Fillers are the essential components of weighted blankets as they are the reason for the weight. If you are making your own weighted blanket, choosing the right filler material will determine how well the finished product works for you. Using beads as a filler material can make all the difference. Here is the complete guide to weighted blanket beads.
Choosing a Filler
Before focusing on beads, it is crucial to look at what other options exist for fillers and how to choose. Several options determine what filler to go for when making a weighted blanket. First, the thickness of the blanket is a key determinant where less dense fillers will make thicker blankets to achieve the same weight as denser fillers. Secondly, the cost of the filler will also be an important factor. Finally, caring for the blanket will also determine the filler you use especially if you need to be able to wash your blanket.
You have the following options for fillers:
- Plastic pellets
- Grains and legumes (e.g. rice)
The lesser used options are sand and grains/legumes. Sand is a budget option that however may be uncomfortable for some people and due to unequal particle sizes, may sieve through some fabrics. Grains and legumes are another option that is pocket-friendly, however, the blanket will be a bit noisy.
The plastic pellets are the most popular option, however, beads have increasingly become the way to go because of the several key advantages that they offer over the pellets.
Advantages of Beads
- They are almost twice as dense as plastic pellets hence allowed for less bulky weighted blankets
- Machine washable and dryable making the blanket easier to care for
- Environmentally friendly as they do not use plastics unlike plastic pellets
- Cause lesser sensory, auditory and physical stimulation which makes them great for sensitive people
- Smooth and round which makes the blanket feel great which is complemented by their small size
- Highly durable and will last longer
The beads are therefore a better option when it comes to the overall quality. However, there is one drawback and that comes to the cost as they may be slightly higher priced than the plastic pellets for a given weight. However, they are totally worth every extra penny.
As opposed to what most people think, beads are not just made of glass. There are other materials that are used to make the beads. The most popular types you will find on the market today are either glass beads or steel shot beads. Let’s break it down further and see what each type offers:
Glass beads which are actually micro glass beads are the popular type when it comes to beads. They have the name micro-glass because they are so tiny that they do have the same look and feel like that of white beach sand. They do actually look like salt crystals!
These glass beads have several advantages which include a smoother appearance, have less sensory stimulation, higher density and easy to use. These features allow for a less lumpy feel when sleeping in the blanket for the smoother appearance. Less sensory stimulation means they are perfect for sensitive people. You also get the weight needed without having the blanket too bulky courtesy of their higher density.
Steel Shot Beads
The other type of beads include the steel shot beads. As the glass beads, they are so tiny that they are also called micro-balls. The steel used in making them is hyper-eutectoid.
The unique advantages that the steel shot beads offer include the following:
- Easy to wash due to the smooth surface that retains dirt in between them
- Highly durable and will last for long
- They are harder to leak through the fabrics or between pockets as they are bigger than glass beads
- They are heavier(denser) than glass beads and hence you will use less of them
However, they have the disadvantage of feeling lumpier than the glass beads due to their larger size than glass beads. They may also be a bit noisier than the glass beads however not the kind of noise that will be uncomfortable.
Considerations When Buying
With beads being smaller than pellets, there is always a risk of sieving through fabrics when either the size of the beads and the type of fabric are not selected correctly. Especially for the beads, the size will be highly determinant on the success of your DIY weighted blanket project.
We recommend that you go for the size of beads between 0.75 to 1mm. Some manufacturers label this size as #3. It is the perfect size that will not sieve through your fabric when you start using it leaving you covered in beads when you cover yourself.
Using sizes larger than this recommended size will make your weighted blanket lumpy and not as comfortable as you expect. The large beads also have a risk of chipping which leaves them with sharp edges. You wouldn’t want to have the weighted blanket feeling prickly, right?
The bulk of the Blanket
How thick you need your blanket to be is also to be considered before buying beads. Beads with a higher bulk density will allow you to use less of them to achieve the same weight and thus the blanket will be thinner. For thicker blankets, you will need to use beads with a lower density.
Fabric and Stitch Size
As stated earlier, the beads sieving through the fabric is one of the risks with beads. Fabrics with the weave too loose will allow the beads to pass through. Examples of such fabrics include shaggy Minky fabrics.
As you can see, the type of fabric you have will determine the size of the beads to buy. Loose weaves will necessitate larger beads while those closely weaved will do even with the small beads.
The stitch size is also key as it will determine whether the beads shift between the pockets. Instead of having to choose larger beads, ensure your stitch size is small enough. Double check and make sure the beads do not seave through the fabric and stitches before you carry on with the project.
Where to Buy Beads
Currently, the best place to buy beads is Amazon with a variety of the best beads available. The top two include the Roly Poly Glass Beads and the Pinwheel Premium Microglass Beads which offer all the advantages of glass beads.
Using beads as a filler material requires a good understanding of their characteristics and considerations before buying them. This complete guide will help you make the right choice.