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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Swingin'

 
Sam needed a swing.
He's almost seven months, he's sitting up like a pro, and he needed some backyard entertainment for Grandpa and Grandma's big backyard. Besides that, kids love swings. What kid doesn't love a swing? It was time.
But let me tell you what I hate... plastic stuff. Especially plastic stuff that stays outside and gets faded and dirty and gross. UGH. So I researched baby swings and decided I did not want plastic. A stroll through pinterest found several pretty wooden ones, but they just didn't look so comfy for my sweet little rollie baby. Then I found a picture of this canvas/hamock style swing, and I was all, YES! Then I saw that it was $135 plus shipping from Australia... and I was like... um, NO. (But if you have $135 to burn... you can check out Swingz and Thingz they've got some super cool stuff!)


But upon closer inspection, I uttered those dangerous words...

I could make that.
Right?


 So I gathered up my supplies:
1 inch oak dowels
25 ft nylon/poly blend braided 5/16" rope
Steel rings
steel carabiner
rope crimps
about 1 yard of outdoor canvas
Some tools: sewing machine, hammer, pliers, saw, drill press
Sturdy tree branch (still attached to the tree, thank you.)

I started by making the seat. I found this beautiful striped canvas at a fabric outlet, and I love it! I think I will start sewing exclusively with stripes, it's super easy to measure stuff... just FYI.
I cut the large piece 36"x14", the top piece is 14"x11", and the bottom leg piece is 6"x11". (I cut all my pieces from the same long strip that started 60"x14") The way they are laid out in this picture is the shape we are creating for the seat part of the swing.
The first step was to hem the sides of the two vertical pieces. You will be hemming the 11" sides. Here's how I did the hem for this project:

1. Iron over a 1/4 inch to wrong side.
2. Iron over another 1/2 inch to wrong side.
3. Sew two straight seams 1/8 inch from each side of the hem. You have a lovely finished edge, the double seam isn't necessary, but I think it looks really nice.

Next you are going to attach those two pieces to the long horizontal piece. Here's how I attached them and double enforced the seams so they would be extra safe for my little boy...
 1. I ironed over 1/4 inch then another 1/2 inch just like i did in the first two steps above. Then I measured and centered the vertical pieces and pinned them, wrong sides together, just underneath that ironed down hem.
2. Sew two seams, just as you did in part 3 above.
3. Now flip the vertical piece up over the hem you just created, and iron it flat.
4. Top stitch over the two seams you created previously, securing the vertical piece in that position and reinforcing your seams.

The next step is to fold over 3 and sew down 3 inches on all 4 sides (which I unfortunately did not take a picture of...) This creates the casing that your dowel will go through for the frame of the swing. This is the last step of the sewing portion, and your completed seat looks like this:
(note: for smaller children you may want to also sew a cushion or pillow to go behind their back. I made a 12x12" square pillow out of coordinating outdoor canvas to go behind Sam, it was the perfect size.)

Next you create the frame and ropes to hang the swing.
I used 1 inch oak dowels, and cut them to 16". My dad took them to his fancy shop and used fancy tools to put beautiful radius on each end, but that is not structurally important. You can just cut and sand the ends really well so no one gets splinters.

Next you will put a 3/8" hole 1" from  both ends of each dowel. You will want you use a drill press to get the holes exactly straight. You can stain your dowels at this point, if you so desire.

Okay, time for the ropework! I cut 2 lengths of rope (I used a braided nylon/poly blend that was 5/16") 10 feet. You need to use a lighter to melt the ends of the rope so it doesn't fray. Then find the center of the two ropes and thread them through your steel ring and pull it to the center. (When you purchase your ring, make sure it is weight bearing. Though it will never need to hold that much, ALL the materials I used for this project were rated to hold up to 200 lbs. Safety first!)
Then I used a metal rope clamp to bind the four ropes together. You can see an unused one sitting above the ropes, and I have only hammered two of the four prongs onto the rope. (just wanted you to see how this works.)
The completed clamped rope looks like this.The rope clamp is another important safety feature in this swing, without it, the ropes could slide freely through the ring and topple the swing and the little one inside. So be sure to include that!

Now it's time for the fun part... assembly! I was literally dancing about the house by the time it got to assembly. I was SO EXCITED to complete this project and get it up in a tree and a baby in it! So here's how you do it...
Thread your dowels through all four casings in the fabric seat. The front and back dowels will be below the side dowels.

