project nursery: how to make individual bumper bars

bumper bars

If you’ve read my previous couple of nursery posts, you will know that I am on a crusade to kit out our nursery by making as much as possible myself. So what started out as a cost-saving idea, has turned into the biggest D-I-Y project I have every taken on, and absolutely loving it. You will also know that I am a sewing newbie which I hope can provide some encouragement to anyone who thinks that they can’t make things themselves.

My next project was making individual bumper bars for the crib. When I started looking at what and how to make a crib bumper I came across a lot of different information and ideas, but the thing that really caught my eye was the individual bumper bars. I liked them because they look a little different, and if there is one thing I love it is to be a bit different.

bumper bars

In my search for making individual bumper bars I did not come across much. Although, I did come across a couple of YouTube how to videos, one video showing the bumper bars she made but without instructions and rather a warning against making them (stupidly I ignored her warning, she obviously underestimated my sense of determination) and another video using foam pipe insulators covering it in fabric and tying each end up with a ribbon. The pipe insulation already had a cut side that conveniently had a strip of sticky tape down each side so you would simply need to cut your fabric to size and attach the foam pipe and you’re done, which sounded easy enough.

I unfortunately could not find the exact same thing here in Australia, but managed to find a foam and rubber store that sold something similar, except for having the slit down the side but thought that is something I could easily enough do myself. So off to the foam store I went and was greeted by a very nice gentleman who asked if he could help me. I explained that I was after foam pipe insulation and he took me over to where it was kept. Then the inevitable question, he asked what I wanted to do with it. So I briefly but excitedly explained my genius idea and with confusion written all over his face he just said “Why?”. And even back then I should have known to answer the man and tell him because I am a mad, mad woman. Instead, I smiled innocently and said “It’s my first baby” as if that was some sort of justification for the absolute torture I was unknowingly about to put myself through. In the end I decided against the foam pipe insulation, as the amount I needed would have cost between $80-$100, then I still needed fabric and velcro which would have pushed the total cost way above justifiable. He also said that the pipe insulation might be harmful if baby started chewing on it, so he suggested getting ironing board foam which in the end worked great, albeit with A LOT more effort than I anticipated.

bumper bars

Back home I now had all my supplies and was very excited to get started on Project Bumper Bar. I spent some time doing a few drawings, some measurements and calculations and thinking what the best way was to approach this. Still heavily excited, I had a plan in place and got started on my very first bumper bar (at this stage the plan still involved sewing it by hand). As the minutes turned in to hours the excitement started to wear off and at the end of nearly 5 hours (I kid you not) I looked down at my first bumper bar with frustration and anger. I looked down at what looked like a ten year old’s first sewing project, bloodied fingers from repeatedly pricking myself with the needle, a sore wrist from trying to stitch through a layer of foam, fabric and velcro and in my attempt to keep all the different layers in line and tidy I had pieces of double sided tape, masking tape and duct tape sticking out everywhere. Now you know things are heading in the direction of this-is-not-exactly-going-according-to-plan, when you need to get out the duct tape. So as I sat there thinking that apart from how very far off it looked to what I imagined it should, I just could not put myself through that another 39 times. And so one of my most loathed feelings, that of defeat, slowly starting dawning on me. Then my husband walked in asking if everything was okay and I just said that I couldn’t do it and showed him my first one. Of course like any good husband trying to work gently with a highly emotional pregnant wife, he said that it looked beautiful. Then he said it might be time for a sewing machine. And so the momentous event took place when I bought my first sewing machine (and thinking where has this been all my life!). My first project on the new machine was making the bunting and after feeling a fraction more confident I started taking on my bumper bars again.

bumper bars

With renewed excitement over Project Bumper Bar I started on my first prototype. Spending less time than attempting it by hand, it still took me a good hour to play around with the stitching and layout of just one bumper bar. Still not looking quite how I imagined or hoped, and not willing for defeat to take over, I had another go. Then another, and another….and another until, seven prototypes and many hours later I was finally content!! I had found a working prototype that I was actually happy with!! And after getting into the swing of things, I got it down to only 10 minutes per bumper bar, which I thought was very reasonable 🙂

So what follows are instructions on how I finally got my bumper bars to where I wanted it to be, by no means always tidy on the inside, I did what worked practically for me and in the end it looks beautiful from the outside, which was all that mattered to me. It is also based on the width of my bars and the height I wanted it, so this will definitely differ from crib to crib. You might need to adjust slightly to be applicable to your crib.

