Sunday, March 11, 2012

Swaddle Blankets Big Enough to be Useful

Receiving blankets.  What a great thought. My friend loves to wrap her hand-knit stuffed animals in them.  She also uses them to wrap baby gifts instead of using paper.  A great THOUGHT.  She does not (yet) have kids, but once she has her little bundle home, she will realize like the rest of us just how unrealistic these teensie blankets are.  They are so good in theory, but are simply too small (at least in my experience) to do much with.  Wouldn't it be great if they were big enough to actually swaddle your little one? And in a pinch change him/her on it? And use for a mat for tummy time?

Well, I am here to solve that problem. :-) And a bonus - it's probably the easiest tutorial yet. It involves cutting and then hemming (or serging if you prefer). That's it. I promise!

XL Swaddle (or other) blanket
1 1/4 yd of 45" wide flannel fabric (I actually recommend getting 1 1/2 yds to make sure cuts are straight. You can use those scraps on future posts- I have plans!!!) don't forget to wash it first for shrinkage!!
Good scissors
Sewing machine OR serger

Step 1: Make one cut edge of your fabric straight by cutting along the pattern or following a thread across or drawing a line with a square and straight edge. Fold the straight cut edge to the selvage edge making a triangle. Cut along the bottom selvage edge to remove the excess fabric, making sure you are cutting as straight as possible.

Step 2: Heat your iron to high heat and put on the steam setting. Quickly iron the piece just to get major wrinkles out, focusing on the edges. Fold over one edge by 1/4". Press. Fold over again by 1/2". Press. Repeat on all 4 sides, unfolding the corners of the pressed parts so you can evenly fold each side.

Step 3: Now what to do with those crazy corners you say? We are going to use a "fancy" technique to miter the edges. I don't know what it's really called since I'm largely self taught... Sorry :). This will keep any loose threads from coming out and is a useful skill for more complex projects where appearance really matters. You can skip this step, but I suggest you practice it :)

With the pressing totally unfolded, trim the corner below the first intersecting fold. I used disappearing marker to draw over my fold lines so you can see better in the photo.  The intersecting lines will make a diamond.  You will be cutting off everything below the bottom corner of the diamond, straight across.

Fold the trimmed corner up at the top corner of the diamond. Again, see photo.

Refold one raw edge and press. Then refold the other side and press again.

Turn up one hem at a time, pressing after each, and making sure the edges come to an even angle. Make sure your corner comes to a nice sharp point.

Repeat this process for each corner.

Step 4: Stitch around the edges, close to the inner fold of the hem, pivoting at the corners and using one continuous thread. To pivot at the corners, sew up to the angled part of the corner, making sure your needle is down and advancing it with your hand wheel as needed. Lift your presser foot and turn the fabric 90 degrees. Put your presser foot back down and stitch to the next corner and repeat! Again, not so important for this project but a good skill to hone when the attractiveness of your stitching matters!
begin stitching close to the inner fold.

make sure the needle is down before lifting the presser foot.  This keeps your fabric in place.

Lift the presser foot, rotate the fabric, and then put the foot down again.  Resume your stitching!
 Congrats! You are the proud new owner of a large swaddle blanket!  They measure about 45" by 45" and are AWESOME for larger babies and older children.

Bottom Line:
1 1/2 yd of flannel = $8 (it was expensive fabric, but I had to have it...)
Total cost = $8 (but you have scraps for an upcoming project - yay!)

Time: about 1.5 hrs, maybe less.  I didn't actually keep track of this one... Oops. :-(

Retail cost: kind of not possible to find, but the a&a blankets made of muslin are about $9 each

Total savings: $1. Rather unimpressive... :-(

Well the savings may not be that great, but its exactly what I wanted, and that is worth the cost.  Besides, its still a savings, and every little bit counts.  I also have some leftovers to do more with - I will confess I got more than just the yard and a half needed for this project, but I had other ideas in mind... :-)  Don't worry.  I will post them soon.  

Oh, and if you don't want to bother with hemming, just serge around the edges.  Round off the corners with a cup and then you can just serge around the whole thing.  That makes it a lot faster.

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