Tuesday, July 10, 2012

TUTORIAL: Ruffle Blanket

I thought I'd pull something out of the drawer for you today.
One of my all-time favorite blankets to make (and giveaway as gifts).
It's perfect for snuggling in a crib or swaddling a baby.
And really, it's just cute--you know I love stripes.
(and in case you're doing a double-take on the babe above....it's not Clara. I made this blanket when my niece Anna was born. And she still uses it today! It's her favorite blankie, which makes me happy)

In fact, I first started making these 6 years ago for Lucy. I wanted a receiving blanket with a ruffled girly border but I didn't want it to be heavy....just a single layer of fabric. So I broke out my serger, made a flannel border, ruffled it up, and sewed it to a square a fabric. Pretty easy!
Don't worry if you don't have a serger. I'll show you an alternate method. But it really looks best if you have a serger. So if you've been scared to try yours out (aka...it's still sitting in the box) now's your chance to learn!
Okay, let's get started....

You need:
appx 1 1/4 yards of blanket fabric (knit or flannel) - to make a 42 x 42 inch square
* appx 1/2 yard of border fabric (flannel is best but knits works too)

* You want the border to be about 1.5 to 2 times longer than the blanket perimeter, so you can ruffle it up. So....the amount of fabric needed really just depends on how wide and how ruffled you want the border to be.

Here's what I've figured out:
42 x 4 = 168 (perimeter around the blanket)
168 x 1.5 = 252 (how much border you need)

If you cut 1/2 yard of flannel fabric into (6) 3-inch wide strips of fabric for your border, that gets you pretty darn close.
If you want the border to be super ruffly, then cut a couple more strips to give you more border length.

Hope that wasn't too confusing.

Basically you need a big rectangle of blanket fabric and a bunch of strips for the border:
First, finish off the edge of the blanket piece. If you have a serger, serge around all four edges using a standard overlock stitch (3 thread or 4 thread). Dab the ends with a tiny bit of Fray Check or pull the chain ends back through the stitches (I never do that. I'm lazy).

If you don't have a serger.....you can leave the edges raw if you're using a knit fabric. However, if you're using flannel, you'll need to fold/iron the edge under 1/4 inch, then fold/iron the edge under another 1/4 inch and sew a topstitch. If you don't do this, the flannel will fray badly and you don't want that with a baby.
Second, prepare the ruffled border.
(pics numbered below....)

1. Cut even strips with a rotary cutter.
2, 3, 4. With right sides of the fabric together, sew all the strips together into one very long strip of fabric. Be careful with each strip you sew that right sides are together (believe me, I've made this mistake...and it's annoying). If you have a serger, do this with your serger so there are no raw edges. If you don't have a serger, just leave the small seams raw or you can finish them off with a zigzag stitch.
5, 6. You should have one long strip of fabric now. Yay!
7, 8, 9. Use your serger to finish off both side edges of the long strip. Serge down one side, then serge down the other (this will take a while and will be noisy for your husband trying to watch sports center). If you don't have a serger....well....then I recommend using knit fabric rather than flannel for your ruffle, so you can leave the edges raw. I've tried to think of a good way to do with by folding/ironing the border edges under with flannel but it sounds super tedious and I think it will make the border too bulky. So. Sorry. Go with knit, not flannel.
Now it's time to ruffle the border.
You REALLY want to use the "cheating" method here to gather your fabric. There's no reason to do proper gathering on 200 inches of fabric....or you'll go insane, and never speak to me again.

If you don't know what the cheating method is, check it out HERE.
Basically....turn your tension as high as it will go, turn you stitch length to the longest possible, and start sewing down the edge of the border strip, about 1/4 inch from the edge. If it's not ruffling up enough, hold the thread on your machine slightly to create more tension.
And you have a ruffled border!
Lay it out around your blanket piece to make sure it's long enough. If it needs to be longer, shift your ruffles around a bit to make it fit.
Now sew the border to the blanket.
(pics numbered below...)

1. Pin the border to the blanket so it hangs about 1/2 inch on top of the blanket.
2. Gather the fabric a bit around the corners so it has extra room to spread (and doesn't pull)
3. Pin the border all the way back the entire blanket.
4, 5. Sew the border closed by placing right sides of the fabric together and sewing (do this while the border is still pinned to the blanket. This is the best way to make the it fit perfectly).
6. Pin the sewed end of the border to the blanket.
7. Sew the whole border in place. Sew about 1/4 from the ruffled border edge. No right or wrong answers here. Messy lines actually look kind of cool with the serged edges, so don't worry about being too precise. Just make sure the whole border is sewn in place.
8. Always do a quality check on the back to make sure you sewed everything.
9. Add a label if you have one.
And....you're done!
How snuggly fun does that look?
If you're headed to a baby shower, tie fabric scraps around the blanket to make a bow and you've got the perfect gift. Seriously, I love these blankets.
I hope your little one does too.

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