Saturday, 19 September 2015

A Weighted Blanket

I recently made a simple quilt top using a whole bunch of scraps. I had a lot of green and blue scraps in my stash that I wanted to use up. I chose as many of them as I could and added a few purples and greys. I cut the bigger pieces into 9 1/2" squares (20) and smaller scraps into 5" squares (80). I also used part of a charm pack of Simply Color by V&Co. for some of my 5" squares. The quilt top came together pretty quickly, even with lots of pressing and cutting of different fabrics. This layout would be even quicker if you used a charm pack (5" squares) and a layer cake (10" squares). My quilt top is 45" x 72", though it could easily be made bigger or smaller. 

To piece together the quilt, I piled my 5" squares by colour, then chain pieced them in pairs. The piles made sure I didn't have two greens or two blues together. Once I had my pairs, I pressed the seams to the darker side and chain pieced two pairs together to make four-patches. Then I laid the four patches and 9 1/2" squares out on the floor in a 5 x 8 grid. I made a sort of checkerboard pattern and moved colours and patterns around to balance them out. I sewed each row, then all of the rows together. 


I confess in the beginning I was wary of some of the colour combinations that were coming out of my chain piecing. I've seen so many beautiful scrappy quilts though, that I wanted to give up control over some of the design choices and leave it to fate. I ended up with some great fabric combinations and some strange ones. Overall, I really like the effect, with the mixes of colours, values and prints. Looking at the intersections, I keep noticing new pairings that I wouldn't have thought of. 

I used this quilt top to make a weighted blanket. Weighted blankets are used for many reasons, including by children with Autism or a sensory processing disorder. I don't claim to know much about the research behind them, but I believe that the weight stimulates the release of serotonin and dopamine, which calm you. This can also help you sleep better. As an elementary teacher and sewer, I've been asked how you would make one before, so I did a little research. I also favour heavy comforters, and thought I'd make one to test out the construction and see if it improved my sleep.

To turn my quilt top into a weighted blanket, I used a piece of backing the same size as the quilt top and matched it up with the quilt right sides together. I sewed along the sides and bottom, leaving the top open. Then I turned it right-side out and pressed the edges. I topstitched 1/4" along both sides and the bottom as well.


Then I pinned the top and backing together along the centre, running the length of quilt. I pinned halfway between the centre line and each of the edges too.



Using a variegated blue and green thread, I sewed 1/4" on one side of the seam for each of the three lines I pinned. Once those three lines were done, I was able to sew along each of the other seams without pinning. So I had lines of stitching along the 9 seams running the length of the quilt. For the 9 1/2" blocks I marked a line running down the centre, like the seams in the four-patches. I added a line of stitching 1/4" on the other side of each of the seams, making 18 lines. I started and ended each line of stitching with an end stitch/tie-off.




This stitching served as channels for the weight in my weighted blanket - poly-pellets. Poly pellets are small, clear plastic pellets that look like large grains of salt. They're non-toxic and machine washable, but not exactly cheap. I calculated that I would have 160 squares to fill and wanted my blanket to weigh 15 lbs. That meant I needed 1.5 oz. of pellets in each square. I used a food scale to figure out how many pellets weighed 1.5 oz. It ended up being about 1/4 cup. I used my 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop the pellets and dump them down the channels, all the way to the bottom of the blanket. I was careful to leave the open end of the blanket facing up so that the pellets didn’t spill out. It was easier with the beginning rows, but as I got to the last five rows or so, I rolled the open ends closed and clipped them closed with my Wonder clips. I pushed the pellets away from my presser foot and stitched 1/4" on either side of the seam running along the bottom row. I did an end stitch at both ends. This kept the pellets in each square. Then I sewed 1/4" on the other side of the seam, starting at the other end this time. This means that my pellets are not exposed to the seams in the quilt top, which will help keep them from spilling out. By having a double row of stitching, if any stitching rips, I can fix it without the pellets spilling into another section. 

There are no photos of this, because, I’ll be honest, sewing the pellets in is a bit tedious.  You have to go slowly, and push the pellets out of the way of the presser foot before you sew each section, so that they don't get in the way. I did break two needles when I sped up and the needle hit a pellet. 

For the last row, I folded the edges under twice, facing the back of the blanket, and sewed two lines of stitching along the edge to finish the blanket off. 


Here's the finished product!



It matches my current bed quilt pretty well. 



I like a lot of the fabric combinations created by my scraps. 



This corner is one of my favourites.


Here's a view of the back. It's a teal green crosshatch I picked up as a remnant in Nova Scotia two summers ago and by piecing it, there was just enough for this blanket.


The pellets are loose and flow within their pockets, so that the blanket isn't too stiff. Overall, the weighted blanket wasn't difficult to put together. If you used one piece of wide fabric for the top or a layer cake (10" squares), it would go together much faster, even the filling part. The seams in my blocks would sometimes block the pellets from going where I wanted them, which slowed me down when sewing the pellets in. I'll have to see how the weighted blanket holds up and works for me. 

If you're looking to make a weighted blanket, I hope you find this post useful. If not, you have another way to use up some scraps to make a quick quilt top. 

I'd love to hear from you with any comments or questions :)

5 comments:

  1. What a great quilt! I've heard lots about weighted blankets, and I'm glad you took the step to make one for yourself.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a great idea. I like the mix of small and large blocks. Great job!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Interesting. I've heard of weighted blankets before through a friend who is a teacher, but I had no idea of how they are made. Your random piecing worked very well.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm always nervous when I work on a scrappy quilts because it's so random. I think your top turned out beautiful. I had heard of weighted blankets but not sure that I've read about anyone piecing them. I'm intrigued by the use of the poly pellets. My guild has been making fig-it quilts, but I will have to share your info with them. It sounds like something they would be interested in.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you for the quick tutorial on your weighted blanket...This sounds like a great way of helping others also...

    ReplyDelete