Sleeping under a weighted blanket has been proven to help control a variety of sleeping problems and other health conditions. Owing to their benefits and the rising demand, their price is quite high and hence making a weighted blanket is the better option. Here is an in-depth step by step guide on how to make your own weighted blanket (DIY).
In case you are wondering just what conditions the weighted blanket can help you with, here they are: Insomnia, autism, anxiety, depression, restless leg syndrome, PTSD, ADHD, panic disorder, stress, fibromyalgia and conditions that come with aging. You can have a look at just how the weighted blanket help manage these conditions in our What Do Weighted Blankets Do? article.
Now before diving into the details, what are the advantages of making your own weighted blankets? The following are the benefits:
· Pocket-friendly cost as you will only use a fraction of the cost you would spend buying a readymade one
· You can customize it to meet your needs including the size, color, pattern, and feel
· It’s fun doing it from shopping for things like the fabric with your family
· The satisfaction of doing it yourself
What You’ll Need
Of course, before the steps, you will need to have everything you will require for the project with you. You will need the following:
· Plastic pellets or glass beads
· Measuring tape
· Washable sewing marker/ pencil
· Calculator and paper
· Food weighing scale
· Sewing machine
Seems like a long list, right? If you have everything with you, feel free to skip to the steps in the How to Make It section below. In case you may be wondering just how you will get all those items, you will be surprised that you may be having more than half of them with you already. Let’s look at how you can get the above items one by one and the considerations while choosing the items.
Plastic Pellets or Glass Beads
The weight of the weighted blanket is from the plastic pellets used to fill the pockets in the blanket. They are small, round and smooth which makes them efficient in adding weight to the blanket without being felt by the person using the weighted blanket.
When shopping for plastic pellets or which are commonly called poly pellets, you will need to buy a pound for every 10 pounds of your weight or that of the person who will use the blanket. If you weigh 150 pounds, you will need to buy 15 pounds of plastic pellets. When making just one weighted blanket, you can go in for the Evostrom Plastic Pellets that come in 10lbs packages. They are non-toxic, washable and dryable. If you are planning to make several blankets, then buying the Roly Poly Bulk Pellets that come in 50lbs packages can be a great and cheaper option. They are washer and dryer safe and mold and mildew resistant.
An alternative to plastic pellets is the use of glass beads. They are so small that they feel like sand and do look like sugar. You can buy Glass Craft Beads on Amazon that come in 25lb packages and different other sizes. They are machine washer and dryer safe, smooth, rounded, durable and mold and mildew resistant.
You can consider the following factors when choosing plastic pellets or beads
· A bulk density of 4-7 Oz per cup allows for the right loft of the blanket
· Safety of the material used where you need pellets made of virgin plastic free of BPA and other toxins
· Texture and feel where the smaller the size of the pellet or bead, the better
· Materials used with thermoplastic pellets being preferable as they are more affordable
Consider the fabric as the casing for your weighted blanket. It keeps everything together and is also the face of your blanket. Here is where you can highly customize how your blanket will look and feel. Feel free to choose a fabric that is most pleasing to you or to the person you are making the blanket for.
You can save on costs by using existing bedsheets, blankets or duvet covers. As long as they are the right size and in good shape, you won’t have to go out hunting for a piece of new fabric. However, if you have to buy it, then below is how you choose the best fabric.
For the material, we highly recommend that you use cotton as it has the right feel and will work well for beginners. You can also opt for flannel. Besides these two most popular fabric materials, softer material like fleece, knit and Minka can also be used. However, softer material stretches a lot and is challenging for you when sewing.
Remember to find out what size you are looking for before you head out to shop for the fabric. Usually, it is easier to just get the size equivalent to the size of the blanket or duvet you are currently using. Remember to have an extra 4 inches on the longer side and 2 inches on the shorter side for the seam.
Some people opt for waterproof fabrics and then have a nice duvet cover that will be used to make the weighted blanket look nice and neat. During washing, the duvet cover is removed, and machine washed while the weighted blanket with the waterproof material can be hand-washed.
