Monday, 8 July 2019
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DIY (Cosy Quick Dry) Layered Dog Blankets with Bound Edges

Dalmatian dog lying down with stacks of cosy plush dog blankets

This is the second part of today's snuggly double post, showing how basic bound edge DIY blankets can be easily adapted to layered blankets and much more. It is winter in our part of the world, and I've been busy replenishing our (ripped, smelly, worn out) dog blankies with lovely new blankets that are easy care and look great around the house. As shared in our previous post, making blankets is an easy DIY and a great way to customise the size, materials, and style of pet (or people) blankets.

Humphrey is crazy in love with the microfleece bedsheets hubby bought this winter and like to try and tuck himself into our bed. I'm a cotton girl myself, but do confess that they're pretty cosy in cold weather and they dry incredibly quick - which is handy in our winter weather since I rack/line dry all of our washing all year round. The thin fleecy material isn't well suited to being a dog blankie on its own, but it does layer beautifully with other materials. I decided to pair it with a microflannel topper and microfiber binding. All synthetics (I know...) but great for washing, resistant to staining, quick dry, and less prone to holding smells over time. All helpful in with dogs, especially since our senior has light bladder leakage issues (the subject of a some very special posts coming soon). Microflannel has a lovely soft feel but is less of a fur magnet than many materials and has a deceptively heavy drape about it that makes thin layered blanket somehow feel substantially more luxurious.

Dalmatian dog wrapped in a grey and white quilt with binding edges

None of these materials are readily available in our local craft/sewing stores, and definitely not in the colours or styles I wanted for my blankets. I wanted these to not only feel good but look good. We have so many beds and blankets around the house, it really makes a difference trying to coordinate things with the decor instead of fighting the chaos. The solution? All the materials for these blankets (other than the thread) were repurposed from large bedsheets. A large (queen for bigger) sheet is ample for me to make four large dog blankets with minimal offcuts or wastage. The headers and (if wide or thick) side/bottom hems need to be trimmed off (can be reused in other projects or as cord/ties), but I was pleasantly surprised that the offcuts were otherwise minimal. Comparable to the selvage and raw edge trimmings on a cut-to-length material.

To make a similar blanket you will need a large fleece and microflannel sheet of similar sizes (or other material of your choice), binding or material to make binding, suitable thread in a coordinating colour, cutting tools, and a sewing machine. The blanket can be fully hand sew but it would be a very long sewing project vs. a quickie blanket craft! A walking foot would be helpful, if you have one (I didn't when making these). 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.

✂️  The steps below, other than prepping the layers before binding, are exactly the same as binding a single layer blanket. Once you get comfortable with using binding, the process is easily applied to all sorts of sewing projects. See the previous post for additional photos of prepping binding, turning corners during binding attachment, etc.

  • Prepare (or purchase) double-fold binding. Read more about making and sewing binding here, including how I make my own binding tape like the one used on these blankets.
  • Prepare sheets by trimming top header from the sheet (save for other crafts), and, if wide or thick, remove the side/bottom hemmed edges. If these sheets are colourfast and pre-shrunk, pre-washing is optional.  You may still like to wash away an smells and residue from manufacture, transport, retail, etc. either before sewing or before first use. Ironing is difficult with these materials, but it is helpful to ensure the material is as smooth as possible. Pre-washing/drying, hand smoothing, or low-temp ironing (with a  pressing cloth) can help if  time and materials allow.
  • Cut the sheets to size (quarters in my case), trying to ensure they are of similar sizes to minimise trimming/waste. Ensure edges are straight and corners squared. See our post about cutting fleece for making blankets for additional details on trimming.
  • Layer the materials right-sides out, taking care to ensure that everything is smooth and aligned to avoid the risk of bunching. Pinning or clipping is recommended. 
  • Sew a narrow hem to join the sides. Although materials can be joined during binding, it is easier (especially with materials like this) and likely to give a neater finished project if the materials are sewn together first, trim the edges if/as may be needed, and then bind. The narrow hem will be hidden under the binding, so feel free to use up odd colours of thread if you wish.  Tip: With slippery/stretchy materials, it helps to work incrementally, stopping to remove and re-check alignment to ensuring smooth unbunched layers as you go. I like to stop on every side for a layout and check.

Step-by-Step instructions for sewing a two-layer (double sided) dog blanket with bound edges

  • 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!
  • 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 to attach 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 for attaching binding with a mitred corner. 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.
  • 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 binding attachment 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.
Homemade stylish grey and white double layered dog blanket with bound edges

Humphrey is loving his special fleecy backed blankies, and they look pretty doggone great with the rest of our house as well, which is a big win in my efforts to keep thinks looking moderately in order around the house. I experimented with several different methods when making these and although my binding isn't perfect, it's getting better all the time. Annnnd I've finally ordered a walking foot. Whoot whoot! About time given how much I like crafting things! 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 making and using binding tapes.

Stay tuned for more winter warmers and cosy crafts, including some very special projects created to help ensure senior dog Oli has all the comfort of his favourite nesting and resting places without his humans needing to worry about whether he was leaking a little, both for the sake of the beds/furniture as well as his comfort. Nobody likes a wet nest!

Dalmatian dog cuddled under a grey and white dog blanket

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