About a month later, for Christmas, however, he received his all-time favorite gift that fit into this theme: a John Deere tractor folding blanket. He has slept with that blanket for almost seven years now-no kidding. He loves it, as you can see from how worn it looks. I've always beeen impressed by this blanket, but I never knew where to find another one like it. My sister gave it to him at Christmas, but she got it more as a hand-me-down from a friend and co-worker who received it as a gift for her son who never cared about tractors. She also bought him a "real present" since she didn't want to just give him something passed on to her for free, but it was this hand-me-down freebie that my son LOVED! I will admit; it's super soft, and the fabric stays cool, so it is perfect for snuggling with at night. Don't get me wrong; he still insists on sleeping with his no-sew blanket we made together this summer, but that one lays over him while this John Deere one cuddles up to his shoulders and face. If he knew I was sharing this online, he'd be embarrassed as it doesn't match his tough athlete image, but that's just one more feature I love about this guy. He's tough on the outside but sweet and soft as a marshmallow on the inside.
While he continued to love this blanket, I began to realize I could duplicate it. All I really needed to do was make some measurements and visit a fabric store. If my son has loved this blanket for seven years, I'm sure other children would too, so it would make a lovely gift for a toddler.
And then I realized one of the reasons I have always liked the blanket: its pocket that allows me to fold up the blanket into itself. This would make a wonderful lap blanket to keep in the car! When I used to teach, I would have to wear dresses and skirts to work, so in the winter, my legs would freeze while I waited for my car heater to kick in fully as I drove to work. I always carried a lap blanket in my car during the winter months. Actually, I still have it in the back of my minivan. Geez, that thing is almost twenty years old since I bought it back in college. I guess my son isn't the only one with a passion for blankets. Of course, keeping a blanket in a car is very practical, not just to keep exposed legs warm in the winter but to have on hand for unexpectedly cool sports games in the early spring and late fall. I've pulled my own blanket out of the trunk for many a soccer game throughout the years. I've even pulled it out for unplanned picnics or as extra seating at outdoor concerts. It's really quite smart to have one, but storing one isn't always that easy, which is what makes my son's folding blanket so perfect. I could make one for my mini-van and just keep it neatly folded under the back seat for whenever we'd need it.
There, now I have an excuse to head to the store! Bummer, my toddler needs to nap, and I have chores to finish. While I can't leave my house, I may as well put off those chores to show you how you'll fold up your blanket once you've made it. Sure, these instructions may seem a bit backwards, but once you see how this blanket works, you'll be convinced to hit the store to buy material to make your own!
Isn't this the coolest? Now, I plan on attaching a strap to mine, so it can be toted around, and I've found some adorable fabric though I don't know if it'll be as soft as my son's blanket. Well, maybe it will after dozens of washings. Either way, I can't wait to get started.
lots of pins
1 package crib quilting (you'll use almost 1 3/4 yard)
1 1/3 yard soft cotton fabric in one pattern/color (I'll refer to as #1)
1 3/4 yard soft cotton fabric in another pattern/color (I'll refer to as #2)
Your finished blanket will measure 44" long and 41" wide with the pocket measuring 16" long and 15" wide.
Step 1: Cut fabric #1 into two pieces with the first one measuring 43" x 46" and the second one measuring 43" x 5". Cut fabric #2 into three pieces with the first one measuring 43" x 46" and the second two measuring 16" x 17" each. This allows for 1 inch seam allowances at all times. If you are like me and are overly concerned with the durability of your blanket, you can now sew a zig-zag stitch around the edges of all five pieces of fabric, using less than a 5/8" seam allowance.
Step 2: Make the strap: Fold the long strip from fabric #1 in half with the good sides facing each other, iron and pin. Sew one short side closed and the entire long side, allowing for 1/2" seam allowance. Then carefully turn the strap right-side-out. Tuck in the short end that is still open about 1/2" and sew closed. The ends will be hidden in the pocket, so they don't have to be perfect. As you sew, don't forget to always do a back-stitch for about the first and last five stitches for further strength.