Thread the rope through the holes of two crossed dowels, and create a stopper knot leaving a 2 inch tail of rope. (A simple overhand knot would likely be sufficient, but the stopper knot is a little more sturdy, and I didn't want ANY chance of those knots slipping out when holding my precious and breakable baby) (By the way... I did a ton of research before doing this project and learned a lot about knots and what kinds are appropriate for securing or bearing what kinds of loads... Anyway, I kinda feel like I earned my boyscout badge in knots. Is there even such a thing?)


Oh my gosh! You have a swing! Now you need a safe place to hang it from.  Pick a sturdy branch or beam. This little picture is from the original website where I copied my swing design from... an excellent and informative graphic so I will save my breath... (fingers?)
Again, make sure your carabiner is a weight bearing one. ours was purchased from the hardware store and rated to hold 200 lbs. Check the rating on any hardware you use--for your child's safety!
My dad also decided that Sam might like to swing on their fancy shady porch where we all like to hang out, so he got and eye bolt and hung that in their pergola. (this bolt, when properly installed was rated to hold up to 300 lbs. I know I sound like a broken record here... but when suspending your child double and triple check that all your hardware and rope is rated to hold weight and is installed correctly and safely.)

Okay, are you wiggling so much you can't stand it??? Because I definitely was at this point... my dad was tying knots to the tree and literally could not hold still from swing excitement! Check it out!


Okay, and now, brace yourself for gratuitous photos of cute baby swinging...

Favorite!

Sam loved it! He spent his entire afternoon just swinging and swinging. Then after dinner my dad moved his swing up to the porch... where he fell asleep, still in his swing.
Okay, take a few moments to recover from your cuteness coma, because I am certain you want to know about the price breakdown. Did we swing it for under $135?

2 - 1" oak dowels each 3 ft long : $10
50 ft nylon/poly blend braided 5/16" rope: $12
Package of 2 Steel rings: $2
steel carabiner: $3
Package of 2 rope crimps: $2
1 yard of outdoor canvas + 1/3 yard contrasting: $11
Total cost: $40
However... you'll note that I had to buy 50 ft of rope, but only used 25... And several things I had to buy packages of 2... and I had enough fabric left that I could make a second seat... so if I purchased more dowels and another carabiner, that would total $53... 
Making the approximate cost PER SWING about $26.50
I'd say that's a heck of a lot better than $135+shipping from Australia. Yes? SCORE.
This may be the favorite project I have EVER made. I know that's a pretty dramatic use of absolute qualifiers there, but I love this little swing so much... and I love it even more watching my little Sam swing and squeal with delight. Happy Swingin'!

(I also linked this too the Summer Pinterest Challenge at YHL if you wanna check out some other cool projects...) 

 UPDATED 3/1/13: Check out OSH Revisited: Swingin' for more pics and updates on the swing, and also for an explanation on how to add pics of your swing to the flickr pool! If you have created a swing for your kiddo, I would LOVE to see it! Would you please please share pics with all of us??? Please?

82 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness. This is possibly the most amazing project I have ever seen. It's SO cute (the sleeping Sam picture seals the deal), and SO non-plastic. You are inspiring. :)

    Nice radii by your dad, by the way (I just couldn't miss the chance to use that word in a sentence...).

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    1. Aw, thanks Danielle!
      Haha, always the engineer.

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  2. This is AWESOME!! Hope you don't mind the re-pin. Thanks for the "Pinspiration"! :)

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    1. Not at all... Glad you like it. :)

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  3. This is AWESOME!!! Definitely pinning yours for inspiration!

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  4. Thank you for posting this!!!!! I saw the same pin of the swings n things swing and have been looking for measurements somewhere to make one for my son's birthday! Thank you again!

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  5. You know what would make it even better? Wrap some foam around the front dowel (like bumper bars) so your baby has something comfortable to put hands or face on!

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  6. Love the baby swinging photos! Your baby looks so happy! I want to make one for our porch. :)

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  7. So awesome. I've been looking for a swing for my kids but didn't want to buy the fabricated ones because they cost so much and where we live (kenya) they are mostly made of steel which I hate. This is such a great idea for my one year old. Thanks so much for the inspiration.

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    1. You are very welcome... hope your little one loves it!

