In my earlier post on high school graduation gifts you can sew, I forgot to include fleece blankets. I am making some in college colors as presents for a few high school grads.
The technique I use is simple. I buy 4 yards of fleece–2 yards of one color, 2 yards of another. After removing the selvages, I trim them both so that the bottom layer (the layer that will wrap over the top layer as the binding) is 2 inches larger on all sides (eg, bottom layer: 56″ x 72″; top layer: 52″ x 68″). I trim a 2-inch square from each of the four corners of the bottom layer as shown above.
I then fold the bottom layer over the top layer by 2 inches, overlapping at the corners, and pin. I check my measurements all the way around with a hem gauge as I pin.
I use a walking foot to sew the binding edge down, with the needle positioned to the left so it is close to the edge.
With the needle in the needle-down position, I lift the presser foot at the corner, pivot, sew to the corner point, and backstitch.
I trim this little triangle close to the stitching and get . . .
a nicely finished mitered corner! I then turn the blanket and, beginning at the inside corner, sew along the binding edge down to the next corner. I repeat till all four sides and corners have been sewn.
The result is a double-layered fleece blanket that is warm, washes and wears well, and can be used in a variety of ways: in the bleachers, on the sidelines, on a dorm bed, as a spare to keep in a car, or for a picnic. You could use sports team fleece and make one as a Father’s Day gift. And you could sized them smaller to make baby and children’s blankets.
- gray fleece works great as the bottom layer–it doesn’t show lint as readily.
- I have found that solids work best as the bottom layer. Fleece prints like the checkered fabric in the blankets above are seldom printed so that they are perfectly square–this is easier to hide on the top layer. If you do choose to use a print on the bottom layer, try to choose one with an all-over random pattern–it’ll mean less frustration for you.
- fleece can be expensive, but if you look for sales and use coupons, you can get it at affordable prices.
- be patient when cutting fleece. This is probably the most time-consuming step. I use my extra-large rotary cutter and often return to my cutting mat to trim to get the measurements right.
- I like to fold over 2 inches for the faux binding, but you might prefer 1 1/2 inches or 3 inches–up to you. You will have to adjust the size of the squares you cut from the corners accordingly.
- avoid stretching the fleece when cutting, pinning and sewing. Otherwise, the blanket ends up catawampus and askew diagonally, with the layers out of alignment–I learned this the hard way!
- use a new needle for each blanket. Fleece is tough on needles and sewing machines. After each blanket I make, I use a Q-Tip to catch the lint in my machine.
- use polyester thread. I was having a terrible time with skipped stitches and broken thread while sewing one blanket. Thinking my problem was with the thread tension, I looked online for a solution. A helpful soul mentioned that you should use 100% polyester thread when sewing fleece–ah ha! I changed my thread and problem solved.
- use a thread the same color as the bottom fleece layer. The stitches then disappear into the fleece.