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.