A weighted blanket is a heavy comforter that provides a deep pressure sensation, which helps soothe the nervous system promoting a feeling of calm and relaxation. The blanket’s weight usually comes from plastic pellets or glass beads. Additionally, some blankets use extra layers of fabric to increase heaviness and comfort.
Weighted comforters are available in a variety of different sizes and weights. They can be used by kids as young as two, as well as teens and adults. They work by simulating a technique known as deep touch pressure therapy (DTP). This therapy uses pressure on the body to increase the release of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is often called the “happy” chemical because it provides a feeling of calm and well-being. Pressure on the body has also been shown to increase melatonin and decrease cortisol. Melatonin is a sleep-promoting hormone, and cortisol is the body’s primary stress hormone. By increasing melatonin and serotonin and decreasing cortisol, the blanket can help people sleep better as well as soothe their anxiety. For this reason, weighted blankets are known to help people with insomnia, anxiety, depression, ADHD, autism, PTSD, and sensory processing disorders.
Weighted blankets were initially used by occupational therapists but have since become commercially available. Comforters range in price from $130 to $300. However, if you’re not ready to make this kind of investment, you can make your own.
How To Make Your Own Weighted Blanket
If you want the benefits of a weighted comforter, and know-how to sew, then making your own blanket is a great option. Additionally, making your own blanket allows you to personalize your comforter with the materials, weight, and size of your choice. However, this project is best for intermediate sewers. First-timers shouldn’t attempt it as it’s rather complicated.
- Sturdy fabric for the blanket’s front and back
- Weighted fill material
- Kitchen Scale
- Tailor’s chalk
- High-quality thread
- Sewing Machine
Choosing a piece of fabric for your blanket:
Selecting what fabric your blanket will be made of is crucial. Your choice of material can significantly affect the comfort of the blanket and influence how often you use it. The seven most common fabrics for weighted blankets are:
- Linen-rayon blend
Cotton offers a variety of prints and colors, but most importantly, cotton is breathable. Cotton is a natural fabric, and due to the way it’s designed and manufactured, it’s able to insulate, control moisture, and is hypoallergenic. Cotton is also natural, biodegradable, and easy to wash. However, cotton will lose its softness if dried on medium-high heat.
Flannel is a great option for colder climates. The brushed surface of this fabric can trap air and body heat while allowing your skin to breathe. This means that you will be kept warm but won’t wake up overly hot and sweaty. However, you’ll find that flannel retains too much heat for use in the warmer months. On the plus side, though, flannel doesn’t need any ironing.
Satin-cotton is best for people who are heat sensitive and like the tactile feel of satin. Additionally, satin-cotton doesn’t absorb moisture from the skin. Instead, it helps the skin to maintain moisture.
Fleece fabric creates air pockets that keep you warmer than wool or other fabrics. Fleece won’t pill or form little balls the way other synthetic material will. It’s very strong and dries quickly. It’s also lightweight, making it the ideal choice for winter camping or backpacking.
Minky fabric comes in several variants, plush, high-pile, and sleek, smooth, low pile. Minky is incredibly durable and extremely soft. It’s also stain-resistant. It’s best for use in the colder months as the fabric tends to be extremely warming.
Linen is among the world’s oldest textiles. It’s also one of the most breathable and absorbent fabrics, making it ideal for hotter climates. Blending linen with rayon creates a softer fabric that has a more fluid drape and a subtle sheen. Linen-rayon blend is best for people who are very sensitive to textures, finding most fabrics scratchy.
Bamboo is a natural fabric that is extremely durable and incredibly soft. Like cotton, bamboo is breathable and hypoallergenic. It also has antibacterial and antifungal features and is odor resistant. Additionally, it’s easy to care for and gets softer with each wash.
- Before you do anything, you need to decide what size you want your blanket to be. You don’t have to make it the size of a quilt or duvet. Rather, you just need it to be large enough to cover you. However, it all depends on how you plan on using your blanket. If you want to use it as a duvet on your bed, you should make it larger in size. If you plan on using it in different places around the house, then you’ll want to make it small enough that it’s easy to carry and won’t drag on the floor.
- The weighted beads will be contained within squares measuring anywhere between 3 to 5 inches. It’s up to you to decide how large you want the squares to be. Keep in mind that you’ll have to sew more squares if you choose a smaller measurement. However, smaller squares tend to distribute weight more evenly.
- When you’re ready to cut your fabric, the measurements will be a multiple of the size of the squares plus 4 inches. Therefore if you want a blanket that is 37 inches wide by 61 inches high, with 3-inch squares, you’ll need 11 squares wide and 19 squares high.
- Using a ruler and your tailor’s chalk, mark out the entire width and height of the blankets.
