Thursday, August 2, 2012

Kids Sewn "No-Sew" Fleece Blanket Tutorial

How to Sew a "No-Sew" Polar Fleece Blanket



Okay, so we have all seen these blankets toted around by toddlers, adorning kids beds, and even some adults snuggling up with them on the sofa, so...here is a tutorial devoted to making these blankets. Trust me they are really, really easy! If you know how to straight stitch and use a pair of scissors, you can make these blankets. The beauty of this blanket is that you do not have to be an expert seamstress to make these, the size can pretty much be whatever you want it to be and the edges do not have to be perfect because you will be tying them together. None of it has to be perfect. Yay!

Over the years I have made literally dozens of these blankets. For adults, for kids, for newborns, even for the Linus Project which collects hand made blankets and distributes them to pediatric hospital wards.  Initially, my mom taught me how to make these then I started to teach my nieces to sew them. So... I have lots of experience. 

In fabric stores the fabric for these blankets are sold as "No-Sew" blankets. You can purchase a package of two prints (or usually a print and a solid) of fleece with and a little instruction page and you can make these blankets, no sewing machine needed. 

Personally, I have found a number of things wrong with the way these "No-Sew" blankets are advertised and made:

1.  Typically the fabric sold as a "kit" is more expensive than just purchasing a yard or so in fabric from the regular fleece section. (Though that depends though on the sales and coupons you have).

2.  The instructions usually tell you to leave WAY too much fabric on the ends for the ties, I think 5-7 inches in some cases. This turns out HORRIBLY! Especially for a beginner who is not aware of the fact that two sides of the blanket will have lots of stretch (known as selvage to selvage or where the manufacture's print is along edge) and two sides will have no stretch (along grain line). This makes a big difference when determining the length of your ties, as you can tend to stretch them out sometimes to double the size. 

3.  I believe in order to protect the integrity and strength of the polar fleece, these blankets should be border stitched at least with a straight stitch. This will help them last much longer. 

So....that is the reason why this tutorial is for a Sewn "No-Sew" Fleece Blanket. 

I promise it is very easy!

Here is how I make them:

My final blanket size (including ties):
36 inches wide x 55 inches long


First, you need to determine the size of blanket you want to make. Here are some typical sizes of blankets, but you can really make anything in between the sizes and it will work:

Infant: Appx 35- 40 inches wide and long (square)

Toddler/ Kids: Appx 43 inches wide x 60 inches long

Adult Throw:  Appx 50 inches wide x 70 inches long 

You will need to go to the fabric store and pick up some fabric for your blanket. You will need two colors, or prints for the blanket- a top piece and a bottom piece. 

In my case I purchased - 2 polar fleece basic pieces 1 yard each, because I am working on a kids sized blanket. I had coupons like usual, so I got 50% off of one yard and 40% off of another (even just the codes on your smartphone will work at Joann's, search for: Joann Fabric coupon code, 40% coupon code, or 50 % off one item, just show the very friendly ladies employees at the cutting table). 

2 pieces of fleece 1 yard each
Mermaid will be the top and pink will be the bottom

Next you will have to lay your fabric out on a large workspace, sometimes the floor, sometimes the kitchen table. In my case, since I have a kick-ass sewing room, so I will use my craft island.

Stack the two pieces on top of each other. Put "wrong" sides together- like this:


Now you have to cut off the edges and make the fabric all fit perfectly. The best way to do this is to smooth out all the fabric and pin it together appx every 4-5 inches or so. 



Next, using very sharp scissors cut the selvage (rolled ends) off of the fabric so you get a neat edge like this:


Note: The pins are still in keeping the fabric together. 

Keep the ends that you cut off, you can use the strips to hold the blanket together later after you roll it up, say to give as a gift.

Scrap edges.


Continue to pin and cut all 4 sides of the fabric, then smooth out like this:


Now its time to measure and sew. 

You will need to determine how long you want your ties to be. I like about 3 to 3.5 inches long. Any longer...it makes the blanket look sloppy, in my opinion. I have even done blankets for babies at 1.5 inches before. Also, my mom makes them with fringes but never ties them. You can do whatever you like on the edges. 

I measured in 3.5 inches from the edge of fabric:


Now for the simplest way possible to sew the edges. My mom taught me this trick. You will need a piece of clear tape and a pen or marker. Measure in from the needle on the sewing machine 3.5 inches. Place your tape there on the machine and draw a long dark line with your marker. This will be your guide for the fabric. 

Like my "antique" sewing machine? Its my Mom's 1972 Pfaff!
Its a "work horse"!
Line for guiding fabric. Can be removed later.

Next choose a side of your blanket (I usually sew the underside) and sew a straight stitch to join both pieces of fabric with thread that matches your blanket. I am using hot pink, both for needle and bobbin. 

Typically you can stitch over the pins and then remove them later. 
Guide the fabric through the machine the entire length of the blanket. Till it looks like this:




Then turn blanket 90 degrees and sew the next length of the blanket:


The corners will look like this:


Do this the entire way around the blanket all 4 sides. 

Next it's time to cut for the ties. Start in a corner. Cut out the 4 corner squares very close to the seam (in the end you will tie the two corner edges together:




Next determine the with of the ties, I did 3/4 of an inch. But you will be cutting quickly so you just need an approximate measurement. Again, it does not have to be perfect. 


Now cut, cut cut the strips around the entire blanket. 


Next, its time to tie the strips together. Just tie the top and bottom strip together. Sometimes I alternate over, under, tying so that the ties don't just look all one way. You will see what I mean when you tie them. 


Next, get comfortable turn on your favorite show and tie, tie, tie.



Me watching The Real Housewives of (fill in the blank) tying the ties.

 
Here is what the blanket will look like when its done:





You can fold the blanket and roll it up securing with the scrap fabric you saved. It looks cute as a gift!



Hope you enjoy this tutorial and can make tons of blankets for your loved ones to snuggle up with. As you can see my kids love their blankets! My daughters is Tangled's Rapunzel, and my son's is balls on one side puppy tracks on the other. 


Thanks for checking out my tutorial!

Feel free to post pics of your brag blankets to my Lipstick and Sawdust FB page!

Kristen

2 comments:

  1. Just a quick comment. I have been making my fleece blankets with sewn and tied edges for quite a few years. I have made pretty much only blankets for adults. I also didn't like the ties on all 4 sides, so I have modified the tie blankets this way. I buy 2 pieces of fleece, usually a print and a solid in 2 3-yard each pieces. I put them together right sides, pinning them together with big safety pins to get them even. I then cut off the excess to make them the same width and length. I do not really worry about the actual size, I just want the 2 pieces the same and the ends square. I then sew down both long sides about a +5/8 inch seam allowance. I then turn the blanket right side out, and top stitch down both sides about an inch in. That makes a very neet, strong straight edge, since fleece does not stretch the long way. I then use a decorative stitch of some sort about 4 inches in on both open ends, then I measure and cut from the cut edge to the stitching in about 1.5" (or so) wide strips, which I then tie in simple overhand knots. I do not tie the knots in a square knot. The overhand knots make the ends lay nice and flat, not messy and sticking out all over. The blanket ends up crazy long, with knots just on the short ends. I have made bunches of them for gifts, and everyone loves them. Super long and wide. And super warm toasty! Long enough to tuck up under your feet and still go up and tuck over your shoulders, or cover 2 people sitting together, or wrapped around 2 shoulders. I don't like to skimp on the size of these wonderfully warm blankets!

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  2. Thanks for the tutorial! I kept seeing fleece and didn't know how quite to make these. Your pics help soooo much!!! THANKS!!!

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