My Material Life

Make Your Own Sleeping Bag

mml wonder strap sleeping bag

 I always thought it would be pretty tricky to make a sleeping bag. I figured that the zipper would need to be inserted between the layers of the comforter that I would probably make myself. I was wrong.

The inspiration for this bag came from both 1) impending sleepovers for a girl who had no sleeping bag of her own and 2) the discovery of this $20 twin size comforter at IKEA last spring.  It was so soft, so pretty, and just the right weight (and almost the right size) for an indoor sleeping bag. I just wasn’t sure how I was going to insert the zipper. Then I took a look at my own sleeping bag and saw that the zipper wasn’t inserted into anything. It was simply stitched on. Why would it need to be inserted, after all – its edges are completely finished.

All you really need to make a sleeping bag are a comforter and a really long separating zipper (mine is 90″; you can order the size you need here). A sewing machine and zipper foot would be useful too.

First you’ll want to lay your comforter out and determine where your center bottom point is (on the center fold on whichever edge you decide should be the bottom). You’ll separate your zipper and lay it out a short distance (depends on the thickness of your comforter) from this center point in either direction. You want to place your zipper so your stitching line will be about 1″ from the edge of your comforter. It should look something like this …

Once you pin both sides of the zipper a few inches up from its bottom edge, go ahead and put the zipper together and give it a try to make sure you’ve got things lined up correctly and that you’ve left the amount of space you’ll need between both bottom edges of the zipper. Then continue to pin all the way around and stitch the zipper to the comforter.

It’s kind of like magic to put that zipper together and have it do this …

It would have been great if I could have stopped there, but I had a little more work to do.  I needed to take some of the length off the top of my comforter (above the zipper). So I took out my seam ripper and took out the stitches that held the comforter’s binding on its edges from this top portion of the comforter. Note that I did not cut the binding off; I just detached it from the comforter.

Then I removed the excess comforter from the top by cutting it off, from the point just above the top of my zipper …

Next, I reattached the binding, not cutting any excess binding until I was sure I knew what was needed to finish the job. I overlapped the cut edges of the binding, folding under the raw edge of the side that would show. And then I was done.

The bag has already been on one sleepover, and it got a very good review from its user. I am also happy to report that I finished putting my “Diamond Jubilee” pillowcase back together with the addition of a strip of bias-cut, folded fabric that I used as trim. That pillowcase, however, won’t be going out on any sleepovers.

mml sleeping bag

p.s. If you’d like to make a strap for your bag like the one shown at the top of this post please click here.

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4 comments

  1. Wow…what a beautiful sleeping bag. Whoever got to sleep in that bag was one lucky person. I can understand why you wouldn’t want to have the beautiful pillow case used on an overnight sleeping party. Did you put beads on the pillow case or are those french knots. I remember my mother doing embroidery work and I’m lucky to have some of it.

  2. Rachel

    Hi. Thankyou for your explanation and photographs. I’ve found that very helpful. I am planning to make sleeping bags for my boys with bedding fabric I found at the local charity store, using a summer quilt as the padding. The boys are waiting with eager anticipation, and I am looking forward to the project very much. It’s just that taking the step of sewing a zip for the first time is daunting! Your tutorial has inspired and encouraged me to go ahead and get on with it in time for our camping trip this summer.

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