Wednesday, October 26, 2011

3 Ways to Make a Fleece Blanket


The air is nice and crisp and getting back into my fleece feels so good.  Jackets, scarves, blankets, I love them all.  I love working with fleece!  Here are 3 versions of a comfy fleece blanket.  A NO SEW and A LITTLE SEWING!  Easy… Easier and Easiest!

#1 - THE EASIEST, NO SEW

I wanted small lap blankets for the children to use in the car on those cold winter mornings.  Most fleece comes 58” wide so with just 1 yard of fleece I could make two lap blankets about 29” x 36”.  I love the economy of that! But you can make yours any size you want.

Cut the fabric to your desired size.  Be sure to make a nice clean cut.  The Olfa Rotary Cutter is a great tool for cutting fleece.

Fringe the edges.  For my lap blankets I only fringed two sides but if you want your fringe all around that is a great look too.  Use your creativity to decide on the look you want and determine how long and wide your fringe should be.  I cut my strips 1⁄2” wide and 3” long. 

One more decision to make!  I like the look of knotted fringe so I simply tie the pairs of fringe pieces together.  Just be sure you have cut an even number of strips.  EASY!!!
3 Different Looks for Fleece Blankets

Same 3 Blankets - Flipped Over


#2 - A LITTLE SEWING

With just a little sewing you can get an entirely different look by attaching some woven fabric to your fleece.  This way you get the decorative look of your woven fabric with the soft comfort of the fleece.  This little fella loved this military theme fabric but also wants to be cozy in his fleece.  We also made him a matching pillow case. Sweet Dreams!

Three Easy Steps:
1.  Prepare your fabrics. 
2.  Sew woven to fleece. 
3.  Create a fringe.
 
Here’s how:
Prepare your fabrics: 
Gently rip all four sides to the size your want the woven fabric.  Do not CUT!  Machine wash this prepared piece of fabric.
Cut your fleece piece 4”-5” wider than the woven on all four sides.

Sew woven to fleece:
Smooth the fleece out on a large work surface. 
Center the prepared woven on top with wrong sides together. 
Pin generously around the border.
With the woven fabric on top, use a zigzag stitch to sew the two layers together. Stitch about 5/8” from the cut edge of the woven fabric. This “raggedy” woven edge will become even more attractive with additional washings.

Create a fringe:
Clip the fleece edges to make the fringe.  I like my fringe pieces to be about 1⁄2” wide.  Cut the fleece to the raw edge of the woven fabric.  Although not essential, a fringe cutting template is a great help in creating a nice easy fringe.  There are several available on the market but I like the Fring’ez Adjustable No Sew Fringe Cutting Template.

At each corner, cut and remove a square of the fleece then tie a strip from each side together to make a finished corner. Tie pairs of fringe together for a great looking blanket!

I like to clip and tie a small section at a time.  This way, as you near a corner, you can judge how many strips you have left to cut and if necessary, “fudge” the width to be sure to have the proper pairs to tie.

Tips and Tricks
Knotted fringe gives your blanket a little more stability.  If you don’t knot it, and it will be getting some “wear and tear”, consider running a line of straight or zigzag stitches just above the fringe cut.

100% Cotton for your woven fabric works best.

To rip fabric, use scissors to make a small “start” about 1⁄2” into the side.  Now GENTLY rip so that the fabric tears along one thread of the weave of the fabric. 

Working with a large piece can be challenging if you don’t have a huge work table.  The floor works of course, but certainly not ideal.  Might you have a ping pong table?  A large kitchen island?  A firm bed?  Be creative and save your back.  If you don’t have a suitable work surface, carefully fold your fabric accordion style to minimize the bulk and keep the fabric from shifting.

# 3 - A BIT MORE SEWING, BUT STILL PRETTY EASY
When I spotted this yellow fleece in the fabric store a while back, I knew I had to own it.  So it has been tucked away in my fabric collection just waiting for the right idea to pop into my head. 

Today was the day!  I knew I wanted to pair it with this blue dotted cotton but I wasn’t quite sure what to do.  The star appliqu├ęs gave it enough dimension and interest that I didn’t really want to fringe it.  So I decided to wrap the woven cotton around the fleece to create a border effect.

You can use this same method for any size you desire.  I like to be as economical as possible with my fabrics so I used the entire width of the woven and cut the fleece so that I would have a little left over. (There might be a yellow fleece scarf in my future!)

Prepare the woven fabric:
Pre-washed 100% cotton is preferable. 

Cut or rip so you have a rectangle with clean edges. This should be your desired finished size plus 1 3⁄4” on each side.

Iron the entire piece.  Turn under and press each edge 1⁄4”, then turn under another 1 1⁄2” and press that edge.

Spread out on a large flat work surface with the wrong side (and the folded edges) up.

Add the fleece

Start in a corner. Unfold the pressed down edge of the woven and place the fleece, right side up, on top.  Smoothing out both layers, place the cut edge of the fleece at the crease line of the 1 1⁄2” fold down two sides of the blanket.
Fold the woven over and on top of the fleece so it creates a nice finished edge.  Pin in place.

If you are experienced and confident in your sewing skills you may want to proceed to fold and pin all four sides of your blanket.  I do however think it is ‘safer’ and easier to sew these first two sides then come back to your work surface, smooth your fabrics into place and make any adjustments to the cut of the fleece before sewing the next two sides.

Managing the corners
I finished my corners with what I call a “fake miter”.  On the fleece side it looks like a miter but on the woven side it simply looks like the fabric continues around the corner.  I don't stitch the corner to create the miter, just fold it.

Fold the corner of the woven in, forming a triangle.  Now fold each long border edge together so that they meet on a diagonal line from the corner forming a mitered look.


Now sew the woven to the fleece.  I used a straight stitch but a zigzag or other decorative stitch would be very attractive as well.


If you like a more finished look, you can 1) hand sew a blind stitch to close the corner 2) zigzag the corner to secure the "gap" or 3) sew a decoration like a bow, a fabric yo yo or a fleece embellishment to the corners.


I was lucky enough to find this yellow fleece with the star and moon applique.  I've never seen it again.  But it is really quite easy to do and makes a really nice finish on a plain fleece.  Simply cut the shapes you desire, stack them, then tack them onto the fleece.  Yes!  It really is that easy.  

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