I have made three weighted blankets for my girls now. One for Meghan as a baby, one for her once she was a good bit bigger, and now one for Katie. I have been asked several times how to make one, so I thought that I would photograph the entire process while I made Katie's blanket.
This project can be a frustrating one. You are managing small beads (the weight) while you are sewing and broken needles seem to be inevitable - though, I only broke one while making Kaite's blanket! I recommend working sometime when you can truly focus on the task and not be distracted by little ones needing you.
Without further ado, here's the process!
blanket fabric (I have always used polar fleece)
poly pellets (see below for how to determine how many you need)
Prewash your fabric. ALWAYS (unless you're quilting) prewash your fabric!
You are going to be doing lots and lots of sewing - I recommend having a few bobbins prepped before you start if you can. You don't need six - but that's what I had so that's what I used.
I purchase my fabric so that it will be as wide as my kid's armspan and as long as they are head to foot. You can choose whatever shape you want, but that's my general go to measurement. First, fold your fabric in half, right sides together, and square up the cut.
Next you are going to sew around three sides of the blanket - I always go down one long side, along the short, and back up the other side. You will want to leave enough space to fold the fabic over and do a French seam at the end of your project - so start sewing about an inch or two from the edge and finish sewing and inch or two from the edges. This is the first of two times while sewing you blanket that you won't end by backstitching and stitching back to the end to secure your stitches - you want these to be able to be torn out if needed at the end.
Turn your blanket inside out so that the right sides are now on the outside. Use a pointed object to completely push the corners out. Stitch about an inch in from the edge to create a French seam - this adds strength to your blanket and makes it look nicer. Just like above, 1-2 inches in, and for the second time, do not backstitch and restitch to secure your stitches.
(The bottom corners will look like this)
(The top of your blanket - don't start at the very edge.)
(You want that area to be able to be opened for when you complete the project.)
Now it's math time. Measure your blanket inside of the French seam. Note how wide from side to side and how tall it is from the bottom seam to 2x the width of your French seam from the top. Use those measurements and the weight you intend to make your blanket to sketch out the sizes of the pockets you will be making for your pellets and how many pellets will go in each pocket. I recommend more pockets than fewer so that the weight will be equally distributed throughout the blanket.
To determine how much weight, the rule of thumb that I have been taught is about 10% of their body weight plus one to two pounds. I always add two pounds because that gives them some extra time to grow before you will need to make another blanket again.
Using a pen that will erase in the wash, draw in your vertical and horizontal lines on the top of your blanket. These will be your guides while sewing. This is a great opportunity to be sure that your math actually will work out the way you thought it would :) I'm always a fan of checking things twice!
Starting 1-2 inches from the part of your blanket with the opening, stitch from the top of the blanket down the vertical lines all the way to the bottom line of stitching. Stitch backwards and forwards again to be sure that your stitching will hold. Do this for all of the vertical lines.
Now you are ready to add weight and start completing the blanket!
I use kitchen scale to weigh out my pellets. Weigh out the amount you need for one pocket and use a funnel to pour those pellets into one column. Do this for each column - add the amount you need for one pocket to each column. Then, working carefully, make sure that all of the beads have made their way to the very bottom of the column.
Now, make sure you're feeling patient....here comes the hardest and potentially frustrating part.
Sew across your first column. Make sure you back stitch and restitch when you begin and end this row of sewing! Very carefully, with your weight hanging off the machine and the extra fabric on your right, sew across your marked line for the first row. Sew carefully, making sure that no pellets get up under your needle. Those suckers will break the tip of your needle right off!!
(In the picture above, I was several rows in.)
Complete this same process for every row that you need in your blanket until you get to the last row which will close up your whole blanket. Make sure to check to make sure you have enough bobbin thread before each row - there is nothing more frustrating than getting halfway down one of the rows and realizing you ran out of bobbin thread and having to replace it and start again mid-row (I don't think you need to ask how I know this!).
After putting beads in the last row of pockets, fold the fabric on both sides into the middle. Pin liberally to hold the seam closed along the top and sides. Stitch across the top of the blanket (through all four layers) backstitching and forward stitching again at the beginning and end of the row. Sew on both sides from the top to part way past where your previous stitching began, backstitching and forward stitching to keep it from coming a part. Make sure that you have sealed the entire blanket when you have completed this step.
That's it! You have completed your weighted blanket and it's ready for your little one to use. Wash it up to remove the lines you sewed over and it should be ready to go! Congratulations!!
I'd love to hear if you use these instructions to make a blanket for your little one! Also, feel free to let me know if you have any questions!