Remember back when Sebastian was about to arrive and we were just finishing up making his co-sleeper out of an old changing table? Well, along with that co-sleeper, I whipped up a fitted sheet to fit the irregular-sized “mattress” that we cut to fit it. I didn’t document the process or write a tutorial because I was seriously winging it and didn’t know if I’d be writing a ‘What Not to Do’ post instead of a success story. But, ‘twas a success and so here we are today with a tutorial. We went the whole of Sebatian’s time in the co-sleeper with one sheet (a big pain when it needed to be washed) but now that Gianna is here, we need at least two. So, last week I whipped up another one. Here’s how I did it and how you can too!
First, grab your supplies. You’ll need fabric (I used and cut up a queen-size fitted sheet), elastic (you can reuse the elastic from the queen sheet if you go that route), scissors, a measuring tape, a safety pin, and a sewing machine. (Abby at Sew Much Ado made up a great chart to help you figure out how much sheet fabric you’ll need for what size mattress you’ve got!)
Next, get the measurements of the mattress you intend on making a fitted sheet for. The mattress on our co-sleeper was a piece of two-inch thick foam I bought from JoAnn’s that I cut to fit inside the co-sleeper – 34.5” long by 17.5” wide.
With the mattress measurements in hand, you’ll cut a big rectangle out of your fabric. To figure out how big your rectangle needs to be, you’ll add the depth of your mattress (x2) plus an extra few inches for extra fabric around the back to the measurements of the mattress. So, since my mattress was two inches deep and I wanted six inches (including the pocket hem for the elastic) of extra fabric to extend around the underside of the mattress, I added 4 (depth x2 for each side) + 17.5 (width) + 12 (6 inches of extra fabric around each underside) to get 33.5; the width of my fabric rectangle. The length of the rectangle then, was 50.5 or 4 + 34.5 + 12. Does that make sense?
Here’s my mattress in comparison to the fabric needed to make a fitted sheet for it:
Because I measured and cut the fabric while also tending to the kids, I messed up. After many, many mistakes made because I wasn’t cutting/sewing/painting with my full concentration on my work (read: while the kids were not napping), you’d think I’d learn. Oops. Well, what I did was measure the width and not the length before I decided to cut the rectangle out of the fabric. I didn’t realize my mistake until I had tossed the remants of fabric so, out of the trash it came so that I could cut out two pieces to sew onto each end to make it the length I needed it to be. I’m telling you all this because in most of the pictures below, there are two seams on my rectangle of fabric and fitted sheet that are only there because of my mistake. They shouldn’t be so I put a white squiggly line over them hoping for less confusion. In reality, you’ll just have a big rectangle without any seams.
Now then, where were we? Oh yes, your rectangle of fabric. At this point, you’ll want to serge all around the outside edge to keep your ends from fraying.
If you don’t have a serger or your sewing maching doesn’t have interlocking stitches, it’s ok! Just iron the edges over just the slightest bit – enough that, when you fold over your edges again to make a pocket for your elastic, that you can sew a stitch right over it to keep it in place.
Now, you’ll have to cut squares out of each corner. The sides of the square cut-out should be equal to the depth of your mattress plus the extra fabric you left to go around the underside of the mattress. So, I measured out an 8 x 8 inch square at each corner – 2” (depth) + 6” (extra fabric) = 8”.
Next, you’ll sew together the two sides of your square.
Pull the sides together, right side of the fabric pieces touching, and stitch them together.
Or, if you have a serger, just serge them together like I did. If you don’t have a serger, sew a zigzag stitch along the very edge to help keep the edges from fraying.
At this point, you’ll have something that looks like this:
It’s time for elastic to come into play. You’ll need to sew a hem or pocket all around the bottom edge of your soon-to-be sheet into which the elastic can fit.
The size of your hem/pocket depends on how wide your elastic is. I used 1/2-inch wide elastic so I made my hem 3/4-wide. So, sew that hem but make sure to leave an opening so that you can insert your elastic. I left about two inches unsewn.
Now, grab your elastic. This is the elastic I used:
(This is post-unpackaging obviously…in case you were wondering where I got invisible elastic )
For the first fitted sheet I made for this co-sleeper, I took the elastic out of the queen-size sheet I used to to make the sheet. I just used a seam ripper to rip out the thread holding it in and easy was it. I used 52 inches of elastic, or the equivalent of two sides of my mattress, in the fitted sheets for the co-sleeper.
To make threading easy, stick a safety pin in the end of the elastic. You may also want to pin the opposite end close to the opening in your hem so that it doesn’t get threaded into your pocket.
Use the safety pin to help your fingers guide the elastic through the fabric pocket.
Once it comes out the other end, sew the two ends of elastic together.
And then daydream about all the cute fitted sheets you’re going to make now that you have thousands of cute fabrics to choose from and not just the pre-made sheets found down the aisles of stores! I mean, look at these!
In other news, you might’ve noticed that we added some fabric straps to Gianna’s co-sleeper.
We were 98% comfortable in the fact that our newborn wasn’t going to pull herself up and out of her bed through that space between the top two rails but for the sake of the 2% of worry, I just cut out some strips of fabric we had leftover from our headboard and tied them in knots along the top. They’re not hemmed or anything so they’re fraying a tad but I guess we’ll call that the rustic vibe. ;)
So anyway, now that we have two sheets for the co-sleeper, we’re not hastily washing the one sheet before the next nap arrives but just swapping out clean for dirty. It makes life over here a little less harried and chaotic…emphasis on a little less. :)