I love blankets. Cotton, quilted, crochet, knitted – I’m not materialist, I just love blankets. I buy lots. I make less but I should make more! And writing this tutorial made me remember how simple they are to sew.
If you can switch on a machine and sew in a (relatively) straight line, you can make a blanket like this. Definitely. No problem. Just take your time.
And here’s what you need to do it –
-Co-ordinating, or crazy random, fabric. 100% cotton is nicest I find but you could use anything or even a mixture! Great for getting rid of any scraps and making them useful. A little note on pre washing fabrics – I didn’t pre wash these as they are all cotton and all a similar colour. Although ‘most poeple’ would advise you to always pre wash. If using fabrics of different materials they could shrink differently when washed for the first time or mixing dark/light colours that could run, pre washing is probably a good idea! Unless you never intend to wash your blanket, that is.
-Square template. Decide how big you want your squares to be. Mine were 5″ square, with the edge pieces being 2.5″ x 5″ and the corners being 2.5″ square. I just cut mine out of card.
-Cutting mat and rotary cutter. Ok so this isn’t essential but if you need to cut a lot of squares I do recommend it! If you don’t want to cut your own squares you can buy pre cut, usually coordinated packs called Charm Squares – there are just hundreds to choose from here on Etsy and I have used packs before myself when I haven’t had the fabric I wanted.
-Soft, cuddly backing fabric. I simply bought a soft, fleece blanket and cut it down to size (this is often cheaper than buying fleece by the metre & I just used a blanket I already had).
-Thread. I keep it simple and use white on light fabrics and black on dark as they won’t be seen anyway but you can colour match if you wish!
So let’s make blankets, yay!
Step 1 – Choose your fabrics. You can pick anything you like, anything! This is your blanket. I chose cool mint greens and creams as I made this for our new impending neutral arrival due in October. You could just choose two and do alternate squares, you could choose 20 and have them all different! I chose 3 Co-ordinating prints and 2 plains for the boarder.
Step 2 – Have an approximate idea of the size of the finished blanket in your head. Lap blanket? Baby cot? King sized bed? Cut a few squares and start laying them out so you can get an idea of size and design and see how many of each square you need to cut as you go. Some people like to doodle it out in a notebook but I find that seeing the fabrics together is much more helpful.
Step 3 – Time to start stitching. Start with the top row of your squares and place the first two squares print side together. Stitch together down the edge using the edge of the foot as the seam allowance guide. I’ve folded back the stars fabric so you can see that it is print side facing with the polka dots.
Take the next square in the row and place it print side facing onto the square you just stitched (so I would place mine onto the stars as I’m working left to right) and stitch together. Continue this along the row until you’ve sewn all the squares together. Then move onto sewing the next row down and so on!
Step 4 – Ironing. Apart from when I really really have to, I never iron. I apologise to my slightly creased looking family for this but
it’s such a boring job I find it hard to fit into my busy life. But sewing, sewing requires ironing. So iron! Iron down all those seams. Some people iron to the left, some to the right, some open them up to press. I just pick a side, any side.
Step 5 – Now you have all your long strips it’s time to sew the blanket top together. My blanket top consisted of 8 rows (when I’d sewn each one I lay them back down, in order so they didn’t get jumbled up). Starting at the top, lay your first strip print side facing onto the strip below, then sew the seam along the top. Just like when we sewed all the squares together. You should now have two rows of your blanket topper sewn together, hooray! Sew each row to the one above until they’re all joined together and look like this.
Let’s just have a little side note here about lining up all those seams. Even with a template and pretty accurate cutting and sewing, some of the seams just won’t line up. If you’re using different types of fabrics this could be to do with the stretch in each making it look a bit wonky or the odd square slightly bigger than the other. Don’t worry about it. It doesn’t matter. If it’s one square and its out by a lot, you could unpick it and re sew it but generally it’s the little quirks and imperfections that make handmade what it is.
Step 6 – Iron all those seams flat again!
Step 7 – Backing fabric. Lay the backing fabric down and place the patchwork blanket top face down onto it (nicely pressed seams facing upwards). Pin it, pin it to death! It will move and stretch so I pin the corners, down the sides, top, bottom and a couple in the middle. I’m not a pinner usually, I tend to just hold things together and sew but when you need pins, you need pins. Cut around the blanket top to make the backing the right size. This doesn’t have to be that neat right now.
Step 8 – Stitch all the way around the blanket but leave a gap to turn the whole thing through. Leave a gap! A gap of about 4″ was enough for my blanket but you might need a bigger space if your blanket is larger.
Step 9 – Trim those seams. Trim the seams around the edge of the blanket and remove the pins (if they’re still in there). Snip the corners off, being careful not to cut through the stitching. This will give your blanket sharper corners.
Step 11 – Iron your blanket. Last time, I promise! Tuck the edges in from the gap you left too and iron them flat.
Step 12 – Top stitching. Top stitching is what it says it is, stitching over the top. You don’t have to do it but I think it makes for a better finish (and believe me, if there’s a corner to cut somewhere when doing a job, I’ll do it). I stitched all the way around the edge of my blanket. Oh! And it also closes up that gap we left to turn it through too.
Here’s another one I made for a friend’s little boys 1st birthday, using Cath Kidston quilting cotton with co-ordinating prints.