Winter here in the land of the long white cloud often feels a bit more like the land of the long grey grizzly rain cloud! Rain or shine, we go walkies every day, and that makes for rather soggy doggies (and humans). These simple little DIY flannelette dog blankets do double-duty as effective dry cloths. Occasionally, a good towelling is in order, but these little blankets wash and dry much faster than a bath towel, especially when air drying in our New Zealand winter weather.
These cotton flannelette blankets, unlike our quick dry synthetics, were made to be cute and cosy (of course!) but also to help soak up moisture. This sneaky little tip has stayed in my memory ever since many years ago my sister-in-law shared that her son’s old baby blankets made the best wraps for drying her wet hair. Very effective, but much lighter and more comfortable than a towel.
Cotton flannelette is a woven cotton fabric that’s brushed to raise the fibres, which gives the material its soft fuzzy feeling. It’s 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!
Material Selection and Design Factors
My single-layered blankies were made by repurposing the flat sheet from a flannel sheet set. It cost less to but a set than a single fitted sheet (go figure) when I added a fitted sheet over the mattress protector on our dogs’ big bed.
Because I’m upcycling, the prep is a little different here than with by-the-meter materials, like our double layered reversible flannel blankets, but the fundamentals are the same. Even a single sheet is plenty wide for making dog blankets. Since I don’t machine dry, I made them rectangular, with a width to fit my indoor drying rack which is very handy if I can’t line dry.
Although these single-layered blankets were relatively quick and easy to make, reversible double layered flannelette blankets are even easier. They’re warmer and more absorbent, but the thickness means they take longer to dry. These lightweight single layered dry cloths are a perfect compromise.
Our dogs have many beds, including a single mattress of their own beside our bed (although they often choose our bed). Big dogs need big spaces, especially since they love being close to each other on the same bed. The mattress protector keeps it clean it dry under their blankies, but also takes ages to wash and dry. Surface soiling protection helps. Plus, a bare mattress protector doesn’t look very pretty. I bought a (super sale) fitted sheet that blends better into the decor and is easier to keep clean.
Making a Flannelette Blanket with Hemmed Edges
Supplies and Materials
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! Everything can be measured and cut with scissors, but a rotary cutter, mat, 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.
- Flannelette sheet or fabric
- Straight edge (either as a cutting guide or to mark a guide line)
- Square object (optional to assist with checking corners)
- Measuring tape (optional)
- Complimentary coloured thread
- Sewing machine and general cutting / sewing supplies
- Iron and ironing board
- Source materials as listed above, or preferred alternatives.
- Prepare the fabric with a pre-wash. Ensure that the temperatures match your future washing plans to ensure that any material shrinkage happens before you measure, cut, and sew. Hot washing can contribute to pilling, so adjust to your personal preferences. Some folks like to use white vinegar with flannelette items on first wash to reduce pilling – totally optional, of course.
- Dry thoroughly.
- Iron the fabric flat to ensure it can be evenly measured and cut.
Cutting Flannelette for the Blanket
- If using measure-and-cut material, trim to remove the selvage edges. Trim the raw edges to remove any fraying and ensure the cut edges are straight and square.
- If upcycling a sheet, remove the top header (save for other crafts) If using a sheet, remove the top header (save for other crafts). Depending on the thickness of the side and/or bottom hems and how you plant to finish the edges, you can retain or remove.
- Measure and cut to size for each blanket, 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 in the next stage below).
The side and bottom hems on my sheet 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 pattern. I knew that would annoy me, so I trimmed them even.
100% cotton offcuts can be shredded and composted 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.
Hemming the Flannelette Blanket Edges
- 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.
- Create mitred corners (see both options below) for all corners of the blanket.
- Pinning the completed folded ironed edges prior to sewing is optional but recommended. 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.
Creating a mitred corner on a double fold hem:
- 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.
✂️ 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.
Cheating the Mitred Corners with Retained Hems
If you are retaining existing hems on an upcycled sheet being cut down into smaller blankets or dry cloths, corners are a little trickier. You can still cheat the mitred corner, though. You can get a similar “matching” mitred corner look by folding without trimming. It will be a bit bulkier, but not noticeably so with a thin single layer of flannelette.
Usage and Care
These basic blankets were a great way to make use of my otherwise unneeded orphaned single flannelette flat sheet. They’re light but comfy as a lightweight blanket and work great as a wet wrap or dry cloth. I have 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 blankets. This makes for quicker dry-time for warmer, happier, healthier dogs.
The absorbency means these are not quite as quick dry as a fleece blanket, but being single layer and small sizes helps to keep dry time down. They dry much faster than our thicker reversible flannelette blankets. Cutting the sheet into multiples keeps fresh dry blankies at the ready. They’ve already been put to good use with our soggy winter weather.
Care and cleaning are the same as any ready-made cotton flannelette sheets or other items, noting my comments above during fabric prep about temperatures and potential pilling. I generally cold wash and line dry, unless cleaning special messes.