Deciding on your blanket’s weight
- Most manufacturers recommend that weighted blankets weigh about 10 percent of your body weight. However, you can add a few more pounds if you want more pressure or a few less if you find the weight too much. It’s all a matter of personal preference. If you’re not sure what weight to go with, or you have concerns, consult a doctor or occupational therapist.
- Once you know how heavy you want your blanket to be, multiply it out in ounces and then subtract the weight of the fabric. Take your result and divide it by the number of squares in the blanket. This will tell you how much weight should go in each square.
- Using your kitchen scale, determine the volume of weighted pellets that are needed in each square. In general, one ounce is a little less than ¼ cup.
Choosing a Weighted Fill Material
In general, there are three types of material you can use to fill a weighted blanket. Choosing which filling you want to use in your blanket is a matter of preference. Here are the three options:
- Micro glass beads: Smaller than poly pellets, they are very efficient at weight distribution. However, they are more challenging to come by and are more expensive than other options.
- Plastic poly pellets: This is the most popular filling for weighted blankets and has the added advantage of being machine washable. They are also widely available and not very expensive.
- Dried beans, grains, or stones: This is the cheapest option for filling a weighted blanket. Most big companies don’t use this kind of material, but it’s excellent for people on a budget. However, they are not machine washable.
Crafting your Weighted Blanket
- Cut your fabric into two pieces, one for the top and one for the bottom, using the measurements you picked out earlier.
- With your tailor’s chalk, mark 2 inches from the edge on each side of the fabric. Then mark out each of the squares based on the size you chose.
- Take the front and back pieces, and using your sewing machines, sew the right sides together with a ⅜ inch seam allowance. Sew only the one short side and two long sides, leaving the top short side open.
- Take the blanket and turn it right side out. Then open the seams. You are now going to stitch the grid for the weighted squares.
- Beginning and ending a short distance from the open side, sew a topstitch ¼ inch from the edge.
- Then, begin 2 inches from the open side and sew along the marked lines that were 2 inches from the fabric’s edge. Sew along the two long sides and the one short side. Then backstitch at the beginning and end.
- Start by sewing all the vertical channels on the marked lines:
- Begin at the closed bottom edge. Start your stitching just above the line of stitching that’s almost 2 inches from the inner topstitching.
- Finish the stitching just above the top 2-inch marking. Make sure to backstitch at the beginning and the end.
- It’s a good idea, when sewing lines, to start at the center and then sew the next lines nearest the center of those two sections, and so on. Doing it this way keeps the sewing from going off track and keeps the fabric from bunching.
- Take the appropriate amount of weighted beads (the amount you decided on in the planning stage), and place them in each vertical channel.
- Shift the beads to the bottom of the blanket by shaking the blanket. With some fabric, you may find that the beads stick in the channels. Gently work stray beads to the bottom.
- Take your pins and form a line of basting. This will help keep the beads in place and away from the marked line. This is to ensure that you don’t accidentally sew on top of the beads as this could break your needle.
- You’re now going to sew a horizontal line on top of the marked line. Start the stitching just above the line of stitching that’s almost 2 inches from the inner topstitching. Finish your stitching just above the inner topstitching on the other side. Backstitch at the start and end.
- While sewing, be sure to support the weight of the blanket so that it doesn’t pull as you sew. While sewing along the marked line, push any stray beads out of the way. If you encounter any resistance while sewing, then you’ve likely got a bead in the way. Stop and work the bead out before continuing.
- Repeat the process of putting filler in each vertical channel and then sew horizontally to close the row of filled squares.
- Once you’ve filled each vertical channel so that you’ve arrived at the top of the blanket, sew the last row of squares closed. This stitching should line up with the line of inner topstitching, although it may overlap a bit.
- Fold the edges of the open side inwards, about ½ inch. Then, beginning and finishing where the topstitching ended on the sides, topstitch ¼ inch from the edge.
- Note: Usually, all topstitching would happen at the project’s end. However, because the project can become quite heavy, it’s easier to do most of the topstitching before adding the filler, finishing off only the top part at the end.
- Rather than marking squares on a large piece of fabric for the blanket’s front, sew squares for a patchwork weighted blanket, sewing the channels and rows along the seams.
- It’s recommended that you sew with a small stitch length in order to prevent the weighted beads from moving.
- It’s best to employ a thick, strong needle like the ones made for sewing denim. This will reduce the chances of your needle breaking.
- Try not to pull or push the blanket while sewing the rows.
- If you can, push your sewing machine to the edge of your sewing table. This will give you extra table space to support the weight of the blanket as you sew.
- Most importantly, sew safely. Be mindful of the location of the basting needs, pay attention to breaking needles, and keep your fingers well out of the way.