If, like me, the thought of going to the park fills you with a quiet dread because you know you’ll be sitting on a damp wall listening to 40 children simultaneously screech “MUM LOOK AT MEEEE”, then you’ll do anything to avoid it, including creating a mini park in your own backyard where you can sit and drink tea and watch your kids play.
I mean, kids love the park and it eats up an hour or two of your day which is, quite frankly, my primary goal when I wave goodbye to my husband in the morning (the days are long but the years are short etc etc etc) but getting in the car does my head in and I invariably attract a lone woman who may or may not have a child playing in the park but definitely does need to share horribly intimate details of her life with me and only me, no matter how desperately I try to make eye contact with the other mums who refuse to rescue me #iwillremember #youwillpay
But I’m not a monster. My kids are allowed to play. I’d just prefer to not have to put on non-elasticised pants if at all possible, so I had to come up with my own play equipment.
Enter the baby swing.
It’s cute, it’s functional and best of all, it confines your child to one spot for an extended period of time. Kidding! (not kidding).
There are a few tutorials out there but I’ve refined the design a bit and because I’m not an expert, I’ve tried to make the instructions idiot proof because I came across a few hurdles…
You’re going to need:
- Fabric – get about 2 metres of sturdy drill, denim or upholstery fabric. It’s going to need to withstand a lot of swinging.
- Batting – about 1 metre of lightweight batting which will pad out the fabric and make it all a bit firmer.
- Rope – you’ll need about 5 metres of rope depending on how low you’d like the swing to hang. I’ve used Grunt brand 6mm white braided marine rope which has a breaking strength of 650kg – so probably should survive most toddlers. Just.
- Dowel rod – 1.6m length of 19mm oak dowel will work perfectly.
- Two steel carabiners – I used these. Make sure you get ones that’ll hold the weight of your child and then some. I think ours hold up to 200kg.
- Two steel hooks (eye screws) to hang the swing from the ceiling. Again, go as heavy duty as you can. Watching your child fly across the backyard when the hardware fails isn’t as entertaining as it sounds.
- Two thick zip ties to secure the rope in place
You’re also going to need (and know how to use):
- A sewing machine
- A drill
- A circular saw
Let’s go!Get cutting.
Cut two pieces measuring 28cm x 30.5cm (11×12 inches). These will form the back rest.
Cut two pieces measuring 30.5cm x 91.5cm (12×36 inches). This will be the seat which will wrap under the baby’s bum in a U shape from armpit to armpit. Get me?
Cut two pieces measuring 28cm x 16.5cm (11×6.5 inches). This will be the front section which will go up between their legs.
Cut one piece of batting for each section of the seat. Same measurements. If you don’t have a lot of batting you could just cut out the one piece for the seat (30.5cm x 91.5cm). It’ll give the seat extra strength, stability and a bit of comfort. You don’t have to have batting for the back rest and front section but it will look better.
Pin the batting to the back rest and front section fabric. Leave the larger seat section for the moment.
You’re going to want to put the two pieces of fabric – right sides together – on top of each other and then the batting. So from top to bottom you’ve got fabric, fabric, batting. Got it? God, don’t you hate written instructions on the internet? Just be in my brain so you can see what I mean, ok?
Sew right around three of the four edges on both pieces. You’re leaving that one edge open so you can turn it right side out.
Trim the corners so they’re less bulky when you turn inside out.
Turn the pieces inside out. Well actually, you are turning them right side in. Wait, does that make sense? Maybe it’s right side out?
Anyway, turn the batting into the inside of the fabric, use a pencil to push those corners out properly and iron the seams flat. You don’t need to sew the open edge.
Take one layer of your seat section and lay flat on the ground. Measure and mark the very centre of the piece with a pin.
Pin the back section so it sits directly over the centre point.
Do the same on the other side with the front section.
Then pin the other piece of fabric ON TOP of that whole thing. And then pin your batting ON TOP of all of that! So the two smaller pieces are hidden inside of all of that, right? It’s quite a bundle.
Sew around three edges (two long edges and one short edge), turn inside out/right side in and iron the whole thing flat.
Finish the fourth edge by turning the raw edges in, pinning and giving it bit of an iron.
Overstitch the open edge closed and then continue around the whole seat section to reinforce the strength.
Ta da! You have your seat!
Get a responsible adult to cut your dowel into four pieces measuring 40cm each. Do not allow your toddler to do this.
Also drill holes into the end of each rod, about 4cm in from the end. It’ll need to be thick enough to thread your rope through. A 3/8 drill bit should do the trick. (Did I just sound like I knew what I was talking about? Because I don’t. Because I’m not allowed to touch the drill. I mean, I can create humans but apparently I can’t be trusted with the man’s drill. I’m not bitter about this.)
Wrap the seat edges over the top of the dowel and pin in place.
Once the pins are in place, remove the dowel so you can sew. You’ll need to use a heavy duty needle for this because you’re sewing through four layers of sturdy fabric and two layers of bunting – a snapped needle will really piss you off.
Once you’ve sewn the pockets for the dowel, thread the dowel back in again.
Line up the holes on the dowel so you can thread through the rope.
Cut two lengths of rope. You’ll want each piece to be double the length you’d like it to hang from the hooks. Fold your rope in half and thread through your carabiners. I fastened a thick zip tie around the folded bit to keep it in place.
Tie a knot to secure the rope in place. Sarge decided to dip the knots in araldite glue to make sure they’d never come undone. I’ll admit it was a good idea.
Hook up your swing to the eye screws and you’re good to go! Not you, I mean. You probably shouldn’t get in the swing. I mean, the hooks and rope will hold you but that poor fabric won’t.
Feel free to put a child in your swing. Do you trust your skills? I mean, this is a child’s life in your hands here… Jokes! Except not really. Maybe put your less favourite child in first to give it a test run.
So go forth and swing my friends, and let me know how you go!