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Toddler bed sheets that stay tucked in

Click for larger image of Stephen's new bedI don't know about you, but once Stephen was ready for his own bed, I had an awful time finding sheets that fit his bed and personality, and our price range. He's still in a crib-mattress-sized bed, and will be for a couple more years (unless we move and get him a twin bed!), but all the crib-sized sheets I could find were yucky pastel baby prints -- not the thing for the train-loving 3-year-old who is Stephen. That's his bed on the right. Because his bed is elevated, it was especially important to have sheets that stay tucked in -- much easier to make the bed that way. But even a regular bed and toddler can benefit from these; Stephen has always moved around a lot in his sleep, and would wake up wrapped in the sheet, which freaks him out when he wakes up, if it weren't secured on at least two sides. So, without fur ther ado, here's my solution to the problem.

I found directions for the bottom/fitted sheet on a few other websites, but it took me several readings to really "get" them, so I'm rewriting them here. The bottom/fitted sheet is essentially a pillowcase for the mattress with the opening at the foot end of the bed. I hadn't found anything for a top sheet, probably because most people just use a plain rectangle of material, but that just wasn't working for us -- it never stayed tucked in. What I did was make sort of a modified pillowcase -- it's open on two sides ( the head end, and the free edge, if the child's bed is pushed against a wall) and sewn closed on the other two sides. This means that there is always a length of fabric tucked under the entire mattress, which keeps the sheet from coming loose on the wall side and at the foot of the bed.

Materials Needed:

Directions for sewing the bottom/fitted sheet:

  1. Wash your fabrics before sewing, especially if you are using cotton or cotton blends! If you sew first and wash later, you will *probably* still be able to get the sheet onto the bed, but it will be tight!
  2. If you are using 60" material, cut it to 34" long. If you are using 45" material, cut it so that you have a piece that's 60" by 34". You will have a long piece of 11" wide that you can later make pillows with.
  3. Sew the two long edges and one short edge, right sides of the fabric together, as shown at right.
  4. Hem the open edge, sewing in the Velcro® or snap tape if desired.
  5. You can finish the corners if you want to, but it's not really necessary.
    1. If you decide you want to, fold the sheet so that the seams are together, making a triangle with the seam running through the middle.
    2. Stitch the triangle as shown at right, so that the seam is about 6" long.
  6. Turn sheet right side out, and fit over the mattress like a pillowcase. Tuck the corners in if you didn't finish them.
  7. there should be enough room under the sheet for a mattress pad or waterproof pad, if your child is in that phase. If you make a few of these, you can make sort of a sandwich, where you have a pad, a sheet, another pad, another sheet, etc. (as many as will fit) to make middle-of- the-night accidents easier to clean up after. Or you could just put the pad between the topmost and next layers, and move it down as necessary, if it doesn't itself get too wet.
  8. If you used 45" material, make a throw pillow or two!

Directions for sewing the top sheet:

  1. Wash your fabric! It's not as critical with this sheet as with the bottom, since it's less fitted, but you'll want clean fabric for your child's bed anyway.
  2. If you're using 60" wide fabric, cut the pieces to 45" long each. If using 45" fabric, cut them to 60" long. (Simple, eh?) these sheets are wider than the fitted sheets to accomodate a sleeping child, with a little extra to tuck in on the open side. You can make them even wider if you feel this isn't enough.
  3. Stitch the two pieces together as shown at right. Make sure you compensate for the fact that the sheet is sewn inside-out when figuring out which side should be open! I added a short seam on the open side to help the sheet stay on and tucked in better, but you don't have to. If using a twin sheet, just fold it in half and stitch one of the short edges closed as shown. That way, you don't even have to hem the edges! (This works best on sheets whose design isn't from head to foot, because it gets turned 90 degrees when made into a crib sheet.)
  4. Finish the raw edges -- a narrow hem on the open side, and a wider one (like "professional" sheets have) on the head end.
  5. Turn the sheet right-side out. When making the bed, put on the fitted sheet, then stand the mattress so that the head is downwards. Put the sheet on so that both sides are hanging down (one on the top side of the mattress and the other on the bottom), then hold the two head/open corners together so that the sheet stays on when you lower the mattress back onto the bed. I hope this makes sense.
  6. You can tuck in the lower corners if you like, or finish them as in the fitted sheet above, but the latter is not really necessary. Finish with a blanket or quilt.
  7. Of course, you can use this same trick with blankets, to keep them from coming untucked. And if you do a nice finish on the inside stitching, or use a serger, you can turn the sheet/blanket inside out, leng thening the time between washes (because the portion the child was jumping on/sleeping under/etc. now goes under the mattress).

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