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  8. Awesome tutorial - thank you so much!
    Been eyeing them off for a while and was thinking of making one, this made it much easier! I've finished the sewing and have the supplies ready for the rest, now I'm impaitently waiting for hubby to get home from work to help me finish it.
    Thanks again :)

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  9. Great, I am glad you found it helpful. I hope your family enjoys it! :)

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  10. Thank you so much for this im going to make one for my wee Amelia :)

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  11. What size casings did you make? Or how many inches? I love this swing and can't wait to make it for my 13 month old, I will be adding a seatbelt because he's a wiggler lol

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    1. I folded over 3 inches to make the casings (it says in the directions) But I also folded under the raw edge before sewing, so the finished casing is probably about 2.5"
      Hope your wiggly kiddo loves his swing! :)

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  12. So going to have hubby make this for our 1st grandbaby due in March. Thanks for such a great swing!!!

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  13. What would you say the weight limit is on your swing? I saw the same one from Australia and also thought, "I could make that." but never did anything with my thoughts. If I made one for my 9 month old then my 2 year old will want to swing too so I would need to make 2. She is 25 pounds. What do you think?

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    1. The rope and hardware I purchased for the swing is rated to up to 200 lbs. The outdoor canvas I used is pretty strong, and I double stitched everything to make it nice and strong and extra safe. Sam is now a year old and 23 lbs and fits in it nicely. We had 5 yr old (50 lbs) come over and swing and he fit in it and there didn't seem to be any more strain on the structure than when the little guy uses it.
      I have never tried it, but I feel pretty confident the swing could actually hold an adult. As long as you purchase weight bearing rope and hardware (and don't exceed their limits) and pick a sturdy fabric and reinforce your seams... there is no reason you wouldn't be able to put older children in the same swing. Hope that helps!

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  14. LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS. I so want to get on my sewing machine and whip one up right now for my 9m. LOL I may get drafted to make more if I do. Hubby may have to make sure it can hold larger kids too because I know my older kids will want to try it.

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  15. I pinned the one from Australia over a year ago intending to make one myself and then you pop up in my pinterest feed having done the hard work for me! Brilliant! Thank you!

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  16. This is so clever! Thank you so much for the sharing! I loooooove it!

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  17. I love this. I'm going to have the hubby help me make one for my grandson who is due to arrive in June. This would make a great baby shower gift for my daughter. Thanks so much.

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  18. Just finished mine (hoping Spring will notice-lol). Thanks for the great tutorial!

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    1. Oh, I would love to see it! Do you have a link or pictures to share?
      I hope spring and swinging weather arrives soon as well!

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    2. I will hopefully get one up soon! :-) When it's hanging somewhere.

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  19. I loved your swing and your tutorial made it so easy. I couldn't wait to make one for my little grandson Xavier. Well I finished it yesterday and he loves it. I don't know how to post pictures here but I'd love to share the photos with you. Can you tell me how to do that? Thank you so much for sharing your ideas.

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    1. I just added a flickr pool you can upload pictures to!
      At the top of the page under the header there is a tab called "You Got Sassy". If you click on that it will take you straight to the flickr page, and you simply become a group 'member' then you can add your photos.
      I can't wait to see them! :)

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    2. Here, I just created a post to address this today! Check it out: http://onesassyhousewife.blogspot.com/2013/03/osh-revisited-swingin.html

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  20. Hi Valerie, I just posted some pictures. Hope you like them. Wanted to tell you that your little guy is so cute! Love the photos of him.
    Grammy Rose (aka Red Rose of Vernon)

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  21. HOLY COW your a life saver! I have triplets and they will be big enough this summer that I was looking to purchase swings for them but now I will be able to make them cheeper than buying! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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  22. AWWWW!!! He is so handsome in his cute Mommy-made swing!!! I will definitely be doing this!!!

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  23. I'm not crafty at all! If you get into the business of selling them--I'm interested!!!!!!

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  24. What did you fill the pillow with? Just cotton?

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    1. Poly-fil. Or it might have been stuffing left over from another pillow. Whatever you have on hand.

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  25. I just made the fabric part of this during the baby's short nap! so easy!! in fact, if I can steal my SIL serger, I bet it would go even faster!!!. I liked teh suggestion of paddign on the front rail... wish i had seen that before i sewed the casing... i may try and cut a pool noodle and put that over teh back and front dowels for some extra cushioning...think that would work?

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  26. You should make these to sell on Etsy.. or somewhere. I would buy one! I could do it myself, but if I could buy one for, say, $40... I would much rather do that!

