Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ribbon Blanket Tutorial

I'm back after an unintentional extended holiday. I've had good intentions about maintaining this poor neglected blog, but life is busy with a toddler. I so appreciate all of you faithful blog readers who are still commenting and browsing. I am sitting here while my husband is at work, my little girl is in bed, and the rain is pouring down. I've got a steaming cup of (decaf) coffee and a chocolate chip cookie, and I'm ready to jump into blogging and scheduling a ton of blogs that I have been dreaming up. First up is a tutorial for making ribbon blankets for babies:

First of all, decide on a color scheme for your blanket. You'll need ribbon, polar fleece, and stiff felt (if you're going to personalize yours). You'll also need coordinating thread, straight pins, and your sewing machine.

Getting started:
There's really no one way to make a ribbon blanket. I like using lots of different colors, widths, and textures of ribbons to give the baby a variety of tactile experiences. You can decide how many ribbons you'd like per side. I typically use at least 5 per side, so 20 lengths of ribbon total. You can do 5 different ribbons and repeat them on all 4 sides, or you can get as crazy as 20 different ribbons. Since I've been making these for so many years, I've developed quite a stash of ribbons, so I tend to use a ton of different ones on each blanket. You'll cut your ribbon into 4-inch lengths.
I always personalize my blankets with a first initial. To do this, find a font you like on the computer. Enlarge the letter to your desired size, print it out, and use double-sided tape to stick it right-side-up to a piece of stiff felt. Cut the letter out with sharp scissors, and peel the paper off the letter.
The last thing you need to prepare is the fleece. I use 14 inch squares. You'll need to cut two identical squares of fleece.
Using one of the pieces of felt, attach your initial in your desired position. As a side note: my sister has made some precious ribbon blankets with an embroidered initial. That would be a great idea if this initial is not your style. To attach the letter, I pin it in place and very slowly machine stitch as close to the edge as possible lifting the presser foot and turning the fabric as needed. I pull all of the threads to the back of the fleece and tie them in knots. Next, lay out your ribbon in the desired order for the edges of the blankets. Here I've chosen 12 different ribbons and have cut two of each into 4-inch lengths. That way two sides will be the same.Begin pinning your ribbons around the blanket. I line up one piece of the fleece next to a ruler so I can see the middle line in order to evenly-space the ribbons. Fold each ribbon in half to form a loop. Then line the raw edge up with the raw edge of the fabric. The loops should be toward the inside of the fleece square.Continue around the entire blanket until you've used all of your ribbon.Next you will top this piece of fleece with the other square matching up the edges as exactly as possible. You'll be making a ribbon sandwich here, so make sure the ribbons are between the two layers.Next, pin around the outside edge of the fleece square making sure to catch both layers in the pins.
You are going to sew a 1/2 inch seam all the way around the square's edge leaving a 4-inch long section to turn it right-side out. Since there are so many straight pins, and I have a toddler running around during this process, I tend to lose my place and forget where to stop and start. In order to help my poor brain, I have a trick. I put a green-headed pin where I'm supposed to start sewing and a red-headed pin where I'm supposed to stop sewing. Then I make sure all of the pins in between are a different color. See?Start at your green pin, and sew 1/2 inch inside of the square all the way around backstitching at each corner and when you start and stop. You can see my backstitching and the opening I've left to turn.Remove the pins, and clip the corners to make it easier to square them once they're turned. Make sure you do not cut into the seam.Reach into the opening, and pull out all of the straight pins from each ribbon. You will most likely have one or two ribbons that are not sewn down because they're in the 4-inch opening you left. Leave those pins in. When all of the pins are removed, turn your blanket right-side out. Use a bone folder or a knitting needle to square the corners. At this point I always tug gently on each ribbon to make sure it is secure. You can see the top two middle ribbons are still pinned as that is where my opening is located.Turn down your opening to match the rest of the blanket, tuck in your ribbon, and pin well.Now, using a decorative stitch and contrasting thread, sew 1/4 inch seam all the way around the blanket edge. This will not only close the opening you left, but it will reinforce each ribbon sewn in to make it more secure. As long as all of your ribbon is secure, you're done!There is no limit to the colors, themes, sizes, etc. to these blankets. Use a 5 inch square of fleece and a handful of ribbons to make a small blanket that can be hooked with a clip to a car seat or stroller. Or you can make a large lap blanket with ribbons down only one edge. Really, there is a lot of room for creativity, and no two of my blankets have looked the same.
Good luck, and please feel free to ask questions and share links to YOUR blankets!

1 comment:

shane_andrea said...

Thank you for this tutorial--I used your instructions to make a blanket for my daughter (7 months). It turned out wonderfully and I'm sure she'll love it when she sees it tomorrow morning.