Sunday, June 19, 2011

Tutorial: Toddler Blanket

This year for my nephew's birthday, I decided to make him a blanket and matching pillow case.
 I made blankets for all of my parents' other grandkids for Christmas, and a couple of their half-siblings, so it was time to make sure the latest toddler on the list had a blankey too.
For toddlers, small children, and people who like a light weight blanket while watching tv, I like to make them either 42"x60" or 42" x 72".  42"x72" is what my great-grandma called "bunk size," and was about the size she made all her quilts for children, since they didn't need them hangin' off the bed and makin' a mess.  She sold quilts by the side of the road and pieced ones for her own family from the scraps from the ones she'd sell.  To make a baby blanket I would reduce the size to 42" x 36" or use the same size, because I'm a big fan of borrowing my kids' baby blankets when I'm watching Doctor Who.
(note- finished blanket sizes are closer to 41"x59" or 41"x71")

What you need:
2 yards quilting cotton, 2 yards Minky. (If you want to make the blanket only 60" long, you can get away with only using 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 yards of Minky, as it is 60" wide)

Thread- matching or complimentary to your fabrics
Ironing Board
Either Measuring tape or cutting board and rotary cutter with rotary cutting ruler.  I highly recommend  using rotary cutting methods as I'm awful with scissors.
Sewing Machine
Extra needles for your machine.  If you don't have at least one, go procure one before starting any new project.

How to make the blanket:

Step 1:  Pick the fabrics that are going to make your heart sing. Then Wash and Iron the quilting cotton.
Step 2: Straighten your work area, double checking that you have all the supplies you'll need.
Step 3: Thread your machine and test your stitches and tension on a scrap of fabric.
Step 4: Cut  quilting cotton fabric to your desired size, taking care to cut straight lines at 90 degree angles.  Note- This is fairly easy if you are cutting for a 42" x 72" size blanket and you've bought exact amounts from a supplier who takes great care in their cutting of yardage, as your quilting cotton will already be the right size and you can trim your minky to match in Step 7. Because I didn't use exact yardages, I had to cut mine, and I used my rotary cutter to trim it to length.

Step 5: Lay fabrics flat  and smooth on top of one another, right sides together. (This is easier said than done. In order to keep the Minky smooth you need to have some amount of friction with it, so I usually lay it on a bed, carpet, or on top of an acrylic afghan to keep it from slip-sliding around.  Some people prefer to lay the cotton down first to act as the gripping agent.)

Static clingy afghan of goodness.

Step 6: Pin edges all of the way around.  At this point you have to decide where you want the opening to turn the blanket.  I usually place it about 10" from a corner, and use the length of my hand as a guide.

I mark the extremes of this area by double pinning at each end so I'll know where to stop and start stitching.  (This is a good time to cut the Minky layer if you still need to)
Step 7: Trim excess Minky away.

Step 8: Begin stitching at the first set of doubled pins and stitch around the entire blanket.  I usually use between a 1/4" and 1/2" seam allowance.  Always backstitch when beginning or finishing a line of stitches.  When I am a seam allowance's length from the end of a side, I lower my needle through the fabric, raise the foot, and turn the fabric. Then I lower the foot again and continue stitching so as to not have to start a new seam.  At the second set of double pins, backstitch, remove from machine, and clip loose ends.

Step 9: Remove all those pins.
Step 10: Turn rightside out. I generally worm my whole arm into it and grasp the far corner, then pull it out first.

This is the fun part.
Step 11: See that open area? Time to handle that.
Take the whole mess and the pins back to the open area where you first pinned it and  carefully arrange the blanket so it lays flat with all of the seams nicely open.  This takes patience. You can iron the seams in place if you like, but use a low temperature, as the Minky is synthetic and can melt.
Step 12: Pin the edges so that the nice seams you've just lined up don't move around. Be sure to carefully turn in the open section and pin this area more densely than the rest of the blanket, again marking the starting and ending points of the opening with doubled pins.
Step 13: Starting with the opening, stitch all around the entire blanket, remembering to backstitch at the end as before, turning at the corners.

Step 14: Remove all pins except the doubled pins.
Step 15: Gently pull back the seam between the double pins to make sure that it is properly closed and there are no exposed raw edges.  If necessary, run a second seam between the doubled pins nearer the edge to make sure to enclose any raw edges, backstitching at the beginning and end.
Step 16: Trim all loose ends
Step 17: Take pictures so you can show off your spiffy cuddly new blanket masterpiece.

This is anotherI've made using that technique:


4 reflections:

Krissi said...

Lap blankies! Finally a way for me to use up some of that awesome patterned fabric left over from my quilting days (I can't bring myself to destash it).

Slee said...

Lap blankies are awesome.
It's a perfect use for pieces you didn't feel comfy cutting into as well.

Rachel said...

That's adorable! I wish I had the patience! I just threw together two knotted fleece blankets for the girls for the long car trip ahead- that was about as blanket-makeing as I get!

Slee said...

@Rachel, I've only ever made a couple knotted blankets, and it tested my patience sorely. While in theory it's a simple design, evenly cutting the fringes to knot and then tying them all takes about as long as making a blanket does, and I prefer the variation of tasks involved in sewing.

I envy your patience!