Introduction: Calming Blanket + Squishable
We are a group of MIT students taking Principles and Practices of Assistive Technology. This semester, we worked closely with Violette, a 12 year old with high-functioning autism, and her mother, Renee, to make products that would help Violette when she feels overwhelmed or has meltdowns - times when she tends to lose control and rip up her surroundings.
To help with this, we created the fidget plushie and calming blanket + squishable and that you will learn how to make in this Instructable.
NOTE: Violette is very particular about textures and materials, so we went shopping with her to purchase materials that she likes or knows to be calming. You should tailor materials you will be creating for this project to your own needs or likes.
- Red Fox Squishmallow Stuffed Animal*
- 5” Red Fox Squishmallow Stuffed Animal*
- 2-3 yards Hot Pink Stretchy Polyester Fabric*
Purchased at Sewfisticated Fabric Store @ Puritan Mall in Southern Boston
- Disc Magnets RAM-PRO 25-Piece Powerful Magnetic Round Ferrite Magnet Discs
- Hot Pink thread (to match Polyester fabric)
Note: Items marked with an asterisk (*) are customizable and should be chosen to the specific preference of the user.
Tools and Machines Needed:
- Sewing Machine (recommended)
- Alternatively, can be hand sewn
- Basic sewing supplies (needles, thread…)
- Fabric Scissors
- Fabric Marker/ Sharpie
- Measuring Tape
Step 1: Selecting a Fabric
- Select a fabric that suits the preferences of the user for a wrappable blanket. Our team purchased two yards of the fabric in order to properly fit a 5’8’’ girl, attached to our 16’’ plushie, and have a hood attachment.
Step 2: Outlining the Blanket Cutout on the Fabric
- (Keep in mind that the sizes here can be modified to fit the user)
- Starting from the left edge of the fabric, measure 94” to the right*.This is the length from one hand to the other when the blanket is fully wrapping the user and the plushie. Mark this point with a fabric marker.
- Cut the fabric to this length.
- Fold the fabric in half parallel to the line you just cut. Keep the fabric folded until told to unfold.
- With the seam on the right and the open edges on the left, start in the bottom left corner (the open side). Measure 37” up from the corner**. This is the length that the blanket hangs downward when wrapped around the user and the plushie. Mark this point with a fabric marker (A). Then, measure 37” right from this point*. This is the point that the hood attached to the blanket. Mark this point with a fabric marker (B). Connect these two points with a straight line with the fabric marker.
- Start in the bottom right corner (the folded side). Measure 41” up from the corner**. This is the height of the blanket to the hood in the center. Mark this point with a fabric marker (C).
- Between point (B) and (C), draw a curve for the hood. This curve should look like a slightly flattened ¼ circle. You should now have a continuous black cut line from the open edge to the folded edge.
Step 3: Cutting the Blanket
- With the blanket still folded in half, cut along the black cut line drawn in step 2. You should be cutting through both layers of the fabric.
Step 4: Cutting the Hood
- Unfold the blanket cutout. Lay a second piece of fabric underneath the hood area. The bottom of the second piece should be straight, and it should be aligned with the straight edge of the blanket arms.
- Trace around the original hood, marking its outline on the second fabric with fabric.
- Cut along the drawn black cut line in the second fabric to create the hood piece.
- Take the hood piece and fold it in half.
- Draw a second curve with a fabric marker that is shallower but follow the same general shape as the top curve.
- Cut along the cut line through both halves of the fabric.
Step 5: Attaching the Hood
- Take the piece cut out in step 4 and lay it on top of the large blanket piece from step 3 so the curves are aligned.
- Using a sewing machine, sew together the two pieces along the curved edges. For our product, our client wanted to leave earholes for the plushies ears to be able to fit through. To add ear holes, instead perform these steps:
- From the center of the hood, measure out to a point 2.5” and 7.5” away on either side of the center. Mark these points with a fabric marker and outline the curve between the two points.
- Sew together the two pieces along the curve edges excluding the black lines drawn in step (5.3).
Step 6: Adding Edges to Blanket/Cleaning the Seams
- Lay the blanket out completely with the hood on top.
- Along the bottom edge of the blanket, fold the edge up ¼” inch on itself.
- Sew along this edge to create clean edge of the bottom of the fabric.
- Repeat this process along each of the following edges:
- The left and right edges of the arms.
- The top edges of the left and right arms.
- The bottom of the hood piece.
- The inner edges of the earholes.
Step 7: Deciding Magnet Placement
- Place the hooded blanket on the plushie and wrap it around in the desired wrapping configuration.
- Once final configuration is found, locate the top corner of the arm that wraps on top. Place a pin in the plushie at the point the edge touches the plushie. Locate another point 4” down and 6” inward on the fabric from the corner and place a pin at the respective point in the plushie. These pins mark the location of the magnets that will be added so that the arm can properly attach when in the wrapped position.
- Mark the two points used as reference on the blanket arm with a fabric marker
Step 8: Adding Magnets in the Plushie
- Use the seam ripper to cut a small hole in the plushie.
- Take a small piece of fabric and cut a piece of size 1”x1” that completely covers one of your magnets. This will be the inner pouch that holds the magnet in place.
- Reach inside and align the magnet to the location of the top pin. Place the square of fabric behind the magnet inside the plushie.
- Hand sew the square to the wall of the plushie, keeping the magnet inside the pouch. The magnet should now be securely attached to the plushie. For extra softness around the magnet or to lessen the strength of the magnet, place some stuffing inside the pouch between the magnet and the plushie wall before sealing the square to the side.
- Repeat this process at the other magnet location on the plushie.
- Hand sew the plushie back together with the seal the hole previously cut in the plushie.
Step 9: Adding Magnets to the Blanket
- Take a small piece of fabric and cut a piece of size 1”x2”. This will be the pouch that will hold the magnets on the blanket.
- Fold the cut piece in half so it creates a 1”x1” pocket. Hand sew 2 of the open sides of the pouch.
- Through the side that is still open, place the magnet and as much as stuffing as desired to keep the magnet strong but less detectable to the user.
- Hand sew the remaining side of the pouch.
- Place the pouch along the inside of the blanket arm at the point marked on the top corner of the top arm.
- Hand sew the pouch to the blanket at this point, sewing along the edges of the pouch.
- Repeat this process, creating another pouch and attaching it at the secondary attachment point.
Step 10: All Done!
- Once all seams have been completed on the blanket, go to each seam and cut away any remaining loose threads.
- Place the blanket on the plushie, pull the ears through the ear holes, and enjoy your new creation!