You're probably wondering why we are giving a tutorial to make the very item we sell. Well, we aren't out to become millionaires. That's why our blankets are so much more affordable than just about everywhere else. We just want to get as many weighted blankets as possible into the hands of those that need them. So if that means giving our "secret recipe" away, so be it! Besides, we know the work that goes into making a weighted blanket and we're confident there are people willing to pay us to do the dirty work. For the rest of you...here you are!
Weighted blankets are so versatile and help with a variety of symptoms, it's no wonder they've become so popular! From ADHD to Autism to Restless Leg Syndrome to Anxiety, a little pressure can do wonders for sleep patterns.
The blankets are actually pretty simple to make, and anyone with basic sewing skills can do it. They do require some (OK, a LOT of) patience and time. It can be tedious and there are headaches to the process, but I'm going to walk you through the steps and give you tips and tricks learned from my mistakes! Of course, you can always buy a premade weighted blanket from our store and skip the process altogether.
These are the basic supplies you'll need.
Fabric of choice, cut a little larger than desired blanket size
Extra Needles (in case of breakage)
Weighted Beads=10% of user's body weight+1 or 2 pounds
Cup or Measuring Cup
Grid Ruler or other straight edged ruler
Marking Chalk or Masking Tape
Kitchen Scale (optional)
I suggest having several needles handy, especially if this is your first weighted blanket rodeo. Those little beads are pesky and like to slide around. Your needle will break or at least suffer a bent tip when it hits a bead. I've lost many needles to rogue beads! I will give you a trick in this tutorial to keep them somewhat contained, but there will still be runaways.
So, now that you've gathered all the supplies, let's get started!
Step 1: Cut your fabric pieces to matching sizes, a couple inches larger than your desired finished size. For this tutorial, I used two pre-made fleece throws. This is a great cheat and sometimes cheaper than buying fabric by the yard!
Step 2: Match the fabric pieces together, with the RIGHT sides together(the right side is the printed, best, softest, or preferred side of the fabric). So, the "bad" side of the fabric should be showing on both sides. Pin one of the short sides together.
Step 3: Sew along the pinned short edge, approximately 1/4-1/2" seam.
Step 4: Now pin the two long sides together and sew a seam down each side, stopping about two inches from the open end. Be sure the seams meet at the corners. If they do, you're good to go on! If they do not meet (like mine on this blanket), sew across the corners to meet the seams up. This can happen when the corners are rounded but you are sewing straight seams.Sewing the corners will ensure complete closure of the blanket. You do not want those rogue beads slipping out and causing a problem in the middle of the night!
See how the seams didn't meet up?
A quick jaunt across the corner fixes it!
You should have something like this so far:
Step 5: Turn the blanket right side out and push out the corners.
Step 6: (Optional Step) Roll the short side seam between your thumb and index finger to get the kinks out and pin in place. Sew a seam along the short edge, about 5/8-1". Repeat on the long sides, again stopping about 2" from the open end. This step is optional but creates a more finished look.
Step 7: Lay blanket flat on table with the short closed end on the left. Measure between seams on short side to determine the height your rows will be by evenly dividing the measurement. (For example, if measurement is 18”, you will do 6 rows, 3” high. If measurement is 20 inches, you will have 5 rows of 4”, etc). Chances are you won't come up with something perfectly even. Just do your best to make them as even as possible. Generally, use smaller sizes for smaller blankets, larger for...you guessed it, larger blankets.
Step 8: Using the grid ruler (included in DIY kit) or another straight edge and chalk, mark the first row line by lining the ruler up with the top seam and sliding along to the end, stopping 2” from open end. You can also mark these lines with tape if you prefer.
Step 9: Sew along the chalk line.
Step 10: Using first row line as a guide, place grid ruler and mark second line with chalk. Sew along line. Repeat for remaining lines.
**TIP** You can chalk several lines at the same time if you'd like. I don't do more than two or three at a time because the chalk tends to rub off with too much handling. You may also want to do 3-4 rows on one side, then flip the blanket over and do the remaining rows on the other side. This keeps the fabric you need to "shove" through the sewing machine arm under control. If you don't switch sides, you'll have the entire blanket to push through by the time you get to the last row!
You should now have something similar to this:
Step 11: Now you have to do some more math. Measure along one of the long sides from the end seam to where the lines end. Divide that measurement by your row height from step 7 to determine how many squares will be in each row. (For example if your row height was 3”, divide measurement by 3, etc.) So if your long measurement was 27" and your row height was 3", you'll end up with 9 squares per row.
Step 12: More math! Yay! Multiply your number of rows by number of squares per row to find the total number of squares you'll end up with in total. So if you have six rows with nine squares, you'll end up with 54 squares. If you are not mathematically inclined or just weren't mentally prepared for this, leave your measurements in the comments, and I'll help you out!
