Wednesday, July 31, 2013

quilted blanket tutorial

Life (i.e. kids, husband, cleaning, washing, cooking etc.) has really been getting in the way of all my sewing lately.  I tried to get this blanket tutorial post done in a timely matter today, but no such luck!  So here it is finally along with the words I live by, better late than never :)

I originally made a blanket from this pattern (and I use the word pattern loosely) the day I found out my son had died in utero.  I think I needed to channel all the negative energy I had, and it all poured out into the blanket.  I seem to be at my best creatively when I am at my lowest emotionally.  I can honestly say I prefer being less creative and more happy :)

As I sewed another of these blankets today, a lot of negative feelings unexpectedly returned.  Apparently, the act of sewing this blanket kind of made me relive a lot of the things I felt three years ago.  I don't believe I will ever make another one, although I'm glad I sewed one today.  This week has been a sort of therapy session forcing me to examine feelings that I thought were long gone.  I now realize they will be with me forever, but I have made peace with that :)

So, anyway, on to the tutorial.

There really is no pattern needed for this blanket.  It is a basic quilt that is quite easy to make. I will give the measurements for the blocks I used if anyone wants to duplicate it, but that is not the point of this blanket.  Honestly, any quilting pattern could be used, or the blanket could even be made from a solid piece of fabric for both the front and back. What makes this blanket special for me is the size and the inner material (replaces the usual batting.)  The finished quilt is 24"x24" so it's the perfect size for a very tiny baby or it would work equally well as a car seat lap quilt.  The quilt I made today will be Mae's nap quilt to keep in our van.

Here are the pieces you will need if you choose to make this quilt top.  I recommend not cutting anything until you read this all the way through.

Main Fabric (usually a large scale print) - Cut eight 7"x7" squares
Coordinating prints - Cut four 3"x7" rectangles out of each of the six prints
Batting - 25"x25"
Backing - 25"x25" (larger if doing self binding method below)

Please ignore the fact that my prints almost clash, especially once the zigzag backing is added.  I try to remember that I am not quilting for myself.  This blanket is supposed to appeal to a 22-month-old, and she loves it, so that's all that counts!

When I made my son's quilt three years ago, I used a robot and planet print.  Each of the large squares featured a different part of the fabric.  I would post a picture of the original quilt, but it one of the few things in life that I keep only for myself and do not want to share with anyone.  I hope everyone understands :)

I think at this point I need to emphasize that I am not a quilting expert.  In fact, I would place myself firmly in the beginner category when it comes to quilting.  I have almost exclusively sewn clothing, so my sewing skills are fine, but my quilting skills are non-existent.  Please refer to one of the many quilting websites for more info about quilting in general.  Here's a great blog if you need a reference.

The first thing I like to do when I make a quilt top is lay out all the pieces until I like where everything is.  I spend way too much time on this step, over analyzing each and every block placement, but that's just who I am.  The uber-organized part of me comes out in full force every time I attempt to make a quilt, and that is why there are a total lack of quilts in my house!  Btw, I have no idea where that part of me is every time the house needs to be cleaned.  It seems to go into hiding :)

Once I have everything laid out the want I want, I sew the rectangles into blocks.  I use a 1/2" seam throughout this tutorial.  Then I iron all the seams flat (really, really important) and I make sure the blocks are fairly square at this point.

Then I sew the blocks together into rows.  I iron the seams flat again, and then connect all the rows.  Then I iron the seams again.  Did I mention that ironing is really important :)

This is the part of the tutorial where things get a bit vague :)  I'm not trying to be a pain, but you could really finish the blanket however you want once you are this far.  Here are links for a few options:

Turned and topstiched blanket

Tied quilt

Self Binding Quilt - You might have to make a few modifications, but it would work

A really nice machine binding tutorial  - I wish I would have done this one :)

There are a ton of other quilting and binding tutorials out there in blogland if none of these work for you.

I chose to take the totally lazy route and just use my machine to attach bias binding that I already had laying around.  I would not recommend this to anyone, but I really just needed to be finished.  I guess I can't even handle a couple of hours making a rather small quilt.  This might possibly be why I don't quilt that often :)  Oh, I almost forgot to mention that I only quilt in straight lines, probably another lack of patience issue!

I would say the only thing that is somewhat unique to my quilt is that I don't use traditional batting materials for the middle layer.  On the quilt I made for my son, I used two layers of bamboo velour, and on this quilt I used a heavy weight bamboo fleece.  My reason is simple.  Weighted blankets are proven to bring comfort to many kids with autism or sensory issues in a similar way that swaddling does for a small baby.  They also happen to bring me comfort even though I fit into neither of those categories, so I assume weighted blankets might work for other people as well.  After I lost my son, I needed to (and some days still do) feel the weight of the blanket.  I needed it to be substantial, kind of representing everything I had lost, but at the same time making me feel grounded.  It's rather hard to explain even to myself, but I know that it works, so I don't question it.  I chose to make this second blanket weighted for the simple reason that Mae does not sleep well in the car due to the movement, and I thought the blanket might help.  After all, anything that helps a baby sleep is a good thing :)


  1. This is awesome! My daughter is bigger but I am pretty sure I can size up easily. Thanks for the tutorial and pattern.

  2. Lol that comment was supposed to be on your confetti dress post. Oops!

    1. That's OK! I'm just excited you are reading multiple posts :)

  3. Thanks for posting this. I'm so sorry about your loss.
    Concrete things help me too. Years ago, when my mom lost my brother in utero, I wore a baby sock inside my shirt over my heart for a while. It helped somehow, like a concrete prayer.

    1. I believe many people manage grief better when there is a physical item to focus on. That is why so many people re-purpose or display items belonging to the love ones they lost. We never lose our memories, but sometimes it's helpful to have an item nearby to help trigger them.