Friday, December 13, 2013

MAKE A SNUGLY FLEECE QUILT FOR SOMEONE SPECIAL

As you know, by now, Grandma Susan always tries to design and create handmade presents for all kinds of occasions. And Christmas-time is no exception. For this holiday season, among other things, I made fleecy blankets for each of my three small grandchildren.

These snugly quilts are made from purchased, ready-made fleece blankets. I found the small blankets on sale at a big box store for just $3.00 each. They're available in many colors and patterns. I chose a child-friendly pattern and a coordinating solid for each quilt. I tie-quilted the pieces, decorated the front side with colorful yarn, and crocheted all around the edges. It was a great way to use up some of my yarn stash. So, the only cost was that of the two blankets. The end result was a fast turn-around project that has a lot of homemade, old-fashioned charm.
A handmade, fleecy tie-quilt is a great gift.

The most difficult part was making the very first one because the fleece fabric is somewhat stretchy and can be a bit difficult to handle. But with the practice, the second and third came together much easier. So, here, I'll give you some hints that should help cut your time when making this quilt.

This is a great project to do over the weekend. You need only a few items. And, if all goes well, it takes only about 10 hours of work on each quilt. You could also make this blanket with regular fleece fabric - cutting to the right size and/or piecing together, but that would take a bit more trouble.

Materials
Two fleece blankets, each measuring about 45 X 60 inches.
Sharp scissors
Large safety pins
Crochet hook (I used a size H hook.)
Measuring tape or a ruler
Upholsterer's needle
Thimble (to poke the needle through 2 layers of fleece)
Three balls of worsted-weight yarn in different colors – can be leftovers from other projects.

Instructions
Step 1. Lay out the fabric.
Lay one piece of fabric flat over the other, making sure the wrong sides are touching. Trim away any excess fabric around the edges so that one is exactly the same size as the other.

Step 2. Place safety pins all over the blanket.
One reason that these quilt projects can be challenging is the need to wrangle the large pieces of fabric. That's where safety pins come in.

Fasten the safety pins through the two pieces using as many pins as you want. Be sure to cover the entire surface of the blanket with safety pins - at intervals, of course, so that the blanket will lie flat while you're working on the ties.

Step 3. Make the ties.
Once the two layers are securely pinned together, make your tie pattern.

Take the upholsterer's needle and the yarn and push the needle through the two layers - from front to back to front, again.  This can be a struggle, so be ready to use your thimble and finger strength. You may even have to resort actually poking small holes with a seam ripper.

I stitched 12 ties, making a total of 6 - 11" squares (See the picture.) Tie the ends in a tight double knot and trim the yarn so you have two lengths of about 1.5 inches sticking up from the quilt. You can make more squares if you want. But 12 ties seem to be enough to hold the pieces together.

Step 4. Decorate your quilt.
All the decoration should be done on only the front of the blanket with knots hidden between the two layers. The stitches would be too bulky if they pass through both layers. Use your needle to make a decorative rectangle just three inches along all the edges. If you want to write a name or initials on the blanket, use large letter stencils to draw the letters. Then make simple yarn stitches to go around the outline of the letters.

Step 5. Stitch and crochet the edges.
With double-strand yarn and the large needle, blanket stitch around the four edges of the two layers. When this is done, single crochet all around using the blanket stitching as a guide.

Get to work on your blanket.
You'll enjoy the process of deciding on patterns and colors and working to tie-bind your blanket together. And, whether it's a gift for a child or an adult, this fleecy quilt is going to be used and appreciated at any time of year. And, don't be surprised if you want to make one for yourself. I plan to do that just as soon as I've taken care of the people on my gift list.

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