Tutorial Round-Up: Crib Sheets PLUS Toddler Top Sheet Tutorial

(Attention Atlanta locals!!  Mark your calendars: Dana of MADE will be in Atlanta June 11 & 12 for a blogger talk, a FREE demonstration, and a limited-seating Mystery Workshop, all hosted at Whipstitch!  Her blog is amazing, gorgeous, and very widely-read.  Her tutorials–like the one featured below–are always so well-written and easy to follow, and her passion and creativity make it so easy to fall in love with sewing through her writing.  If you’ve wanted to get to know what she’s like IRL, or you’d like to have her walk you through the steps of creating a pattern from a garment you already own, or if you’ve been a reader of her blog and hope to join her for the Mystery Workshop she’s got planned, come on down!  Registration for the Mystery Workshop is OPEN!)

I’ve made dozens of crib and toddler sheets for our kids.  I started small, as most addicts do, buying them secondhand at the thrift store or garage sales.  Then, wanting better fabrics (and inspired by a Pottery Barn kids fitted crib sheet I got for 60 cents at a thrift shop and later learned sold for $35 new), I began looking for instructions to make my own using vintage sheets, also scored for next-to-nothing at the flea market.  Soon, though, I needed a bigger fix, so on to designer quilting cottons it was.  I figured, if they’re meant for quilts, they’re plenty soft enough for crib sheets, and the quality is so good, they’re sure to last through many children.

So there I was, six sheet sets in, making a dozen in a weekend.  I was on a binge, I tell you.  And what did I think about as I came down from my crib sheet high?  That there were assuredly folks out there who want to do the EXACT SAME THING, and thus a tutorial was in order.

Dana beat me to it.

Her tutorials are always so well-done, and it’s nice to know that there are links out there to teach a skill that I felt in my bones needed to be taught.

This crib sheet tutorial is such a great example of how easy Dana’s writing is to follow, and I love that Dana provides images of EACH step in the course of a tutorial, which is so clear and concise for us viewing it. It’s supremely easy to wind up making way more sheets than one child could possibly need.  I did some for our boy’s crib one weekend, and am so happy every time I pop them on his mattress:

Be A Man, from Free Spirit

Merryville, from Michael Miller

These are both fitted crib sheets, just like the ones in Dana’s tutorial.  I will say that I don’t make a full casing for mine, as she does–I use my serger to finish all the edges of the fabric, and then stitch my elastic directly to that.  There are a few other tutorials on the web that are variations on these two approaches:

  • Get Creative’s tutorial is very clear, but I always remove my selvedges and generally like my elastic to go all the way around, rather than just at the corner.
  • This one from Stardust Shoes (originally written for Kathy Miller’s blog) uses a very clean and classy French seam for the mitered corners.
  • The tutorial from MakeBabyStuff.com has a cute add-on for making stuffed toys from the leftover scraps after stitching your crib sheets.

After making the fitted sheets, I went one step further: I also make a flat sheet to make a complete sheet set for the toddler bed!

Space: The Final Frontier, from Benartex

Farmer's Market by Sandi Henderson, for Michael Miller; Lush by Erin Michaels, for Moda

“Gasp!” you say.  “A flat sheet??  For toddlers??”  Yes, that’s right.  But with a twist!

When we bought M’s toddler bed off Craig’s List, the seller threw in a set of sheets to go with it: Winnie the Pooh, with a comforter and pillow case and both a fitted bottom sheet AND a flat top sheet.  The top sheet has a fitted end, so it stays in place, and doesn’t get tangled around M as she tosses and turns and flops and whatever else she does in her sleep.

Have I been out of the loop? Because I had totally never seen a toddler top sheet with the fitted end before:

How brilliant is that? I could tell from the one sheet we’d been given that this would be a cinch and even faster to complete than the fitted sheet.  So here, for y’all, is a little step-by-step for making a fitted-end flat sheet for the toddler bed!

Fitted-bottom Toddler Flat Sheet Tutorial

  • Follow the steps for making a fitted crib sheet, using the tutorial of your choice, BUT cut out ONLY the two lower corners, and leave the upper edge of the fabric intact.

