Monday, January 25, 2016

The Bouncy Seat

 I have, in my possession, a very old bouncy seat from the 1950's.  My mother used it for her three children, allowing her babies to learn to sit up and build muscles and coordination.  When the babies grew out of it, the bouncy seat was put into the attic, where it stayed for decades.

My older sister was the first to have a baby, so in the seventies she got the bouncy seat out of mother's attic and tried to clean it up.  The plastic seat was cracked and crumbling, and the paint on the metal frame was peeling.  So my sister repainted the frame and made a new vinyl seat, using the old seat as a pattern.  When I had my babies, I was given the bouncy seat to use and, just like before, when the babies grew out of it, the bouncy seat went back into the attic.

Fast forward to present time.  I pulled the bouncy seat out of the attic to use with my new grandbaby.  When I tried to remove the seat for cleaning, the strong snaps pulled holes in the old vinyl!  Great...

So, I bought new vinyl (marine vinyl from Joann's) and traced the seat pieces onto it.  After cutting, the pieces were bound and joined with purchased bias binding.

Generally, I opened out one edge of the double-fold binding and straight stitched it to the edge of the vinyl piece, sewing right in the first fold from the edge.  Then, I folded over the binding and used a zigzag stitch to secure it.  

I started with the seat back.  I bound the lower edge of the back half-piece as described above.  To join this to the main/inside back piece, I straight stitched the binding around the whole (main/inside) seat back, then folded it over in preparation to zigzag, but first, I put the half-back piece in place before zigzagging the binding down.

Instead of trying to pin this vinyl, I held the pieces with hair clips.

I used the iron to smooth out the curves...touching the binding, NOT the vinyl, with the iron.

I removed the clips as I approached them.

I kept the zigzagging on this piece closer to the outside edge...I was using WIDER binding than on the original and I had NOT cut the pattern piece any larger, so didn't want to risk making the piece too small to fit over the frame.

Hooray!  The back piece easily slipped over the frame.  

So I continued.
Determined that the snaps would NOT pull out again, I used Wonder Under to affix some canvas to the back of the vinyl in the areas where the snaps would be installed.

After fusing the various areas, it occurred to me that I could have just fused the whole would be stronger and look better!  Oh well......

I had purchased two packages of the extra wide bias binding...each was 3 yards.  I had experimented with application methods, using about 6-8 inches.  Well, as luck would have it, when I was ready to bind the last piece, my last strip of binding was about 6-8 inches short!  Grrrrr.....  

However, there was a short piece left from the first package that was about this same length.

I had no inches to spare! 

 I had to join the binding pieces with a straight seam (as opposed to using a mitered seam, which reduces bulk).  As I was pressing the new joint seam open, it occurred to me that I might be able to stretch this length of binding to get the desired length.  Yes, it would get narrower as it got longer but it was wider than I really needed, so I ironed and stretched the binding before applying it to the vinyl seat piece.

As you can see, after stretching and stitching, I ended up with a tiny bit to spare!

Once again, the hair clips were handy for holding the pieces together so I could zigzag them to secure.

Once the tray/saddle section was zigzagged to the rest of the seat, the sewing was complete.

Now it was time to install the snaps.

I used a leather punch to create a small hole where each snap would be installed.

Then a hammer and scrap wood on the workbench allowed me to install all 10 sets of heavy duty snaps.

And VoilĂ !  The bouncy seat is good as new!

Ready for the next generation of babies.

I really gave this no thought; I just copied what was there. But if I was starting over, there are a few things I would do differently.  I might line the various pieces, since the back of the vinyl does show.

Also. The tray was a squarish/rectangle shape; I would round this a bit to be more like the shape of the frame.

But all in all, the project was successful and took only one day of sewing...I did cut it out one day last week.

And now I have a cute bouncy seat awaiting the next visit of that baby...

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Stroke of Genius!

I must say, every now and then a good idea comes along that makes me really happy.  This is one of those ideas.  Nothing life changing or anything...just a good idea.

We were at a restaurant, waiting to be seated, when my son and DIL arrived with our infant grandson in tow.  He was in his car seat and was wearing no coat, nor was he covered with a blanket.  Poor baby must have been cold!

Recently released guidelines recommend NOT dressing a child in a coat before strapping him into a car seat.  Studies have shown that in an accident, a child wearing a coat is more likely to be ejected from the car seat because the straps are loosened to accommodate the coat.  They suggest placing the coat OVER the baby or using a blanket.  

Neither seemed like a satisfactory solution though.

Once we got home, I went straight to the sewing room to design and create something that an infant can wear OVER the safety straps, something that would still be comfortable and warm, yet still allow him to use his arms.  VoilĂ !

I used some polar fleece from my stash.  The scrap I had wasn't long enough, so I joined two pieces together, inserting a strip of cotton ribbing so it would look more like a design element than a mistake!  I gave it ragland sleeves with cotton ribbing at the cuffs and neck.

The back is simply open.  I decided that if an accident should occur, it would be best NOT to have this attached around the neck, posing a possible strangulation hazard!

The edges were serged then turned and topstitched. 

He was quite happy with this on.  He could move his hands at will....or, at least, as well as he usually can, considering that he is just learning to reach and grab!

All in all, this was a successful prototype!  Next time, I will select fabric that is actually large enough (to avoid the extra seam across the belly!). I might even see how flannel works up, perhaps lining it.  And wouldn't it be cute to make one with a monogram? The baby's mother and I both agree, this is a very good thing!

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