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Michael Miller Fabrics' Citron-Gray Nursery: Crib Bumpers with Jumbo Piping

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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, such as: 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.

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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

Fabric and Other Supplies

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Fabric.com carries a good selection of Michael Miller Fabrics, including many of the citron and gray color story options

Getting Started

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
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  5. From the fabric for the ties (Gray Quarter Dot in our sample), cut TWENTY-FOUR 15½" x 2½" strips.
  6. Cut SIX 81" lengths from the cording.
  7. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Fold the fabric back diagonally so a straight edge is parallel to the selvage.
  4. Press the fold and use this crease as a guide to mark your parallel lines.
  5. Use a straight edge to make continuous parallel lines 4" apart.
  6. Cut along these lines with good, sharp shears or a rotary cutter and straight edge.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Monogram option

  1. We added a monogram to the inside panel of the headboard bumper. Totally optional, but totally cool as well!
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Join the bias strips

  1. 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.
  2. Stitch straight across with a ½" seam allowance.
  3. Lay the strip flat, press the seam open, and trim off the overlapping edges.
  4. Repeat as necessary until you have one long fabric strip that is at least 81" length.
  5. Repeat these same steps another five times to create enough 81" bias binding strips for all six bumper pads.

Insert the cording

  1. Place one 81" bias strip right side down and flat on your work surface.
  2. Lay one 81" length of cord in the center.
  3. Fold the fabric over the cord, keeping the cord centered and matching the raw edges of the fabric.
  4. Pin to hold in place.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. After sewing the entire length of the piping, trim back the seam allowance so it is ½" in width from the stitching line.
  8. Cut one end of the cording close to the raw edge, so it has a sharp, flat end.
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Make the ties

  1. Find the TWENTY-FOUR 15½" x 2½" tie strips .
  2. With right sides together, fold one 15½" x 2½" fabric strip in half lengthwise, so it is now 15½" x 1¼". Pin in place.
  3. 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.
  4. Trim the corners, being careful not to clip into your seam.
  5. 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.
  6. Push out the corners with a long, blunt-end tool, like a knitting needle or chopstitck.
  7. 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!
  8. Repeat to finish all twenty-four ties in the same manner.
  9. 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.
  10. Place one tie 2½" down from the top raw edge and 2½" up from the bottom raw edge. Repeat on the other side.
  11. Pin the ties in place so the raw edge of the tie aligns with the raw edge of the bumper fabric piece.
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  12. Tack the ties in place with a short line of topstitching approximately ¼" from the raw edge.
  13. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
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  5. 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.
  6. 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

  1. 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.
  2. With a seam ripper, peel back the fabric to expose the cording underneath.
  3. 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".
  4. Stitch in place, matching your seam line.
  5. Here's what your clean finish should look like:
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And.... we're almost done

    1. 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.
      Click to Enlarge
    2. 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.
    3. Leave a 5" - 6" opening between the two corners curves on this end. Lock your stitch on either side of the opening.
    4. Trim the seam allowance back to ¼" all around EXCEPT at the opening. Leave the seam allowance at the opening a full ½".

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  1. Turn the cover right side out through the opening, so the piping and ties pop out.
  2. 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.
  3. Turn under the ½" seam allowance at the opening so it is flush with the sewn seam.
  4. Slip stitch the opening closed.

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Project Concept: Alicia Thommas 
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Gregory Dickson



Comments (38)

AmyComfortAuthority said:
AmyComfortAuthority's picture

Really awesome idea that I havent seen available to buy yet. Ill be sharing this on my site. Great idea, thanks for sharing. 

Trueblue311 said:
Trueblue311's picture

great tutorial! Super easy to follow! Word of advice to anyone with a VERY basic sewing machine, mine didn't come with a narrow zipper foot so I just used my regular zipper foot, and it doesn't get close enough to the piping to make really tight seams! Bumpers still look really cute, they are just a tad bit loose around the foam for my liking because of my darn foot! 

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

@ Trueblue311 - thanks for letting us know! We loved that big, cushy piping, but a person could substitute the standard size piping and adjust the width of the covering strips. That's a bit easier to work with when you have a more basic machine. Thanks fo the tip and so glad you're happy with the results!

