In November, my favorite fabric store was having a big sale on fleece. It’s just amazing the beautiful patterns and designs that fleece comes in! And it’s also so easy to work with. You can cut it and it doesn’t ravel. It also sews easily and beautifully.
I have five grandchildren and three nieces and nephews…all under the age of 8, so I needed a good gift idea that wouldn’t be too expensive. Several years ago my mom had given my teenagers something like a sleeping bag, but it was made of fleece and intended to be inserted into a real sleeping bag, as a liner or to be used alone for warmer weather.
I thought how much smaller children might like a little ‘sleeping bag’ that they could use on their beds, the floors, or Grandma’s couch. I decided to sew them myself and make little pillows to match. What I did was so easy that I was able to make all six bags in one day!
For each bag and pillow, I bought about a yard and a third of fleece. I got different styles for older children, younger children and toddlers. For my grandson, Nikolai, I made a fleece version of the hooded bath towel that I showed you how to make in February. For the oldest grandchild I bought a yard and a half.
If you are looking for a quick gift to make a young child, maybe this is just the idea you are looking for!
1. Buy enough yardage to equal the height of the person you are making the bag for, plus about 8” extra inches.
2. Fold the fabric in half lengthwise. Cut off about 12”-14” of fabric. Enough to make a pillow.
3. Sew the strip into a ‘pillowcase’. I made a hem of about an inch.
4. Cut a narrow strip of about 4” off the long side of the sleeping bag (from top to bottom) to make the bag a little narrower so it looks like a sleeping bag and not a fat rectangle. Use this excess fabric to cut into ties later.
5. Open out the fabric for the bag and sew a hem from about 18” from the top edge on the left, across the top edge and down the right edge another 18”.
5. Now fold the fleece right sides together and stitch a half inch seam from the hemmed edge (18” down from the top edge) all the way down the length of the bag, across the bottom, and back up the left side. You are stitching the raw edges together leaving the hemmed edges loose. This gives the sleep bag enough fabric to fold down in order to get into the sleeping bag.
6.Use the long side strip to make a tie or two to hold the folded bag and pillow together. Either hem all sides of the strip, or make a tube out of it.
7. Firmly stitch the tie in place on the ‘back’ side of the sleeping bag at the opening, so that when you fold the bag up and lay the pillow on top, you can tie the tie in a knot.
8. To make the bag look more like a real ‘bag’, you can flatten out the seam at the bottom to make two points on the end and stitch them down on the inside of the tube. This makes the end of the tube look and function more like a bag. This is totally optional.
How to Make Two or Three Child Size Pillows
out of a Full Size one.
If it’s summer time, you can buy travel pillows, but being winter, I couldn’t find any. So I bought a full size pillow and cut it in half and made new pillows. I also used some scrap white fabric to make a third. I could easily get three travel size pillows out of one full size one at the price of $2.50 or about .80 cents a piece.
1. Cut a full size pillow in half and remove the stuffing.
2. Sew the two halves of the pillow cover into two pillow covers leaving a small opening to put stuffing in.
3. Stuff the pillow.
4. Stitch the opening closed by hand or by machine.
I think most children would adore a ‘sleeping bag’ like this! They could take it to school for naps, use it to ‘camp’ in the living room, or camp out on Grandma’s couch.
Of course, if you are really pressed for time. Just hem the raw edges of a fleece square to make a 'blankie' and make the pillow case and at least you have a coordinating pillowcase and blanket set in cute cartoon or child friendly designs. That’s a great gift any time of year!