First things first, don’t be intimidated. The hardest part is laying it out and doing the math. The rest is just basic sewing. This is for a child’s sized blanket.
You will need two yards of 44″ wide cotton fabric (for this tutorial, we are making a 34″ x 42″ six pound blanket) poly pellets, a measuring spoon, a funnel and a sewing machine.
Get your poly pellets. They’re machine washable, dry-able and non-toxic. Make sure you get the polypropylene, and not a less expensive knock-off. Don’t use corn or rice, either- as this will need to be washed. Sand cannot be sanitized, and buckshot is just insane. Do not fill a kid’s blanket with lead. The bags of polypropylene can be had at Michael’s Crafts, and in some JOANN’s. You can also order them online. Rule of thumb is a weighted blanket should be 10% the child’s body weight, plus one pound. For Beanie, this means a six pound blanket. Each bag is two pounds weight and 6.5 cups volume. Both measurements are important.
Here we see Abby showing off the volume of 4 pounds of pellets, and my mad math skillz at figuring out how much volume to put in each pocket. You are going to be sewing channels, then squares into your blanket. For this blanket, I figured on 2″ squares (which is harder than making them even slightly larger at 3″, but Bean doesn’t like the pellets sliding around, so I needed them to be snug). I figured 19 x 15 squares making up the body of the blanket, meaning 285 squares, with six pounds, or about 18 cups divided evenly. My math came out at roughly 2 Tbsp pellets per square. The finished size doesn’t matter nearly as much as figuring out your total squares with an even distribution of your pellets.
In Mo’s directions, she draws the lines on her fabric. That works. Or, you could purchase lined fabric like I did, and use a specific line on your fabric is your vertical line to make your channels. Either way is fine. Open out your fabric and sew around three sides, essentially making a big pillow case, right sides together. I like to double stitch or serge the edges, as I really don’t want 28 cups of poly pellets busting loose in my house. Flip it right side out, and press the edges nice and neat. Pin in a few random places to keep the layers from shifting, and line out your channels. Sewing on the right side through both layers of fabric, stitch your 2″ (or 3″ or whatever) channels from top to bottom, backstitching at the edges. Leaving the top edge open and raw. This is where you fill your channels.
Using a funnel and a scoop of the right size, add the correct (2 Tbsp in this case) amount of pellets to each channel.
Then you are going to sew across, making the square and capturing the 2 Tbsp of pellets in the chamber. Here is where I take a shortcut. Instead of measuring out 2″ increments, I use the cheat bar on my pressser-foot, set to 2 inches. I just keep that bar on the previous seam, and my next seam with be exactly perfect. (chances are, your sewing machine has one, and you never knew what it was for!) Here is also where I usually start swearing. I broke five needles making this blanket, because those little pellets are slippery and hard, and they will take your needle down. Mo did not have the trouble I did in using larger squares. At 2″ they are packed pretty tight. At 3′ or 4″ you have more play room. You’ve been warned.
One of the things that helps is making a little fence to keep them contained while I sew- using a pencil, or a ruler, holed the pellets back until you and your needle are out of the way. Continue this process, sewing and filling, 2 Tbsp at a time, until you have filled all the channels, making squares, on your blanket. Mo’s illustrations are helpful here. It’s time consuming, but it’s not hard. Sew. Fill. Sew. Fill… and so on. When you get to the last row, trim the edges then top stitch. Then I like to roll the hem and top stitch again. Imagine aaaaaaaaaall those pellets getting free in your house… and stitch it again.
Then, give it to your kid, and be amazed at how much he loves it. Beanie carries his around the house, and it really helps him calm down at night and sleep easier. He loves the weight, and I find him using when coloring, reading, watching TV or even when he’s playing in his room. And it makes him happy. And that’s worth all the broken needles and swear words in the world.