Gale Koehler said:
Gale Koehler's picture

i am  making these bumpers for a mini crib can you give me instructions on how how to measure and cut for a smaller crib

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

@ Gale Koehler - I'm sorry, but we don't do re-sizing of our projects long distance - there are simply too many variables and we'd hate to give you a wrong measurement when guessing. Ours are based on the packaged bumper inserts. Perhaps your best bet would be to look at that measurement and reduce proportionately. What we often do when making our own patterns is to work with paper and/or muslin to create a prototype. Cut out a proportionately smaller shape from paper and then actually test it against your crib until you get a fit that works for you. 

Maryan said:
Maryan's picture

Question on the ties.  On the side of the crib where the two pads meet.  Are we tying the two pads together to form a single bow?

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

@ Maryan - Yes, use one tie from each pad to tie into a joining bow. 

Kat L. said:
Kat L.'s picture

Love this tutorial!  This whole set (the Michael Miller Citron Gray Nursery) has been wonderful.  I have not sewed in years (and even then I was not very good) but I really am proud of my results!  I made the bumper, a crib skirt, a blanket, crib sheets and even made a valance by customizing the instructions for the crib skirt!  Michael Miller Backyard Baby is what my daughter chose for her soon to be born son.  I am so excited to have gained new skills with these tutorials, it gave me so much confidence.  I can't wait to see what else I can tackle!!    Thank you Liz!

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

@ Kat L - thanks for letting us know about your success! Congratulations 

Catherine Ensor said:
Catherine Ensor's picture

I replied to a comment but then noticed how old it was so I thought I'd start a new one. Crib bumpers are banned in some states and are concidered dangerous to use because of the suffocation risk. Please check with your pediatrician before putting them in a crib.

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

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.

Francena J. said:
Francena J.'s picture

Dear Sew4Home, I was reading through the directions before beginning the crib bumpers.  I noticed that the cut length is 27 inches to accomodate the 26 inch side. One inch was allowed for seam allowances.  On the 10 inch side, I noticed that the directions instruct you to cut 11 3/4 inches.  This is 1 3/4 inches instead of 1 inch seam allowance.  Is there a reason that it is cut 11 3/4 inches instead of 11 inches?  Thank you for your instructions?

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

@ Francena J - It gives you a little extra room to work with in accomodating the piping. 

karen jean said:
karen jean's picture

That seems like a lot of fabric for the bumper pads. Is there a lot of fabric left over?

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

@ karen jean - the cuts are outlined in the getting started section. For the patterned fabric, we always fussy cut, so that means we cut 27" wide x 11-3/4" high. With 44-45" wide goods, that means you can't cut two side by side, so yes, there will be leftover fabric. Also, you can always take a look at the cuts needed and more tightly figure yardage based on your fabric - its width and its motif. 

Stacey Marson said:
Stacey Marson's picture

Ugh!  This jumbo piping is going to kill me!  It's super cute and maybe the imperfections aren't super noticeable once it's done but I just completed one section of the bumper and it looks terrible!  I know this is completely user error but I'm not a new sewer, just having trouble getting as close as I'd like (and staying there!) to the piping.  Time to tear it out and try again.  My friend is having twins so I better figure this out soon, as she's expecting two sets of bumpers very soon!!  Yikes!!

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

@ Stacey Marson - sorry you're having trouble. The jumbo piping is harder to work with than the narrow kind. If you have a walking foot, you might give that a try to keep the layers feeding smoothly. With the majority of those feet, you can get in pretty close - maybe not as tight as a zipper foot, but keeping everything smooth and flat might be even more important. 

Casey said:
Casey's picture

Hi I made the bumpers in the tutorial... But I've noticed that they are pulling through the slots in the crib. Maybe I'm tying them wrong? Help!!! Please!!

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

@ Casey - That's a hard one to troubleshoot long-distance since we can't see the situation. The best I can suggest is to look at the pictures of ours above and see if you can spot any differences. We used the standard crib bumper pads, which are 10" x 26" x 1" - and are designed to fit the majority of standard cribs. 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ LaurenR - As you see in our supply list above -- all the fabrics we specified were the standard 44-45" width. You are good to go.
LaurenR said:
LaurenR's picture
The fabric that I am looking to make this bumper is only made in 44" width. Will that affect me much? If so how?

Thanks for any input!
JulieJulie said:
JulieJulie's picture
Re: Bumper Safety

I use two bumpers where my (now mobile child) chronically hits his head. I use the others to wrap around the top rail. Commercially available teething guards would not fit on our crib.

