One of the top tutorials here on Sew4Home has alway been our crib bumpers. It seems there are a lot of people out there looking for bumper patterns and instructions, and ours just happen to be the easiest... and the cutest. We started with our original winning design, then up-cycled it with all-around, jumbo piping and added a stylish monogram. This back-by-demand tutorial is just one of eight pieces in our new nursery series sponsored by our good friends at Michael Miller Fabrics, and is created using their new Color Story concept. We chose the Citron-Gray Color Story for its warmth and it design 'wow' – beautiful and bold geometrics that are endlessly interesting. Think gray doesn't belong in nursery? Give it another look; it is one of the loveliest neutrals available. In fact, Feng Shui experts say, "Warm, silvery gray can bring a beautiful, clear and centering energy into a room."
Our pretty and plump bumpers were made with 'jumbo' piping, and we really love the finished look. That said, you may want to experiment with making this type of large piping prior to beginning the project, as it can be difficult to handle with some machines. If you are new to piping or have challenges sewing precise seams through multiple layers, consider going down to a ¼" piping instead. We used this size of piping on our original Stylish Baby Nursery Crib Bumpers.
Unlike most fabric collections that are filled with coordinated prints in multiple colorways, color is what this story is all about. Michael Miller's Color Story concept combines hues that consistently work so well together, they create their own ambience, their own feeling... their own story . These fabric color pairings are also currently prominent in other areas of fashion, interior style and pop culture: Citron-Gray, Aqua-Red, Cocoa-Berry, It's a Boy thing, It's a Girl Thing, Lagoon, Orchid-Gray, Retro, Rouge et Noir, Sorbet and Urban Grit.
Like good friends who hang together over time, Michael Miller's eleven Color Story pals will evolve from one release to another. Their stories will update and build momentum as color trends evolve, but their compatibility will remain. You'll be able to add new fabrics within the same Color Story , knowing they'll fit in and work well together.
Another note to all our S4H friends and fans: choosing to add bumpers to your crib linens is a personal decision. There have been safety concerns circulating for years regarding "fluffy" pillows of any kind in cribs. We made sure our bumpers followed the best-practices guidelines for construction, length and number of ties used to secure the bumpers, and the use of flat and dense padding rather than puffy batting.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome Memory Craft 6300)
- Zipper foot or even better, a Narrow Base Zipper foot
Fabric and Other Supplies
Fabric.com carries a good selection of Michael Miller Fabrics, including many of the citron and gray color story options.
- 2½ yards of 44-45" wide solid fabric for the inside of the crib bumpers: we used Cotton Couture Broadcloth in Soft White by Michael Miller Fabrics
- 2½ yards of 44-45" wide print fabric for the outside of the crib bumpers: we used Citron Feeling Groovy from the Citron-Gray Color Story by Michael Miller Fabrics
- 3 yards of 44-45" wide print fabric for the piping and the corner ties: we used Gray Quarter Dot from the Citron-Gray Color Story by Michael Miller Fabrics
- Fairfield NU Foam® Baby Bumper Pads - one package of six, measuring 10" x 26" x 1"
- 13½ yards ½" diameter (1½" circumference) cotton cording
- All purpose thread
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Tape measure
- Straight pins
- Download and print the Crib Bumper Corner Template.
IMPORTANT: This PDF file is one 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print the file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page.
- Cut out the template along the solid line.
NOTE: Because you will be cutting through thick and/or multiple layers, you might want to trace the template onto a piece of cardboard or template plastic. This heavier/thicker pattern will be a bit easier to work with, and cut around, than plain paper.
- Cut TWELVE 27" x 11¾" pieces of fabric: SIX from the inside bumper fabric (white cotton sheeting in our sample), SIX from the outside bumper fabric (Feeling Groovy in our sample).
NOTE: To make sure the amount of fabric suggested is sufficient, cut horizontally across the 44-45" width of the fabrics, and do not leave more of a 1" gap between the cuts.
- Using the template you made, mark a rounded edge on each corner of each 27" x 11¾" piece of fabric. Cut the rounded corners.
NOTE: If you have a good pair of shears or a nice, sharp rotary cutter, you can stack all twelve pieces and cut them corners all at once.
- From the fabric for the ties (Gray Quarter Dot in our sample), cut TWENTY-FOUR 15½" x 2½" strips.
- Cut SIX 81" lengths from the cording.
- From the fabric for the piping (Gray Quarter Dot in our sample), cut SIX 4" wide bias strips according to the instructions below. Each finished bias strip will need to be about 81" long.
Cut the bias strips for the piping
- On your cutting surface, lay out flat the fabric you've chosen for the piping (Gray Quarter Dot in our sample) right side up and with the selvage running along one side.
- The selvage is the woven edge of your fabric where it was originally attached to the loom. The fabric's pattern does not continue onto the selvage, but there is likely to be some information printed there that identifies the manufacturer or designer.
- Fold the fabric back diagonally so a straight edge is parallel to the selvage.
- Press the fold and use this crease as a guide to mark your parallel lines.
- Use a straight edge to make continuous parallel lines 4" apart.
- Cut along these lines with good, sharp shears or a rotary cutter and straight edge.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- We added a monogram to the inside panel of the headboard bumper. Totally optional, but totally cool as well!
- If you are new to monogramming, perhaps it's time for a shopping trip.
Join the bias strips
- You need 81" of piping to go around each bumper pad. You will likely need to join strips to make one that is the required 81" long. To do this, take two of your strips and place them right sides together at right angels to each other.