You will need cotton wool, synthetic fiber or any other material for stuffing your DIY weighted blanket for the following reasons:
· Make it look thicker without increasing the weight
· Your blanket will feel softer
· Makes the blanket warmer
There are currently two options when it comes to batting:
· Typical batting which is less expensive, and you will need to pull apart and stuff into each pocket equal amounts
· One giant rectangle that you can sew in at the beginning
For your project, you will need 1 spool of the typical all-purpose-thread. It is what will keep the pellets in their individual pockets that will ensure even weight distribution throughout the weighted blanket. Considerations when buying a thread include:
· Color- get a color that is the same as your fabric or closely matches to avoid the sewed lines looking conspicuous
· Thread size- a medium size will do as too small may not be strong enough while too large may adversely impact how the blanket looks
· Material- choose a thread made of a material strong enough to withstand the weight of the blanket
You can always get a perfect thread from a store near you.
Besides the above major components, you will need the following items. You can easily find them in your home or use their alternatives as explained:
Scissors needed can be just your regular scissors as long as they can cut
A measuring tape that you will need for the creation of the pockets for even weight distribution. If you have no measuring tape, use a ruler.
Washable sewing marker- after measuring, you will need a contrasting marker to indicate where you will sew. You can use a pencil instead.
Pins hold the pellets and batting in place before you sew. If you don’t have pins at home, you can get some from a local shop at a very low price.
Calculator and paper that are important when making the plan of the pockets and weight calculations. You can use the calculator on your phone and of course, you can always get a paper in your house.
The weighing scale in your kitchen can be used to weigh the pellets into equal sizes. A measuring cup can be used to make weighing easier once you establish a certain level of pellets in the cup has a certain weight
Most probably you have a sewing machine and won’t need to purchase one but if you don’t, you can borrow from a friend or buy one. Use the manual to find out how to use it or head on to YouTube for tutorials on how to use it.
How to Make The Blanket
Now that you have everything ready, let us dive right into the steps. Creation of a weighted blanket involves the following steps:
1. Sew together the fabric pieces with the right sides facing each other
2. Determine the blanket size and draw its representation on a paper
3. Divide the drawn blanket into as pockets as even in size as possible
4. Calculate the number of pockets that you need to fill
5. Determine the weight for each individual pocket
6. Mark the division of the pockets on the fabric
7. Fill and stuff using pellets and batting as you sew one row after another
Let’s examine each step in detail and how to get it best done.
1. Sew Together the Fabric Pieces with the Right Sides Facing Each Other
In the beginning, you have two fabric pieces that are of the exact size which is determined by your size or that of the person for whom you are making the blanket. Put the fabrics one on top of the other with the right sides facing each other. The right side refers to the side of the fabric that has the print on.
Next, you have to fold about an inch at one of the shorter ends outwards and then sew all around the three remaining sides. To get this done easily, fold the fabric at the end over and then sew down the first(longer), second (shorter) and then third (longer) edge but not completely. Fold the other side over and complete the third edge. This allows you to have one side open with a clean edge. You can iron that top folded end to keep the fabric folded. The sewing needs to be done at 2 inches from the edge on the longer sides and an inch on the shorter side.
A double stitch is necessary to ensure the weighted pellets do not fall out and therefore, sew one more time around the three edges.
At this point, you can go over every edge to countercheck the stitches. Make sure the stitches are holding. You can now flip it inside out and voila, you have the skeleton of your weighted blanket. You can iron the edges to make them nice and neat.
2. Determine the Blanket Size and Draw Its Representation on A Paper
At this point, your paper and pencil or pen come in handy. Now that you already know the measurement of your weighted blanket, it is time to delve into preparing the fabric for the pellets. You have to create a sketch on a paper where all your calculation and plan for the blanket is made. The measurement of the blanket will be your original size less the length taken up by the seam. For instance, if your measurements were a 58” by 88” blanket, your working measurements will be 56” by 84” that is 2 inches less for both shorter edges and 4 inches less for both the longer sides. Indicate these working measurements on your sketch.
Although some people always want to jump straight into marking on the fabric the pocket demarcations without having a plan first, it is always advisable to make a plan on paper. It allows you to achieve the best levels of even weight distribution and minimizes mistakes that may take them back several steps.
It is also important to note that the blanket size will vary according to your needs. For instance, a portable blanket will be smaller in dimensions than a blanket to be used in bed. A blanket for your kid will have smaller dimensions than one for you or your spouse. Always remember to put these factors into consideration and the length that will be lost in the seam when deciding on the blanket size.
3. Divide the Drawn Blanket into As Pockets as Even in Size as Possible
From the measurements indicated on your drawn blanket, divide each edge into as pockets as equal as possible. The recommended size of the columns, that is divisions along the shorter edge, needs to be at least 7 inches. It allows for easier stuffing of the weighted blanket.
