DIY #4: American Girls Sleeping Bag Tutorial

This lovely camping and sleepover accessory is what we're about to make!
      We are an American Girl family. We love the dolls, the books, the accessories, all of it. Because of their high-but-worth-it prices, Lilli is gifted one AG Doll per year, either by us or a family member, for birthday or Christmas. Over the past few years, Lilli has built up a collection of four dolls, a handful of mini-dolls, and a couple of accessory sets given to her by friends of the family. Most of the dolls' clothes come from my mother; she orders them from Ebay and while they may not be AG brand, they are so adorable, fashionable, and uber cheap.
      If any of you are familiar with American Girl, you know full well that they, however, aren't cheap. Each doll purchased comes with her personal story book and a few personal accessories that represent her and her era for roughly $120 in the store before tax. However, each doll also has what is known as her own "world." In this world you can purchase other outfits, furniture sets, and books. In some cases you can purchase matching pajamas for your daughter to share with her doll. It sounds corny, but it's really kind of cute seeing your child dressed for bed in pajamas from the turn of the 20th century. Many of these sets, accessories, and clothes are crazy-high in price. Like I said, we do one doll a year; I can't afford to purchase new furniture for my own house, let alone for a doll! So what do we do? Like any thrifter, DIYer, and American mommy extraordinaire, I improvise.
      Lilli is now home from her unplanned, month-long stay with the grandparents, aunts, and uncles, so I thought we could do something different and fun to fill up the last three weeks before school starts. Yesterday we decided to make an American Girl sleeping bag. If you're up for an easy, frugal, no-sew, and kid-friendly activity, follow the below tutorial. You'll make memories with your girls and play while you create! Grab your glue, girls, and let's go have some American Girl Doll fun! 


MATERIALS:  
  • 1/2yd x 1/2yd of cotton material (design of choice)*
    Ribbon was an afterthought, therefore, it isn't pictured. 
  • 1/2yd x 1/2yd of softer material (fleece, flannel, micro-fleece, etc.)*
  • fabric glue  
  • 2 pieces of ribbon @ 12" long each (color of choice)
  • iron and ironing board
  • ruler or tape measure 
  • pencil
  • scissors
*Choose whatever fabric your child wants, and you don't have to use two different types. We went for the traditional cotton material in Mint Moroccan for the outside of the sleeping bag, and a softer , bubble micro fleece for the inside. Using a fleece material for the inside of the bag not only gives it that "realistic" look, it also makes the bag a little fluffier so there's no need to fool with buying stuffing or batting to thicken it up, unless you just want to go that route either way. Remember to check my thrift shopping and DIY money-saving tips post! 

As always, please READ EACH STEP THOROUGHLY BEFORE DIVING IN!

1. MEASURE/CUT MATERIAL: While your hobby store will cut for you the requested amount of fabric, most fabric comes doubled, so you'll need to cut your 1/2yd x 1/2yd when you get home. Make sure BOTH materials are the same size; line them up to match them, one on top of the other. (You're going to be attaching them anyway. . . but not yet, so hold your horses.)

Notice my gorgeous assistant! 
She got a little bored after this and called it quits, but only because it took longer due to the tutorial aspect. In all honesty, any kid her age could probably do this alone just by following directions or by watching mom and dad. 
2. INSIDE OUT: Lay your two fabric pieces one on top of the other; make sure the INSIDE of both pieces are facing OUT toward you so that the right side (or outside) of each piece is facing inward toward its opposing piece. 
That's not dirt, it's gray fuzz from the micro fleece. 

3. FABRIC GLUE: Glue your edges between the two fabrics. 
  • Glue about 1/2" from edge of material. The glue spreads when material is pressed together, so don't be afraid that there won't be enough. 
  • IMPORTANT!! ONLY glue together the following 3 edges: right side, left side, and top. Leave the bottom edge open for reversal and ribbon purposes. 
  • Allow to dry for 30 minutes or so depending on humidity. It won't be dry enough to play with just yet, but it should be dry enough to continue your project. Use your judgment; if your edges are still slipping with the glue, let it rest a little longer and try again later. 

