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The Evolution of a Sleeping Bag

Evolution of a Sleeping Bag - a process post

The sleeping bag I designed for the Dress Up Bunch dolls involved a bit of engineering, so I thought I’d share something about my process here.

My initial thought was to make a sleeping bag almost exactly like a “real” one. The zipper was going to go down the side and across the bottom, so that you could open up the sleeping bag entirely. Here’s my first prototype. . .

Evolution of a Sleeping Bag - a process post

And here it is zipped up. . .

Evolution of a Sleeping Bag - a process post

Looks pretty good, right?

I loved the look of it – but sewing the zipper around the corner was not fun. Like – really, really unfun.

I try to make my patterns as easy and fun as possible – so I wanted to fix that.

I tried rounding the corner more and more, through a few different tries, but it was still pretty dang hard to wrangle. And it was starting to look ugly and not as sleeping-bag-ish.

Back to the drawing board.

Sewing a zipper around a corner was out, so I tried just a zipper going down the side.

My first attempt at sewing it inside out was kind of a mess because I didn’t use a separating zipper and I needed to sew it in a tube and it was hard to sew from top to bottom that way.

Next I tried a separating zipper so I could sew the two sides separately.

Much, MUCH easier!

I sewed it flat and sewed all the way around (leaving a little opening for turning) and it looked awesome. And then I zipped it up and realized I had made a nicely finished tube. 🙂 The bottom wasn’t closed!

Forehead smack.

I picked the bottom open and realized now I could sew the top and sides without needing any hand-sewing. The whole bottom became the turning opening.


I folded the sleeping bag closed and sewed up the bottom.


But then I realized it was impossible to zip it up. With the sleeping bag sewn up it was pretty much impossible to start the separating zipper. Just about impossible for me – definitely impossible for any kids trying to work it.


Oooh – but then I realized that I could zip it closed first and then sew up the bottom. Now the zipper is together and it can’t come apart – a terrific bonus because separating zippers can be tricky for some little kids. I had planned to hand stitch the zipper permanently together as the final construction step, but now that wasn’t necessary!

Done! (Almost.)

Dress Up Bunch Camping Set

I added a couple of elastic loops so it could be rolled up and secured without having to tie anything, and the design is finished!

Sometimes I get a design right on the first prototype, but usually it works like this – a series of attempts and revisions that get closer and closer to the final design – one that looks good AND is easy to make. 🙂

Get the pattern here.

Happy sewing!


  1. Mary SAYS...

    Very cool! 🙂 I was wondering what the thing next to the doll was, glad to see additional pictures. 🙂 I think I would make a pillow and a pillowcase, to go with! (especially for slumber parties)

  2. GrandmasBeans SAYS...

    Love the sleeping bag, and the idea of a pillow. Could you possibly stuff the top of the sleeping bag slightly more, and sew a seam to separate it to keep the stuffing from moving down?

    Also, Wendi, what is the name of the fabric in the third picture, with the little girl holding the jar with a firefly? It’s really cute!!

    Great job, as usual. Really adorable clothes and accessories again this month. I love the DUB Club!! 🙂

  3. Lisa Roth SAYS...

    No wonder your things are so amazing–you are determined, don’t give up, and problem solve! Great qualities!