Adventures in Crafting: Fleece Blankey
Blankeys. When you're a cheap, cold, slightly seasonally depressed homebody... they are everything. Blankeys bring me the comfort and warmth, both physically and emotionally, that I need to get through the New England winter. I also find that the more blankeys I can provide my husband, the less often he tries to turn up the heat.
Now, you may be wondering if there is a difference between a blankET and a blankEY. There is. A blanket goes on your bed. A blankey goes basically anywhere else in the house so that one is always within arm's reach when you sit down. I would say we probably have five blankeys in the living room right now, plus several more upstairs on a ladder in the hallway just in case we need some extra warmth at night.
This past weekend, I decided I wanted a low-impact craft project to work on. I needed something that I could finish in a day, that was useful, that didn't cost too much, and that wouldn't make me crazy. I'm a bit of a perfectionist, and my DIY skills are way better in plan than in action, so I really try to set realistic expectations when embarking on crafts. I decided on a no-sew fleece blankey for the living room. There were quite a few pre-packaged kits at Joann Fabrics, but they were stupid expensive (about $35!) and also that seemed a little too quick and easy. Half the fun of crafting is ending up with something you can be proud of, and I knew I wouldn't be proud of my project if it came out of a kit.
Luckily for me, Joann's was having a crazy sale this weekend on all kinds of things, fleece included. I was able to get some really nice plaid fleece for $6/yard and some decent gray fleece for the back for $3/yard. Plus I had coupons for 60% off one item (and one cut of fabric constitutes one item) and 20% off my entire order. I bought a bunch of other things as well so I can't say without the receipt in front of me exactly how much I paid for the fabric, but considering I got just about 2 yards of each type of fleece, without the additional discount I'll put my total cost at $18. That's already a savings of $17 over the kit!
This is not going to be an in-depth step-by-step tutorial because guess what... I didn't invent this style of blanket. I stole it off pinterest like the rest of you can if you want to make a dang blankey yourself. But I will run through the steps with some photos because if I didn't do that, this would be a short, boring blog post.
The first thing I had to do was find a space large enough to spread out the two pieces of fabric, one on top of the other. What no one in the tutorials tells you is that IT'S A LOT OF FABRIC. If you have a craft space that can accommodate this size project... I'm jealous. If you've been reading my blog from the beginning, you know my whole house is 850-something square feet.
This fact was made painfully clear while I was moving the coffee table out of the living room, making Marcel lay across the couch, and trying to get the pets out of the way in order to have enough space to work. As you can see, once I got the fabric down (which took up the bulk of my living room floor), I gave up on the pets staying out of the way. They were very pleased to help.
I spent the next hour or so crawling around on the floor, preparing the fabric. First, I cut off the selvage. Selvage is the edges of the fabric that are tightly woven so it doesn't fray or come unraveled. It usually has printing on it. I'm telling you what selvage is because I'm not a jerk who just thinks you know what selvage is. I sure didn't. I googled it. Now you don't have to. I cut around all 4 of the sides so that the pieces were pretty equal and even. This is the first of many times during the day I said "close enough for Government work." After cutting all the edges, I made tape lines (using masking tape) that ran the entire length of each edge about 2 inches in (measurements were also close enough for Government work). This was my demarcation line so that when I was cutting my strips, I'd know where to stop. This also created nifty 2" x 2" squares at the corners which I cut out. I wrapped the tape around the bottom piece of fabric so that I could move the blanket around with confidence that the corners of the two pieces would stay pretty much lined up. The cat couldn't stand this part of the project. Something about the tape made him completely lose his mind and the attacks on my blankey began. These persisted throughout most of the rest of the project.
Once the fabric was taped, I cut strips into the edges of the fabric, each about 1 inch in width. This was the third time I used the phrase "close enough for Government work" during the project. I will say... it really was. Some were wider than others but once the thing was finished, you couldn't really tell. This is where my plan diverged from the regular crappy looking tied knot no-sew fleece blankey. If you like that look... that's fine. Tie some knots and be done with it. I think it looks messy and things in my life are messy enough. I opted to do a braided edge. This sounds very fancy and looks even fancier, but it was really very simple. Once I cut the strips all around the edges of the fabric, I went back and folded each strip in half and cut a small notch in the middle through both top and bottom piece. This process was super tedious because it doubled the cutting, but I think it was worth it. I tried to cut the large strip and then cut the notch at the same time, but that didn't work well for me. I found it easier to cut all the strips on the one side and then go back and cut all the notches. That way each step was pretty repetitive and you could get kind of zen in the project. Once all the notches were finished, I started at one corner and fed the strip through the notch in the next strip. Then I fed that strip through the notch in the next strip and on and on until it went all the way around. When I got back to the corner where I started, I just knotted the last two strips in a double knot at the corner and called it a day. Kind of. The last step was to tuck all the little edgy pieces inside the blankey.
This blankey is SUPER SOFT, really warm, and it is long enough to cover my entire body when I lay down, or to cover Marcel and I when we sit on opposite ends of the couch. The braiding created corners that fold in on themselves a little so the edges naturally wrap around my shoulders and feet. The only con I can find so far is that the edgy pieces tend to pop back out after a while. I'm thinking that if I make the strips longer on the next one, they may stay inside the blankey better. Or I saw a different tutorial that includes using a straight stitch on the sewing machine, which seems easy enough and is on my list of things to learn how to do. The whole project took maybe 3 hours, and most of it was done from my couch once I got the initial taping and cutting done. I did it while watching The Dark Crystal and some murder shows.
So there we have it. It's been a while since I posted because the end of my summer and fall have been super busy but I have a few things up my sleeve about my garden year-in-review as well as some cozy home projects I'm excited about so I hope to post a little more regularly during the winter months.