Since Sully was born, he’s been sleeping in our cabin in a Fisher Price Rock n Play Sleeper that we borrowed from our friends Trent and Brittany. It fit perfectly by our bed, so when he woke up in the middle of the night it was easy to scoop him up and nurse him, or just reach over and rock him back to sleep.
He slept in that fine for a while, but in the back of my mind I was always thinking about what to do when he outgrew it. He’s really strong, and at about 2 months, he started arching his back and kicking his legs in a way that made me scared he would wiggle out. So we started to buckle him in at night. That was annoying. I’d get him to sleep and put him in and then I’d have to dig under his butt searching for the straps. When he was around 4 months he would go to sleep in it fine, but after some feedings in the middle of the night he wouldn’t go back to sleep in it. He ended up in our bed a lot. Then a few weeks ago, I put him in it, went to brush my teeth and when I came back he was sitting up!
So after that Sully was in our bed every night. It was kind of nice because I didn’t have to get out of bed anymore to nurse him, but I was uncomfortable, and so was Nate who slept pressed against the wall because he was afraid of squishing him. Our bed is the length of a queen, but about as wide as a full. Too small to co-sleep!
The plan was to make the lower bunk in the v-berth Sully’s new bed. All I had to do was sew a lee cloth that would make it like a giant Pack n Play crib. I got a lot of ideas from Charlotte’s blog postabout making her daughter Cora’s first berth on s/v Rebel Heart. I liked the idea to use the Phifertex mesh because it’s really strong and you can see through it.
The first thing we did was install a post in the center of the v-berth for the lee cloth to attach to. Then I needed to choose fabric. I went to the local upholstery shop, UFO, to get the Phifertex mesh, but they didn’t have the color I wanted so I had to place an order through Sailrite. While waiting for the mesh to arrive I picked out striped fabric for the edges from Joann Fabrics. Once I had all the fabric I headed up to the boaters lounge to cut and start sewing. I cut and ironed the fabric to create a pocket binding so that the Phifertex would go all the way to the edge. I wanted the edges to be really strong for the grommets that would go along the edges. I’m so proud of my little $80 Shark sewing machine for making it through four layers of fabric and the Phifertex!
After the sewing was done it was time to add the grommets along the sides and bottom.
We bought bronze pad eyes and cleats from the marine hardware store. It was time to start the installation!
Then he screwed the pad eyes and cleats into the wall and post. The final result is below. We used thin line to secure the the grommets to the pad eyes and then tightened the line with the cleat.
Once we had it installed, I decided that it wasn’t going to work the way I had planned in my head. I thought that when I needed to get Sully out I’d undo the cleat outside the room and push the lee cloth down and out of the way. But when he’s crying, unwrapping the line from the cleat can take a little too long, and the line is not quite long enough so there was a tangled mess that made it difficult to get him out.
To make it easier to get Sully in and out now while he still can’t sit up on his own, we only strung the line through the bottom two grommets and let the top half of the lee cloth hang in front. Now it’s the perfect height to get him in and out easily. We can make it higher when he starts to sit up on his own and starts pulling himself to standing.
It’s been about a week since we’ve had the bed set up and it’s working for now. As Sully grows and changes we can fix the lee cloth to meet our needs.
My next sewing project is making a fitted mattress protector and sheets for his bed. After that I’ll make another lee cloth for the top bunk so Sully can’t climb up there and escape! Stay tuned…