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    1. I have considered this, but decided I don't have the insurance to sell children's play things. You know some nutterbutter would install it wrong, their child would get hurt and then they would try to sue me. Yikes!
      Anyway, I hope people can use and enjoy the tutorial just as well. :)

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  27. I am going to buy the materials today! We will be swinging this weekend!! THANKS!!!
    Megan

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  28. We will be swinging by this weekend....headed shopping for cute material right now ;) THANKS!!!!

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  29. Hi Valerie,

    Your baby, your swing and your enthusiasm are all so adorable. Thanks for a great idea and a nice set of instructions. Will try to make this for my daughter and send you the pics.


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    1. Thank you, you are very sweet! I can't wait to see how it turns out!

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  30. Where did u get the little pillow Behind him? Or did u make it? My son just turned 14 months and its about to be summer time and I got a sewing machine for Christmas so this is perfect!! I just wanna know how to get a little pillow too..also where did u get our outdoor canvas material?

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    1. I made the pillow as well, also out of an outdoor canvas. It is 12x12 square nothing special or difficult.
      I got my material at a decorator fabric outlet... but you can probably find it with the decor fabrics at most fabric stores, especially this time of year. Good luck!

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  31. hi,

    how can i attach a seatbelt/harness/strap to it?

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    1. When fitting canvas, attach a ring between the back poles at each side. This will enable a harness from reins the be attached for safety.

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    2. You could easily attach a seatbelt/harness/buckle into the seat of the swing to secure the kiddo. a waist strap/harness could easily be sewn into the reinforced seams, or attached to the poles as a previous reply suggested.
      Sturdy woven 'seatbelt' material and buckles can be found at most fabric and sewing goods stores.

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  32. This is a fantastic idea!!! I only have one suggestion--I would knot the rope above the top dowels also to prevent any pinched fingers!!!

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  33. I almost had a heart attack when I saw this on Pinterest. Please, please, tell your readers(and yourself) to add a small flat tray-like piece to the front of the swing. In the 1980's I was a young single mother and my friend's father had a horrible story to tell. He was working in an apartment complex when he heard a woman screaming. She had put her baby in a swing without a tray and the baby had fallen asleep with his chin over the front bar(It was smaller than the one you used, but still.) and had died of asphyxiation. Please don't let this happen to your baby!

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    1. Thanks for the info, Jehna.
      And of course, as always, a reminder to everyone that this swing is only meant to be used with constant adult supervision. Please be safe and smart and keep you little ones safe!

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  34. This looks so amazing!! It almost, I said *almost* makes me want to have another baby so I can make this and have a sweet adorable bundle swinging in it! Love love love it!

    Rebecca at http://thisfineday.com

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  35. finished the swing today for my 6month old grandson. they took it camping and it was a big hit. everyone wants one!!!Turned out Sooo cute!! thanks for all the info..

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    1. Glad they liked it! Ours went camping with us as well, great outdoor fun!

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  36. This swing is wonderful! Please tell me what type of tool your father used to round the wood. I tried a router - didn't work! Off to the store to purchase another dowel rod. . .

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  37. Thanks for the idea. I think I'll make my little girl one. You did a great job making yours and I how I do good making mine. Thank again.

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  38. Thank you so much for posting this! This is exactly what my 6mo old needs! I went and bought the fabric todayand a sewing machine... gotta start somewhere...lol. my husband didn't want to do the wooden dowel rods so we are using heavy duty PVC pipe and elbow fittings. ill post some pics once I'm done!

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    1. Hope it works out for you! Good luck starting your sewing adventures!

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  39. This is a recall waiting to happen. And it would be fairly easy to fix. Just put a waist-band seatbelt on it so the risk of the baby slumping down one side or sliding down one side until the only thing that stops them is their head is lowered. Make an H harness and baby also won't be able to try and stand up or pull themselves up, for even more safety.

    Yeah, adult supervision only, I know, but it takes only a few seconds for an accident to happen and this is extremely irresponsible to show something like this where others may copy a dangerous design.

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    1. Oh you could definitely very easily sew in a seatbelt or harness to make your child even more secure in this seat. Several other commenters have suggested that as well as other tweaks to the design to make it more safe.
      My little guy was actually quite secure in the swing, and I would not have put him in there if he were not, obviously. His safety is my very first concern! I would never encourage others to create something that would put someone in danger, and so by all means, add safety harnesses or seatbelts or whatever you feel would make it safer. If you have a tutorial or specific instructions on how to do so that you would like to share, that could be of great help to other people as well! Thanks!