So with a little creativity, and taking into account safety, we were able to use the beautiful bumpers that came with our crib set. Put yourself in a baby room and think for a few minutes.... there are so many other uses for crib bumpers if you choose to not use them in the crib. Happy Sewing smilies/smiley.gif
BridgetReed said:
BridgetReed's picture
I finished this project last week and they turned out great! The only issue I have with the finished product is that my bumpers don't fit end to end in the crib. I have to overlap the pads in the middle on the long sides in order to get them to fit. I don't know why this would be since my crib is standard size. Anyway, it still looks cute. I am by no means an experienced seamstress, but I found this tutorial pretty easy to follow. And I learned a lot smilies/smiley.gif Now I'm going to move on to the crib sheet (which should be no problem after the bumper) and then maybe the skirt. I'm taking it slow. Thanks for the great tutorial!
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ Madison7 - Do you mean, "why are they cut on the diagonal?" As in our drawing? This is the technique we've found is the best and fastest way to insure you are cutting strips as long as possible on the true bias of the fabric. At the risk of over explaining, the bias is the diagonal to the straight up and down and side to side weave of the fabric ... the "fabric grain." By cutting at the bias angle to the grain, the resulting fabric will have some stretch to it, which will allow it to better wrap around corners and curves... something important with things like the piping on these bumpers. The width of the cuts depend on what finished width you want to achieve, and sometimes - as in the case with our bumper fabric, we also cut the width to accommodate a specific motif on the fabric - for our bumpers, we wanted full polka dots to show. I hope I answered the right question for you smilies/grin.gif
Madison7 said:
Madison7's picture
Is there a specific reason the bias strips are cut that way? Perhaps due to the pattern on the fabric u chose, or to better utilize the yardage, or because it creates fewer seams? Thanks!
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ Jennster - we included the following note in our project introduction:

"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."
Jennster said:
Jennster's picture
These bumper pads are cute, but please know that the Consumer Product Safety Commission is investigating the safety of crib bumpers in response to more than two dozen infant deaths where bumpers may have played a role.

I have never put bumper pads on our babies' crib and tell everyone I know about this -- most people don't realize they could be a safety hazard... they think, since every baby store in the universe sells them, they must be safe.

Here's a Chicago Tribune article for more info about the investigation: http://www.chicagotribune.com/...0168.story
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@stteffer Sorry you are struggling. We did mention in the intro how working with the jumbo piping can be a bit challenging. You can't sew with the presseer foot up. Most machines won't even run with the foot up. Borrowing a machine might be an idea smilies/grin.gif. We did suggest above working with a smaller piping. If you've already started with the jumbo and your zipper foot isn't getting close enough, I'm worried you may continue to struggle because the layers are going to want to roll over. Perhaps you can contact your local dealer and ask if they have a narrow base zipper foot. If that isn't an option either, I would strongly suggest you think about going with a thinner piping.
Stteffer said:
Stteffer's picture
So, I'm having trouble sewing close enough to the piping. I'm using my zipper foot, but it's still not very close, will this be an issue?? My machine doesn't allow me to move the needle to the left, so my only other option is to leave the presser foot up while I sew, would that work? Any advice?? Should I try and borrow another machine? THanks!
vintagelover said:
vintagelover's picture
So excited to make this pattern for my 4th baby! I've always bought my crib bedding before, but I am looking forward to making something that I want. Thanks.
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ KSH - As we mentioned above, Michael Miller Fabrics sponsored this beautiful project series. So, we were lucky enough to be able to work with these gorgeous series as they were being released to the stores. That meant we got a swatch board just like the stores get to see when they review new lines to buy. We felt very special smilies/cool.gif.
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ Gwenderful -- see our note above in the introduction. Bumpers are still popular, but as with all decisions for your own children, it is a personal choice you should research and decide as best suits your family:

"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."
Gwenderful said:
Gwenderful's picture
The bumpers look adorable, but I thought that they were no longer considered safe.
Pama said:
Pama's picture

To my knowledge the large overstuffed bumper pads are not safe. I think the ibes made with the forms in the above 'how to' are fine. I have made both...overstuffed and this size. I have always had my mothers-to-be check with their doctor. I stopped making the overstuffed ones after doctors continuously recommended the type shown in this tutorial.

Catherine Ensor said:
Catherine Ensor's picture

They aren't safe and are illegal to sell or use in some states. Maryland banned them about a year ago. I was suprised to see anyone advocating their use.

KateLL said:
KateLL's picture
Ohh so pretty. I do like that piping and the gray polka dots with white. Lovely!
NorthWestSea said:
NorthWestSea's picture
This is the one I have been waiting for! smilies/grin.gif Thansk for the tutorial, it is now on my list of projects.