Monday, October 28, 2013

Itty Bitty Baby Hat Tutorial

I was all set to fill you in on my class goody bag idea today, but over the weekend my Girl Scouts and some of their moms spent time working on our service project, and it was just too special not to share!

Last Spring, my co-leader and I asked the girls to brainstorm ideas for a service project that we could do with a portion of the money we raised for our troop through cookie sales.  We told them to look around our community, talk to their parents and teachers and come back with some suggestions.  They originally settled on fleece blankets for residents at one of the local nursing homes, but after surveying the price of fleece, we knew our money wouldn't make very many adult-sized blankets, so we thought about blankets for babies in the hospital instead.

We are very blessed to live in an area where the vast majority of babies in our local community are born into families who can more than adequately provide for their little ones, so the NICU staff felt that although the blankets would be appreciated by the families, they weren't really needed.

And that got me thinking back to a very special set of parents and babies I used to work with before having my second child - families who have experienced a fetal or early infant loss.  For five years, I worked side-by-side with these families, helping coordinate the largest clinical research trial in the country (and perhaps the world) investigating the causes of stillbirth.  As a clinical research coordinator for the Stillbirth Collaborative Research Network, I had a chance to work with so many amazing couples and families who were unbelievably courageous in the face of such terrible and unexpected loss.  I knew these families were much more likely to need the blankets and hats my girls could make.

In our local hospital, like most hospitals, the memory boxes, blankets and other mementos given to the parents after a stillbirth or early infant loss are provided solely through donations.  Frequently these donations come straight from the nursing staff who care for these families during and after loss, so I knew that whatever we could help with be appreciated by the staff as well as the families.

It was challenging to discuss such a sad reality with my girl scouts, but I found that the girls and their parents had such open minds and loving hearts for these families.  After talking with them I also learned that one of our scouts had a twin that did not survive.  Several of our other girls already knew something about the NICU and special care nurseries because they or their siblings had been patients there themselves and had heard the stories of their births from their families.  It was awesome to witness their understanding and simple acceptance of something I thought might be a very foreign and possibly frightening matter.

And I am proud to say that my troop of 3rd graders already has such a heart for service!  By the end of our discussion, the girls had decided that they wanted to make blankets AND hats AND memory boxes for these babies and their families, so I set about figuring out a way to make that happen.
This 'Itty Bitty Baby Hat Tutorial' is the result!

Patterned knit fabric
Fabric glue

We chose knit fabric for its stretchiness and the fact that it doesn't ravel, so it wouldn't need to be sewn or have the edges finished in any way.  And after confirming with the Perinatal Bereavement Coordinator at our local hospital that the majority of their fetal and infant losses occur before 26 weeks in pregnancy, we decided on sizes for our hats, using small oranges and limes as guides.

  1. Cut a width of fabric approximately 11" long.  Our fabric was 45" wide, so we simply cut our fabric widths into thirds (15") for our larger hats.  Our smaller hats were about 7" wide and we cut the length into quarters (about 11" long).
  2. Fold your swatch of fabric in half with right sides together the long way, to keep the length at 15".  Turn back the top side slightly and run a thin bead of fabric glue along the edge.  Fold top side back, gluing right sides together and forming a tube with the fabric.  Allow to dry 2-3 hours or overnight.
  3. Once the glue has dried, fold your tube of fabric in half long way again, bringing the folded edge of the fabric to the inside edge of the glued seam.  it will be slightly offset.
  4. Cut a triangle of fabric from the top edge of the folded tube to form a point.  We started our cuts about 3-4" down on the length, but you may have to play with your fabric to figure out how much you need to take out to make a clean knot.  Some of our fabrics were stretchier than others, so we adjusted as went went along.
  5. Turn your cut fabric tube right side out.  Now you have two options for forming the top knot of the hat.  You can either open up your tube, bringing the seamed edge to the folded edge to form two points on the sides or you can simply unfold so that the point is in the middle, with the seamed edge on one side and the folded edge is on the other.
  6. If your are tying the two points together, bring them to the center and tie in a knot.  This forms tiny 'ears' at the end of the knot.  The bunny ears seemed to be easier for some of my girls to tie and the stretchiness of the fabric seemed to make a difference as well.  Bunny ears worked better on the less stretchy knits.  Use a simple, single knot on itself if you leave the points together.
  7. Adjust your knot so that it leaves as much fabric as possible below the knot.  This will make the hats more adjustable and able to fit a larger range of babies.
  8. Fold about 3" of fabric back under to the inside of the hat.
  9. Turn up a cuff on the outside.  Your cuff now should have the right side of the fabric showing.
  10. Make as many as you can and present them to your local community hospital too!
We made about 36 of the 'large' hats and 23 of the 'small' hats using about 3 yards of fabric. We made these 'itty bitty baby hats' for the tiniest of babies, but you could certainly add some length and width and use the tutorial to make simple hats and receiving blankets for full-term babies as well.  The fabric glue says its washable after 48 hours, but if I were making these as a shower gift, I would probably sew my seam instead.  Otherwise, the rest can be done the same way!

