homepage: Dr. Carol JVF Burns

See the Sewing/Crafts section of my main Table of Contents for other sewing projects!

Thin Pad Cover (Bassinet, Changing Table)

This is an easy-on-and-off washable cover for a thin pad—like for a baby's changing table or bassinet. It has no exposed raw edges, so it can be washed, washed, and washed without any worry of edges raveling. No snaps, no velcro, no buttons—just an overlap of fabric on the back to create an insertion pocket. It's quick and easy to make. The instructions here can be used to cover any rectangular or slightly-irregular-shaped pad that isn't too thick (about one inch thickness max).

My preference is to use nice soft 100% cotton fabric.

For a rectangular pad only:

(1) Measure size of pad to be covered:
All units are inches.
Let $\,\ell\,$ denote the length (longest side).
Let $\,w\,$ denote the width (shorter side).
Let $\,t\,$ denote the thickness (one inch or less).

For my daughter's changing table pad: $$ \begin{gather} \ell = 33\cr w = 16.5\cr t = 0.75 \end{gather} $$
(2) Determine the extra amount needed
for each french seam:

This design uses french seams,
which totally enclose the raw edges.

Let $\,f\,$ denote the allowance needed
for the french seam.

When I make a french seam:
I sew my first seam (wrong sides together) 1/4";
I sew my second seam (right sides together) 1/2".
So for me: $\,f = 0.25 + 0.5 = 0.75\,$
go on to steps 3a and 3b.

For a slightly-irregular-shaped pad,
go on to steps 3c and 3d.
(3a) Cut the top rectangle:
Cut one rectangle for the top: $$ \overbrace{(\ell + t + 2f)}^{\text{length of rectangle}} \times \overbrace{(w + t + 2f)}^{\text{width of rectangle}} $$ The $\,t\,$ allows for the thickness of the pad.
The $\,2f\,$ gives the extra allowance needed
for the french seams on each side.

I always round UP to the nearest half inch.
Better to be a teeny bit too big rather than too small!
For example, for me: $$\ell + t + 2f = 33 + 0.75 + 2(0.75) = 35.25\ ,$$ but I rounded up to 35.5 inches.

Go on to (3b).
(3b) Cut the bottom rectangle,
then cut it at the three-quarter mark:

If desired, use a different (plain) fabric
for the bottom.

Cut a second rectangle:
same width as the top, but 8 inches longer: $$ \overbrace{(\ell + t + 2f + 8)}^{\text{8 inches longer}} \times \overbrace{(w + t + 2f)}^{\text{same width}} $$ Six extra inches are needed for back pocket overlap.
Two extra inches are for pocket seam finishing.

Then, separate it into two pieces by cutting it three-quarters of the way down its length.
Put a pin to mark both edges produced by this cut;
they will be finished in the next step.

Go on to (4).

(3c) Cut the irregular-shaped top piece:
If your pad is irregular-shaped (like a specialty bassinet mattress cover),
then first trace tightly around the pad (on the wrong side of the fabric).

Then, use a flexible ruler to make marks $\,\frac{t}2 + f\,$ (inches) away from your tracing.
Use a marking pencil to ‘connect-the-dots’, then cut.

Go on to (3d).

(3d) Cut two irregular-shaped back pieces:
Take your top piece and place it, wrong sides together, on the desired bottom fabric.
Fold it back on itself about 3/4 of the way along the length, as shown (left).
Measure out $\,4\,$ inches from the folded edge, and cut the ‘extended three-quarter back piece’.

Similarly, cut an ‘extended one-quarter back piece’ (again with 4 extra inches).
The extra on both back pieces is used for the overlap (where the pad is inserted).

The top piece and both bottom pieces are shown above (right).

(4) Finish the pocket edges
on the two bottom pieces:

Finish both ‘pocket’ edges on the bottom,
so no raw edges will show:

• Fold in (right side to wrong side)
a scant 1/2" and press;
zig-zag near raw edge.

• Fold in a generous 1/2" again and press;
stitch close to edge
(straight, zig-zag, decorative—your choice).

(5) Attach top to bottom along long edges
with a french seam:

Lay the top piece on a flat surface, wrong side up.
Align the two bottom pieces on the top,
WRONG sides together:
put the shorter bottom piece
UNDER the longer bottom piece, as shown.
The two bottom pieces will overlap—this is correct!
Pin. Stitch a 1/4" seam around the entire perimeter.

(For rectangles: feel free to round the corners ever-so-slightly.)

(If you have a 1/4" presser foot,
here's a good opportunity to use it!
Janome 9400QCP:
presser foot O, use Quilt stitch #2
OR: use an overedge stitch with presser foot M)

Turn inside out, so RIGHT sides are now together.
Press the just-stitched seam carefully.
Sew again with a 1/2" seam to complete the french seam.

Turn right-side out;
check that all raw edges have been completely enclosed.