For example, from the measurements in the above step, the shorter side is divided into 8 equal parts that measure 7 inches each.
56” divided by 7” equals 8 columns
The longer side is divided into 12 equal parts measuring 7 inches each.
84” divided by 7” equals 12 rows
It is not a must that the divisions on the longer side measure 7 inches and that is left solely to your discretion. It will be determined by how you would like the blanket to appear. While some people like the pockets square, some would prefer them in rectangles. Another determinant is how fast you need to complete the project because the lesser the rows, the faster you will complete the making of your blanket.
For instance, if you needed to make a weighted blanket with the above measurements faster, you would divide it into 5 columns measuring 11.2” each and 7 rows measuring 12” each. That will allow you to finish the sewing within about two-thirds of the time you would have if you used 8 columns and 12 rows.
4. Calculate Number of Pockets That You Need to Fill
This step is easier after you are done with the calculations above. The number of pockets you will need to fill can be calculated by multiplying the number of columns with the number of rows.
8 columns by 12 rows will make up 96 pockets
5 columns by 7 rows will leave you with 35 pockets
A point to note is that you will leave out the outer columns on each side. The reason behind this action is because you want the weight concentrated on the part of the blanket that actually hangs over you. The column on each side is left out because it rests on the bed and having part of the weight in it will not be transferred into the deep touch stimulation therapy that the weighted blanket offers. You, therefore, have suboptimal weight when the outside columns are also weighted.
96 pockets less the outer columns make the number of pockets to be filled 72
35 pockets less the outer columns amount to 21 pockets to be filled
5. Determine the Weight for Each Individual Pocket
As mentioned earlier, you need the weight of your blanket to be one-tenth of your total body weight. This weight has to be evenly distributed throughout the pockets. To accomplish this step you will need to involve your calculator again, the weighing scale and the measuring cup.
Convert the weight needed into ounces. A pound is equal to 16Oz, therefore
If you weigh 150lbs, you will need 15lbs of pellets which convert to 240Oz
Next, determine the weight you will put into each pocket as shown in the example:
240 ounces divided by 72 pockets makes 3.33 ounces as the weight for each pocket
240 ounces divided by 21 leaves you with 11.42 ounces as the weight for each pocket in a 35 pocket weighted blanket.
With your weighing machine, determine the level of pellets in the measuring cup that correspond to the weight required for one pocket. Start by measuring the weight of the measuring cup while empty and then fill it with pellets until the weight reading corresponds to the weight of pellets per pocket plus the original weight of the cup. When you establish this level or number of cups needed to meet the pellets per pocket, you will be able to just simply transfer the pellets into the blanket without having to weigh every time.
Once you accomplish the above calculations, you now have the plan for your weighted blanket and can get back to your fabric for the remaining steps.
6. Mark the Division of the Pockets on the Fabric
Get your washable sewing marker, disappearing ink fabric pen or pencil and your measuring tape or ruler for this step. This point is where you transfer the drawn sketch with the measurements to your sewn fabric.
For the columns, start on the shorter edge dividing it into equal parts with the measurement you got in the third step. Using the two examples given in the above steps, here is how you can get it done:
The 96-pocket blanket will need you to make divisions of 7” along the shorter edge. The total number of divisions will be 8. To achieve this, place your measuring tape along the blanket and make a mark at 7”. Move the tape all the way down the mattress as you make the marks at 7 inches. Connect these marks to form a straight line that is parallel to the longer side of the blanket. Repeat this process at every 7” along the mattress to result in 7 straight lines and 8 equal divisions which are the columns. 35 pockets with columns measuring 11.2” will give you 5 divisions.
For the rows, mark the pocket width according to the measurement you are working with and repeat the same parallel to your shorter edge before joining the marks to form a straight line. For instance, the 96-pocket weighted blanket will have the first-row mark at 7” from the shorter edge that is repeated all across the blanket. The second row will be 7” from the first row and so on until the other shorter edge is reached.
Once you have transferred the measurements onto the fabrics, it is time to sew the columns into place. Sew the fabric along the longer marked lines. You will end up with long channels that are parallel to the longer edge of the blanket. It is now ready for filling and stuffing. Remember, the rows will be sewed as you fill and stuff and therefore at this point, it is only the columns that have been sewed.
