Monday, February 24, 2014

Security Blanket

When my friend, M, asked whether I might be willing to sew a weighted blanket for her friend, J, I had never heard of such a thing.  Neither had M.  What she could tell me was pretty intriguing, though, so I did some research.

Apparently physical pressure, as from a strong hug or a heavy blanket, can be comforting to people with a variety of conditions such as ADHD, anxiety, depression, Autism, restless legs, Alzheimer's, insomnia, and sensory difficulties.  (Click here for more information.)  J's son had a positive experience with a weighted blanket during a troubling day at school, so she wanted to have one for him at home.  The weight of the blanket should be proportional to the weight of the person.  J's son is just a little boy now, but we all know little boys don't stay that way.  So J wanted a blanket that could grow with him.

She asked me to make a twin-sized blanket in which the weight could be adjusted.  I found some inspiration here and here, and went to work.
I used muslin to make a big sheet of pockets, using overlapping strips.  I did not succeed in sewing them all straight, so I'm glad this part will be hidden most of the time.  But the pockets do hold the weights.
The sources I consulted made their weights by putting poly pellets in plastic zipper bags.  I'm sure this is convenient.  But it looks difficult to get the excess air out once the pellets are in.  Plastic bags don't last forever.  And I couldn't stand the thought of a plastic blanket.  Wouldn't it make creaky noises, raise the temperature uncomfortably, and just feel weird?  Maybe I have sensory problems, too, but I couldn't subject this little boy to anything like that.  So I sewed more muslin into nice breathable squares, added enough pellets to make an ounce each, and sewed them up.  (Hooray for overlock stitches!)  One or two of these beanbags can fit into each section of the pocket sheet, so the distribution of weight can be adjusted.
J's son chose the outer fabrics:  a planetary flannel for the top, and a soft brown striped velour for the back and binding.  I think it's a fairly mature choice for a preschooler.  He should be happy with it for a long time.
The pocket sheet attaches to the outer cover with ties at the corners.  Perhaps I should have added ties to the middles of the long sides, too.  The pockets do slip around a bit.
Our trip to Mississippi came during this project.  I felt bad telling J that I'd be gone for a week, but the trip was actually helpful.  While I was there, I found the walking foot that goes with the sewing machine Grandma O gave me.  I'd never used one before, but I think it made all the difference while sewing these large, thick pieces together.  This is also the first time I've used piping, and I think it looks pretty good.  I've used snaps from The Snap Source before, but this was the first time I've set them all right the first time.  So, some glorious firsts.
All told, this blanket came out almost exactly the way I envisioned it.  I hope it meets J's expectations, too, and comforts her son for many years.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Mississippi Interlude

Dandelionslayer and I recently took a trip, alone together.  This is not something that is a regular part of our marriage, and it was nice to spend the time together.  But it wasn't exactly the tropical getaway of our dreams.
We did go south, to visit Grandpa O in the old homestead.  This picture is from Sunday, the warm day.  It was sunny.  We took a nice stroll around the neighborhood.  But the rest of the week was cold and gray and rainy, just like at home.  One day, it even snowed.  (Not as much as it did one day at home (which still wasn't much), but that's another story.)  That was okay.  We had work to do inside.
If she who dies with the most fabric wins, Grandma O was a serious contender.  She loved making things and giving them to people.  Local new mothers thought her burp cloths were too pretty for burping.  No cartoon princess is as well outfitted as our cute little nieces are.  I know the joy of creativity, the satisfaction and relaxation of needlework.  I think it is wonderful that Grandma O kept sewing as long as her illness allowed, that she looked forward and planned more projects.
But she couldn't take it with her.  She specifically bequeathed her fancy embroidery and quilting machine to me, which is fun, if a bit overwhelming.  Grandpa O sent that some time ago, along with some thread and fabric.  He said there was more, and that he'd probably box it up and send it to me.  I thought there might not be room enough to receive it.  When Dandelionslayer planned to go help around the house, I decided I'd better take charge of the sewing room.  So Grandma and Grandpa G came to take charge of the boys, and we flew away (on some of the most complicated flights we've experienced, but that is yet another story).

I dove in and measured and stacked and organized and sneezed.  Dandelionslayer, alas, spent this vacation with a miserable cold, so he and his dad kept asking if I was catching it, too.  Nope.  It just doesn't take much dust to set me off.  After three days I'd found the sewing machine accessories that hadn't made it to me earlier, and collected my cut of the fabric, tools, and projects.  I found some things that were ready to send to the nieces.  I collected pieces that had been cut out, and bagged them up with their patterns.  I organized the other patterns by brand and number.  I vacuumed.

Then Dandelionslayer braved the attic.  Along with boxes of his old stuffed animals, Scout memorabilia, and books, he found three more boxes of fabric and craft materials.  Some of them had been up there a long time.  But most of the fabric was still good.  And no, I definitely could not use it all.
So I got it organized and called the Relief Society president.  She was happy to restock the service project closet from Grandma O's stash.  I hope the closet had room enough.  We gave her at least 440 yards of fabric, many spools of thread, and a sewing machine.  I hope she came back later for more tools and kits.  The ladies will be able to make many blankets for babies or disaster victims, and teach the younger girls to sew a few things.  I trust them to put it all to good use, eventually.  I think it's what Grandma O would have wanted.

And I look forward to using the things I collected . . .