No sense in using a brush or spatula. Use the nozzle!
THREE edges are glued, and the fourth is left open. 

4. OUTSIDE IN: Flip your bag right side out. Push your corners in place if needed. Y'all know how I love pretty seams. This is the result of gluing inside out: gorgeous seams! 

Seams! Seams! More seams! I have no idea why I love making seams. 

5. BOTTOM CORNERS AND IRON:  The open edge of your bag is the one we'll be working with now. Position your bag flat on your ironing board with the focus on one edge. Fold your fleece material corner and your parallel cotton corner inward as if you were wrapping a present's corners. Iron into place. Now fold the edges of both pieces of material inward and iron. Glue ONLY the corners that you folded in. (You can also glue in the folds you ironed if you prefer. I did simply because it leaves no wiggle room. This will make the next glue step ten times easier. 

Pretty present corners (LEFT)

Pretty present corners (RIGHT)

Fold fleece inward. 

Fold cotton inward.

Iron in place. 

6. RIBBON: Since your bag is dry, fold it in half with the open edge toward you if it isn't already. Now find the middle section of the folded half and lightly mark it inside of the edge you just ironed with your pencil; flip and mark the other side as well. Unfold your bag and lay flat. You should have two marks: one of the left and one on the right. (I made this more difficult on myself than it should've been, hence the lack of marks in the photos.) Take one ribbon and insert it in the space between your two fabrics (as seen below) where the LEFT mark is. Glue ribbon between the two fabrics. Now do the right side. 
Go ahead and glue to the top fabric as well as the bottom to either side of your ribbon. Security is key!

Both ribbons in place BEFORE seams are glued. 

7. GLUE EDGES: Now go back and glue the final open edge on either side and in between your ribbons. Allow glue to dry for about 30 minutes. 

After ribbons and final edge are completed: the purpose of the ribbons will be to tie the bag together, just like a real sleeping bag! 

8. GLUE BAG: Once your bag has dried, fold it in half and line it up neatly until it looks like a sleeping bag. Glue the bottom edge and two corners together. Again, keep your glue about 1/2" from edge as glue does spread. You can always go back and fill in any holes. Now fold your top layer's outer corner over to create a desired stopping point for easy entry and removal of doll. Glue side to this point. Allow glue to dry overnight before play. 


I stopped my glue track a  little past the halfway point, just to make it look more realistic.

Finished product.*
(Scroll down for pillow tutorial.)
 

Tied up like a little fluffy scroll! 



Miss Caroline (in Julie's pajamas) with her pillow and sleeping bag, ready for a sleepover! 

Lilli said Caroline needed her bunny, so Bunny is making a cameo. 

Sweet dreams, American Girl! 

      In the words of Scuttle: "Voyolee!!!" Your kid is the proud new owner of an American Girl Doll sleeping bag!  
      You're all done! I hope you've enjoyed making your American Girl sleeping bag. Note that this bag will fit any AG doll or 18" doll. I know many readers are wondering, "Wait, is that a matching pillow?" Yes, it is. I just didn't document it in photos. However, until I do another one, I'll post verbal instructions* below, and next time I will post photos and link a new post for everyone. Until then, enjoy playing and crafting with your babies and as always, enjoy! 


* PILLOW: Making a stuffed pillow is much like how we made the sleeping bag, only this time we'll stuff our "pillow case" and glue up the ends. 
  • Use leftover material for a matching pillow! 
  • Take two pieces of your material, either the same or different, and lay flat together, inside out. (See STEP 2 for sleeping bag) 
  • Measure at 12" by 6"-8". 
  • Cut to meet dimensions and match. 
  • Glue two longest edges and one end edge, leaving the third edge open for stuffing. (See STEP 3 for sleeping bag) Allow to dry. 
  • Stuff your now "pillow case" with stuffing; spread until desired shape. 
  • Fold in corners and edges, iron if needed. (See STEP 5 of sleeping bag)
  • Glue last open end together and allow to dry thoroughly before moving on to next step. 
  • Reposition stuffing inside, molding your pillow into place. 




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