Baby Receiving Blanket

A friend of mine is expecting a new baby girl and asked me to make a receiving blanket. I thought I would use the ubiquitous, ultra-soft, “minky” fabric with dots or stars. That style is so popular and it grew on me because it was in so many of Baby B’s soft items, but my friend is in love with fluffy textures right now and absolutely vetoed the minky dots fabric.

Fabric Selection

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Poly fabric and fleece-back satin binding

The nursery will be unicorns with gold accents and I thought the most basic color scheme would be a nice backdrop and grow as baby grows. There were a few nice options at the fabric store but I was drawn to a basic ivory.

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I debated a faux fur but the fibers sometimes have a weird smell, which I have come to realize is an olfactory alarm for volatile organic compounds and should not be anywhere near grown-ups and especially not near an infant’s brand new lungs. The fabric I decided on is 100% polyester Silky Furry Fleece. Cotton would be better, but the selection is limited because of the fluffy prerequisite. I would have needed to use a cotton print or ugly color to hide puke; cotton stains much more than poly. So a fluffy cotton with puke-colored print? No. Anyway, polyester wins–fluffy with no chemical smell to stand up to the demands of a baby.

I considered doing one side in a fleece unicorn or rainbow motif, but in the past I have made fleece no-sew blankets and with use, the fleece begins to pill and look tired. I also used fleece as an outer fabric on B’s cloth diapers and they were quickly pilling with washing; considering how many washes my baby blankets have endured fleece was not the best option.The wrong side of the fabric clung so nicely to itself that I thought doubling down on the fluffy was the right call.

Designing

Not mush to design here, just decide on the dimensions really. I looked to my favorite baby blankets as well as those that have grown the best with Biddi through winter and over the last 20 months. I thought 33×38 was the best size: may Aunt Sue knitted me this beautiful blanket and those dimensions are just my favorite proportion.

The look I like has a 3″ satin border (doubled) and 1″ seam allowance, so 2*(3+1)= 8″ wide fleece-backed satin. I allowed for more in my fabric purchase (because I routinely pay for 6-12″ of fabric that I can’t use because it is off-grain

Patterning

So a basic baby blanket is maybe the easiest thing in the world to draft a pattern for becuase it’s a rectangle or a square. Done and Done. I use the term “patterning” loosely because I just used a rotary cutter and crossed my fingers that I didn’t mess it up. “Measure twice, cut once,” as the old adage says.

Construction

First, I cut the fabric into two rectangles measuring 33″x38″

Those are the finished dimensions and the edges will be bound with satin. There are pre-cut satins made for baby blankets, but I am opting to make my own using fleece-backed satin. The fleece will stick to the fashion side of the blanket rather than just using a single stitch to attach it. I created a double-fold bias-type tape, but it is on-grain.img_24781.jpg

So I needed 4 lengths of binding fabric, one for each side of the blanket. They are 8 inches long, pressed in half and an inch seam allowance pressed under the entire length.

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I watched several tutorials on how to miter a quilt corner but I created a hybrid technique–each tutorial had its own problems, whether they looked sloppy and unfinished or wouldn’t work with a 3″ binding.

First, I sewed the two reactangles togther at 3″so there is a basting seam to follow when I am attaching the tape binding. I used painter’s tape to mark the 3″ seam allowance guideline to make life easier while sewing.

img_2501Next, I opted to attach each length of tape binding to 3″ from the edge of the blanket on every side. The corners are free from binding and creating the miter will be the next step.

Mitering

Next, I attached each corner to the fold line. Then I finished the miter on the reverse side using a ruler to mirror the 90 degree angle. So the corner of the blankets are unsewn, meeting at the 3″ square, as shown above. To know exactly how long the mitered seam should be, you can use the pythagorean theorem, fun right? Since each corner has a 3″ square, the miter seam will be the diagonal hypotenueuse of a right triangle with 3″ sides. so a² + b²= c². With 3²+3²= 18, c= √18, or 3√2, or about 4 1/4″

Finally, I turned under the blanket and pressed it so I could finish the binding.

img_2511A stitch in the ditch method or topstitching–even a decorative topstitch–would be  lovely, but I chose to use a running slipstitch by hand to finish the blanket. I thought the machine stitching had the potential to cause more trouble than it was worth.

If I needed to seam rip a SNAFU, the satin might show every needle mark in some nightmare scenario–much better to spend more time at the outset and be done in a single pass. I used a backstitch every 2 inches so that the hand-stitching is as strong as possible. Given teh fluffy fabric, even a whipstitch could work, although it runs the risk of breaking in the wash compared to the hidden stitch.

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This is the finished blanket-pretty, machine washable, big, cozy, soft.

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