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Friday, August 13, 2010

DIY Receiving Blanket

Lately, it seems that conception is in the air. More friends than I can count are having babies, which means that I'm very blessed to have LOTS of baby showers to attend. Now, I love celebrating mommas, love welcoming new little ones, and especially love an excuse to get away from my own responsibilities and chat it up with my girlfriends. However, I get a little bored with my baby gifts. Or maybe not bored, just bummed, because what I WANT to buy my friends is something lovely and unique and surprising (like a hand-knitted mobile from a fun boutique...) and what I can fit into my gift budget is a package of Dr. Brown's bottles. And honestly, despite the fact that Dr. Brown's has seen me through two separate years of two separate fussy babies, I would like to have a bonfire and torch all those bottles and their silly parts (I have a weird feeling that I've vented about this before...apparently I'm a little angsty on the subject of infant feeding. Don't get me started on nursing. It was not easy).

Anyway. I have found a solution to my quandry, and it is the DIY receiving blanket.

All the credit for this creation goes to my mom, who made collections of these blankets for Big Brother and Little Brother when they were born. Four for each boy, mostly from adorable, preppy, boyish fabrics like seersucker, gingham, and bright Vineyard-Vines-eque plaids. She had the advantage, of course, of knowing that I was having boys, which I don't always have with friends (as cool as I think it is to wait, I am WAY too much of a control freak to sacrifice all that planning time). If they weren't meticulously packed away in the attic, I'd show you a picture--it would almost be enough to make me want to have another boy to wrap up in all of them. Almost, but not quite.:)

The wonderful thing about these blankets is that you can style them in any way you want, and once you get the hang of it, whipping them out in one evening is quite easy. This bright, funky pattern from Alexander Henry is one I've had my eye on for months, and the impending arrival of my dear friend Megan's third little man was the perfect excuse to snatch it up (I bought it at Whipstitch; if you're in the Atlanta area and curious at all about sewing, you must go there). Megan's husband is Czech, and the two of them have spent many seasons of their relationship living and traveling abroad, so this pattern seemed particularly appropriate.

For a another friend--a native Southerner who is waiting to welcome her first child--I aimed for something a little more delicate and traditional.

Two totally different looks, huh? The best part is that they are personal, handmade, and FAR more special than something that my meager budget could purchase at Babies R Us. Just don't hold me to making them for every baby...I might have to give up sleeping.

See the full tutorial and tons more pictures after the jump.


The measurements below assume that you are making a 42" square blanket. If you would like to go bigger, you'll need to alter the dimensions accordingly. Just remember that most fabrics are about 43" wide. (I'm just one mom, but I'd advise against anything smaller--you need the extra material for swaddling).
  • 1 and one quarter yard of your fabric of choice. Most of the preppy fabrics my mom used came from Fabric Finders; for something more gender neutral, try a (non-flowery) eyelet, or something simple and soft in yellow or white.
  • 1 and one quarter yard of a backing fabric. I use a high-thread-count cotton sateen for summer babies and white cotton flannel for babies born at any other time of year.
  • 5 yards of rick rack. If the baby in question is a girl, you could also try lace or eyelet trim.
  • Coordinating thread: one that matches rick rack, one that matches the main fabric.
  • Basic sewing supplies
1. Wash and iron your fabric. This REALLY matters with this project because you are sewing two different fabrics together, and if one shrinks significantly after you've made the blanket, you're in trouble.

2. Using a cutting board, measure and cut both fabrics to 43" square (my Alexander Henry fabric ended up being shy of 43" wide after washing, so I adjusted and made this blanket about 41").

2. Lay rick-rack around the perimeter of your facing fabric square (in my case, the children), one inch from the edge of the fabric. Pin.

At the corners, fold your rick rack so that it creates a nice, tight, right angle.

3. "Baste" rick rack to fabric, using a long, straight machine stitch. You want the stitch to be relatively easy to pull out, but precisely placed right down the middle of rick rack. (I used my machine's basting stitch the first go round and it wasn't straight enough--the result was a rick rack trim that varied in size over the length of the blanket. No big deal, but not as pretty as it could be).

4. Once you've basted the rick rack to your fabric all the way around, place your backing fabric on top of facing fabric. The right side of backing fabric should face the rick rack. Edges should be as closely aligned as possible. Pin.

5. Flip the fabric sandwich over and stitch (with a nice, tight stitch this time) over the seam you just basted. STOP about 10 inches from the point where you started, reverse to "lock" the seam, and clip the corners, as well as excess outside the seam (just watch out for your rick rack!). Now, use the gap to turn the whole thing inside out, as if you were making a pillow.

6.  Pin the gap together and iron the whole thing so that the blanket is super smooth and the two sides are hanging as evenly as possible.

7. Use thread that matches your facing fabric to topstich the blanket all the way around the perimeter. Stay as close as possible to the edge, but make sure that you're stitching all the way through (I didn't check this, and my topstitch went through the rick rack in several places--you can see it if you look closely at the finished pictures).

That's it! One customized, adorable receiving blanket down, many more to go....

Here's hoping this will save you your own brand of Dr. Brown's bottle remorse.

Have a great weekend, and welcome to the world, newest neighbor!



  1. This is a great idea! After seeing your post on Prudent Baby I went out and bought fabric to make two of these for two friends as baby gifts. A unique, but easy, baby gift idea is always welcome.

  2. This is adorable, and simple enough to whip out several! I just found out I'm expecting a boy, and while I won't be making him any dresses, I love the patterns you've posted and can't wait to get started! Thanks!

    One question - whenever I go to Joanne's Fabric shop, I can't find fabric that is quite as soft as I'd like to make baby things. Can you recommend any websites?

  3. Hi Vicki,
    I tend towards buying in stores so that I'm sure about the quality of the fabric, but that doesn't always give you a great selection. Fabricworm (online) has a nice selection of modern fabrics and carries organic and flannel, which are both good for babies. In general, I'd look for 100% cotton, and the higher thread count the better (just like sheets!). There are also tons of options for fabric on I hope that's mildly helpful--I'm new to fabric buying myself:)

  4. Soooo cute! I love that fabric!

    I hope you'll come participate in my link party today! It runs all week so come back and add more BOY projects! All About The Boy @ The Nifty Nest!


  5. Elisabeth,
    Wow! Great pictures, great projects! I loved reading this blog for the first time. Um, you are super talented!

    P.s. Can I just buy the awesome wreath from you? ;) I can't make that!