- Stitch straight across with a ½" seam allowance.
- Lay the strip flat, press the seam open, and trim off the overlapping edges.
- Repeat as necessary until you have one long fabric strip that is at least 81" length.
- Repeat these same steps another five times to create enough 81" bias binding strips for all six bumper pads.
Insert the cording
- Place one 81" bias strip right side down and flat on your work surface.
- Lay one 81" length of cord in the center.
- Fold the fabric over the cord, keeping the cord centered and matching the raw edges of the fabric.
- Pin to hold in place.
- Carefully move to your sewing machine and adjust the piping so the raw edges line up on your seam allowance marking, and cord pokes out to the left of your foot.
- Using the Zipper foot or Narrow Base Zipper foot, stitch slowly, staying close to the cord and keeping your seam allowance as consistent as possible (you will be trimming some of the width away after sewing). Remember to remove any pins as you go so you don't sew over them.
- After sewing the entire length of the piping, trim back the seam allowance so it is ½" in width from the stitching line.
- Cut one end of the cording close to the raw edge, so it has a sharp, flat end.
Make the ties
- Find the TWENTY-FOUR 15½" x 2½" tie strips .
- With right sides together, fold one 15½" x 2½" fabric strip in half lengthwise, so it is now 15½" x 1¼". Pin in place.
- Using a ¼" seam allowance, stitch along the long edge and across one end. Remember to stop with your needle in the down position at the corner, lift your presser foot, then pivot 90˚ to make a nice clean corner. You'll use the open end to turn the tube.
- Trim the corners, being careful not to clip into your seam.
- Turn the strip right side out. You've made a fairly narrow little tube, so you'll need a little help turning it. My favorite tiny tube turner: a pair of hemostats. Check out our tutorial on this great idea.
- Push out the corners with a long, blunt-end tool, like a knitting needle or chopstitck.
- Press the tie so the seam runs nice and straight along one long edge. That same tutorial about the hemostats also has a great tip for how to perfectly iron narrow tubes. You gotta check it out!
- Repeat to finish all twenty-four ties in the same manner.
- Pin two ties to each side of each outside bumper piece (Citron Feeling Groovy in our sample). The right side of the bumper fabric should be facing up.
- Place one tie 2½" down from the top raw edge and 2½" up from the bottom raw edge. Repeat on the other side.
- Pin the ties in place so the raw edge of the tie aligns with the raw edge of the bumper fabric piece.
- Tack the ties in place with a short line of topstitching approximately ¼" from the raw edge.
- Repeat these steps to make and secure the remaining 20 ties to the remaining five outside bumper pieces.
Stitch the freshly-made piping to the bumper fabric pieces
- Find the SIX 27" x 11¾" pieces of inside bumper fabric (white cotton sheeting in our sample - one with a monogram) and the SIX 81" lengths of piping you just completed above. This length should be enough to go all the way around and to leave an approximate 1" - 2" tail free at the end.
- Pin one length of piping to the RIGHT side of one outside bumper piece, aligning the raw edges of the piping with the raw edge of the fabric piece.
- Start in the middle of one 27" edge (pick the bottom edge if you have a directional print), and pin around all four edges until you return to the start.
- Clip the seam allowance to make the fabric lay flat. Clip up to the line of stitching, but not through it. Clip as you go, making as many clips as you need to make a smooth curve. This is called "ease" - the little cuts give the otherwise rigid line the flexibility to curve.
- Start stitching about ¼" - ½" from the raw end of the piping (to facilitate the clean finish outlined below). In other words, make sure you have a tail free at the start.
- Using your Zipper foot or Narrow Base Zipper foot, stitch along the ½" seam allowance, removing the pins as you go. Remember, you are stitching around a curve, so you'll need to gently ease the fabric as you go. This means it might ripple slightly. That's okay.
Finishing the piping ends
- Continue sewing your piping in place until you are back to where you started. Using that "tail" you accounted for at the beginning, cut off any excess piping so you have about 1" to work with.
- With a seam ripper, peel back the fabric to expose the cording underneath.
- Trim the end of cording tail so it exactly meets the end of the sewn-down cording. Fold under the end of the loose fabric to create a clean edge, adjusting and wrapping this folded end under and around the loose piping tail so it overlaps the sewn down raw edge by about ½".
- Stitch in place, matching your seam line.
- Here's what your clean finish should look like:
And.... we're almost done
- With right sides together, and ties and cording on the inside, pin each inside and outside fabric pair.
NOTE: It's very important that you make sure your ties are all facing in and free of the seams. Pin them in place in the middle if need be.
- Using a ½" seam allowance and your Zipper foot or Narrow Base Zipper foot, stitch along THREE sides, staying as close to the piping seam as possible (the seam you just made to attach the piping to the right side of the outside piece). Start just below the corner curve on one end, stitch around the corner, across the top edge, around the end, across the bottom edge, and around the corner curve of the end where you started.
- Leave a 5" - 6" opening between the two corners curves on this end. Lock your stitch on either side of the opening.
- Trim the seam allowance back to ¼" all around EXCEPT at the opening. Leave the seam allowance at the opening a full ½".
- Turn the cover right side out through the opening, so the piping and ties pop out.
- Insert a bumper pad into each cover.
NOTE: It will help give you a nice snug fit if you use the corner template to round the corners of the foam just as you did with the fabric pieces.
- Turn under the ½" seam allowance at the opening so it is flush with the sewn seam.
- Slip stitch the opening closed.
Project Concept: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Gregory Dickson