Wiggly jiggly flip-floppin’ squirmy wormies. What?? Or Turtles, I suppose, although they generally aren’t associated with a lot of spastic movements, outside of Wiggly Turtle Toobies. I didn’t invent that, but I wish I did.
Now, how about in French? Gigoteuse, Turbulette. Probably means just about as much to you, doesn’t it? Loosely translated, they mean “for wiggling” and “for squirming.” But the word I like the best is nid d’ange: angel nest. Why am I telling you all this? Because they are all words for what English-speakers know as sleepsacks or baby buntings. The French names are so much more evocative, don’t you think? Can’t you see the wiggly, squirmy babies kicking away in their sacks like little cocooned worms? (Technically, larvae, but that’s just not cute).
I don’t really remember seeing sleepsacks on babies before moving to France. My baby brother, who is ten years younger than me, never wore one. None of the babies I babysat through high school had one. It’s kind of a new trend in the States. Now you see them much more frequently, but they are far different from the beautiful styles we saw in France. Once we saw those, we wondered why they had ever lost popularity over here. I’m hoping to revive interest!
Rana, being our first child, was our first baby to wear a sleepsack. After she was born, the nurses cleaned her all up and dressed her in a white sleeper and the softest, puffiest white sleepsack, embroidered with “American Hospital of Paris.” We didn’t get to keep that one, but she had three store-bought hand-me-downs — all the lovely sleeveless, quilted cotton styles. Three may seem excessive, but when you think about how often a baby spits up or has a leaky diaper, it was sometimes not enough!
When we returned from France, I saw the flimsy fleece sleepsacks being sold around here and was so disappointed that were no other offerings, that I decided to start making my own. I’ve given a few as gifts, and now I have three in my etsy store. I used the French sacks as inspiration and I’ve made a few tweaks to my pattern each time I make one. At first, I was making the bottom edge too square, which made it difficult to insert the zipper. Later, I switched to snaps at the shoulders instead of buttons. Then, I lengthened the back shoulder strap just a bit so that it would lie down flatter over the baby’s shoulder. Most recently, I started using rib knit instead of bias tape for the trim and cotton batting instead of polyester batting for people who might prefer that option.
I like the European-style sleepsacks because:
- the sleeveless design reduces bulk on the baby’s arm and helps the baby regulate his own temperature.
- the zipper around the bottom of the sack (as opposed to smack down the middle on the American sacks) makes diaper changes really convenient. Sometimes our babies would fall back asleep mid-diaper change because we didn’t have to wrestle them in and out.
- The cotton lining keeps the baby from getting sweaty and doesn’t cling to the baby’s jammies like fleece does.
- They’re basically a wearable quilt!
Right now, the sleepsacks I have available will fit a baby up to about 6 months (store link is on the right). I have more fabric destined to be sleepsacks (teddy bears, little green and brown birds and more retro puppies & kitties). They’re kind of fun to make. I’ve learned a lot sewing them, like how to completely enclose the edges of the zipper so there is nothing to scratch the baby; how to best sew on the trim to give a neat finish; what order to do everything to get the best results. I had to write it all down so that I wouldn’t forget how to do it right! I should probably make a copy of that little paper.
If you’re having a baby or need to give a baby gift to someone, please consider my sleepsacks! And if you have fabric ideas or requests, let me know! I’m happy to do custom orders. Just imagine that cuddly, squirmy little sack of cuteness.