The So What Swaddler is functional, fast to sew, and costs next to nothing to make. A swaddler made from an old t-shirt may not be the cutest thing your baby owns, but so what? It works!
- Large or XL adult T-shirt
- Felt, 1/4 yard, pre-washed
- Velcro, about 10 inches
1) You’ll need an adult-sized T-shirt that is at least a size large. You’ll be cutting a rounded T-shape, with the arms forming the top of the T. Begin by laying the T-shirt face down. Then cut off the collar and shoulder portion of the T-shirt, so that the top edge is straight. The top edge should measure 24 inches across for the Small, and 27 inches for the Large.
2) Use a small plate as a template to cut rounded flaps from the arm portion of the T-shirt. (You will want the flap on the left side to be about 2.5 inches longer than the one on the right side, so that you can wrap it around baby and tuck it beneath his arm. So your T-shape will be slightly lopsided, with a longer flap on the left.)
3) Now we’ll mark some measurements.
- Top to bottom length: Small = 20 inches, Large = 23
- Center (beneath arm flaps): Small = 13 inches, Large = 16
- Bottom: Small = 6 inches, Large = 9 inches
Mark these points, then cut the shirt. It will look like a rounded T, with the bottom being narrow for baby’s feet.
4) Separate the layers. Cut the backside of the T-shirt right below the flaps, making an upward arc. This will be the portion that covers baby’s tummy.
5) Now flip the two pieces over so right sides are together, and pin. Sew the pocket to the main piece with a zig-zag stitch.
6) Turn right side out. Next finish the raw edges with a zig-zag stitch. (The fabric won’t fray, but it will curl in the wash, so it’s best to finish it.) Fold the edges inward 1/4 inch and sew with a zig-zag stitch. (You can pin first if you want, but I’m keeping this project fuss-free.)
7) Now we’re going to make the Velcro tabs that will secure the swaddler. Cut two rectangles from the excess T shirt fabric that are 3 x 7 inches. Fold in half so that they are 3 x 3.5 inches.
8) Pin a piece of 2.5 inch hook velcro 1/4 inch away from the fold. Unfold the fabric and sew the Velcro with a zig-zag stitch.
9) Then, fold the fabric so right sides are together (Velcro will be inside). Sew around the 3 sides with a zig-zag stitch, leaving the bottom open for turning. Do this with both tab pieces. Turn tabs right side out.
10) You’ll need some felt for the following steps. Be sure that you’ve pre-washed the felt, as it can shrink in the wash. Cut a half-circle of felt to fit the right flap piece.
11) Lay the tabs down on the inside of the flap, and place the felt on top of it. Pin together. Sew around the edge of the felt with a zig-zag stitch.
12) Next we’ll sew the coordinating piece of felt that the Velcro tabs will adhere to. Fold the swaddler so the left arm panel is lying on top of the right one. Then pin a large circle of felt in the curve of the underarm area, and sew in place with a zig zag stitch. (Be careful that you are only sewing through one layer of T-shirt fabric, you don’t want to sew the tummy panel shut.)
13) For extra security, we’re going to add another Velcro portion to the tummy panel. Sew a half-circle of felt to the center of the arc. Be sure that you are only sewing through one layer of the t-shirt.
14) Add a 3-inch piece of hook Velcro on the inside of the left flap, close to the joint of the T.
15) To swaddle baby, tuck feet into the pocket panel. Lay baby’s arms flat at his sides, then wrap the left flap over his tummy and tuck beneath his arm. Wrap the right flap over the top, and attach the tabs to the felt.
Stop swaddling baby once he can wriggle out of the swaddler, or when he has learned to roll over. Baby should sleep on his back and should not be dressed too warmly. As always, please use common sense when using any handmade baby item.