Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Chenille Baby Blanket

This is one of my new favorite baby gifts.  It is very simple to make (not FAST, simple) and very different from the normal afghans and quilts.  Don't get me wrong.  I LOVE to make afghans and quilts, but variety is the spice of life right?  Plus, I am an egomaniac and I LOVELOVELOVE when people "ohhh" and "ahhh" over what I've made.  This blanket gets a lot of ohh's and ahh's.  My mom loves them so much she wanted me to make her a big one.  Unfortunately, I don't think I can fit is into my sewing machine.  Maybe a pieced version is in our future...

Chenille Baby Blanket
What you need:
  • 1 yard of cotton fabric, I like to pick a print with some different color options
  • 3 yards of coordinating flannel, this is why I like to have options, I have used three different colors or all the same color, whatever you choose, you must have three, one yard panels
  • 1/2 yard of cotton fabric for binding
  • 3 spools of matching thread, yes three, remember I said easy, not fast
  • yardstick or similar long straight edge
  • ruler or measuring tape
  • fabric chalk or disappearing pen
  • scissors
What you do:
Pre-wash and dry all the fabric.  This is a very important step.  The types of fabric we are using shrink quite a bit and you don't want to end up with a Frankenstein blanket.
After washing, straighten the edges of the cotton panel.  If you wish to have the blanket smaller (some people like 36"x36"), crop it down.  I like a bigger blanket, so I go with the width of the fabric (usually 42"-45").  This makes my finished blanket about 41"x36"(I have to take off the printed selvage on the width and the length is 1 yard because that is how much fabric we bought).
Now you will lay out the layers of the blanket.  If you are using different colors of flannel, decide what order you want them to be in on your finished blanket.  I find the outside most layer of flannel will be the predominant color.
First, lay the cotton print, face down on a large work surface (I use the floor a lot).  Next, lay on the flannel you want to be the innermost color.  I line up one straight edge of each fabric, letting the other sides hang over (flannel fabrics are usually wider than printed cotton).  You just want to be sure the grains of the fabrics are running parallel to each other.
Now, flip the entire thing over being careful to keep them in place.  This is easier than it sounds because flannel is pretty grippy.  Pin all the layers together I pin about 6"-8" apart all over.  You want to keep shifting to a minimum.
If you cut your cotton panel into a 36" square, draw a line from corner to corner using chalk or disappearing ink.  If your blanket is not square (like mine) or you don't have a straight edge long enough to span that distance (like me), measure up one side 20" and make a small mark.  Measure up the adjoining side, starting at the same corner 20" and make another small mark.  Using your straight edge, connect these to marks in a straight line.  This line is your first stitching line.
Now sit at your sewing machine and get comfortable.  You will be here a while.  Sew along the line you marked.  Now sew lines parallel to this line, 1/2" apart across the entire blanket.  I kept a ruler handy to check my spacing at first, but you quickly get pretty good at eyeballing it. 

I do this in shifts and it does not seem painful at all.  Once you are done, trim the extra flannel from around the edges and check to make sure everything is straight.

The most stressful part of the whole project comes now.  Flip your trimmed blanket over and begin cutting the chenille.  To do this, you will cut through the three layers of flannel in a straight line between each line of stitching.  BE SURE NOT TO CUT THE COTTON OR YOU ARE SCREWED.  Go slow and be very careful.

Once all the chenille is cut, sew on the blanket binding.  See how I do mine here.

Wash and dry the blanket.  This is when the magic happens.  You will put in a weird looking, chopped up hunk of fabric and pull out a beautiful blanket backed with fluffy chenille.

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