy a cheap mattress protector and cut out what I need. To make the mat a little more cushy, I added a layer of flannel and ironed on some interfacing to give it a bit more struccture. Then I finished it off with black binding for a more polished look, and made straps with velcro to hold everything together when folded.

My raw materials

My raw materials

Voila! Here is my ‘Head-Butt’ Changing Mat. The head part folds to the head part, the butt part folds to the butt part. Never shall the twain meet. And big enough so that even if Alyssa flings her arms out, it’s still on the mat. Yeaaahhh. That’s what I’m talkin’ about.

The exterior made of waterproof canvas

The exterior made of waterproof canvas

Fold lengthwise people, lengthwise!

Fold lengthwise, people, lengthwise!

Folded in half

Folded in half

Folded up!

Folded up!

Criss-cross stitching to reinforce the strap

Criss-cross stitching to reinforce the strap

It completely covers the changing table. I love it!

It completely covers the changing table. I love it!

I was going to print the words ‘Head’ and ‘Butt’ on the changing mat, but decided against it because it would look tacky if the words started to peel off. The strap side is the head side.

The perfect changing mat, in my opinion :)

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