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Baby Gifts: Pretty Bird Travel Changing Pad

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Go, baby, go! Diaper bags are great, but sometimes seem so big and bulky. When you're on-the-go and need a clean, soft surface for a quick change, this travel pad is perfect. The center panel, where baby's buns go, is a heavy, quality polar fleece. It resists water (for quick mop up) and is super soft. Works like a charm without being bulky. The entire pad folds and wraps up small enough to pop into a shoulder bag... or keep it in the car for travel emergencies.

Our thanks to our pals at  Michael Miller Fabrics for providing us with this absolutely wonderful fabric for our series of seven Baby Gift projects. It's called  Pretty Bird from Pillow & Maxfield. There are three wonderfully vibrant colorways from which to choose. We selected the fabrics for our Baby collection from the Aqua colorway with its incredible hot pinks, limes and bright blues. Pretty Bird comes out this month, so check your favorite local or online fabric retailer soon for availability.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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  • 1 yard of 44-45" wide fabric for outside: we used Pillow & Maxfield Pretty Bird from Michael Miller Fabrics in Aqua Bloomies
  • ¾ yard of 44-45" wide fabric for inside wings and ties: we used Pillow & Maxfield Pretty Bird from Michael Miller Fabrics in Aqua Ground Cover
  • ½ yard of 45-50" wide high quality heavy polar fleece: we used a soft white
  • ½ yard of light-weight, sew-in interfacing
  • All-purpose sewing thread in colors to match fabrics
  • All-purpose sewing thread in contrasting color(s) for decorative topstitching: we used bright blue
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • See-through ruler
  • Tape measure
  • Straight pins
  • Iron and ironing board

Getting Started

  1. From the 'inside fabric' (Aqua Ground Cover in our sample), cut ONE 3" x width of fabric strip. This will create the ties. Trim off the selvage edges, making the strip approximately 44" long. Cut this piece in half to create two ties, each approximately 3" x 22".
  2. From the 'outside fabric' (Aqua Bloomies in our sample), cut ONE 29" x 26" rectangle.
  3. Fold this piece in half (to 14½" x 26").
  4. Measure 6 " in from the folded edge and make a ¼" snip, or place a pin within the top seam allowance area.
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  5. Repeat on the bottom edge.
  6. While still folded measure 1½" down from the corner of the top edge on the side. Again make a small snip or mark with a pin.
  7. Use a ruler and a fabric pen or pencil to connect these two marks with a diagonal line.
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  8. Trim off the corners along the drawn line.
    NOTE: The purpose of this is to angle what will become the side 'wings' of the changing pad, allowing the pad fold neatly.
  9. From the 'inside fabric' (Aqua Ground Cover in our sample), cut TWO 9" x 26" rectangles.
  10. Align these two smaller 'wing' pieces with larger full piece, matching the edges. Trim the corners of the 'wings' to match the full piece.
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  11. Cut TWO 9" x 26" pieces of light-weight interfacing. Align with the fabric 'wings' and trim the corners to match.
  12. Cut ONE 26" x 13" piece of fleece.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Create the ties

  1. Find the two 3" x 22" strips.
  2. On each strip, fold in and press ½" along both long edges, then fold in and press ½" on one end.
  3. Fold in half lengthwise, right sides out, and press.
    NOTE: It's easier to sew the edges together with a nice, straight line of stitching if one fold is pressed ever so slightly back from the other as shown in the picture above.
  4. Thread your machine contrasting thread in the top and bobbin. Topstitch very close to the edge along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at each corner. The top edges of the strips are raw.
  5. Find the center point of the full outside fabric piece. Do this by folding the full piece in half and marking the center fold with a pin or a line made with a fabric pen or pencil.
  6. Pin the unfinished ends of the ties, one on top of the other, at this marked point on the right side of the fabric. The raw edges of the ties should align with the top raw edge of the fabric and the ties should hang down into the center of the full piece.
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  7. Stitch the ties in place, approximately 3/8" from edge.

Create and attach the 'wings'

