In amongst the great long list of “essential” items for a newborn child that you will see these days is muslins. When I first came across it I was confused – isn’t muslin the cotton cloth that you use to strain jellies in the kitchen? What on earth would I need those for? Apparently they make great burp cloths – but how is strained baby chuck on your shoulder any better than non-strained? Why can’t I use cloth nappy squares like we did for my sisters when they were babies?
Well, it turns out that cloth nappy squares are nolonger in fashion and as such aren’t that easy to find. Muslins are all the rage at the moment, and apparently I will need anything between “more than I have” and “about 100 should do”. Fair enough, they can’t be too expensive I think, after all they’re just hemmed pieces of lightweight fairly open weave pure cotton. A quick search shows that you can buy unbleached muslin fabric at 125cm wide for about £2 per metre. So imagine my surprise when I came across this on the John Lewis website:
Yep, that’s £28.95 for 7 squares of cotton, 60x60cm each. It’s not hard to do the math and see how much you are paying for some cheap dye!
Now anyone who knows me knows that I love colour, bright and happy colours being the best. I would absolutely LOVE to be able to afford to kit out the nursery with these gorgeous cloths, but £30??? And if I wanted a modest amount of them, say 28-30, that would cost £120. I can’t do it – the difference in price would pay for Christian, Bump and I to go to Dublin to see friends, MUCH more important!
But then Aldi had a babywear sale. I picked up £30 worth of muslin cloths – 30 of them! Some were patterned, but most were simple white cloths, 68×68 (yes, bigger than the fancy JL ones) and I had a brainwave. A search on eBay, another £30 and very soon a nice selection of machine dyes arrived in the post. Cue evil laughter….
Now each pack of dye will do 600g of cotton cloth, which is more than I had, so I gathered up some of the towelling nappies I had also purchased as well as some of the small white baby clothes that we’d found thanks to similar issues as the cloths, the coloured ones being ludicrously priced. I washed it all and I got started with my plan.
I divided up all the cloths, nappies and clothes into six piles, weighed each and then it was a simple matter of following the instructions on the dye packet. (you also need salt, but don’t worry about the brand salt from the dye company – I had a couple of packets of that but also used normal table salt for the rest at 46p for 750g!). Each colour took two runs through the machine, followed by a short run to wash the machine afterwards. After a few days I had finished and this is the result:
The end result, for the price of 14 muslin squares from John Lewis, I have 30 in a rainbow of happy colours. I have also transformed 12 towelling nappies and an assortment of boring white baby clothes to match. I call that a win!