Saturday, 26 January 2013

DIY: Updating used baby gear

    I've said before that this family is on a tight budget, but let me state the obvious: babies are expensive. I'm not saying you have to buy all the latest gear or even follow the suggested lists most store registries have, but even the fundamentals add up quickly. We were very fortunate to have generous families and friends supply a lot of what Abigail needed (ahem, and then some). But we were also constrained by our lack of space in the apartment, so instead of registering for a lot of the big items which Abigail would outgrow in months, we borrowed them from friends and family. We borrowed a swing and a bassinet which we recently returned.

This is Mark and I at our second shower. Like I said, our families were very generous.

       Borrowing was a way for us to save money, space and the environment. If you have the chance to start swapping baby things like this with your friends, I'd highly recommend it. It saves everyone so much money and time. Do initial or label all the items (even clothing) that belong to you before starting such a swap though, or things get forgotten in the mix. Another thing to consider is that a lot of baby gear safety standards change, and recalls happen. Make sure to only use items that are safe for your baby- and look it up if you're unsure!

Abigail at 24 days old enjoying our borrowed swing.

     We also inherited used things from a family I used to nanny for. We got glass bottles, plates, utensils and a booster seat. Because we have so little space in the apartment (even our dining chairs live on the balcony) we knew we wouldn't have room for a full-sized high chair when Abigail started eating solids. The booster seat was well used and in need of a bit of a colour update. The straps were stained and the plastic covering on the cushion was cracking. The seat itself was still safe and sturdy so I decided to give it a facelift. 
     I bleached the straps first, removing darkening and stains from slobber and food. Next I cleaned the seat and tore the cushion off. 
I thought about using a shower cap-esque fabric cover at first, and then realized that I wanted something that I could wipe clean. 
    I used a plasticized shopping bag from Homesense a) because it was pretty and b) because I could adhere it with hot glue. 
 To do a similar DIY at home you will need:
- a reusable shopping bag in the pattern of your choice
-hot glue
-high chair or booster seat 
-pen, pencil or marker for tracing around your cushion
Before (this is a stock photo because I realized halfway through my DIY that I hadn't taken one myself. So imagine it MUCH more used than this one.):

Step 1:
Remove straps and cushion from the plastic base. I actually ripped the cushion's back tabs off and then fastened them again with hot glue when I was done. If you have a cleaner, less violent way of removing the cushion, then feel free to do that.

Step 2: 
Cut one side of your shopping bag and trace the shape of your cushion on the back (or side you don't want to be facing outward), leaving an inch or so around the perimeter to fold over and glue. Cut this shape out.

Step 3:
I glued around the slits for the shoulder straps first, both to anchor my cover and to ensure that I could find them to cut them open again later. Like you are upholstering a seat cushion, fold your edges over in small sections and glue as you go. Be careful not to burn your fingers! Use lots of glue to make sure the new cover stays in place. 

Step 4:
Cut slits in the new cover for the shoulder straps. I used my scissors for this step, but you could easily use a craft knife if you have a safe surface to cut on. Re-attach your cushion and feed clean straps back through the holes.

Step 5: 
Use scraps from your bag to make drool/food covers for the shoulder straps. (I did that to add more pattern, and to cover stubborn stains).  Simply cut two rectangles and glue along the seam to make tubes around the straps, that way they can slide up and down according to the baby's height. 

My finished product.

This is the shopping bag I used.

     I am really pleased with how this DIY turned out. I did it on a whim and am glad that while being sturdy and easy to clean, the hot glue also makes for easy (yet forceful) removal if I become bored with these colours or pattern. I'm also glad that I've discovered another use for the many shopping bags we have lying around- easy to wipe down means they will probably be used for a bib DIY soon!

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