WHAT I MADE / shibori indigo dyed baby gifts
My sister-in-law is expecting her first baby in January early next year. I wanted to make her something a little more special rather than buying her something from the store, something she could use again in the future if she had other children or even keep as a family heirloom.
I decided to incorporate indigo dyeing and shibori into the project for a few reasons:
1. I think it’s a beautiful and modern motif for a baby gift (they’re expecting a boy),
2. I love working with both techniques and
3. She and her partner just returned from living abroad in Japan for about a year.
I used the following patterns that I found on Pinterest:
I used cotton flannel for the tops (each piece was resist-bound and dyed in my indigo vat) and some sort of gray snuggly luxe fleece purchased from Joann Fabrics. I don’t remember the exact name of the fleece, but it was pricey and had the best hand out of all that were available. The blanket has a layer of warm n’ natural cotton batting in between the cotton and the fleece, to add warmth. That also helped keep the fleece somewhat in position. The patterns (all except the blanket) called for Minky fabric, which isn’t sold locally. I didn’t want to order fabric sight unseen for this project, so I worked with what I could find in my area.
This fleece was crazy annoying to work with. I don’t know if Minky is this bad, but I had to pin every inch to try and keep it from slipping around like crazy during every part of the project. I do feel like it was well worth it because the finished product feels SO GOOD, but the difficulty of the fabric is holding me back from ever making anything with that fleece again. It slips when you pin it, cut it, sew it, everything! I probably spent more time pinning than any other part of the project which is really saying something considering how long dyeing takes.
Enough complaining about the fleece, let’s talk about the patterns:
o This was fine. I switched up the materials and the size, so any problems would definitely be my fault. Had I made this with pre-washed flannel, it would have only taken me 10 minutes or so, but I used that super-squishy luxe fleece, with a layer of cotton batting. The finished blanket was around 40” square.
o They’re a decent size, I guess. I’ve never actually used a burp rag, so I can’t review how well they work, but the pattern and instructions were easy enough to follow. It’s a rectangle! How hard can that be to sew!? It didn’t have any tips for sewing with the Minky fabric, nor did it tell you to pin the crap out of it. Without putting so many pins in, I don’t know how these would keep straight while sewing! So, as a whole, the title is rather click-bait-ish. While they are definitely not the easiest, they may possibly be the best base solely upon how amazingly soft they are.
o I have beef with this pattern. First of all, the bibs seem too small. Realistically, how long is a baby going to be able to wear these things (that I spent way too much time on)? The fleece was exponentially more annoying to work with at this size. The pattern tells you to attach the snaps prior to sewing, which in retrospect I would NOT do again. OMG. It makes stitching the little neck tabs so difficult! My advice? Sew the entire bib first, then attach the snaps. My top stitching looked so crappy on the bib tabs because I was trying to sew around that damn snap. As a result, I don’t think this is the best or easiest bib pattern out there. I half wish I had picked a different pattern, but they still came out pretty cute.
In total, I had: one receiving blanket, five burp rags and five bibs. Each piece had a different shibori pattern dyed with indigo, combined with luxurious fleece produced a beautiful baby gift I hope my sister-in-law will treasure for years to come.
Have you ever worked with these patterns or unruly fleece? Share your tips and/or horror/love stories below.