  1. If necessary, re-thread your machine with thread to match your fabrics in the top and bobbin.
  2. Machine baste a piece of interfacing to the wrong side of each of the 'wing' piece. Your machine basting should be within the standard ½" seam allowance or about 3/8" from the edges.
  3. Trim the interfacing close to the stitching.
  4. Pin the long edge of one 'wing' to one long edge of the fleece piece (I love it when instructions rhyme).
  5. Sew together, using ½" seam allowance.
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  6. Repeat to stitch the second 'wing' in place.
  7. Press both seams toward the 'wings'. Use a synthetic setting on your iron so as not to damage the fleece. Try to iron mostly on the fabric, avoiding the fleece as much as possible.
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  1. Lay the full outside piece (with ties attached) right side UP on your work surface. Place the inside fleece/'wings' piece on top of it, right side DOWN. The ties are sandwiched in between. Carefully align all the raw edges, smoothing as you go so your layers are nice and flat. Pin in place.
    NOTE: Use plenty of pins on the fleece so it does not stretch out as you sew.
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  2. Using a ½" seam allowance, sew the two pieces together. Leave a 6" opening along one side edge for turning.
  3. Trim the seam allowances diagonally at all corners, but be careful not to clip into your stitching.
  4. Turn the project right side out and press. Avoid pressing the fleece; keep your iron on the fabric as much as possible. Pull out the ties.
  5. Press in the raw edges of the turn opening so they are flush with your sewn seam.
  6. Along the 'wing'/fleece seam line, pin through all layers. You'll be sewing through the fabric, interfacing and fleece so use plenty of pins to hold all the layers in place.
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  7. Topstitch ¼" from the seamline on the 'wing' fabric. Remember to move the ties out of the way.
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  8. If necessary, re-thread your machine with contrasting color thread in the top and bobbin.
  9. Set up your machine for decorative stitching. We choose a heirloom-type zig-zag stitch.
  10. Topstitch ¼" around the entire outer edge of the fabric with the decorative stitch. This stitching will close the opening you left for turning right side out. Again, make sure your ties stay out of the way of the stitching.
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  11. Press well – press flat from the outside fabric side, then fold in the 'wings' and press these folds. As above, try to avoid pressing directly onto the fleece. Re-press the ties.
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  12. To fold for travel: fold in the flaps, fold in half, then in half again, roll up, and tie closed.

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    Project Design: Alicia Thommas 
    Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Julia Chapman



    Comments (17)

    Camila said:
    Camila's picture

    Hello, Thanks for this pattern is lovely. My question is what kind of fabric did you use outside. Is a waterproof fabric? Or it is 100% cotton? To use for more than 2 years, it is durable?


    Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
    Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

    @ Camila - the outside is a 100%, designer quality cotton, so it is washable and should be quite durable. However, durability always depends on the frequency of use and laundry as well as general care. As this is meant to be a travel changing pad, we don't envision it having daily use. You could certainly use a different fabric, such as a cotton laminate or a heavyweight twill or canvas. 

    Callie said:
    Callie's picture

    I LOVE you site! And I love this pattern! I have made it as a gift before, but now that I have my own baby, it's time to make another one. My question is, do you think it could work to use PUL fabric in place of the fleece? For the waterproof/wipe-able feature... Just a thought I had, curious what you thought about it! You're awesome, thanks!

    Rhonda from Australia said:
    Rhonda from Australia's picture

    Thank you so much for sharing these patterns and ideas. I finished the change mat today and I'm going to try to finish off the nappy bag tomorrow. I had to go through and change all of the measurements to metric but it still worked out great. thanks again. I have also shared this page on Facebook. 

    utsensai said:
    utsensai's picture

    Can you machine wash and put these in the dryer with the fabrics you recommended?  Thanks in advance!

    Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
    Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

    @ utsensai - Yes, you can launder this project. As we also recommend, pre-wash/pre-shrink your fabric prior to starting the project. 

    Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
    Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
    Hi Meredith12 -- So glad this project turned out for you and your baby girl. Now .... the first thing you need to do is try to convince your friends to make their pads themselves!!! smilies/grin.gif That's what we're all about here. If that doesn't work... here's the scoop:

    All our patterns and tutorials are original and copyrighted. However, we do give permission to people to use them to make items for sale and, of course, for themselves or as gifts for others. If the item will be for sale, we ask is that there be a credit on the tag somewhere that shows Sew4Home.com as the originator of the pattern and/or design and instructions.

    The only thing we do NOT allow is to actually copy and/or sell the patterns or instructions themselves. They cannot be copied or printed and sold or transferred in any way.

    Thank you for being careful and asking permission.
    Meredith12 said:
    Meredith12's picture
    I just made one of these for my baby girl!! Way too cute and much lighter than the bulky changing pads you can buy at the store.

    What's your policy on if I wanted to sell some? I've had a few friends already asking for one!
    Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
    Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
    Hi Dianna - That sounds like one very stylin' changing pad. Your friend is going to love it. So glad you are having fun with our projects smilies/cheesy.gif
    Diana Martineau said:
    Diana Martineau's picture
    I am so excited! I just finished this changing pad for a dear friend of mine who is finally going to have a baby girl after 3 boys. I used a black and white Zebra print in both the fleece and the "inside" fabric and used a pink leopard print for the "outside" print. I cannot wait to make the bibs next! Thank you so much for sharing this, I can't wait to tackle more projects. Consider me hooked, lol!
    Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
    Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
    Hi Rene -- so glad you are inspired! Don't give up... many online fabric outlets ship all over the world. Contact our friends at FatQuarterShop.com and see what their shipping policies are to South Africa. Best of luck - so glad you're a regular visitor.
    Rene Sharp said:
    Rene Sharp's picture
    I have just joined here, and as a "new" sewer I am SO inspired by all the gorgeous projects that you have here and how well illustrated your instructions are!! I look forward to checking in every day so see what new projects are posted. I can see I am going to get VERY frustrated though!! I live in a tiny town in South Africa, and have little to no fabric choices. The fabrics you use for all the projects are just totally gorgeous!!!!
    Vera Helena Vianna do Nascimento said:
    Vera Helena Vianna do Nascimento's picture
    I see daily the projects taught here, and I am delighted with the way they teach didactic and detailed. It's all very beautiful! Congratulations and thank you for the teachings for sharing.