Step 3: Make the pocket piece:
3a. Cut a piece of the batting 15" x 16".
3b. Face the good sides of the 16"x17" pieces of fabric together and pin. Sew three of the sides closed, leaving one of the 17" sides open. Again, back-stitch at the beginning and end, and have a 1/2" seam.
3c. Turn right-side out. Carefully insert the batting and smooth out. Fold the fabric of the open portion in 1/2" and pin. Take your strap and measure from the outside seams 3". Pin your strap in between the two pieces of fabric, tucking it in about 2". Sew closed, using a 3/8" seam allowance. Now your pocket is almost finished and has the straps sewed to it.
3d. You need to sew the lines across the pocket to create a tic-tac-toe board look. Measure 5" from the side seams and pin repeatedly or use a washable marking pencil. (I never have luck seeing those, so I just pin to create a guide and slowly pull out the pins as I reach them.) Do this for all four sides, so you will have two horizontal lines and two vertical lines. Sew straight stitches where you've marked.
Now you are finished with your pocket piece and strap. (Note: If you plan to use this blanket for a child's sleeping blanket, do NOT make the strap for it as a child could get tangled in it. This strap is only meant to be used if this will be a car blanket or picnic blanket.)
Step 4: Make the blanket: This step is very similar to making the pocket piece, only with much bigger pieces of fabric.
4a. Face the good sides of the two large pieces of fabric together and pin. Sew three of the sides closed, leaving one of the 43" sides open. Again, back-stitch at the beginning and end, and have a 1/2" seam.
4b. Turn right-side out. Lay the batting on top to measure it and cut. Carefully insert the batting and smooth out. This takes a little more effort due to the larger size. Fold the fabric of the open portion in 1/2" and pin. Don't sew closed yet in case you need to adjust the batting.
4c: We need to sew the two horizontal lines for your blanket. Lay your blanket out so you can see fabric #2. The part that you haven't closed shut will be the bottom of your blanket. Measure and mark from the top of your blanket 15" in about 6 spots. This will create your first horizontal line. Sew a straight stitch across. Now measure and mark from the bottom of your blanket 15" in about 6 spots. This will create your lower horizontal line. Sew a straight stitch across. We are doing these stitches first so the pocket won't get in the way.
4d. Let's pin on the pocket piece. Lay your blanket so piece #2 is on top. Your pocket belongs at the bottom center of your blanket. Pin it in place. Measure and mark 13 1/2" in about six spots going up both sides of the blanket. As you do, you should be hitting about 1/2" of the edge of the pocket piece's sides. This way your vertical lines will also be sewing your pocket onto your blanket. Sew. I also did extra back stitching when I reached the top of the pocket piece for extra strength.
4e: Sew the bottom part of your blanket closed with a straight stitch, giving yourself 1/4" seam. This will also sew the bottom of your pocket to your blanket, so it's wise to back stitch as you reach the beginning and end of the pocket piece.
Step 5: Make sure you've removed all the pins and snipped off any extra thread. You now have a warm and cozy blanket, so let's fold it up! Lay it flat on the ground, so you can see fabric #1. Fold along the two vertical lines. Now flip the blanket over. From the top, fold down at the first horizontal line. Then, instead of folding at the second horizontal line, you will stuff the blanket into the pocket.
Now you can carry your blanket with the shoulder strap and use it on a picnic, at a park, or during an outdoor concert. The other benefit to the strap is storage if you have a mini-van or SUV. Hang the strap over one of your back-row headrests so the blanket hangs out of the way in the trunk. You can then easily access it through the trunk or the back seat when you need it! Isn't this just the coolest blanket ever? I was tempted to make it a bit bigger, but I didn't want to worry about getting measurements incorrect and it not work. Plus, this size works well with a standard piece of fabric and crib batting. I just used the original as a model and added for the seam allowances, and I was thrilled that it worked out as perfectly as that first one.
You can find me at these parties!