What you will need:

  • 4m fabric (I used a faux mink fabric)
  • Velcro (I bought a 23m roll on eBay and used about two thirds)
  • Foam (I used 4 rolls of ironing board foam)
  • Cotton thread
  • Sewing machine

bumper bars

Cutting the foam

I measured how wide the foam pad needed to be to wrap around each crib bar as well as how high I wanted it to be. I decided on 38cm x 11cm as the width of the roll of foam as 38cm which determined the height of my pad and it needed to be 11cm wide to wrap around perfectly. I possibly could have gone higher with each pad, but this way I got the most pads out of each roll of foam and only needed to cut 11cm wide strips from each roll.


Cutting the fabric

I then determined how wide my fabric needed to be to cover the outside of each foam pad plus a little extra wide to attach the Velcro strips. I don’t like fiddly jobs (like using sewing pins) so I made a cardboard cut-out of the size I wanted each piece of fabric and where I needed to stitch the Velcro and got tracing with my vivid. Won’t win first prize in the neatness category, but needing to make 40 bumper bars, I was after speed and efficiency and what was practical for me. The total size of each piece of fabric was 48cm x 22cm, and I added two markers for where the Velcro needed to be stitched – 5cm in on the right side of the fabric and 4cm in on the reverse side of the fabric.


Cutting the Velcro

I cut the Velcro hook and loop strips the same height as the pads, so 38cm. I stitched the hook strip to the right side of the fabric and the loop strip to the reverse side of the fabric, but it doesn’t really matter which way round it is. The loop strip is stitched 4cm into the fabric (reverse side) to leave that 4cm strip to wrap around and stitched on one of the long edges of the foam pad. The hook strip is stitched by folding the opposite long edge of the fabric inside the 5cm gap (hopefully the photos will explain this better!).


Stitching the fabric to the foam

I found the following four steps to work the best:

  1. Stitch one edge of the Velcro loop strip 4cm in on the long edge reverse side of the fabric.
  2. Fold the 4cm over one of the long edges of the foam, that will be the inside of the pad and leaving the loop strip on the edge of the foam pad that will form the outside. Stitch the other edge of the loop strip (this will catch the 4cm piece strip of fabric that is wrapped around the edge).
  3. Fold the fabric over the short edge of the foam pad and stitch 2cm in from the edge. Repeat for the opposite short edge.
  4. On the other long edge fold the fabric approximately 2cm in (here I used some pins!) and stitch one edge of the hook strip along the 5cm marker. This is the only edge that is not stitched directly on to the foam pad.




This was by far the hardest project I have every done, and many years will have to pass for me to ever consider doing the same for baby number 2. But in saying that I definitely don’t regret making them, and am so happy with the outcome. I would rate this project as fairly hard (for a sewing newbie), many, many hours have gone into it and it was only sheer determination to avoid failing that was my fuel at times. But in the end well worth it.

And as always…

…be fearless, and have fun!


The nursery so far…

How to make a mobile     |     How to make bunting

so far

5 responses to “project nursery: how to make individual bumper bars

  1. Wow! You are so amazing! I would have given up long ago. They turned out so beautiful! What a sweet husband also to get you a sewing machine. Thanks for sharing the pictures of your pretty crib. I had never seen the individual bumper bars. I really love how they look!


  2. Pingback: project nursery: diy lampshade | the vanilla bean diaries·

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