Monday, 8 July 2019
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DIY Fleece Blankets (Single Layer) with Basic Bound Edges

 Dalmatian dog wrapped in a fleece blanket with printed dog design

Snuggle up, furfriends! This post continues from last week's share, where we showed the prep work for a custom fleece blanket that can be kept as-is for a ridiculously easy no-sew blanket or fancied up with layers, edging, binding, or other trim. We're adding binding to the edge of our blankets today for an easy but attractive finish on our single layer blankets as well as sharing a special second post showing how to do this in two (or more) layers. 

Why make blankets for the dogs? Well, they're big boys so many pet blankets are too small but people blankets are bigger than needed. Bigger is fine of course, but it also means more to wash/dry and requires buying more blankets for the same availability. So why not resizing a ready-made blanket into multiple dog blankets or make some from other materials?  Plus crafting is fun! 

Practising binding on basic blankets is a great way to learn or refine sewing skills (I've been finding these projects great for adapting and improving my sewing recently) and since we have some very special DIYs in upcoming prepped posts that involve binding, now is a great time to share a few starter projects. Pet projects are awesome for practising and/or trying new techniques as they won't care if you make a few mistakes or things look a less than perfect! If you're new to bindings and know more about different types, ready-made vs. homemade, materials, and more, hop over to our partner blog Creativity Unmasked for a full post about understanding, making, and using binding tapes.

Between senior dog Oli's light bladder leakage issues (the subject of a some very special posts coming soon), general dog life, and my preference for air drying, quick dry blankets are very popular at our place despite being synthetic. In order to keep these polar fleece blankets quick dry, the binding was made with a polyester microfiber instead of a usual cotton or poly-cotton type binding. It's a little less robust, but has a subtle stretch, and gorgeous silky feel, and dries very quickly. Binding takes a little time and patience to make, but is otherwise easy and very economical, especially is using a lot, which I am in my multiple matching projects. I couldn't find what I wanted in the fabric store, so I bought (on massive sale) some quality bedsheets and sliced them up instead. You can use a ready-made binding instead, of course. They're very convenient and make bound blankets a quick and simple sewing project.

Ste-by-step instructions for sewing binding to the edge of a fleece dog blanket

To make a similar blanket you will need polar fleece (or other material of your choice), binding or material to make binding, suitable thread in a coordinating colour, cutting tools, and a sewing machine. Bindings can be fully hand sew but it would be a very long sewing project vs. a quickie blanket craft! Everything can be measured and cut with scissors, but a rotary cutter, matt, and straight edges are handy if you have them.  An iron and ironing board (with pressing cloth if needed) are also recommended, if your chosen fabrics allow. Fusible tape is also optional.
  • Prepare (or purchase) double-fold binding. Read more about binding here, including how I make my own binding tape like the one used on these blankets.
  • Prepare fleece by trimming selvage edges, cutting to size (if needed), and ensuring all edges are straight and corners squared. See the previous post about cutting fleece for blankets for additional details on selection and trimming.
  • Optional: If using a basic fold-over join instead of sewing a diagonal join where the binding ends will meet, prepare the starting end of your binding. I like to cheat a little and use fusible web to hold things perfectly. So easy! 

Using iron-on hemming tape to secure the raw end of binding for easy sewing

  • Select a starting point on the edge of the blanket, ensuring it is far enough away from the corner  not to interfere with turning the binding (at least two full unfolded widths at minimum).  Tip: When machine sewing binding, everyone likes to do things a little differently. If top-stitching, it's common to sew the wrong side first, then flip and top stitch the right side; however, either works if your careful with your positioning and sewing. Do what works for you. I've tried both, and although I love the smooth joint of the side that was stitched then folded, I prefer top-stitching the top/right side. My still developing sewing skills are tidier on the top!
  • Unfold the end of the binding and position it at the starting point, right sides facing, so that one raw edge aligned with the raw edge of the prepared fleece.  
  • Sew the binding into place along the first fold line, taking care whilst turning corners. To turn the corners on the first pass, I like to use the use the fold-and-press method. This will make the binding self-mitre (magic) when opened and folded over to topstitch on the other side.
    • Stop sewing at least the unfolded binding's full width from the corner. 
    • Remove the item from the machine.
    • Fold the tape upwards 90 degrees. Ensure it is in line with the next side (perpendicular to the current side). Iron to press a crease. Unfold.
    • Return the item to the machine (same position) and resume sewing
    • At the fold crease, pause sewing. With the needle down, lift the foot and rotate the item towards the corner. Lower the foot and sew along the crease line all the way to the edge.
    • Remove the item from the machine.  
    • Refold the tape upwards 90 degrees. Ensure it is in line with the next side (perpendicular to the current side), then make another fold downwards at the edge. Iron (or pin/pinch) and carefully return the item to the machine, positioned to sew the next edge starting from the folded over edge.

    Step-by-step instructions for turning a corner when sewing binding to the edge of a dog blanket

    • When you have fully sewn around the blanket back to the starting point, take care to align at the end overlap. Ensure there is enough of a tail leftover to conceal inside the overlap, then cut the end of the binding. If using the basic fold over, I will cheat again here and use some fusible web to make sure my concealed end is perfectly tucked into the starting end before I topstitch.
    • Trim threads and turn the blanket over. Wrap the binding over the edge, carefully topstitch (or other technique, if/as you prefer) the binding into place, taking extra care to ensure the corners are neatly folded on both sides.  Tip: As I reach the corner, I like to remove my item from the machine, ensure the corner is folded as neatly as possible (checking both sides),  reinsert the item on turned around the corner, and start sewing again.
    • Trim threads if/as needed. 
    • Ironing (if fabric allows - don't iron polar fleece directly as it may melt) and/or washing is optional prior to use.

    Binding can be a subtle complimentary trim or a loud and proud style statement of its own. For fray-prone materials or in multiple layers (our follow-on layered blankie), casing the raw edge is not just pretty but functional too. For a simple material, like the single layer of no fray fleece the finished edge isn't as essential, but it will help these blankets hold shape as fleece on its own tends to stretch or deform and befits from a little added stability. 
    Dalmatian dog lying down with piles of pretty folded dog blankets

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