Many have heard of a weighted blanket; some even know their use by occupational therapists and other health professionals as a deep pressure methodology to assist patients with anxiety or sensory disorders, and those on the autism spectrum. You can find these online in both small boutiqes and big box shops, ranging from 2 pounds and 24″ square (at about a $100 price point) to a king-size version at about 30 pounts to up to $500. Last December a friend asked me to make one for her child; we selected two flannels the child liked, and purchased pellets, and she graciously let me hold onto the finished result long enough to write this tutorial up!
Making one of these blankets is slightly easier than a comforter. There were a handful of tutorials online but I thought I’d provide my own flavor, making it similar to a quilt with a bound edge (as opposed to a turned-and-sewn envelope-style comforter). Making your own will cost about 40% of what it would cost to purchase one; you can also buy the exact fabrics you like, and the method I’m showing here uses the prettiness and precision of traditional quilt binding, and very exact channels.
For a baby size blanket, roughly 36″ by 48″:
1 3/4 yards each of flannel (43″)
4 pounds pellets
1/4 yard quilting cotton (43″) for binding
For those who enjoy a summary, here it is:
We are going to mark all our channel lines first. Then we will affix the two layers wrong-sides together, and sewing along three edges with 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving one long edge open. We will then sew all our vertical channels, and fill each chamber one by one – sewing the next horizontal channel line after each row is filled. Then we’ll bind the quilt, and be done! Below is a diagram (click on it to enlarge):
Prewash all fabrics; cut your flannels to the exact size; in this case, 36″ by 48″. Keep in mind if you use a flannel like I did, it might shrink quite a bit. This is why although fabrics are 44″ wide, I have provided a conservatively-size quilt:
You can barely see the lines, but that’s okay! They only need to last, and be seen, for a short time. Obviously, don’t handle the quilt a lot or let your cat sleep on it, while you’re putting it together!
Pellet time! Already!
So, it is important each channel has the same amount of pellets. This is quite easy to accomplish, but depends on the total weight of your pellets. You can divide your pellets by weight, or in my case, by volume. At four pounds, it turned out this corresponded to 1/4 cup pellet per chamber.
But there’s a little more to it than that. It’s easy (especially when working by volumes) to use too little or two much per scoop. I found it advantageous to first separate the entitreity of the pellets into the eight vertical sections. As I worked with each, I would then split each one of these volumes into six, working with one vertical section at a time. This made sure I didn’t end up short, or with too much pelletude at the end of the project!
For each chamber volume, I used my pimento jar supply. I make a LOT of vegan nacho cheese so I have a billion of these pimento jars. Have I shared my nacho cheese recipe with y’all yet? Don’t worry. I will.
Okay! Time to sew up those vertical chamber lines. Use a walking foot if you have one. Flannel is lovely as it all holds together beautifully while you sew:
Once you have your vertical chambers, it is time to fill them! This is kind of a soothing process. Make sure when you pour the pellets into each section, to insert your arm and gently make sure each pellet settles into the lowest chamber. Flannel especially will try to “grab” pellets’. Don’t worry; this obviously gets easier as you move up the quilt.
After each row is finished, carefully stitch it closed! I say “carefully” as you want to make sure not to strike a pellet with your needle, as you sew.That would probably make a loud, unpleasant noise. I don’t know, because I was careful! By the time you get to the penultimate row, the pellets are close enough to the open edge they may try to spill out – so take care putting the quilt on the machine. After you’ve finished all the chambers, go ahead and stitch the quilt closed!
Binding time! I use the same exact methodology as this utorial, posted on Sewn Into The Fabric. I first cut my strips (2 1/4″), piece, and press them wrong-sides together:
Fold the binding strip completely perpendicular to itself:
I was warned the Scrundlewear pattern from Stitch Upon a Time (SUAT) was so comfy you wouldn’t want to wear anything else –
they were right.
So, these are so comfortable I feel the sting of tears.
So: stitchers. Like most forms of briefs, these are arguably best made in a knit with two-way stretch and recovery – what’s commonly called a 4-way knit (knit fabric terminology isn’t standardized and can be confusing – if you have any doubts, please ask!). If you find something that’s 90-something percent cotton (or bamboo or rayon), and a single-digit percentage of lycra, elastane, or spandex (three words for the same thing) – you’re golden. If you have a knit with stretch but without recovery – then go ahead and make the elastic version (either lingerie elastic, or encased-in-bands elastic):
I have a serger (two, in fact) – but I prefer sewing with zig zag on my home machine. ‘cuz I’m SPICY LIKE THAT. I got a secret tip when I sew up clothes: I bring all thread colors to may table, and change my thread/bobbin as much as possible to make sure the thread always matches whatever fabric it shows in. That’s a level of detail most stitchers think is too much but did I mention –
I am a little sad now because I am basically going to be making underwear constantly and will have little time for anything else. I also know these will last longer than even high-end RTW chonies!
Cool thoughts: Make up three matching pair at a time, it will go very quickly. During other projects, when you’re working with a good knit fabric that’s too adorable, cut out your waistband and leg bands (you’ll soon memorize your own size); safety pin the three and put them in a Ziploc. You can do the same for the three underwear pieces (back, front, and liner). Wait until you’ve got a nice collection of pieces – and have a panty-sewing day!
If you sew these up and love them as much as I do – you might want to consider the expansion pattern of sorts, Bunzies. There’s also a kids’ version of Scrundlewear, so you can make these up for the family. SUAT welcomes you to make these up and sell them for your boutique or one-off projects – make sure to attribute the lovely pattern.
Now to find my crime-fighting sidekick!
Please don’t think I’m some dorky try-hard sew-along weirdie. I’m not.* It’s just that the next two sew-alongs involve a wee bit of planning – particularly February’s. So I’m offering up two sew-alongs, both with three pieces, in order that you have plenty of time to commit and plan.
January’s focus on a babywear layette, and February’s on an ensemble from Bootstrap! Our size choices for babywear are preemie to 6T; Bootstrap’s size range is from a 17″ to 67″ chest / 18″ to 68″ hip. I like my sew-alongs to have as large a size range as possible!