Monday, 15 July 2019
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DIY Single-Layer Cotton Flannelette Blankets and Dry Cloths

Dalmatian dog wrapped in a grey and white plaid flannel blanket

We've shared our snuggly fleece dog blankets and stylish layered fleece/microflannel blankets, and now here are our comfy cotton flannel (flanelette) blankies. Our cotton flannelettes, unlike our quick dry synthetics, were made to  be cute and cosy (of course!) but also to help soak up moisture as a layer in Oli's bladder leakage bedding and to help get the boys warm and dry after wet winter walkies. Today's post is another special double-up, first with a simple single layered flannel blanket and then a reversible double layered flannel blanket, which I would argue is actually quicker and easier than edging a single 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.

Cotton flannelette is a woven cotton fabric that's brushed to raise the fibres, which gives the material its soft fuzzy feeling (referred to as "nap" in fabric terms, which makes it sound even cosier). Check out the photo below of Oli nested in the freshly washed and dried flannelette, pre-cutting. Cosy indeed, cheeky rascal! My single-layered blankies were made with the flat sheet from the flannel sheet set that I bought when added a fitted sheet over the mattress protector on our dogs' big bed, so the prep is a little different here than with by-the-meter materials, like our double layered flannels, but the fundamentals are the same.  Our dogs have many beds, including a single mattress of their own by our bed (although they usually choose our bed at night!). Bigs dogs need big space, especially since they love being close to each other on the same bed. The mattress protector keeps it clean/dry under their blankies, but also takes a lot longer to wash/dry and looks "meh" so I bought a (super sale) fitted sheet that blends better into the decor and is easier to keep clean.

Dalmatian dog completely cuddled underneath grey and white plain flannel blanket

To make a similar blanket, you will need flannelette fabric (or a flannelette sheet), 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! 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.
  • Prepare the fabric with a pre-wash (hot) to ensure that any material shrinkage happens before you measure, cut, and sew. Dry thoroughly. 
    • 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). Depending on the thickness of the side/bottom hems and you you plant to finish the edges, you can retain or remove. I did a bit of both. the hems were small enough that I could reduce off-cut waste by use them in my fold-over edging with a little fudging on the mitres; however, some of the hems were "wonky" relative to the linear patterns on my material which I knew would annoy me, so I trimmed them even. The offcuts can be shredded and composted (cotton) or kept for reuse. With a little ironing to turn the cut edges inwards, they make lovely rustic ties for wrapping gifts or tying bouquets.

Trimming flannel material for sewing and saving the offcuts for use as ribbon

  • Iron the fabric flat to ensure it can be evenly measured and cut. 
  • Measure and cut to size, including the doubled-over seam allowances for the fold over hem. Take care to ensure edges are straight and corners are square. If your material has a strong linear pattern (like mine) make sure the pattern is also aligned on cuts and subsequent folds.
  • Fold the first seam allowance inwards. Iron incrementally as you fold to press, form a strong crease line, and hold the folded over fabric.
  • Fold over again, turning the raw edge under the fold. Iron incrementally as you fold to press, form a strong crease line, and hold the folded over fabric.  
  • To create a basic mitred corner on the double-fold (see photos as well as the note below):
    • Unfold at a corner. 
    • There will be a number of crease lines from ironing and folding, including an inside square where the first folds and second folds intersect at the cornet. Mark a line on the diagonal through that square, passing through the corners and to the edges of the fabric 
    • Trim off the corner along that line. 
    • Fold the cut edge inwards so that the creases meet, and iron to hold. 
    • Refold the edges on the first fold line and iron to hold. 
    • Refold again on the second fold line. As this edge is folded, the cut and turned corner will meet together and form the mitre. Iron to hold.

Step-by-step instructions how to sew a mitred corner on a blanket edge

✂️  You can use an alternative method to fold, topstitch, and then cut if you prefer a stronger hidden stitched closure along the mitre; however, for narrow hems or low-wear items unstitched is usually fine. If hiding the seam isn't essential (like flannel where same-coloured stitches tend to disappear in the nap or dog blankies where no one cares) you can also topstitch the finished mitre. 
If you are retaining existing hems and need to cheat the mitred corner, you can get a similar "matching" mitred corner look by folding without trimming. It will be bulkier, but not noticeably so with a thin singled layer of flannelette.
Cheating a mitred corner when sewing a blanket with pre-finished edges

  • Repeat your cornering method(s) to complete all corners.
  • Pinning the completed folded ironed edges prior to sewing is optional. Ironed flannelette tends to hold well without pinning or clipping.
  • Sew to secure the edge of the blanket. 
  • Trim threads if/as needed. 
  • Re-ironing and/or re-washing is optional prior to use.

Sewing a cotton flannelette blanket for dogs

These basic blankies were a great way to make use of my otherwise unneeded orphaned single flannelette flat sheet. They're light but comfy as a blankie and work great as a wet-wrap. I have old towels for post wet-weather walkies towelling, but the dogs' fur still holds a lot of water. The flannelette is great at pulling the moisture to help the fur dry instead of holding it under, like some fleece blankies. This makes for quicker dry-time for warmer, happier, healthier dogs. The absorbency means these are not quick wash/dry, but small sizes helps to keep dry-time down and cutting the sheet into multiples keeps fresh dry blankies at the ready. Since I don't machine dry, I sized them to fit my drying rack which is also handy. They've already been put to good use with our soggy winter weather. 

Check out our follow-on post for Oli's extra special waterproof senior dog bed toppers, made with a cute reversible design and double-layered flannelette. Although these single-layered blankets were relatively quick and easy to make, basic double layered flannelette blankets are even easier!

Dalmatian dog snuggled in basket bed with sheepskin rug and flannel blanket

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