Sunday, January 24, 2010

Baby Barf Catcher: Step-by-Step Instructions

I first saw a version of these baby burp cloths at my friend Beth's house.  She had gotten some for a shower gift and she said they were her favorite burp cloths (evidently there is enough variation among burp cloths to warrant a ranking system--who knew?).  I eyed them carefully and decided two things:  (1) I could make these and (2) they would be a hell of a lot easier to sew than shopping cart covers.  I might even be able to make them without my mom's help.

Since my friends are popping out kids like there's a big tax rebate for doing that kind of thing, I decided that the supplies for this project would be a pretty good investment.  I also found it to be a good way for me to sew something useful without stressing out too much about perfect seams and such.  Because, after all, it's going to get barfed on.  That is its purpose.

To make baby burp cloths you need the following:
* flannel fabric
* tri-fold reusable diapers
* thread
* sewing machine
* iron

The first and most important step is selecting the fabric .  This is not a highly-skilled project so the thing that makes one burp cloth stand out among the rest is the choice of fabric, not craftsmanship.  My experience has been that although everybody ooohs and aaaahs over the lambs and the puppies and the Noah's Ark brigade at baby showers, parents enjoy a release from the saccharine pastels and baby prints.

I was keeping in mind my friend who's having a girl in February and my sister-in-law who's having a boy in April, so I bought gender-specific material (because it's never too early to start brainwashing your child with gender normative expectations!).  I wanted to keep a consistent color theme for packaging them together, and I wanted to avoid baby-ish prints (no bunnies or dump trucks).

Girl-Baby gets some lovely shades of pink and chocolate brown.

Boy-Baby gets the blue theme.  Shocking, right?

I asked for half a yard of each type of fabric which turned out to be the exact right length for the diapers.  Serendipity, baby.  As the nice old lady at Jo-Ann was cutting the fabric for me, she smiled sweetly and inquired, "What kind of project are you making this flannel?"

"Oh," I said, "I'm making baby burp cloths."

Of course she happened to be cutting this material at the time:

(But later, when I showed the burps cloths to my friends, the skull and crossbones was the most-requested fabric.  Even for parents of girls.  So there you go.)

After washing and drying the flannel and the diapers, iron the flannel and cut it into pieces that are 18" long by 7" wide (I didn't have to cut the length at all since I bought half a yard, so it was super easy).

If you are cutting while watching District 9, as I was, it is helpful to have a partner in the room who can read the closed-captioning aloud to you while the aliens talk.  (Unless you speak prawn, which I don't.)  David was quite obliging in reading aloud though.

Once the pieces are cut, fold over 1/2 inch on all sides and iron.

Be careful that you do not get distracted by District 9 and allow your iron to melt your plastic measuring stick.  It creates an unpleasant odor, not to mention warps your measuring stick.

Cut off the corners on an angle to make a mitered edge so that you don't get lumpy corners that make sewing difficult.

Once you've done the ironing, place the flannel in the center of the diaper.  It doesn't have to be exact because the diapers are certainly not exact and because you must remember the purpose: it will be barfed on.

Pin it into place.  Then you can finish watching District 9 and come back to your project later.

Once you are ready to sew, choose a contrasting thread and set your machine to make that zig-zag stitch (practice on a scrap piece of fabric first).  Then just sew the piece of flannel in place.  There's a bit of a learning curve because the diapers are stretchy and the sides aren't even and your sewing machine might have a bobbin that sometimes goes absolutely berserk on you for no good reason, but nevermind those small issues. It might not be absolutely perfect.  See evidence below:

BUT, as I told myself, even if a seam is not exactly straight, its fine.  Should your perfectionist tendencies kick in and you contemplate ripping our the entire seam and starting again, remember the purpose.  It is a barf rag.

But a really cute barf rag, nonetheless.

The final trick is all in the packaging.  Fold, stack, tie with grosgrain ribbon.  Ta-da!  It's that easy.

So cute you could just barf.


  1. Very clever & cute! Might be a good bazaar project!

  2. Are these barfing cloths effective on cat barf?

  3. @Zsa Zsa: As absorbent cloth, I would guess that they could also clean up cat barf. But unless you are holding said cat and burping it over your shoulder, it wouldn't have quite the same purpose.

  4. Yay! The super cute pink ones are now folded and in a basket ready to be used! And I, for one, definitely appreciate the not-too-cutesy fabric when we've been seeing a lot of pastel ducks recently! Thanks!

  5. Cracking up at the phone caption:) They're adorable!

  6. A-DORABLE. Perfect use for all those fabric scraps I have laying around.