Handmade Blanket in a Day
December 10, 2010
This guest post is from Mindy Miller.
Happy Holidays! This is Mindy from My Secret Heart and I’m so excited to be part of Holidays Handmade. My thanks to Julie for this fun and creative opportunity.
Today I’m sharing a simple sewing project that will make you look like a creative rock star when you give it as a gift. If you can shop, use a pair of scissors, pins and a sewing machine, you can make this colorful throw blanket in a weekend or a few evenings.
First, a full disclaimer: I am not a quilter and this project will not win you a grand prize ribbon for craftsmanship. It will hold together and be a heartfelt gift. So, please don’t be horrified if you’re a pro-quilter or seamstress.
Tools you will need:
- A basic sewing machine
- Good fabric scissors
- Long straight pins
- Quilter’s safety pins
- Rotary cutter and self-healing mat
- Seam ripper (hopefully you won’t need this!)
Supplies you will need:
- Nine strips of fabric (for the front)
- One large piece of fabric (for the back)
- Fabric for seam binding
- Thin batting
- One large spool of thread
I purposefully have not given exact fabric measurements because you can adapt this technique for any size of blanket. My blanket is the size of a throw (slightly smaller than twin-size).
I used entirely new fabric that is primarily from the Innocent Crush line designed by Anna Maria Horner. However, you could easily make this project with upcycled linens.
To get started, I cut nine strips of fabric that are each nine inches wide (and the length of the bolt of fabric). If you’re friendly with your fabric store staff, they might do this part for you when you buy the fabric if you ask nicely.
I used two strips of each fabric pattern, plus one strip that matches the fabric on the back of the blanket. The back of the blanket is one solid piece of fabric.
I put the single strip of fabric (the one that matches the fabric on the back) in the middle of the design and placed all of the strips out on the floor.
You will simply use a straight stitch to sew all of the pieces together. Place the right sides of the fabric together (facing each other) and stitch down the edge of the strip. Make sure you backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam.
Open the two pieces up, and you'll have a perfect seam!
Once the front is entirely pieced together, it is essential that you iron the seams open. Even if you hate ironing, you can’t skip this important step. Your blanket will be bumpy in the end if you don’t properly press open the seams.
To make the ironing more manageable, roll the blanket up on the right side after you’ve pressed open the seams. You can also press more than one seam at a time to make it go quicker.
When you’ve completed the ironing, you’re ready to start putting the blanket together.
First, place your back piece on the floor (or a table if you have one large enough), right side facing the floor. Smooth it out well and make sure there are no wrinkles in the fabric.
Then place a piece of batting on top of the fabric. Trim the edges with your scissors or a rotary cutter so that the batting is exactly the same size as the fabric. As with the fabric, make sure the batting is very smooth.
Now you’re ready to place the top piece over the batting, right side up. Do so very carefully and try to prevent the bottom two layers from wrinkling.
Starting at top of the blanket, pin the layers together with safety pins. Before you do any other pinning, pin a row down the center of the blanket. This way your layers won’t slide or move.
I recommend a very precise method of pinning. Yes, I’m type-A, but this method will save you heartache down the road. I promise it’s worth it! Watch a movie or listen to some music while you do this step and it will go much faster than you think.
Pin on either side of each seam, parallel to the seam. Alternate one pin on the right side of the seam and one on the left side. Leave enough room between the pins and the seam to fit the presser foot of your sewing machine.
Start pinning from the middle and work your way to the left. Then return to the middle and work your way to the right. Constantly smooth the material away from you and to the edges as you work. Fabric wrinkles are your enemy!
Once you have a row pinned, roll the fabric up and pull it toward you. You can remain stationary by doing this and pin all the way to the end of the blanket without having to climb over the fabric and potentially cause wrinkles.
When your pinning is complete, flip the blanket over and look for any bubbles or pulls on the back side. Now’s your time to adjust pins and smooth out bubbles.
The blanket is “quilted” with straight top stitching. It’s nothing fancy, but it keeps the layers of the blanket together. Set your sewing machine for a slightly longer stitch when you’re doing top stitching.
Simply stitch on either side of each seam. Use the seam as a guide to keep your stitch straight.
Roll the blanket up on the right side as you progress so the excess fabric isn’t in the way. Eventually you will want to flip the blanket around and stitch from the other side, as there will be too much material on the right side.
After the top stitching is completed, lay the blanket out on the floor and trim off any excess batting. I left a little extra fabric (the back side fabric) at the bottom so that the back didn’t end up too short. Then I trimmed it off at the end with my rotary cutter.
The top and bottom of the blanket will not be sewn shut, so don’t remove the top and bottom rows of pins. You can remove the rest of the safety pins before you start binding the edges of the blanket.
My first inclination was to use prepackaged seam binding for this project, but I wasn’t pleased with the results. I think you’ll be much happier with a wider binding made out of the same fabric as your blanket.
If you haven’t made binding before, I recommend that you search out a video of the process on the Internet. It’s really very simple, but it’s something that you might need to visualize and you can also learn how to piece the binding and miter your corners. Nonetheless, here are the basic steps:
To make the binding, simply take a strip of fabric and fold it down the middle, right sides together. Pin the edge and sew it with a straight stitch. You’re basically creating a long tube of fabric that you will turn inside out once sewn together.
Before you turn the fabric inside out, iron open your seam. Once the fabric is right side out, center the seam in the middle of the strip and press it flat.
Fold the fabric in half with the seam in the inside middle. Press the entire length of the fabric.
Place the fabric over the edge of your blanket and pin. Attach it to the blanket with a top stitch.
This is one of those improper sewing techniques – I like to call it a shortcut. It will only work if you are using a wide binding! If you use a narrow binding (i.e. pre-packaged), it will be next to impossible to finish it with a top stitch. So, this is a trade-off situation. Either make your own wide binding or use a “proper” sewing technique to bind your blanket. A proper way is to machine stitch the binding to the back of your blanket then fold the binding over the edge and hand stitch (use a blind stitch) the binding to the top of the blanket.
Well, there you have it! A handmade blanket.
This can honestly be done in a day if you’re not making a larger blanket. I hope you have fun with this project, and if you have any questions, visit my blog and send me a message.
I’m originally a small town girl who now lives in Topeka, Kansas. By day I am a corporate attorney and by night I’m a crafter. I enjoy paper crafts, as well as sewing, and love to incorporate stitched elements in my hand crafted projects. You can find me at My Secret Heart where I enjoy sharing my crafty endeavors.