  • Cut two pieces of 1/4″ elastic, each approx 12″ long.  Create the pockets on the lower edge according to the tutorial instructions, adding elastic only to the corners.  I do this by using my serger around the entire edge of the sheet, including the corners, then using a zigzag stitch to attach the elastic.  Be sure to stretch the elastic as you sew to ensure that it will draw up properly, like in the image:

  • At the upper edge of the sheet, fold over 1/4″ and press in place.  Fold over another 2″ and press, then stitch close to the pressed edge.  This creates the finished edge we’re accustomed to seeing on our own, big-folks sheets.  The top-most corners show the serger stitches, which doesn’t bother me a bit.

  • Voila!  A finished sheet set!

I should note: all the experts agree that we ought not put any sheets or loose blankets into a crib with a baby under the age of one.  I use the tops sheets with my older children on the toddler bed, and never in the crib, for safety reasons.  As our little man gets older, I’m thinking I can convert some of the fitted sheets into flat top sheets pretty easily, and get a little more life out of my favorite prints–I’ll keep you posted!

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  • dana
    May 28, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    sorry again about that. I hate that pit in your stomach when you see that someone posted the very idea you were in the process of doing! I’m so glad you posted about yours! And what a GREAT idea for the top sheet!! Seriously. WHY have I not been going that?

  • Bess
    May 29, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    I am so sad! We leave for the beach on the 11th! I met you briefly at your “flood” sale earlier this year. You may not remember but I had just had our 4th baby and we chatted about your pregnancy and even talked about Dana. I discovered your shop through her blog and didn’t know I had a great fabric resource so close! I look forward to visiting your shop this Summer. Everything looks beautiful and congratulations on your #4! I will miss seeing Dana. Only my family beach vacation could keep me away!

  • Christie
    June 1, 2010 at 10:43 am

    I love the idea of the toddler sheet with a fitted end. I think I even want some made that way for my bed! 🙂

  • Mary
    July 1, 2010 at 10:10 am

    I knew the fitted top sheets existed for years, because I had found some when my now 23 year-old was a toddler. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any for years. And I’ve looked! So, for my 3 year-old, I’m going to convert a bottom sheet I found at Goodwill. Let us know how yours turns out if you try it-I’ve never done this before, so wish me luck!

  • supa (Mary Beth)
    July 25, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Ahhh. I’m finally (Finally!) getting around to nursery sewing, and item numero uno is fitted sheets for the crib! Thanks for the links, and I’m bookmarking that fitted/flat sheet combo for about two years down the road 🙂

  • Valerie
    August 28, 2010 at 2:22 am

    My son is 4 and I’ve used the same one toddler top sheet with every bottom sheet he has. One day I got adventurous and modified one of his bottom sheets to function as a top sheet with a fitted end to mirror the one that came with the toddler set. Thank you for your instructions on making the sheets. It is sad the companies haven’t figured out that once kids are old enough to sleep in toddler beds they need top sheets to go with the crib sheets. thanks again.

  • Liz T
    January 27, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    If you were to do this on a twin top sheet would the squares still be 8X8?
    I’ve got a 5 yo and 3 yo in a bunk bed and I want to alter there top sheets so I’m not climbing all over the bed to fix it every day.

    • Deborah
      January 28, 2011 at 10:38 am


      The cut-outs are based on the depth of the mattress rather than the dimensions of the mattress top. I think the 8″ works well for a shallower crib mattress, but would recommend a deeper cut for a twin bed. Likely, what you’d need to do is use TWO lengths of fabric, then cut deeper corners. I’ve been meaning to get around to doing that for our oldest for months–she has a loft bed and like you, I think it’s a pain to make it up and strip it down–so maybe I’ll finally be motivated to put together a tutorial!

  • Carrie
    August 30, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    This is awesome! I am hoping that my mom or mother-in-law can help me sew this! Thanks for making it so understandable! Is there a soft, yet durable fabric you would recommend? Other than a 200 thread count?

  • Cassie
    December 7, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    I totally just made a fitted top sheet for my toddler to use. I’ll be making her a complete set of Minnie Mouse sheets for Christmas in a few days (fitted crib sheet, top sheet with fitted corners, and embellish a pillowcase from Target with leftover fabric).

    I don’t have a serger, so I double-stitched the darts, and pressed the hems 1/2″ twice.

    I folded my top edge down 3″… and stretching 6″ of elastic to 9″ on the sheet doesn’t give much pull, so I’m going to try to do 12″ for the next sheets.