7. Fill and stuff using pellets and batting as you sew one row after another
The final step is to now fill with the plastic pellets and stuff with batting. In this step, you will need the sewing machine, pins, the thread, pellets, batting, and your sewed fabric.
In the columns on both edges of the fabric, insert batting only. If you are using cotton wool, you will need to divide it into parts equal to the number of pockets you have. Insert one part into each of the channels on the sides. Remember, the outer columns are not weighted, so you will not put pellets in these columns.
In the columns that need to be filled with pellets, pick the required weight using the measuring cup as established in step 5. If you found it to be the measuring cup filled to the brim with pellets for each pocket, scoop that amount and pour into each column right at the far end.
Next, insert the batting into each of the columns and push it to the end. From the top, ensure everything is settled in the first row and then secure with pins below the marked line along the row. The pins hold the pellets and batting in place so that they don’t fall under the marked sewing line that will break your needle. Shake to ensure the pellets settle at the bottom and adjust the stuffing accordingly. Take the blanket to your sewing machine and then sew along the marked line and there you will have your first row of pockets perfectly stuffed. Shake the pockets and see if any pellets fall out through the sewing line. This action ensures that the pellets do not freely move among pockets and result in uneven weight distribution.
Repeat the same procedure along each row, filling with pellets, stuffing with battling and then sewing. When you finally reach the top row, some extra caution will help bring perfection to your finishing.
If you can iron the open top part, the better. You will need to fill and stuff it like the other rows. Approximate the edges neatly and pin them together just below the sewing line. Stitch as close to the edge as possible. Once the stitching is complete, you will have yourself a perfect weighted blanket that is according to your needs.
Here are some important tips to help you avoid common mistakes and actually enjoy the entire DIY project.
Support your Blanket as you Stitch
During sewing, your blanket will continuously become heavier and if not supported well may result in difficulties during sewing. Here is what you can do as you stitch
· Place the sewing machine at the edge of the table so that a large area of the table can be used to support the heavy blanket
· You can roll your completed rows of pockets underneath the blanket especially as you near the top part where the blanket is heaviest
· Standing while sewing gives you better control over the blanket and enables you to prevent injury to your body due to straining
Although seemingly a minor issue, running out of thread while in the middle of the row may be challenging. It will result in delays as you reset the thread and may bring imperfection in your sewing outcome.
Always ensure you do have enough thread on the bobbin that will allow you to complete the row. Especially when you need to do backstitching, having enough thread will be vital.
As a rule, always check to ensure the thread will be adequate before you start sowing the row. Once you have done a couple of rows, you will know exactly how much a row takes in terms of the thread consumption and therefore will easily approximate.
A common mistake that people make is focusing on nicely dividing the pellets and then forgetting about dividing the batting. You may end up with a couple of pockets with no batting. Your blanket will not get the uniform shape and will not feel as comfortable if you run out of batting. You may also delay completing the project as you have to stop and look for more batting or even go out to buy some.
Have adequate batting available. Going for the regular type like cotton wool or synthetic fibers will allow you to easily divide besides being very pocket-friendly. It does not add to the weight of the blanket and therefore you don’t have to worry about the blanket becoming heavier than required. It may only make a difference of about 1 or 2Oz.
Washing of the Weighted Blanket
Now that you have your weighted blanket, how do you take care of it? While you enjoy great sleep and alleviation of anxiety, stress and other anxiety-related disorders, you will need to clean it over time. Your choice of washing will depend on the materials used in the making of the weighted blanket.
Washer and dryer safe pellets will allow you to easily clean your blanket using the machine washer and dryer. If the filling materials used are not washer and dryer safe, you will need to find other options for cleaning it which may be challenging. It is therefore recommended that you go for materials that are washable and dryable. For the dryer, the pellets need to be heat resistant to withstand the temperature.
You may need to take your blanket to the laundry mart if your machine is small and cannot withstand the weight of the blanket. Their machines will easily handle your weighted blanket.
If you have to use materials that are not washable, then choose a fabric that is water resistant like the waterproof shower curtain. You can have a duvet cover on the top that can be easily machine washed and dried while the waterproof weighted blanket is hand-washed.
You can save on costs and have the satisfaction of creating your own weighted blanket using the above step by step guide. Once you have all the required items, you can easily put the blanket together in about two hours for a beginner. It basically involves getting the right measurement, dividing into pockets and filling and stuffing the pockets as you sew. The above steps are explained in detail to enable you to get everything right the first time you try. All the best as you make yourself an amazing weighted blanket.