How to sew DIY reversible flannelette (cotton flannel) blankets. The same techniques can also be used with small pieces of cotton flannelette (or other absorbent material) to make washable reusable cosmetic wipes and non-paper towels or upsized for bigger blankets. You can make quick and cute baby blankets this way, too. I think it’s even easier than making a single layer hemmed blanket! These special homemade dog blankets were made to be cute and cosy (of course!), but were specially sized and created to use as a topper on senior dog Oli’s nighttime bedding to help with moisture control.
Senior Dog Bladder Control Issues
Oli’s Senior Dog Pee Problems
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 cut-off (entertaining on walkies…).
More recently, 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.
Products and Options for Pee Protection
With a dog Oli’s size, a leaky bladder is not unlike a bed-wetting child. Most dog products are too small for his size and/or position movement during sleep, so 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 also take ages to dry after washing. Since they’re white and fluffy, they always looked dirty, even when clean. Yuck.
I like to layer a quick-change blanket for added protection, cleanliness, and comfort. After troubles with slipping and sliding blankets and/or pooling on blankets that didn’t absorb or transfer wetness, I decided to make some fluffy cotton flannelette toppers. The fluffy nap of the flannelette also holds to the fuzzy surface of his training sheets enough to keep both together through a night of restful movements. No slipping and sliding. Plus, their pretty doggone cosy just as blankies, too!
Note: When light leakage became more of a norm than an occasional issue, we also added senior dog belly band diapers to Oli’s pee protection supplies. I didn’t care about cleaning up his bed sheets, but couldn’t stand the thought of the old boy being ashamed or uncomfortably wet. They were used in combination with the backup support of his training sheets and flannelette blankets.
DIY Flannelette Blanket Supplies and Materials
To make a similar blanket, you will need flannelette fabrics (or flannelette sheets for upcycling), suitable thread in coordinating colours, cutting tools, and a sewing machine. The blanket can be fully hand sew, but it would be a very long sewing project compared to this quick DIY. Everything can be measured and cut with scissors, but a rotary cutter, matt, and straight edges are handy. An iron and ironing board (with pressing cloth if needed) are also highly recommended for this project.
- Flannelette 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
If you are using off the roll materials, pay attention to the width of the fabric selvage to selvage when selecting fabrics. By using fabrics that match closely in size, you can reduce off-cut waste. My blankets were made using the same width of materials. they were just slightly bigger than the absorbent area of the pad I wanted to top. I didn’t trim them to size, as it seemed silly to just trim and create wastage.
Sewing a Reversible Flannelette Dog Blanket
Preparing the fabrics:
- Prepare the fabrics 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.
- 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) and trim to remove the side/edge hems.
- 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.
Sewing the blankets:
- 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.
Usage and Care
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!
These blankies have gotten such a workout since making, lots of snoozing, washing, drying, and more than a little pee, but they still look and feel great. 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.