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A Baby Rainbow

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!

16 thoughts on “A Baby Rainbow”

  1. As we’ve no dryer and no outside space here to line dry cloth nappies we’ll be using disposables – these are really to be used as heavy duty burp cloths 🙂

  2. Love the bright colours, are you going to coordinate each day? Burp cloths are so useful for dribbles etc and so soft. I am still using my 30 year old sons for straining jellies etc.

  3. We’ll probably coordinate with other multicoloured clothes at first, at least until it becomes a case of anything that’s clean is fair game!

  4. Hiya! loving this idea, may be copying for my sister in law and niece or nephew to be. I was wondering though, after you have dyed the bits and bobs, do they run or anything when the child is chomping and dribbling? Im all for funky coloured fabrics, but not so sure about funky coloured dribble and skin!? (excellent money saving too, ive been looking and these things are sooo expensive on ebay etc)

  5. They are, however that is always said with a caveat that if your own baby has particular issues or their parents have particular issues and are likely to pass those on that you proceed with caution. I have all sorts of issues with skin allergies and have no problem with these and my little girl is fine as well.

  6. I love this!! I am a lover of bright fun colors too!! Have you searched for the fabric? If so I’m new to this stuff but would love to try and make some cute Burp cloths and maybe blankets. Does it matter which kind of unbleached muslin fabric I choose to buy?

  7. I did have a look for unbleached muslin on Amazon and it was reasonably priced but since at the time I did not have a sewing machine that would have been a problem as muslin MUST be hemmed. Also, by reasonably priced I worked out that by the time I added thread I was only saving pennies compared to buying the cloths from Aldi. Time before baby is so precious I didn’t want to spend it hemming!

  8. Hi 🙂
    I love those colours! Looks fab
    Clever idea if you are just wanting the bright colours
    Faye & Lou muslin is different to cheaper muslin because it is double-layered & uniquelly woven making it super absorbent and not at all like cheese-cloth. Also the colour will not fade or run and is naturally dyed making them safe for baby to suck on 🙂

  9. I’ve found that the colours have lasted really well – it’s been two years and they’re as bright as they ever were. Non-toxic is as good as I need for my children, after all arsenic is natural! Would love to have been able to afford the Faye and Lou’s however I found them just too much for my pocket.

  10. I had the same idea for the Muslin , when u say two runs into the machine so 2 loads of each dye? One wash then second and wash then rinse?

  11. Lovely project! When my son was born I dyed a bunch of white things bright yellow as it is practically impossible to find yellow outfits. The colour was lovely and was so pleased with the result until…I start washing the yellow garments with other things. In no time everything that had white ended up light green forever. Did something like that happened to you?

  12. I had no problem at all with running, and the colours have only faded a tiny amount, in fact barely noticeable. I’m still using the cloths, and I expect to keep using them for a long long time! I’ve now taken to dying bed sheets to get the colours I want (and cos the higher thread count sheets I love generally only come in white)

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