Monday, 1 July 2019
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Ridiculously Easy DIY No Sew Dog (or Anyone!) Blanket

Polar fleece dog print fabric with measuring tape and scissors

It is mid-winter here in New Zealand and July is typically the coldest month of our year. I'll be sharing some snuggly sewing projects here on the blog including some easy winter warmers for pets (or people). Great for nighttime or camping cuddles for summer folks as well! Buuuut since some of you aren't into sewing, I thought I would start by sharing the absolute easiest way to make a custom-sized blanket. No sewing and almost no work/effort required!

Fleece is a knitted no-fray fabric, so although edging is nice for looks and added stability/durability, it isn't necessary. This means that all you need to do to make a blanket is cut to the desired size. The hardest part will be deciding what fleece to buy. As noted in our post about fleece for dog tug toys, it is a synthetic, but it is durable, washes well, and dries quickly.

When shopping for a single-layer blanket fleece, look for a thick and sturdy high-quality polar fleece. It will be snugglier solo than a flimsy fleece and a sturdier fleece will be less prone to stretching and deforming, which is particularly helpful if the edges are left unfinished. Since fleece is fur magnet, pick your colours and patterns carefully for looks and practicality, but really, everything in my life seems to have some fur on it these days!  Last but not least, size matters. Consider the size on the roll (selvage-to-selvage) when planning your project and selecting the fleece. Confession: I simply had to buy this fleece material when I saw it in my local craft store. Cute little dogs, but in my go-to greys and neutral colours. Perfect. Then it then sat in my craft stash for ages waiting for me to FINALLY get around to making blankies. Sorry, Oli and Humphrey. The fleece was 148cm wide, so I bought 3m to make two almost square big blankies. Easy math! It is a decent weight, but not a full heavyweight fleece, so better suited to a finished edge for stability than a no-sew blanket. 

There are lots of pretty no-sew fleece blanket designs with fringes, knotted edges, braided edges, etc but with big dogs these are just asking for ripping. Plain is fine. The only DIYing required to turn a length of thick fleece into a blankie is to cut to size, taking care to ensure the edges are as straight as possible. Straight edges make all the difference between looking like a offcut vs. a simple throw.  I usually cut fleece with scissors and don't care much about straight lines for tugs, but for a perfect blanket edge, a rotary cutter, matt, and straight edges are handy. You will need to work incrementally and slide unless you have an enormous matt though! If you don't have these, you can use any long straight object as a guide to lightly mark a line before cutting with scissors.

To make a no-sew basic fleece blanket or to prep fleece for making into a "fancier" blanket with edge finishing:
  • Select a suitable fleece. Unlike many sewing materials, pre-washing is optional as polar fleece is colourfast and doesn't normally shrink (high temperatures should be avoided when washing or drying fleece). You may still like to wash away an smells and residue from manufacture, transport, retail, etc. either before sewing or before first use.
  • Check the selvage edges and trim if/as needed. 
  • Check the cut edges and trim if/as needed. Most fabric retailers cut fairly well, but quick cuts are rarely perfectly square and/or straight, especially with slippery stretchy fleece. Check the full length to determine the minimum trim possible (less wastage) before cutting. Use the straight trimmed selvage edge as a guide for squaring the corner to help ensure your trimmed blanket is a crisp rectangular shape. 
  • If you are making more than one blanket from the pieces of fleece, measure and cut into pieces at the desired size if/as needed. You can fully measure and mark or simply measure to the cutting point and then use a guide to square and cut (or mark a line for cutting). 

Step-by-step instructions for making a basic no-sew polar fleece dog blanket

Done! For my blankies, this was just the first step of preparing to bind the edges (next week's DIY); however, Oli had the privilege of a test snuggle and promptly nested himself into the blankie unwilling to let me take it back for continues sewing. I think that's a sign of approval.

Dalmatian dog wrapped up in dog printed polar fleece blanket

A plain piece of fleece isn't quite as pretty nor will it have the stabilisation of a finished edge for shape and durability, but it is incredibly easy.  Plus you can always repurpose the fleece or upgrade the blanket later.  In addition to being great for stabilising the edges on a stretchy material like fleece, binding really dresses things up without much effort or expense even if the edges don't need covering. See you next week with details on our homemade quick-dry binding tape and the finished bound fleece blankies.

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