Video: DIY Fabric Baby Gate

DIY-Custom-Fabric-Stair-GateThe content of this post may really confuse you for 2 main reasons…

  1. Neither of us have stairs in our homes.
  2. Neither of us have babies…or really know any babies for that matter.

So allow me to explain why we’re showing you a step-by-step for this particular project. Over the past couple of months, we’ve been shooting a few segments for a local TV show called Weekend Workbench. In fact, it’s actually the show that I (Casey) produce for my “day job”. It’s a DIY show that airs on WGN here in Chicago, and on the show our host learns how to tackle DIY projects (big & small) with the help of local experts. I’ve loved working on Weekend Workbench because I truly have learned a lot about DIY and home maintenance and it isn’t as intimidating as it used to be for me. This season we are introducing a new segment called the “Home Hack” where Chicago DIY bloggers show a project that corresponds with the theme of that particular episode.

Today, I want to show you the Home Hack from our first episode that aired yesterday here in Chicago.Β  The theme of the show was “DIY: Family Style” and throughout the episode we showcase family-friendly projects to please everyone in your household.

When it comes to TV, you don’t have much time to explain every step in full detail, so today I wanted to lay out the steps so anyone can easily recreate this stair gate at home.Fabric-Gate-for-StairsA custom stair gate like this is great for a few reasons. First of all, it works for odd shaped spaces where a straight, plastic gate simply won’t fit. Plus, you can customize it to fit with your home’s decor (or your kid’s playroom decor). And finally, it’s super easy to install and take down…leaving zero marks on your walls. So if you have a child or a pet (or heck even an unruly husband) that you need to keep away from an unsafe area…this just might be the DIY project for you!

Disclaimer: This gate is meant to be either a room divider or to go at the bottom of the stairs so your child does not go up the stairs. I do NOT recommend this for the top of a staircase. And as always, do what’s right for your family & your home! No one knows your kids better than you do!Β 


DIY Baby Gate – Supplies

We first measured the stair area and figured out how much fabric we would need to cover the open space. Then we decided to go with quilting fabric, specifically because it is thick and has a pattern on both sides.

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Now I’m no seamstress (I mean how many sewing projects do you see on the blog….z.e.r.o.) so I decided to go with a heat activated adhesive (aka iron seam) to hold a majority of my gate together. I also went with pink bias tape to coordinate with the color of the fabric. Bias tape is essentially strong, thick ribbon.


Then to hang the 4 corners on the wall, you need cord bundlers like these ones that are installed with sticky command strips. Looped-corner

Okay, you’ve got your supplies…let’s get started.

Project Steps

1. Take your bias tape and lay it flat on the long edge of the fabric. Then create a little loop in the corner. You’ll then seal the loop using the iron seam and your iron. You may need to hold the iron on for quite some time to make sure it really sticks together. Bias-tape-loop2. When you’re done you’ll have a little loop on the end. Repeat this on the other end of your bias tape. So by now you should have a piece of bias tape the same length as your fabric, with 2 loops on each side.

You still with me?

3. Now you’ll need to secure the entire piece of bias tape in the fabric. Rip off a long piece of adhesive, fold the fabric over both the adhesive and the bias tape, and secure it together with the heat from the iron.

4. Repeat same steps on other side of fabric, until you have a loop in all 4 corners.

Note: As stated above, I’m no seamstress. Seriously cannot even sew on a button (sorry, Mom!) So, if you’re good with a needle and thread, or you own a sewing machine, you can forgo the iron seam and just sew it all together. If you only do the iron seam, then you may want to think about stitching together just the 4 corners to reinforce them. You don’t want them to come loose if you have a child pulling on the fabric. So moral of the story…sewing will give you the best and longest-lasting results.

Cord-Bundler-on-wall5. Secure your cord bundlers to the wall, put your loops through…and you’re good to go!DIY-Custom-Fabric-Stair-GateBesides all of that sewing talk, this is an incredibly easy project and I hope moms out there give it a try!

