Monday, 15 July 2019
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DIY Reversible Cotton Flannelette Absorbent Dog Blankets

Elderly Dalmatian dog lying on a flannel blanket and waterproof bed sheet

This post is the second of today's special flannelette DIY double-up, first with a simple single layered flannel blanket and now our reversible double layered blanket . The same techniques can be used on very small pieces of cotton flannelette (or other absorbent material) to make washable reusable cosmetic wipes, "non-paper" towels, etc. or upsized for bigger sheets/blankets. These special blankets were made to be cute and cosy (of course!) but specially sized and created to use as a topper on our senior dog Oli's nightime bedding to help with moisture control.

Bladder leakage is common with senior pets. It may be an issue that a trusted vet can help with, or simply something that a loving and caring owner will learn to accommodate and help the pet live comfortably. Oli's issues developed and worsened after last year's emergency surgery. His weakened muscles never seemed to regain control over his cutoff (entertaining on walkies...) and when sleeping this has led to some significant bladder leakage issues. After ruling out any treatable medical causes, our vet was happy to hear that we were making accommodations for Oli's ongoing comfort rather than relegating him to outdoors, as is so often the case. Not our beloved boy. He deserves to enjoy what time he has in comfort with his family.

With a dog Oli's size, a leaky bladder is not unlike a bed-wetting child. After looking at dog products (most being too small for his size and/or position movement during sleep), we bought some absorbent human potty training/incontinence sheets for him instead. They've been so great!  Unfortunately, for all the reasons they're great, they take ages to dry after washing. Since they're white and fluffy, they always looked dirty, even when clean. Yuck. I like to layer on a quick-change blanket for added protection, cleanliness, and comfort. After troubles with slipping/sliding blankets and/or pooling on blankets that didn't absorb or transfer wetness, I decided to make some fluffy cotton flannelette toppers (and make other changes for Oli - but I'll be sharing more about those in some special upcoming posts). The fluffy nap of the flannelette also holds to the fuzzy surface of his training/incontinence sheets enough to keep both together through a night of restful movements. No slipping and sliding.

Owner putting cotton flannel blanket on a waterproof bed bad for elderly dog

To make a similar blanket, you will need flannelette fabrics (or flannelette sheets), suitable thread in a coordinating colour (or colours), 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! 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 highly recommended for this project.

✂️  If you are using off the roll materials, pay attention to the width of the fabric selvage to selvage when selecting. By using fabrics that match closely in size, you can reduce off-cut waste. My blankets were made using the same width of material, which was just slightly bigger than the absorbent area of the pad I wanted to top (I left it larger, no point in wastage). 

  • Prepare the fabrics with a pre-wash (hot) to ensure that any material shrinkage happens before you measure, cut, and sew. Dry thoroughly. Iron the fabric flat to ensure it can be evenly measured and cut. 
    • If using measure-and-cut material, trim to remove the selvage edges and trim the raw edges to remove fraying and ensure the cut edges are straight/square.
    • If using a sheet, remove the top header (save for other crafts) and trim to remove the side/edge hems. 
See our previous post for a cute idea on reusing long narrow offcuts. Patterned selvages are particularly easy to reuse, as they're made to be non-fray, even in a fray-prone material like flannelette. Other parts can be salvaged with some quick ironing to help control the raw edges. 
  • Measure and cut two identically sized pieces of fabric for each blanket. Remember to include seam allowances. Take care to ensure edges are straight and corners are square. If your material has a strong linear or repeating pattern, make sure the pattern is also aligned on cuts and subsequent folds.
Step-by-step instructions for sewing a reversible double-sided flannel blanket
  • Layer right-side in. Iron and/or pin/clip as much as you feel is needed to ensure alignment and avoid bunching.
  • Sew to secure the edge of the blanket, leaving a small gap for turning the fabrics right-side out. 
  • Trim threads if/as needed. Trim excess material along the edges if/as needed and excess from the corners (optional) to turn sharper points.
  • Turn right side out. Ensure the corners are fully turned out.
  • Iron, taking care to flatten the hemmed edge. At the gap, ensure the seam allowances are turned in to match the sewn edges.
  • Topstitch a narrow hem around the entire blanket, including the gap to secure closed.
  • Re-ironing and/or re-washing is optional prior to use.
Step-by-step instructions for sewing a reversible double-sided flannel blanket

These blankies have gotten such a workout since making, lots of snoozing, washing, drying, and more than a little pee, but the still look and feel great. It is worthwhile noting that a cotton blanket will absorb well, but also feels wet when wet, so if you want a stay-dry feeling, you will need to switch to a wicking material or using a wicking topsheet. On the flip, I find it's helpful to be able to quickly touch identify that something has been leaked on so it can be swapped for a clean dry blanket instead of having sweet Oli lying on dried or dry-feeling pee sheets. He's far too precious for anything but a clean dry comfy bed!

Senior Dalmatian dog lying on a bed with blankets

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