As the Createaholic I am, when Simon and I found out that we were going to have a baby I knew there were plenty of baby items I wanted to make myself. A baby nest is both very practical (well, so I've heard!) and cute. Furthermore, it isn't necessarily that complicated to make! There are several tutorials out there, and I browsed through a couple before ending up making my own version based on a combination of different baby nest tutorials.
A thought before I explain how I made my baby nest. Make sure you choose the fabric with your baby in mind. I was choosing between linen and cotton, and in the end I went with Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified cotton fabric because I couldn't find good linen fabrics that were both certified and soft. The certification guarantees that the fabric is free from harmful chemicals and substances, which is obviously important for your newborn baby. Before I started sewing the nest together (but after I had cut out the parts and sewn the edges), I machine washed the parts with baby friendly detergent, just to be extra sure and to make the fabric slightly softer.
One last thing. The tutorial will guide you in making a nest exactly as I made it, which is with a removable cushion (forming the "walls" of the nest) so that you can wash the nest easily. This requires sewing two zippers into your nest, which can probably be a bit tricky if you aren't that used to sewing. But I will also give you the option to make an easier version without a removable cushion, so read through the steps before you start making the nest so you don't start on any unnecessary steps. I used both a regular sewing machine and an overlock machine, but if you only have a regular one, just make sure you sew the edges in another way (zig-zag for instance) so the fabric doesn't unravel with time.
You will need:
- Paper to make cut outs
- ~ 100 x 70cm of fabric #1 (pink top)
- ~ 100 x 70cm of fabric #2 (green bottom)
- ~ 100 x 70cm of fabric #3 (grey arched cushion - optional and requires zippers!)
- ~ 140 x 80cm of fabric #4 (patterned mattress)
- ~ 3m x 11cm of fabric #5 (yellow binding). Alternatively a 4-5cm wide ribbon!
- ~ 3m of string/rope
- 2 x 18cm long zippers (optional)
- Fiber/down/wool filling for the sides (you can use the filling in pillows if you can't find good filling, IKEA's for instance)
- Upholstery wadding/quilt batting for the mattress (you can also use the same filling as for the sides, but the flat kind is easiest to distribute evenly in the mattress)
And of course:
- Sewing machine (and an overlock machine if you have one)
- Fabric scissors
- Tape measurer
- Masking tape (optional)
Measure out the pattern on paper and make a cut out based on these measurements. Alternatively, you can draw directly on the fabric, but be sure to add 1-1.5cm seam allowance all around.
You will cut out these parts using the pattern:
1 of each (front and back)
If you are making a removable side cushion and will be adding zippers to your nest, you will cut out 2 arched pieces. Finally, you will cut out 2 pieces for the mattress.
Step 1 - cut out the parts
Use the paper pattern to measure out the front and the back of the nest, making sure you add at least 1cm seam allowance.
You should have one of each.
Take the paper pattern and cut it so that you have the shapes for the side cushion and the mattress (the cushion should be 15cm wide all around). In case you are making the removable cushion for the sides (i.e. adding zippers to your nest), cut two pieces for it with a seam allowance of 1cm.
Cut out two pieces for the mattress, adding 1cm seam allowance.
Cut out the upholstery wadding/quilt batting slightly smaller than the mattress. Make at least two pieces, but cut more if you feel the thickness isn't sufficient to make the nest soft and fluffy enough.
Step 2 - arched cushion (only if you want to be able to remove the cushion and will add zippers to the nest)
Take the two pieces for the side cushion, sew them together and sew along the edges to keep them from unraveling. Make sure you keep a little bit open (see top right corner) to be able to turn the cushion inside out and add filling.
Once you have added the filling, pin the opening and sew it shut, either using your machine or by hand.
What your side cushion should look like.
Step 3 - sew together front and back
Pin the front and back together.
Sew the pieces together along the dotted line and make sure to sew along the edges as well, including the edges that are kept open (see photo below).
If you are adding zippers, sew them onto the nest as shown in the photo and illustration. If you aren't using zippers, just leave these parts open for now.
Step 4 - yellow binding/lace/ribbon
To make the binding in which the string/rope will be inserted, take the 3 metres long and 11cm wide piece of fabric (you can join several parts if you can't cut out a 3m long piece) and fold it in half, along its long side. Sew it together and turn it inside out (requires a bit of work, I know). If you want, you can iron the long piece so that the seam is in the middle as shown in the photo below. Fold in the edges on each side and sew them shut.
Note: making the binding ruffled can be complicated if you haven't used this method before. You can just as well just keep it straight and pin it directly onto the sides of the nest. If you want it ruffled, here's a video I found that explains this method.
To ruffle the binding, increase the stitch length to the longest possible and then sew along the sides of the binding. Make sure you have long thread ends sticking out on both ends of the binding.
Sew two more lengths next to the previous stitches, making a total of 4 lengths. Hold the 4 threads coming out on the same side of the binding and start ruffling your binding.
When it is long enough, pin it to the side of your nest (make sure you have turned it right side out), covering the seam where the front and back are sewn together.
The ends of the binding should be placed on the "edges" of the two points on the nest.
Sew the binding onto the nest, making sure the nest is straight and doesn't curve or fold anywhere. Sew once on the left side and once on the right side, making sure the space in the middle is wide enough to pull the string/rope through.
Remove the pins and pull out the threads you used to ruffle the binding.
Use the paper pattern again to draw out where to sew the sides shut.
You should not add any seam allowance!
Lay the nest flat and pin the front and back together. Sew along the drawn line (the dotted line in the illustration).
Step 6 - add the wadding
Insert the wadding/batting into the nest. Once you are happy with its placement, pin and sew the bottom shut, as shown in the illustration.
To make sure the wadding stays in place when you need to wash the nest, I pinned the middle part as shown in the photo and used a needle and thread to sew x:es through the front and back by hand.
This is what it looked like when I was done.
Step 7 - insert the side cushion
One thing I would have done differently is to pull through the rope/string before inserting the cushion. Don't make the same mistake I did! ;)
Once the rope/string is in place, insert the cushion through the sides. Start pulling from the other side once it feels okay to do so. Be careful not to break any seams!
If you skipped the zippers, now is the time to stuff the sides with filling and once you are happy with the amount, pin and sew the sides shut.
Step 8 - make the mattress
Take the two pieces for the mattress and pin them together.
Sew the edges together as shown in the illustration, leaving the bottom open.
Turn the mattress right side out and insert the wadding.
Fold in the edges, pin and sew the bottom shut.
To make the wadding stay in place when the mattress needs washing, I sewed a criss-cross pattern over the mattress. I used masking tape to plan out the pattern and then sewed across the tape as shown in the photo below.
Once you are done, remove the tape!
Congratulations, your baby nest is finished! :)
You can choose which side to use as bottom and which to use as the top!
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! Please leave me a comment if you have any questions. <3