I’m so glad you’re here! I don’t do a lot of crafty posts, but this is one of my favorites because they are so easy and inexpensive to make, plus they make a lovely and cozy gifts. Come to think of it, I’m snuggled up in this exact blanket right now as I’m writing this!
These hand-tied fleece blankets are fabulous – here are just some of the ones I made with my blogger buddies for a pre-Thanksgiving charitable event called #GivingTuesday. Then we donated them all to a local children’s hospital. Soft, cuddly blankets for sick kids, what could be better?
As you can see, they are quick and easy enough that you can make a bunch of them, although we had a LOT of help with these. We had about 25 bloggers plus a whole Troop of Girl Scouts!
So, I’m going to share all my BEST tips with you on how to make these fleece blankets. Since I’ve made so many of them, I’ve learned some good tips on what to do and what not (knot?) to do.
This is a fun project for kids too. You may need to do the cutting for them, but they can easily help tie the blankets and I’ve got a fun idea at the end for kids to use up the scraps for their own little project.
Fleece fabric is available at any fabric store in a variety of colors and patterns for a pretty reasonable price. I like to use a bold pattern with a contrasting plain color backing, but you can chose whatever combination you like best.
The fabric typically comes in a 60 inch width. So to make a square blanket, you need to get about a yard and 2/3rds, although you can make a longer blanket if you prefer. You’ll want to get identical amounts of both the pattern and the backing fabric.
There are different weights of fleece – thin, medium, and thick. If possible, go for the medium weight – the thick is too felt-like and the thin doesn’t make for a nice soft blanket.
Once you have the material, you are ready to start preparing your fleece blankets.
Prepare the Fabric
You can wash the fabric prior to cutting, but you really don’t need to. I generally don’t wash it first although this fleece does wash up very well.
First, you need to take the two squares of fabric and lay them flat on top of each other like two pieces of paper. Most fleece doesn’t have a right or wrong side, so it doesn’t really matter which side you use, but if for some reason, you have a one-sided fleece, you are going to want to put the non-patterned sides together.
You’ll notice that each piece will have two raw edges – called the selvage, where the material was attached to the loom. This will need to be trimmed off. It’s easier if you match up the selvage edges on both pieces, so you can trim both layers at once. As you can see, it has a tendency to curl, so you’ll want to flatten it as much as you can while you’re cutting it.
|The little dots indicate the selvage edge|
You can tell where to cut because there will be a fine line of tiny holes like a dotted line. Cut just to the inside of the dotted line. The left and right sides of the blanket should match up pretty much exactly, but depending on how precisely they cut the fabric, you may need to trim the top or bottom slightly. I find it easiest to line up and pin the three sides and then do any needed trimming on the fourth side.
Cutting the Fabric
Once you have the selvage cut off and two pieces of fabric trimmed to the same size, you are ready to start cutting. You are going to cut about a 6″ square in each corner to allow you to miter the corners. Then you will cut 6″ strips through both layers of fabric about every inch and a half to two inches.
Thankfully, there is an easy template on hand for the corner cuts. Your basic paper dinner napkin is just about 6″ square. You might need to trim off about a half inch off one edge, but then they are a perfect template. If you don’t have a napkin handy, just grab a sheet of paper and cut it to 6″ square. Then just lay your template in each corner, mark off the corner section with a couple of pins and cut through both layers of fabric. Eeesy peesey!
Then, to give myself a guideline for the strips, I just lay a yardstick along each edge and pin at the top every few inches. That gives me a nice guideline to see how deep to cut the strips.
Then just cut the strips every couple of inches to the 6″ guidelines. You don’t need to be terribly precise – you just cut them reasonably even and somewhat straight. Because of the way the fabric is made, two of the sides will be a LOT stretchier, so try to be careful not to stretch it out of shape.
|See how I do the guidelines with pins at the top? Cut through both layers of fabric at once.|
In the next section, I will show you a couple of different ways to tie the knots.
Tying the Knots
I prefer to cut and tie at the same time rather than do all the cutting and do all the tying, but I guess it’s your choice. I usually cut 10 or 12 strips at a time and then tie them, that way I can adjust if I am cutting them too short or too long.
For tying, you have several choices and everyone has their favorites. I prefer the more traditional tied knots because it’s easier and makes for fluffier knots, but I think the looped knots look really cool with the contrasting fabric, so try both and see which one you prefer.
|This is the looped method|
This is double knotted method. It’s pretty easy and it won’t come undone. Caution: The first one I did came out kind of like a shower cap because I tied it TOO TIGHT. Think nice fluffy knots, not super TIGHT ones.
Best tools to Use
A word about scissors. Some people like to use a rotary cutter set up like this one:
They are awesome and very fast, but the blades get dull quickly and you have to be super careful about your table. Don’t go off the edge of the mat or you will ruin your table (ask me how I know that?).
I’m a mostly a scissors girl. The first batch of quilts we made for #GivingTuesday, my thumb went numb for about 3 days and my son’s girlfriend had a visible bruise on her thumb from the scissors. Of course, we cut about 30 of them in one weekend with scissors that weren’t very sharp!
After that I got smart and bought some decent scissors. These Fiskars handle-less scissors are especially nice because they don’t have a top loop, which is great for lefties like me. No bruises or numb thumbs with these babies!
|My Fiskars scissors|
Don’t forget, there’s a good tip coming for the scraps and you will have a LOT of scraps, especially those curly edges you cut off in the beginning. Don’t be too quick to throw them away.
The Finished DIY Tied Fleece Blankets
Here is the finished blanket. I’ve flipped it over so you can see both the chevron and the plain sides. I do LOVE this color combo. As you can see, my napkin tip gives you perfectly mitered corners.
Bonus Tip for Scraps
As I said, be sure and save your all your scraps. The 6″ squares make fabulous little dusting cloths to use around the house. The texture of the fleece soaks up dust like a sponge and hangs onto it.
The strips from the edges are fun for the kids to play with. They will make ropes out of them, leashes for their stuffed animals, just all sorts of stuff. My son likes to use them to make matching boondoggle bracelets.
See. Makes a nice smooshy bracelet to match your pretty blanket!
There you go – enjoy your blankets. Try not to make a HUGE mountain of them like I did.
If you enjoyed this tutorial, I have a slightly different one you might also enjoy – Monster pattern blanket.
Other homemade crafts posts you may enjoy: