Tutorial: Weighted Blanket

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.

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35 thoughts on “Tutorial: Weighted Blanket

  1. That looks awesome! My kids LOVED Mo’s and I completely forgot about making them! I am gonna use old Spiderman sheets! Woohoo! Your boy sure looks happy! Isn’t that the best?

  2. “And that’s worth all the broken needles and swear words in the world.”

    Classic! I busted out laughing at this one! It’s so true.

    Hey, isn’t the music and spoken word online at byu.tv?

  3. Ah ha!! Swe, fill, sew, fill. That is where I was stuck. Jacob uses these at the sensory clinic. While Jacob isn’t on the spectrum, he does the same stuff as beanie– squeezing into small spaces, carrying heavy things, etc. Cub has a small version that hw puts on his lap it around his shoulders. These are great. I have seen sone with rocks, but I like the pellets better.

    You rock!!!

  4. The fabric was on sale for $4 a yard, and the pellets were just under $20. The pellets are by far the most expensive thing- but if you use your 40% off coupon at Michaels it would help a lot. A purchases blanket of this size and weight would run you about $100. So it’s worth it to make them, if you can sew at all.

    Time-wise? It took Mo about 6 hours, and she is a novice sewer. It took me about 2 hours, but I am a professional. So there’s your range. It important to know though, that a novice CAN make this project with great success.

  5. I wish i’d known about these a couple of years ago. My son with SPD would have loved one. He’s doing remarkably well now at almost 6 years old and doesn’t have the same needs as he did at 2-4. On second thought, I might have to make him one anyway! Who doesn’t love a portable hug?

  6. How much to make say 10 of them and you ship them to me? (If I can get the money from the preschool at my work) The autistic classes would love them!

  7. Oh boy, Naun. It would depend on if I could get Michael’s to give me a case discount on the pellets. It’s about $20 per blanket just in the pellets. But if I could get a deal on them, it’s do-able.

  8. Pingback: Weighted Blanket | My Magic Mom

  9. Back in Jan when I read this post the first time, the only way I thought it would apply to me would be making a weighted blanket for my nephew. My how life changes. Turns out the foster son we have is dealing with sensory issues (not on the autism spectrum, other complicated stuff) and his therapeutic teacher said a weighted blanket might help him sleep better. Tomorrow I’m off to buy lined fabric and pellets!

    Thanks so much for this tutorial!!

    • jendoop, I’m so glad this might be helpful to you! If you need any help, feel free to email me, okay? Good luck! (Michael’s has the pellets, and you can use your 40% off coupon)

  10. The amount of weight you choose to put into a weighted blanket and how you distribute it can make a lot of difference in its effectiveness. First of all, you have to know how safe the user is under the amount of weight chosen. If the blanket is going to be used only on the bed the weight set only in the upper center is good. If it is going to be used around the house, it is better evenly distributed. If it is for a larger person, the pellets may be too bulky. In that case, I would recommend the fine grade stone used by Salt of the Earth Weighted Gear. It is a much more concentrated weight and therefore no so bulky. Making your own weighted blanket is a good thing, but it gets harder when you are needing it for an adult or a teen.

  11. I’m really glad I found this post. I had no idea how to do out the math for making a weighted blanket and I desperately need one for my son in about a week when we head to NY (we’re in WA). As you already stated, they are pretty pricey to buy one and we really just can’t afford it even though he needs one. As I was reading this tut though, I couldn’t help but wonder if a similar concept could be applied to a puffy vest to make it a weighted vest.

  12. Love this! I’m starting my autistic daughters blanket today. She’s 5 & I haven’t slept since she was born. I got the pellets at a local thrift store 3lbs or $2, or react pellets & everything. I got the fabric for $5 for oth sheets (close out sale). It’s going to cot me UNDER $10 for a twin sized blanket & lap pad! I’m so excited! Thanks for this post! Now just to suffer though hand sewing it!!!!!

  13. Ps I tried to view the suggested blog but apparently you need to be invited. I would have loved to see how she did it as well.

  14. I just found your blog when I did a search on how to make a weighted blanket. I bought the materials today- ds picked some wild fabric and I’m adding a satin binding. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this up!

  15. Pingback: Weighted Blanket | Our Managed Chaos

  16. Thank you so very much for posting! I have 2 with autism spectrum disorders.That means sensory issues are big here. I also have other kids who may like one too, because they too have sensory issues even though they don’t have ASD. I am going to give this a go. How shall I launder it? I hope you and yours have a blessed Holiday season! Merry Christmas! Becky

  17. If you use poly pellets, you can machine wash it just like any other item. It’s heavy, and it makes a racket in the dryer, but I’ve washed ours many times.

  18. For families in poverty like mine, who cannot afford 28 lbs of poly pellets for their 6’1″ autistic teenage son, sand CAN be sanitized. It’s just a pain in the butt. I soak the sand in bleach, one tube (the sand is in removable soft vinyl tubes.. So the blanket can be machine washed separately) at a time. I soak the sand in bleach water for twenty minutes, stirring the sand every few minutes to make sure the bleach gets to all of the grains for several minutes. Than I rinse it and dry it in the oven. I also clean it in my pressure cooker once a month. It is a LOT of work but I have a schedule for it and it’s well worth it considering a meltdown with a boy his size is no picnic.

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  21. Hello, I am going to make this blanket for a friend. The poundage for the blanket worked out to be 3.4 lbs. Do you know or think it would be ok to make the blanket 4 lbs. Thank you, Lorissa

    • If 10% = 3.4lbs then you could go as high as 20% = 6.8lbs. The 4lbs would be fine, and also allow the child to have some room/weight for growth.

  22. How old is the child? It’s usually okay to make it a little heavier, given the child is still growing. The weight is a guideline. My son would like his to be a little heavier, frankly.

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