Step 13: Just a little more math! I promise this is the last of it, and we'll get back to sewing. You need to figure out just how much of the beads to put in each square. You want to spread the weight evenly around the blanket. So, follow me here. FIRST, multiply your number of pounds of beads by 16 (that's how many ounces are in a pound). If you're making a 10 pound blanket, that's 160 ounces. Now take those ounces and divide by the number of squares you got in step 12. So for our example, we have 160 divided by 54 squares. That gives us 2.9 ounces to put in each square. Here's a handy-dandy chart to help you out:
4 lbs=64 ounces
6 lbs=96 ounces
8 lbs=128 ounces
10 lbs=160 ounces
12 lbs=192 ounces
14 lbs=224 ounces
16 lbs=256 ounces
Another option if you don't want to mess with all that math is to take your beads and measure them out with measuring cups. So if you have, let's say, 6 cups of beads and 48 squares, 1/8 cup would go in each square. I guess that's still a little math. There's no way around it. Turn this into a lesson and show your kids that you do, in fact, use math in real life! Silver linings, right?
Now that we have that mess figured out, we can move on to...
Step 14: Turn your blanket so that the short sewn side is at the top. Using the short side seam as a guide, draw the first row line with the grid ruler and chalk. DO NOT sew this line yet! You should have this:
Now, if you have fabric with a grid-like pattern on it (like the one in these pictures), you may be tempted to use that instead of going through all this measuring and drawing. You can of course do that. I've done it before with mediocre results. But the print isn't always straight or your seams might not have been perfectly straight so the pattern is a bit off. And a 1/2" discrepancy on the first row turns into a 4" discrepancy by the time you get to the last row. So my advice is, take a few minutes and measure these lines out.
Step 15: Weigh or measure out the amount of beads per square that you so adeptly figured in step 13. Pour them into the first column. Repeat this for each column. You can use a funnel if it helps, especially if you are doing smaller sized rows/columns.
**TIP**If you have kids, you can let them do the measuring into lots of little cups so they're ready for you when it's time to pour. Just be prepared for half of them to end up on the floor. But be prepared for that even if you do all the measuring. I'm telling you, those beads have a mind of their own and they like to go everywhere!
**ANOTHER TIP**I use a clear cup marked to where I need to fill the beads. I still measure them with the scale, but the marked cup helps a lot!
Step 16: Shake the blanket gently so that the beads all fall to the bottom.
Step 17: (Now this step is one you may be tempted to skip, especially after you have a few rows under your belt. You'll be feeling confident, like you have those beads under control. I'm telling you, learn from my experience. Use my knowledge. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP! I've made dozens of blankets and can confidently say it's one of the most important steps! The extra 90 seconds it takes per row is well worth the time and saved broken needles.) OK, now that I'm off my soapbox...lay the blanket flat. Push any remaining beads down to the bottom with the rest. Use straight pins between the beads and your chalk line, essentially "trapping" the beads away from the sewing line. Like this:
Again, this step may seem unnecessary after you get a little experience. Go ahead, try skipping it. I guarantee you'll be back to pinning the very next row! Like I said, the extra few seconds are totally worth the effort.
Step 18: Sew along the chalk line. Be sure to feel ahead of the needle down the chalk line for any beads that didn't make it to the bottom. There are always a few that get stuck. Push them out of the needle's path. They will break your needle if it hits them.
Step 19: You have the first row done! Don't remove those pins yet. They're still holding the beads back so you can make your next line. Using the line you just stitched as a guide, use the grid ruler and chalk to mark your next line.
Step 20: Pour the measured beads into each column, and shake the blanket to move the beads to the bottom.
Step 21: Remove the pins from the first row and use them to trap the beads behind the chalk line in the second row.
Step 22: Sew along the chalk line, remembering to feel for loose beads before they meet the needle!
Step 23: Repeat steps 19-22 for each row!
This is where it gets tedious. You'll run out of bobbin thread in the middle of a row. But not realize it until the end of the row. The thread will jam. A rogue bead will break your needle. Your kids will want to be fed (for the 3rd time in one day!). You'll realize you put twice the amount of beads in one column or completely missed another column. You'll try to move your brand new, 25 pound box of beads to the floor, start to feel one side tip, panic, and end up with 15 pounds of beads scattering into quite an impressive array on the wood floor. Just keep sewing, just keep sewing, sewing, sewing...you'll get to the end eventually!
**TIP**For the first couple of rows, place the weighted side on your right, passing through the machine. After that, switch the weight to the left side with the weight resting on the table. This will give you the most control once the blanket starts to get heavy.
**ANOTHER TIP**Your machine won't be powerful to lift that weight up and through the machine. Put your left hand/arm under the blanket and sort of lift it up to help pass it through.
Watch this video for a "live" look at the middle of this step:
Congratulations! You survived the gauntlet. And by now you probably understand why weighted blankets are so expensive! They are a lot of work. Well worth it, in my opinion.
Step 24: Once all the rows are filled and completed, you just need to finish the top seam. I generally just fold the ends into the middle and sew right across to close it up. You could get fancy and sew a strip of contrasting fabric over it or even some blanket edging. But usually by the time I get to this step, I just want to be done. I tend to sew two seams, one closer to the top row and one closer to the edge. I suggest keeping the pins in place from the last row until you get your top seam done, so that beads don't slip in there. It's hard enough to handle the four layers of fabric; you don't want to have to worry about those beads any more.
So, that's it! Finish by trimming threads, inspecting for skipped stitches that may need repaired, etc. I also suggest changing your needle out if you used fleece fabric. Fleece tends to wear needles out quickly and you don't want your next project ruined by a dull needle. You have enough work getting over this project mentally.
If you have any questions, leave them in the comments!
Now, go enjoy a good night's sleep! (Leave all those beads on the floor until tomorrow!)