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    2. No, Anonymous, what's "extremely irresponsible" is our sue-happy society that thinks it's Valerie's job to ensure that all parents are as responsible as she is. Her pictures and written instructions clearly show that an adult was within arm's length at all times, and it's not her job to make sure other people are not idiots. Pretty sure you can't "recall" somebody's free idea, no matter how "irresponsible" you think it is. It's not like she's selling the things. Great design, Valerie - love it!

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    3. Seriously???? Get a grip!!! Anyone who is responsible enough to have a baby and then goes to all the trouble of lovingly making or having someone lovingly make this swing for the pleasure of their little bundle of joy, clearly has enough brains, not to leave the baby unattended, not even for a second!!!
      Don't be so negative.......really!!!

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  40. Thank you very much,I can not wait to make a swing for my yard
    love it!!
    your friend Tory

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  41. I just finished making this for my grand-daughter's 1st birthday. My daughter "wanted" to make it, but knew she would never actually get around to finding time to do it. I am excited to watch Amelii's face light up the first time she gets to swing. Thanks for the easy instructions and the great photos. Passed the website to my co-worker who is going to make it for her first grand-child yet unborn.

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  42. SO cool!! I'm in Argentina, finishing up winter, beautiful sunny day today and I started thinking about swings...came inside and checked out the plastic ones online (expensive here, cheaper in US but shipping/getting someone to bring it here is another story...) Then I kept thinking and Googled "diy baby swing", emailed a pic of ADORABLE baby Sam to my mom, and yes! She can help make it! (she's the one with the sewing machine :)) Found your blog later...only thing is I had imagined it hung from two separate hooks (like a regular back and forth swing) instead of only one; doesn't it go all 360 in every direction? Or I guess I'm imagining my 5 and 3 year old boys doing that to baby girl who will be 6 months in the summer :) Of course I'll be supervising anyway, but we might adjust that to avoid swinging to the sides...AWESOME tutorial though, thank you! And will definitely share pics once the project is complete!

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    1. So glad you found it!
      You could definitely make the same swing and hang the two sides from separate hooks. This one kind of swings every direction, and also spins-- which as he's gotten older he loves1. With siblings pushing a little one, I don't blame you for wanting it a bit more stationary.
      Good luck!

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  43. Probably a stupid question, but I am a sewing newbie. How did you make the pillow?? Can you please email me at kmgairch@gmail.com?

    Thanks,
    Thommi

    Iam currently making this for my first son (6 mos old)

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  44. I love this, do you think it can hold a 23 month old? cuz I would love to make this for my little girl

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    1. Sam is now 21 months and still using his swing. I had a friend come over and their (smallish) 4 year old climbed in in used it. As long as they can sit comfortably and don't exceed the the weight limit the materials are rated for-- you can definitely use it for an older child! We plan to use it for several year still! :)

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  45. Love it! Can't wait to make my own. I sent the details to grandpa so he could do all the fancy wood stuff in his workshop. He just sent me the finished wooden dowels so now I just need to put it all together!

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  46. My kids are 16 & 18 and all those years ago I purchased a swing like this for them from the local markets, I think it cost me about $35. Now my sister is expecting a child and I thought this would be a great gift idea and then, like you, discovered how expensive they are (and I'm from Australia!). Watch out sewing machine - here I come!!!

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  47. Thank you so much for this! I made one this weekend and it's great :) The instructions were simple to follow and pictures helped a lot!

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  48. My Sam needed a swing too! Just finished it last night and can't wait for this rain to clear up so we can try it out. I was wondering though - what type of knot did you use for the piece of rope that the carabiner is attached to? Is it just an overhand knot?
    Thanks!

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  49. Our little Grandson Sidney is happily swinging away in his new swing, thanks to you. Luckily the store had run out of plastic swings before we saw this. Whipped it up this morning.
    Thank you heaps

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  50. I love this tutorial; it is exactly what I was looking for, thanks! And your little boy is super cute by the way. :-)

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  51. OH WOW EXCITED. Thank you! Will post pics :o)

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  52. What a clever idea-- I have twins, and this will come in handy. Where did you get your fabric from?

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  53. Where did you purchase the rope from? Can you share please and thanks!

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