Here’s how to make a fabric baby gate for the bottom of stairs or between doorways. This DIY fabric baby gate has given me a lot of piece of mind these past months. We tried store-bought safety gates at the bottom of our stairs but couldn’t figure out how to work around our awkward window angle so had to return them. So for a long time we had nothing – eek!
Elise at 1-1/2 years old likes to climb up the stairs all the time. But now when this fabric baby gate is up, she asks me if she can climb! I just unlatch the ribbon loops from the 3M Command Cord Bundlers (very easy), open the gate and follow her up. She has learned to ask me first and go up with me. I don’t know how long she’ll be this cooperative but it’s worked for the past couple of months without a hitch.
Years ago my friend Yoko Terretta made a fabric baby gate for the bottom of her stairs. Her daughter is now way past toddler age so she drew me a photo of her old fabric baby gate:
I made some assembly adjustments when making the fabric safety gate for the bottom of our stairs and it’s worked great! And with my long monkey legs I can actually step over it pretty easily if I’m feeling too lazy to unhook the loops.
That said, I’ve gotta state some legal disclaimers on this one:
** Using this fabric baby gate idea is at your own risk. ** I won’t assume responsibility for any injuries if this type of gate doesn’t work out for your family. You have to judge your own parenting style and your child’s behavior before deciding to use a DIY fabric baby gate. This DIY fabric baby gate is not tested for safety by any formal organization.
** DO NOT use a DIY fabric safety gate for the TOP of any stairs. ** It’s just not sturdy enough. Never, never. Do not leave your child unattended with a fabric baby gate. For my child, and her temperament, the fabric baby gate is working on the bottom of our stairs in slowing her down – and I bet it might work for obedient pets too.
Supplies for making a DIY fabric baby gate (with links from affiliates):
- 2 yards fabric – ideally home decorator weight (to make a 30″ high by 43″ wide fabric baby gate – but measure your own opening and adjust as needed)
- 1 yard batting (to make a 30″ high by 43″ wide fabric baby gate – but measure your own opening and adjust as needed)
- Couple feet of VELCRO® Brand Sew-On Tape or VELCRO® Brand Sticky Back for Fabrics
- Bit of 5/8″ grosgrain ribbon
- 3M Command™ Cord Bundlers – I used 3
And these sewing staples:
- Disappearing fabric pen
- Self-healing mat, rotary cutter and clear plastic ruler
- Good fabric scissors
- Good iron like Rowenta and ironing board
- Sewing machine
How to make a DIY fabric baby gate
Again, and I cannot stress this enough, make this fabric baby gate idea at your own risk. I assume no responsibility for any injuries if this type of gate doesn’t work out for your family. DO NOT use a DIY fabric safety gate for the TOP of ANY stairs. DO NOT leave a child unattended with a fabric baby gate. A fabric baby gate will, at best, slow down a curious child. You must gauge your own child’s temperament and remain close by to supervise your child at all times.
OK. Here we go. This is definitely a project you will need to customize for your own situation and measurements, so please read all the instructions carefully before cutting anything out.
Measure the opening that you want for your fabric baby safety gate. Cut two rectangles of fabric the same size using good fabric scissors – this assumes you’re going to sew 5/8″ seams which will build in a bit of spacing for your loops later in the process. My finished size was 30″ high x 43″ wide so I cut two fabric rectangles this size. You can use your disappearing fabric pen to make things easier.
Now here’s where I’m going to tell you what I did and then I’ll give you a “hindsight is 20/20” instructions. So read all of these instructions first before moving forward.
Cut 4 pieces of VELCRO® Brand Sew-On Tape long enough to wrap around your banister and attach securely to the back of the fabric safety gate. Mine were 8.5″ long. Separate the cut VELCRO® Brand fasteners into two pieces each. Place one piece of fastener in the middle of one of your short sides, pinning it onto the right side of the fabric. Sew around the fastener to attach it to the fabric front like in the photo above.
Repeat on the top edge of the fabric piece on the short end, placing the VELCRO® Brand fasteners one inch down from the raw edge. Repeat on the bottom. You should now have three pieces of VELCRO® Brand fasteners sewn to the front side of one of your fabric rectangles.
Now here’s my hindsight: I think the finished fabric baby gate would look better if I would have shortened the length of the fastener that’s sewn to the fabric. That’s because when the other end of fastener wraps around your banister, it’s naturally going to be short on the other side. So play around with the length a bit before you sew the fastener down. Alternatively, you could use ribbon ties here instead of VELCRO® Brand fasteners which was Yoko’s original idea and probably would look a bit cuter but perhaps less sturdy than VELCRO® Brand fasteners.
Now place the other pieces of the VELCRO® Brand fasteners on top of their mates – three pieces in all.
Place the batting down on your table and layer one of the fabric rectangles on top, face up. Place the other fabric rectangle face down so that the two right sides of the fabric are together. Pin it all together on the batting side – it will make it easier to sew later if you are sewing with the fabric side down.
Above is a photo of how I started to pin it before I moved the pins to the batting side. But it’s a good photo to show you how the fabric baby gate is coming together.
Make ribbon loops. Cut 3 pieces of ribbon – mine were 5 inches long each. Fold the ribbon in half to make a loop. Place one loop between your fabric layers about 1″ down from the short side’s top raw edge (the opposite side of all the Velcro). Repeat for the bottom and the middle ribbon loops. Sandwich these three ribbon loops between the two fabric rectangles and pin the whole stack together (again, pin from the batting side and then up like the pins above).
Place the fabric down on your sewing machine and stitch 1/2″ seams *almost* all the way around the rectangles, making sure to catch all three layers – the batting and two fabric rectangles – all around. Leave an opening about 20″ long on the ribbon loop side.
Turn the fabric baby gate right-side out through the opening.
Optional: Sew close to the edge to sew the batting to one layer of fabric (it made it easier for me to turn it down).
Now turn down the opening, pin, adjust the middle loop as needed, and sew.
Now here’s another optional step (one I didn’t do). Yoko then quilted her fabric baby safety gate – you can refer to her drawing. I didn’t do it and mine works fine.
Attach the VELCRO® Brand fasteners side to your banister and secure. TIP: I measured my gate height so that it would be right above the horizontal railing here which really helps keep the whole thing from sliding down. If I didn’t have these rungs on my banister, I think I would use more batting (see Yoko’s drawing) to make the whole fabric gate more able to stand up on its own.
Pull the fabric baby gate taut to see where to put your Command Cord Bundlers. Following the 3M instructions, adhere three Command Cord Bunders onto your wall. Once it’s secure, you can hook on the ribbon loops. This photo really shows how wonky our situation was — I had to adhere them inside the window trim itself!
To open the fabric baby gate, just slip the ribbon off of the Command Cord Bundlers, roll the gate onto itself a bit, rest it on the stairs, and climb!
Be sure to pin this fabric baby gate for later.
And see my other top free sewing projects for baby and toddlers:
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Copyright stuff: You’re more than welcome to use this free project and tutorial for personal use. Contact me for commercial use and etsy sales.