Weighted blanket sensory aid sewing tutorial

While I was a patient on a psychiatric ward, they had a sensory room with different aids, including aromatherapy and a weighted blanket.  The blanket was magical (soothing, comforting, a literal safety blanket) so I decided to sew my own.  They are also used for children with autism.  Do NOT use for babies.  Smothering deaths have happened.

FYI, I’m very much a beginner.  I’ve made straight curtains, potholders and a small wall-hanging quilt (all straight lines), but that’s about it.

I made this blanket over a weekend, and the total cost was $24.52, but I already had some materials.  Your cost will increase if you choose to use real Poly-Fil stuffing beads.  I used a bag of economy birdseed from Target because I wasn’t sure how the blanket would come out.  I plan to use it at work, an office building with a cafeteria, and I’m going to store it in a mouse-resistant garbage bag there.  We’ll see how it goes.

MATERIALS

2 yards muslin or plain cotton fabric

2 yards fabric for cover

1 to 10 pounds of Poly-Fil stuffing beads (or birdseed)

Ziploc baggies, quart size

duct tape

Velcro

thread

pencil or fabric marker

quilter’s or regular ruler

measuring cups

I used muslin, but kind of wish I’d used a slightly thicker fabric.  I also used a very soft, studded fabric I found in Joann’s “comfy cozy” section.  The nubs are a great sensory detail.  My fabric cost: $17.52.  I used birdseed, 20-pound bag was $7 at Target; I used 10 pounds of it.  Again, if making this for a child, be VERY careful about the weight.  Ten pounds is definitely at the top of the range for the size I made (finished = 20 by 30 inches) for an adult.  I think 7 pounds would have sufficed.  The Velcro I had lying around was 6 by 4 inches, which I cut into 1- by 6-inch strips for the cover closure.  I used yellow duct tape, because it was what I had.  It shows through the muslin but I’m not worried about it. 

STEP BY STEP WITH PHOTOS

1.  Fold muslin or plain fabric in half so you have a two-ply layer of 1 yard.  Using a ruler and pencil or fabric marker, mark off 7- by 7-inch squares, totaling 12 (4 squares wide by 3 squares high).  I should have ironed, I guess, but I didn’t feel like it.

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2.   Sew lengthwise first, four rows to make the sides of the pockets you’ll stuff.  Then sew across one edge to create the bottom of the first row of pockets.  I used a zigzag stitch at a length of 1.5 on my machine, and I made sure to backstitch at all the stress points (corners of squares).  I used the natural fold as one side of the blanket, but you could use two pieces of muslin and sew all four sides.

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My disability claim was denied while I was in the hospital

First, let me start with this: I’m lucky.  I have a job—a great-paying job that I love, with supervisors who believe in me and are holding my position while I get treatment.  I’m grateful every day for that because I know those of us who are aren’t so lucky are likely homeless, or worse, in jail, because mental illness can make us desperate and irrational.

When it comes to childhoods, I’m not so lucky.  So what, right?  No one has it perfect growing up.  But because of repeated sexual and verbal abuse, I didn’t spend my childhood growing up.  I spent it trying to survive.  Or maybe I grew up too fast.  I grew up in the time of afterschool specials and knew to be wary of strangers.  But no one ever told me I couldn’t trust the people in my own home.

Fast forward through years of school (how I managed to graduate at the top of my high school class or with a bachelor’s degree from a good university is beyond me—I think I knew it was the only way to escape) and years of working (I got my first job at 13 on a horse farm and worked through most of high school and all of college, and I started my first “real” job right after graduating—I’m also lucky that the economy wasn’t in the tank then).   I had friends, hobbies, dreams.  I had made it.  I had cut ties with my family right after high school, and it was hard not having family.  Maybe that’s WHY I made it.  Because I had no safety net, no one to fall back on if I failed.   I got a dream job and moved out of state, started over, and for the first time, I was comfortable, living the dream.

And then it all fell apart.

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