  • jasilee

    This is really pretty but I’m not sure it would keep a baby or dog out. Definitely a husband though. Mine is allergic to Vera Bradley.

    • Jasilee…hahah love the comment about keeping the hubby away. Totally agree with the Vera Bradley. Hilarious!

  • This post could not be more timely because we are just now trying to figure our what to do about a baby gate (the only cute ones are way out of our price range). Thanks for posting- I’ll definitely be sharing this as well!

    • Jessy happy to hear this is helpful! Good luck creating your own!

  • Robert Madsen

    Looks really nice but is not very functional. Child or animal could very easily get through the sides.

    • Hi Robert.
      It worked really well for the mom & dog owner we made this one for, but everyone is different! Someone else might need something a little more substantial. It will totally depend on your situation, and if this isn’t for you then there’s no harm in that!

      Thanks for the comment!

    • Robert Madsen

      It would be a really neat way to hide a baby gate. Looks way better.

    • Great idea, Robert!

  • Jenn

    Seriously, this is dangerous. Stitch Witchery doesn’t have much strength, it will easily rip apart. And what is the weight load those Command strips can hold? Even if it is as high as 10 lbs per strip, my 35 lb 2 year old running at it will easily rip the hooks right off the wall.

    Please employ a safety consultant on your program.

  • Tee Flemming

    I’d be afraid that a certain baby I know (granddaughter) would go under it. I think I would put a wooden dowel in the top and bottom hems….and maybe the sides too.

  • Sarah Ann McNealy Odell

    I have 4 children and now years later a grandbaby. My mother helped watch my children and now I watch my grandbaby, but over at my mother’s. She loves the babys. Anyway, she li e’s in a split level with a staircase and it’s not near any walls. So she put up a sheet around the spindles and used it as a gate. Let me tell you, it worked very well and we never had a problem. Now we are getting ready to put it up again for my grandbaby her great grandbaby. If anyone has any doubts, our sheet wrapped around the spindles worked great! I’m sure this idea will too! πŸ™‚

    • So happy to hear your sheet method worked so well! And how exciting about the grandbaby πŸ™‚

  • Diane Ciha Thomsen

    How strong are the hooks? Will they stand up to the constant tugging of a toddler?

    • It depends on the kind of cord bundlers you get. These ones from Command can hold up to 8 lbs, but there are some that hold more weight or less weight. If you’ve got a tugger on your hands, you may need a more durable baby gate option. This is a good option for younger kids or even small pets.

  • Darbi’s Gate

    The fabric gate is a great idea for the stairs at the bottom, or even a room divider. Another set of rules apply for safety at the top of a set of stairs, 2 rules to be exact!! #1 All approved gates have to be hardware mounted (meaning screws, bolts, brackets, whatever instructions say to do!).#2 Gate has to swing away from the stairs (so if and when gate fails, it still can not go down the stairs with the child)! We take seat restraint seriously in this country,fall prevention protection at the windows and stairs needs the same attention to detail !! Look for the TOP OF STAIRS decal when purchasing your gates, without it, your child is at risk.

  • Monica Tucker May

    This could useful if you were entertaining house guest, it would limit them to parts of your home.

  • Amanda Lynne Widmann

    OMG so glad I found this! just moved into a 3 level house from a one floor apartment and am currently blocking off the stairs with packed boxes… want to finish unpacking and priced baby gates that would fit my stairs, due to the weird shape of the stairs the only ones that will work are $150 and up… did something like this but with a cardboard box which works fine but only temporarily since it looks terrible and the cardboard being moved for opening and closing will cause a tear in no time at all… still have tons of old blankets and sheets that are never used so I am going to attempt something like this. Hope it works out! Thank you!

    • So happy to help Amanda! Hope yours turns out great & congrats on the new house!

