Designed for people with autism, sleeping issues, anxiety, stress, and more, weighted blankets offer a solution to various life struggles. Causing the release of serotonin, weighted blankets are recommended by occupational therapists and other professionals who know them to be a natural way to promote mental, emotional and physical health.
Originally, when weighted blankets were very new in the therapeutic world, some people found that they were difficult to get a hold of in the right sizes and weights for their intended users Because of this, many people began trying to make their own weighted blankets at home. While making your own blanket is certainly an option, it has been discovered the purchasing a weighted blanket can be much easier and less complicated (and even less costly) than you might imagine.
How to Make a Weighted Blanket at Home
For those who do want to make their own weighted blanket at home, it can be done through different methods. The weights can be made with rice or poly pellets, with advantages and disadvantages to both depending on personal preference.
Rice is easier to get a hold of, is more affordable and is completely natural, but it can also be messy when making or if a hole tears. Plus, when you go to launder your blanket, you won’t be able to wash the rice and will need to remove the inner part of the blanket and just wash the outside.
Poly pellets are expensive, are not made of a natural material but are likely to last longer. Plus, since poly pellets are not a food item, there’s not the risk that a slow leak will turn into a feeding frenzy for a pest infestation. Poly pellets may be longer lasting than rice, but they also might have a tendency to be noisier when moving underneath the blanket. Rice can be purchased at your local grocery store, while poly pellets may be available at a craft store or online.
Before buying all of the supplies and getting started on making a weighted blanket, it is important to be sure that you have the sewing experience and know-how to tackle this type of a project as it is not for beginners. It is recommended to try out a smaller project first, like making a small rice sock or lap pad first. This will help you get the hang of how the whole process works.
Once you’ve decided to make a weighted blanket, choosing your fabric might come with some questions. Some people prefer the comfort and softness that comes from using a 100% cotton brushed flannel fabric that is cozy when place up next to the skin. Others prefer to use a cotton quilt fabric that won’t increase the amount of heat that is conducted. Still others like to make one side of their weighted blankets out of a minky-dots fabric that can provide the person using it with a comforting sensory experience.
Whichever fabric you choose, remember that weighted blankets can be very warm and natural cotton is going to provide the most wicking action that will keep warmth and moisture away from the skin. But cotton does tend to shrink so you need to be sure your fabric is laundered and dried prior to construction. If you choose a fabric that is a poly-cotton blend, it may wash up more easily but it also could tend to produce more heat.
How to Make a Weighted Blanket with Rice
In order to make a weighted blanket with rice, you’ll need to gather a few items together:
- Sewing Machine
- Preferred Fabric (pre-washed, dried, and ironed)
- Muslin for pellet pockets
- Poly-fill batting (cuts down on noise)
- Pieces of ribbon or twill tape
- Satin Blanket Trim (optional)
- Kitchen scale
- Rotary Cutter or Scissors
- Straight Pins and/or Binder Clips
- Measuring Tape (better yet, quilting mat with measurements)
- Large table for working on
Plan for this project to take you an hour at the minimum, if you have experience in making quilts or other such projects previously. If you’re new to this type of thing, you may be looking at spending possibly 5-6 hours to make a small blanket and more for a larger one. There’s the likelihood that you’ll make mistakes and have to tear out your seams, so be patient with yourself.
Before getting started, remember that you need to make sure that all of your seams are sewn very securely. It’s a good practice to sew each seam twice, to prevent threads from tearing or coming undone and spilling rice all over the bed or floor.
1. Create the weighted inner part of the blanket using two pieces of muslin sewn together and around the outside. Draw a grid of approximately 6” x 6” on your muslin. This will allow you to sew squares into the fabric in order to distribute the weight evenly inside the blanket.
2. Sew the long columns first in preparation for filling.
3. Divide the total weight you want by the number of squares in your blanket. This determines how much of the rice you want in each square.
4. Measure out the proper amount of rice for one square and use the funnel to fill the bottom of one column. After filling, pin into place and sew across to secure that square. Repeat for all columns and squares.
5. Sew short pieces of ribbon or twill tape onto all four corners of weighted lining.
6. Once you’ve made the lining, pin the batting and outer fabric together to make layers and put all of the pieces together to create a blanket cover. Sew securely.
7. Sew short piece of ribbon or twill tape onto all four corner on the inside of the cover. Tie each corner to coordinating corner of weighted lining. Turn inside out.
8. Secure opening with zipper and remove inner lining when laundering is required.
How to Make a Weighted Blanket with Poly Pellets
When choosing to make a weighted blanket with poly pellets, it is important to be sure that you are purchasing pellets that are non-toxic. Also, some people like to make sure that their pellets are small and don’t make a great deal of noise when moving around.
Making a weighted blanket with non-toxic poly pellets is almost the same as making the blanket with rice, as above. Simply substitute the poly pellets for the rice and construct the weighted blanket following the steps. Since poly pellets are more easily washable, you don’t have to construct the lining separate from the cover—it can be sewn together and washed as one piece.
How to Make a Weighted Blanket for a Child
Children in particular can be the beneficiaries of the positive solutions a weighted blanket has to offer. Children who carry with them social anxiety, attention struggles, difficulty concentrating, challenges with sleeping, or other concerns often find that the use of a weighted blanket can put them in a much better frame of mind.
Making a weighted blanket for a child is the same process as for an adult, but you will need to be even more certain that the amount of weight you are using is appropriate for the size and weight of your child. The weight for a child should be approximately 10% of their body weight plus 1-2 more pounds. Check with your occupational therapist or medical professional if you aren’t sure about the safety or benefits of making a weighted blanket for your child.
Is Making a Weighted Blanket Worth It?
While making your own weighted blanket may seem like it could save you lots of money, it’s certainly worth looking into whether or not it’s really the best option. This is especially true if you aren’t a practiced seamstress and get easily frustrated by DIY projects. Or if you have a habit of starting things that you may not actually finish!
The cost of the materials (poly pellets, especially, can be very expensive) can run upwards of $40 or more depending on where you sources them. Add to that the amount of time spent on the project (how much is your 5-6 hour or more of time worth?). And then factor in the question of whether or not you’ll get so frustrated that you even finish it, you may want to consider the value of purchasing a weighted blanket instead.
When you purchase a weighted blanket from a trusted source, you know you are getting a product that well-made, safe for use by children and adults, and can provide you with all of the benefits without any of the hassle. Of course, if you do try making your own weighted blanket and can accomplish it, then you should be proud since not everyone can!
For those who would rather not learn the hard way, weighted blankets are readily available for purchase in a myriad of colors, fabrics, weights, and sizes. Some companies even custom make them to your own specifications. No matter how you choose to go about getting one, weighted blankets offer solutions for a significant number of problems—for some people it can even change their lives!