The girls also cut 18" square blankets from flannel (again because it doesn't ravel) and glued ribbon around the lids of 13 photo storage boxes to be used as memory boxes for these families.  The nurses typically bath and 'dress' the baby in a hat and blanket before presenting them to the parents, and these items will be placed in the memory box as a keepsake, along with pictures, footprints and other things, when the family leaves the hospital.

We will be putting everything together and plan on presenting it to the labor and delivery staff next month.  This has been a fun and rewarding service project already and I know it will mean even more to the girls when they present their handiwork to the hospital.  I am humbled by their compassion for families that hold a special place in my heart as well and honored to work with such a great group of girl scouts!

If you are interested in understanding more about stillbirth and infant loss and what you can do to help, visit First Candle, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep and National Share.

Sharing this special project at some or all of these great parties: Under the Table and Dreaming, Totally Overflowing with Creativity, Three Mango Seeds, Classy Cutter, Serenity You, House of Hepworth, Skip to my Lou, LadyBug Blessings, Nap Time Creations, The Style Sisters, Polkadots on Pararde, Rae Gun Ramblings,Costal Charm, Not Just a Housewife, Domestically Speaking, The Shabby Creek Cottage, Sumos Sweet Stuff, The Gunny Sack, Gingersnap Crafts, Southern Lovely, Lil Luna, Someday Crafts, The NY Melrose Family, The DIY Dreamer, The Blackberry Vine, Homeworks, The Rustic Pig, Cornerstone Confessions, Kathe with an E, House on the Way, PJH Desgin, Glued to my Crafts, The Crafty Blog Stalker, Seven Alive, Made in a Day, Live Laugh and Love, A Creative Place, Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson, Home and Gardens, It Happens In a Blink, I Gotta Create, Domestic Super Hero, All Pretty Things, Katie's Nesting Spot, 52 Mantels, Truly Lovely, Twinkle in the Eye, Happy Hour Projects, Six Sisters Stuff, Tutus and Tea Parties, Mop It Up Monday, Saturday Show and Tell, Moonlight and Mason Jars, The Scoop, Wow Us Wednesdays, Take-A-Look Tuesday


  1. What a lovely story and such cute hats too!
    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a fabulous week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  2. I wish I had seen this before attending the baby shower! But there is still time to make one or two! Great fun and so cute!

  3. I love how such a cute thing can also help a good cause! You Go Girl Scouts! =]

  4. Great idea and you defiantly get my prize for my favourite link party photo of the week!

  5. How precious is this. Thanks for the tutorial. Thanks tons for linking to Inspire Me. Hugs, Marty

  6. You are a wonderful person and I ask that God bless you richly and abundantly :o)

  7. So cute! Thanks for sharing at Silver Pennies Sundays. x

  8. Such a wonderful service project. I love the hats and blankets and I am sure they were so appreciated! I had a little granddaughter that was a preemie. She weighed 2 #'s 6 oz. She is 4 now and a little doll! Our kids appreciated everything the hospital did for them! Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  9. So sweet! I'm sure they will be greatly appreciated!

  10. what a wonderful service project! And great hats and blankets! Thanks so much for linking up to
    Have a BEAUTIFUL day,

  11. Thanks for sharing this great project to my Totally Tuesday Link Party. Just wanted to say thanks and let you know it was featured this month! Come check it out:
    Hugs!- Morgaine