Monday, April 8, 2013

Sensory Weighted Blanket

 Weighted Blanket for help with Autistic/ Sensory Children Tutorial

In honor of Autism Awareness month (April), there is no better time then to roll out my Weighted blanket tutorial. 

I made this blanket for my sweet little 3 year old who has been diagnosed with Sensory Perception Disorder (SPD), sometimes called Sensory Integration. Although he is not on the Autism Spectrum, he still has a hard time with many day to day activities and situations due to the way his brain senses the area around him. 

To read more about SPD or Autism, please visit the following links:

A sensory blanket is a weighted blanket usually made of a breathable fabric, like flannel, filled with some type of weighted material inside. From my research a weighted blanket should not be more than 10% the child's body weight. And.... weighted blankets come in all types of sizes, weights, and textures. My tutorial is for a more portable lap pad or a toddler size blanket, like the one I sewed for my son to sleep under each night, both made the same way, in theory. Weighted blankets can be calming because of the weighted pressure onto the body. Similarly in how weighted vests work. Weighted blankets are very expensive to purchase, so if you can make them yourself you will be saving yourself a fortune. 

The reason they are so expensive? They are VERY labor intensive. 

Here are some sizes of weighted blankets:

Lap Pad (ex. car)- 18 inch x 24 inch
Toddler size- 36x 52
Twin size- 43x 75

You can make yours any size, depending on your child's height, weight or needs. 

Here's how I made my blanket:

Some of these pics are a blend of the lap pad and bigger blanket, both made the same way

I gathered my supplies:

Flannel fabric, one solid, one print
Weighted plastic pellets (like what is inside a stuffed animal or beanie baby, got mine on
Pillow filling (I recycled an old pillow)
Strips of ribbon, various textures (silky, grossgrain) ( I am adding tags to go around the edges to add another sensory component to the blanket, my son loves to chew on and pull and twist tags)

Construction Fabric and solid to match, 4 lbs of pellets

Then laid out the fabric and cut the pieces to size allowing some room for the seams about 1/2 inch all around.
Put right sides together and cut to size needed
With right sides together pin the material together about one inch in **.
Just pin it together when you add the tags.
** Or if you do not want tags you can pin without adding ribbon like he picture shows.

My mix of "tags" ribbon about 3 inches long.

Fold the ribbons in half and place them in-between the fabric about an inch in. And pin. 
The folded part goes inside of the fabric. The cut ends face outward. Sometimes its hard to envision how it will work once turned right side out. I am telling you this is the easiest way to construct it, from lots of trial and error. 

I placed them about every 4 inches or so, on 3 sides of the blanket, leaving one side of the fabric unattached a long side not a short side. 

See pins?

Closeup of pins

Then I ironed all of the blanket and got ready to sew.

I sewed a straight stitch the entire length of the blanket sewing over the ribbons. Do this around all 3 sides of blanket.

Then cut off any excess.

 This is what it looks like when flipped inside out.

Looking good.

Then I ironed the whole thing again. Pressing the tags at the seams.

Then I sewed again a straight stitch, one pressure foot width to anchor the ribbons again. This is essential to keep the tags attached. (Kids drag them around by the tags so they need to be strong)

++ Now would have been a good time to sew the raw edges of the open side neatly before proceeding. See my ++ note below regarding learning my lesson, and making it easier to close up later when I made the lap pad. 

**At this point I had my mom embroider my sons name on the blanket, she owns an embroidery company (lucky me!). If you wanted to add a name or initials, now would be a good time to do it so that the blanket can be simply opened to have it stitched. 

Now time for the pellets.... I enlisted my daughter to help me with this. I used a food weight scale to help us distribute the weight evenly across the blanket. I believe in the end I wanted the blanket to be about 4 pounds. 

I can't remember exactly what the measurements or math was but essentially I did some simple division Each pocket does not have to be perfectly measured. We measured them out and put them in little cups, I believe they were appx 2.5 oz each. I would be lying if I did not mention doing all of this measuring felt a little illegal. ;)

As my daughter made a ton of little cups of pellets, I started sewing again. This time, it was time to sew pockets for the pellets to be held. 

I came in about 4 inches and sewed creating a row about 4 inches thick. This creates your first long column. Then move over about another 4 inches and sew, the entire length of the blanket. Remember you will still have the top (long side) open, and one side closed. 

Then fill the columns with the pellets, each column till you reach the end. 

 Then stuff in some filling to make the pocket softer. Use a good handful, I opened an old pillow and recycled the stuffing from it for the filling. Use probably a little more than the pic shows.

**Now comes the hard part... stuffing the blanket, because the stuffing wants to get stuck to the sides of the  flannel. First I had my daughter take her small arms and stuff it down, until she grew tired of that (crying/ wining/ sulking/drama!). Then I had the bright idea to use a long cardboard roll (like you would have left over from a wrapping paper tube or fabric bolt) and stuff the stuffing to the bottom so that it and the pellets mix. 

Two columns filled.
Then sew across the entire length of the blanket creating a pocket square.

Tip: This is when the blanket becomes very heavy and cumbersome, try and have lots of patience when sewing this part, be careful not to dump out all of the contents when you begin to sew.

Then, fill all pockets with pellets and stuffing, and sew until you are finished.

To close up the blanket, you can add a few more tags and sew to finish. Or, for no tags on the other side simply fold in the edges and pin, then sew a top straight stitch. 

++ The picture below shows the lap pad. On this one I had already sewed the raw edges closed neatly, so I only had to pin and sew both edges together. They were already finished. 

Pinning to close.

Finished Lap pad!

Finished blanket
Happy, Happy children!

Tip: Please be careful as to figure out how much weight your little one can carry. At first, I thought I needed to add more weight to the blanket, but 4 pounds was about all he could carry, so I think for now the weight is good. He drags this thing EVERYWHERE (Linus style) so it did not need to be any heavier. If you are making a blanket that will essentially stay on a bed and not be moved, it can be heavier. Though not more than 10% of child's body weight. 

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial. 

Drop me a line. 

Like us on Facebook. 

Thanks, Kristen


  1. And how does this weighted blanket help with this so-called sensory disorder?

    1. Perhaps you did not read the blog post?? You can follow the links and read if you'd like.

    2. I love that "anonymous" feels the need to comment on threads about "so-called" sensory disorders. SPD is very real. My son has autism and I WILL be making this for him. Thank you so much Kristen for sharing this!!!

    3. Really, Anonymous? You choose the low ground? If you don't understand someone else's life, don't make judgement on it. Unless you have degrees in every medical science known to humankind, do not pretend to diagnose what is and is not a disorder.

  2. Would you be interested in selling one?

  3. I love it! I work with little ones and I think that I need a dozen of those for nap time. It's amazing how something that can be a annoying for someone can be soothing for others.

  4. is the blanket machine washable?? how do you wash yours?

  5. My 18 year old has had various issues and just asked if the insurance company would pay for a weighted blanket; she sleeps with about 6 blankets on her bed. Who needs the insurance company? Thank you!

  6. This is amazing. Thank you! My daughter is dealing with some emotional issues after the loss of her father, and her preschool let me in on the secret of these weighted blankets. She loves the one there, and I will definitely be making her one for home!

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  9. Very well done! Absolutely brilliant information.

    I used the weighted blanket and its really helpful to relieve the anxiety problem and help to sleep better. I bought my Weighted Blanket from calming moments australia. There are awesome and fast service provider. Very cooperative on phone calls.

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