No one has to tell you why you need a blanket on a cold night but there is something heavenly about putting the AC on full and lying completely cocooned under a cozy blanket, on a hot night (or day). Recently I told my husband “Nice weather” (I was, again cocooned under the blanket) He sighed and looked at the fully blasting AC. It was above 32°C outside. My tubelight brain flickered just in time, but not fast enough to prevent him from recounting this story to whoever he saw for the next few days.
Blankets are precious, whatever the weather in your place. Here is a nice (read simple, easy, quick and all those heart soothing adjectives I always use to calm you when the project is anything but) way to sew your own warm and cozy blanket – with interesting pieces of fabric you have at home.
Decide on the fabric
This blanket will be made of 2 layers (you can make it 3 layers depending on the thickness you want) of fabric, sewn together with quilting stitches. The top is a pieced one and the bottom layer is a single piece of fabric. You can piece this layer too; you may have to, if you want a very large blanket. For the top, choose fabric pieces with a color theme that pleases.
I am using various printed fabrics in indigo shades for the top layer and a single color for the bottom – it is your choice. Just know that solid colour makes the quilting stitches stand out, on printed fabric the quilting stitches almost disappear.
There is a very simple criterion when selecting fabric for sewing patchwork or quilts – choose fabric with the same type, weight and care instructions.
Decide on the size of your square fabric pieces. Decide on the size of your blanket. Then calculate how much squares you will need to complete your blanket top. Remember that 1/2 inches will be gone as seam allowance, on the length and width of your square. Calculate how much of your squares you need along the rows and columns.
You can use batting, or flannel as the inner layer – this will give you a warmer blanket.
And the most important thing – always PREWASH the fabrics before you cut and sew. Remove all the wrinkles by pressing.
Cut and Assemble the fabric pieces
I am using a transparent plastic square scale to cut the patchwork pieces – instead, you can make a cardboard square template (in the dimension you want) and mark the designs. If you have a rotary cutter and self healing mat, nothing like that in patchwork. You can cut multiple layers of fabric in one go with a rotary cutter. Check out this post on using a rotary cutter here.
Sewing the fabric pieces together
Join the fabric pieces together. I have cut the 6 inch squares and arranged them on the floor to know how I should place them.
Stack them up according to the row/column. Take them to the sewing machine and start assembling.
Sew them to each other using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Be consistent in your seam allowance. This is very very important. Otherwise, the pieces will be of different sizes and then they will not align. You can use a 1/4″ Quilting Foot to ensure that you maintain the seam allowance 1/4 inch at all times.
First sew the rows (as you have stacked the pieces). Then join the rows together to form the blanket top.
When joining the rows you can either keep and sew the seam allowances open or keep the seam allowances closed and to either side. Otherwise seam allowances will be thick, along the seams.
For the quilt back, you should cut the fabric a little bigger on all sides – 1-2″ inches bigger.
Pin the fabric layers together
Now keep your fabric layers and pin in place. Smoothen the fabric layers and start pinning from the middle.
Actually, pins are a risk, to your fingers as you run your hand over the quilt to smoothen it or when you leave it on the bed and your kid steps on it. Yes, all these happened to me. Basting stitches are not as easy as pinning but no risk to anybody. Smoother from the middle and pin to the sides.
Quilt stitches are made to join the fabric layers of your blanket together. To make the quilting stitches you have to mark the quilting lines. There are several types of quilting stitches and you can read about the 13 quilting stitches here.
The easiest quilting stitch is to sew the quilt stitches along the seam of the fabric pieces. You can use a ditch quilting foot for this – this will ensure that you sew along the ditch of the seam, at all times.
Do not forget to sew along the outer edges as well. This will make a pack of all your fabric layers.
Applying the Binding
After the quilting stitches are done you can bind the edges with a contrasting fabric. Cut out your binding strips.
To calculate the length of binding stip measure the perimeter of the blanket top. Add 15 inches extra. The width can be anything from 3 inches to 4 inches. I have used a 3 inch fabric strip.
Keep the binding strip infront of you wrong side up.
Fold the edge as in the picture below.Cut it out. Now fold the diagonal side edge to the inside 1/8 inch. Fold your strip up.
This is your binding tape.
Keep your blanket wrong side up. Pin the binding along the edge, by the middle.
Stitch in place with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. As you reach the corner, stop 1/4 inch from the edge.
Now fold the binding tape up wards.
And then fold it downwards.
Start stitching the binding from the corner now with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Do this for all the next 3 corners. When you reach where you started over lap the starting edge by a few inches.
Turn the blanket front side up. Turn the binding to the front of the blanket. Now you can simply stitch the binding in place, by folding to the front.
When you reach the corner, you can make a mitered corner by folding the binding as in the picture below.
Sew the binding in place. Sew the mitered corner diagonal seam. Sew along the outer edge as well.