    • Amanda Lynne Widmann

      thank you πŸ™‚

  • Dsnow1945

    it definitely would work for me, All Cody, My doggie, needs is something to let him know he cannot go there. He is an older dog and would not try to get thru.. and its pretty.. so I could get any fabric.. thanks for the idea

  • Kathy Beymer

    Hey Casey and Bridget. I just saw this link on FB and was wondering if you happened to be inspired by my DIY fabric baby gate from 2011 that uses the same loops and cord bunders? If so, I’d love it if you’d credit a fellow Chicagoan in your story. If not then great minds think alike πŸ˜€

    Ignore my site template – it’s as old as the stone age. On another note, it would be fun to meet you in the city sometime! It’s nice to find other DIY ladies in Chicago. I’m in East Village.

    • Hey Kathy!
      That’s so crazy. We did not see your original design…instead a mom we are friends with came up with idea for her home and we implemented it for the show and our blog. Great minds do think alike!

      I (Casey) actually live in East Village as well. So looks like we are neighbors πŸ™‚

      Great to chat with another Chicago gal.

      Bridget & Casey

    • Kathy Beymer

      Hey! I’m super excited to hear that I have a crafty neighbor so close! Yay!! πŸ˜€ I cannot believe I haven’t seen your stuff before – it’s great. Here’s hoping we’ll run into each other sometime soon!

  • Nicole M. Christensen

    As Darbi’s Gate commented, there are specific safety rules for top-of-stair gates. I have used Command strips to hang things and I’ve had them fail. I understand the hooks used in this project are specified for 8 pounds, but a child could certainly exert more than 8 pounds of pressure.

    • Totally agree Nicole! We only recommend this for the bottom of the stairs and used as a room divider. Might not be right for every family, but certainly works for some with children & pets.

  • Cindiolms

    The instant I saw this I immediately thought of a smaller infant getting his/her head stuck and choking at rhe bottom or sides. Has this been thoroughly tested? Would it break free in time?Sorry, former Ped’s nurse.

  • SuzieQ

    My first grandchild will be a year old in less than a month. They live in a different state, but when they visit we have had to build a barricade in front of the stairwell to the basement. I saw this picture and decided it was our answer. No commercial gate has ever fit into our situation – a railing parallel to the stairway is all that separates it from the family room. Last night I sewed up a gate like this, but not nearly so pretty. I used only what I have on hand, and the fabric was not sturdy enough. I sewed a second fabric (very sturdy upholstery-like) over the top. I made casings in the top and bottom for wooden dowels to keep it stiff. Along the sides I put in grommets. Using paracord, I can tie the left side of the gate to the beginning of the railing. The wall on the other side will have hooks or possibly eye hardware (that screw into the wall) and if the grommets fit over the hooks that will be great. If not, we will use paracord also. They will visit for the first birthday party and we will find out whether this was a good idea. We will be watching carefully at the same time, of course! Thank you!

    • Aww, thanks so much for sharing Suzie!!! Have so much fun with your grandchild, how exciting! We really hope this gate helps and would love to hear about your experience after the visit is over.

      Good luck and thanks again for your feedback and support. =)

    • SuzieQ

      He wasn’t in an exploring mood for his birthday, but the next time they came, he managed to move the bottom up because the railing side wasn’t tied well. Now he can walk, so the game changes again for the next visit. It still seems like the best idea for the situation. Thank you!

    • Happy to hear! Thanks for the update πŸ™‚

  • Laura Adams

    My daughter told me about fabric baby gates as we were tying a folding table to the newel post & stair railing at the top of our stairs (which is ugly as can be, but is a very sturdy barrier). I am a retired dressmaker (lots of fabric stash), so, of course, I was interested. I love this idea for the purpose you’ve stated, though it wouldn’t work for my situation – stairs to the lower level. I would suggest one correction in your list of needed supplies: there is a difference between “quilting” fabric & “quilted” fabric. The former is regular, one-layer, cotton fabric, printed on one side – not very thick. The latter, which is what you used, is two layers of quilting fabric, sandwiched together with batting in the middle, and pre-quilted. It is very sturdy fabric, & perfect for this use.

    • So good to know! Thanks for the clarification Laura. That is so helpful!