10.16.2011

Baby Blankets Galore!

After my baby shower last weekend a couple of girlfriends with a gaggle of kids all under four gave me their expert advice on what we still needed to be ready for baby bee. Besides a boatload of patience and a good lock on the door to make sure my mom never leaves after baby bee arrives, they said I needed a couple baby blankets for using in the car, stroller, etc.

Baby blankets are a classic shower gift, right up there with cute little clothes. But because baby bee is still an "it", we haven't been gifted either. I searched for a navy and white baby blanket online, balked at the price and gladly decided to make a few blankets myself. Making my own blankets is waaaaay more fun than buying one, any day.

First, I chose a knitted blanket from Knitty called "wild stripes" that I knit for my bestest childhood friend when she had her first baby a few years ago. It has a knit front, a cotton back and is bound like a quilt.

Instead of doing wild, colorful stripes, I wanted to stick with our navy blue and white color scheme. So I picked up some soft, washable wool while I was home. My mom is going to knit the front for baby bee and I'll back and bind it when she's done, using the same fabric I've used for several nursery projects.

I opted to sew baby blankets #2 and #3. For the second I chose a simple 44" square fleece-backed cotton pattern and for the third a handmade chenille-backed cotton blanket, the supplies for which are in the mail. When I got home I discovered that I didn't have enough white fleece for a 44" wide fleece-backed blanket. Oops. I did, however, have just enough pale blue minky fabric left from an earlier project, so instead of buying more fleece and spending more money on blankets that were supposed to be stash-busters, I went with the minky.

And then, after blogging about the quilt one of my mom's girlfriends gave me at my shower last week, I decided to take the simple minky-backed blanket up a notch and pulled out the free-hand quilting foot for my sewing machine.
I quilted the entire blanket with a series of waves and loops, only running out of thread once.
Normally I would just self-bind the blanket with the two extra inches of backing I'd left when cutting. But because I was an avid thumb sucker and absolutely loved anything silky to rub between my fingers as I sucked my thumb as a child, I decided to bind the entire blanket with satin. Not that I'm encouraging baby bee to be a thumb sucker, although I better make sure I put baby on my dental plan or 4th - 7th grades could be very expensive!

I was able to find a remnant piece of white polyester (washable) satin with enough material for two blankets for only $5. First I cut off the extra backing and then used a salad plate to cut curved, instead of square corners.
Next time I'd use a larger plate to make a more gradual curve just to make getting around the curve with the binding a little easier.

I followed this tutorial to make a continuous strip of bias tape binding. And then used the double fold quilt binding technique for extra durability. Heather Baily has a good tutorial here (just make sure to use the continuous strip technique above and skip Heather's steps for making the strips). Finally, I pressed the entire thing, folded it up and stuck it up in the nursery with the rest of baby bee's ever growing stash of handmade goods.
It will be interesting to see which of these blankets or its toys the baby likes most. The recipient of the wild stripes blanket favorite toy as a little kid and now was a matchbox toy he found in a free-for-the-picking box; a total choking hazard that neither his mother or father could not get away from him.

What is your favorite style of baby blanket? Are you a hand-knit person? A quilted blanket person? Do you prefer a fuzzy fleece blanket from Target? Or something entirely different? Do you still have your baby blanket from your childhood? Mine is in my cedar chest. It's entirely silky and worn thread bare; to heck with just silky binding, my parents went for the full thumb-sucking 'til you need braces for years, enabling route.

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