Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Make a Baby Hammock

I've been thinking about doing this for a while now. Corben is one of those babies that sleeps best with a little movement. In the sling, in the car, in the swing. However, the swing isn't coming camping with us, or anywhere else that we're going on holidays, and I thought it would be nice to have something that we could use ANYWHERE, that packs up nice and light. It also feels nicer, a bit more natural than a battery operated thing-a-ma-jig (and D batteries ain't cheap!) It has the added bonus that EVERY TIME baby stirs, it sets the hammock in motion again and rocks them back to sleep.

These are SUPER SIMPLE to make:

(Apologies in advance for my not-so-sexy diagrams, and my crappy point and shoot pictures...I want my camera back!!!)

You'll need 3 yards of material, with a 45" width. Most I've seen had them with plain muslin, but the muslin I had here was a funny width, so I used this cotton instead.

Fold your fabric in half lengthwise (WRONG sides together if you're using a print) and sew the 2 ends together.

Measure 14 1/2 inches from your first seam, and sew a second one.

What you have now is a large circle of fabric, with a little bit of a "tail."

Press your large seam to one side, turn under the raw edge, and sew it down. Basically what you're doing here is making a large french seam - you've made a circle of fabric, with three layers of fabric at the bottom of it. On your 14" wide bottom, decide where baby's head is going to go, and thus, where his feet will go (ie: pick a top and a bottom.) On the head end, from about 8" on either side of your 14" sandwich, fold down about 3/4" of fabric and sew down, creating a channel for some elastic. Insert the elastic, stitch down on one end, and then gather the fabric down to about 6" total. (This seems like a lot of gathering, but it'll hang better this way, and baby's head will be slightly elevated.) Sew the other end of the elastic down. Trim off the excess.
On the foot end we're going to sew some ties. I used bias tape, and just stitched it closed. For each tie, I used 13" of tape, and just knotted the end.

Find the centre of the foot end. Mark of 4", 8", and 12" from this centre point, in either direction. Sew on your ties.
(I do know how to measure, I didn't realize my tape had slipped when I went to take the picture!)

And now, the pillow.

I used a cheap piece of foam from Walmart, but I'm going to get something a little sturdier. I'm also not satisfied with the size of it, but if your babe is just a newborn, it might be fine.

I'm going to get something from Fabricland and have it cut 14" by 30". You can make a simple pillowcase for your foam, or cover it with a changing pad cover (similar to a crib sheet with the elastic all the way around.) Either way, don't make it permanent, chances are you're going to want to wash this at some point!

Next you'll need a 2 foot long piece of 1" by 3". I used oak, because it's what was cheapest in the hardwood selection. You could use maple too, or likely even a cheaper piece of pine, but I wanted the sturdiness that the hardwood offered. Cut a "U" shape notch in each end, mine is about 3/4" wide and 1 1/2" into the wood. Comme ca:

Now, for assembly! I hung my hammock on the top end of a Jolly Jumper. The spring gives it some bounce, and the clip for the door frame is terribly handy. However, if you don't have a Jolly Jumper hanging around, I understand that you can get springs at Canadian Tire. You can grab some chain there too, and whatever sort of hardware you need to attach the whole shebang together - some combo of carabiners and quick-links.

You'll need a nice sized carabiner to hang at the centre of your hammock. Thread the fabric into the carabiner. I tied another piece of bias tape around the fabric under the carabiner to give it a bit more stability. Thread the fabric into your "U" shaped slots in the wood. Again, another bias tape tie around the wood and the fabric. (I saw a few versions that had these ties sewn on, but I'd recommend not doing that until you see how your hammock hangs and you figure out exactly where you want them.) Insert Baby. Bounce. He sleeps, you blog, everyone wins!

(I'm going to sink a nice big eye hook somewhere on the porch outside too, so he can sleep ourdoors too when we're out there.)(Information gathered from a whole bunch of places...mostly from this blog and this forum, but I also took a look at these few pictures of what's available to buy.)

With the exception of the $5.00 piece of maple, I had all I needed for this project hanging out in my house. However, even if you have to buy everything, you're looking at a maximun of about $50.00 I figure. Heck of a savings from the $200.00 hammocks you can buy in stores!


Mom said...

That is so cool I would put it into production - do you have any orders yet?

Terri-Ann said...

I might order one of those from you! Looks awesome!

I'm currently bugging all my camping friends for good family tent recommendations. We love to camp so we want to invest in something good, that will fit us as we grow (family of 5). What tent do you guys have? Where did you get it? Do you love it?

Back to the hammock - how big of a baby will it accommodate? Benjamin, at 5 months, just outgrew his D-battery-eating swing...

Cindy @ This Adventure, Our Life said...

Soo soo very creative!! That is a great idea :)! He looks more than comfy also!

Cynthia Krajcarski said...

OMG!! That is super amazing!! I'm terrible when it comes to sewing, but I am SO going to try my hand at this!!

Or... if you are going to make them, I would totally pay you!

Catherine said...

Fantastic! After reading your instructions 3 times I finally clued in. (I'm a little slow) It looks pretty simple so I'm going to try it out. Thank you for the detailed instructions. I'm also going to add some mosquito netting hanging over the top of the wood. I'll let you know how it goes.

Catherine said...

Here's my post about my swing. Not at all as detailed as your post.

Tilby Photography said...

Great Post! I have wanted a baby hammock for a while now, just found out Im pregnant with #3, so I started making this, super excited, should be almost free as my guy has most of the hardware laying around, sure beats $200. Im a bit confused though, being a self taught "sewer" I am way more visual, I have sewed the first two seams, 14 1/2 inches apart, but now do not know what to do. Would it be way to much trouble to take a picture of where the "tail" ended up at, and what you do with it? Thanks so much

ana said...

Thanks for that - your instructions look really clear and easy to follow. I'm going to have a go at making one this week!

Anonymous said...

I am so confused...I sewed the first 2 seams and have NO clue where to go from here!!! PLEASE HELP!!!

Jenn said...

If you're confused, you're welcome to send me an email to lifeontheroof(at)!

whitejohn said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
kish kash said...

I wish I could get the spring in the UK. I cannot find a hardware store that stocks it. Would you make this for me? If yes, how much would it cost?

Jessica Ghigliotti said...

Very cool! This is a project I decided to tackle, and I've been looking around to see how everyone else did theirs. I've linked back to you :)

Here's mine:

Olive Wild said...

Your "not-so-sexy diagrams" were the most helpful! I've just completed my 2nd (one each for upstairs and down). I just wanted to thank you for the wonderful tutorial!

Mrs D said...

I am super interested in doing this for our coming number 2 baby, but my husband is concerned that it won't be sturdy enough hanging from a ceiling stud. Anyone have any thoughts on this? The ones that have stands are just sooo expensive!

Matt and Jenean Wargo said...

Thanks for your easy instructions, I have made one for my little one due this may, but it has been put to good use already with two of my nieces. So I am on to making two more, one for each of them :) Thanks

jkdze said...

Thanks for instructions! I am going to make one.
But how do you clean the hammock? I see no sheets being you wash entire hammock and how often?