Introduction: Flannel Baby Blanket With Satin Binding

This Instructable is for an easy basic baby blanket. It has two layers of flannel and a satin binding. It is very baby-friendly in that it can be machine washed and does not need any other special care. The blanket only takes about an hour or so to make.

Step 1: What You Need

-two 1-yard pieces of flannel (or fleece, or minky, or any other cuddly baby-friendly fabric)
-one package satin blanket binding (at least 140 inches long, I use Wrights)
-a sewing machine and knowledge of how to use it
-something to mark your fabric like tailors chalk
-sewing pins

Step 2: Wash Your Fabric

Pre-wash your flannel. This is important because the blanket will be washed a lot and you don't want it to shrink. I usually wash the flannel in warm to hot water and dry it on high heat for maximum pre-shrinkage. Iron your fabric to get any wrinkles out.

Step 3: Measure Your Fabric

Put the two pieces of flannel together with the wrong sides together and mark the largest square you can on the top piece, which should be about 32-34 inches to a side. Make sure that the pieces fully overlap within the square. You can use the selvedge for one of your edges. I generally measure by laying them out on a large cardboard grid that you can get at most fabric stores. Mark each of the edges of the square with tailors chalk or other fabric marker. The mark doesn't have to come out because it will be covered by the binding in the end.

Once you have your marks, pin the pieces together near the marks so that your fabric doesn't slip when you are sewing.

Some people put little yarn ties through both layers at measured intervals or use another quilting technique so that the fabric doesn't slip against itself when it is a blanket. If you want this, then now is the time. In my experience, these blankets are small enough and flannel sticks to itself well enough that you don't really need it for practical reasons.

Step 4: Sew the Fabric Together and Cut

Using a straight stitch, sew your fabric together about 1/2 inch or so in from your marks. I use the edge of my presser-foot as a guide. It doesn't matter what color thread you use in this step. When you are done sewing, remove the pins and cut along your marks.

***If you have a serger, you can surge along the marked line instead of the sewing and cutting in Steps 4 & 5.***

Step 5: Zig-zag or Serge the Raw Edges

Zig-zag or surge the raw edges together to prevent fraying. Again, any color thread will do.

Technically you don't need this step, but I like my blankets to be as sturdy as possible. It also helps stabilize the edges, which makes it easier to apply the binding.

Step 6: Prepare Binding

Blanket binding is a wide strip of satin folded in half. One side of the fold is slightly shorter than the other. Before you use it, you want to iron out the wrinkles. Put your iron on the satin setting and, keeping it folded, iron both sides of the satin.

Then prepare the beginning of the satin. With the folded side away from you and the shorter side up, the beginning end is the one on your left. Take this end, open it up. If the edge isn't even, cut it and gently burn the edges with a flame to keep them from fraying. If you burn too much you will scorch it and it will become all wrinkled. Re-cut and start over if this happens. Then fold the ends to the middle fold so you are left with a point -- like the first steps of making a paper airplane. Close the satin and adjust so that the folds line up on top of each other. Iron.

Step 7: Attach the Binding: Initial and Straight Edge

Here we are going to attach the binding to the blanket so that it has nice neat mitered corners. The trick is to do one side of the blanket at a time so that you don't get bunching in the satin. In the pictures, the slight bumps in the satin are quite exaggerated. It looks nice and smooth in real life.

I will refer to two zig-zag stitches:
-zz1 is a very tight (short stitch-length) zig-zag such that the zigs barely clear each other. You want the width to be ~3/16 inch. On my Brother machine the stitch length is 1.0 and the stitch width is 5.0.
-zz2 has the same width but a longer stitch length (~1/8 inch between zigs), something that looks pleasing to you. On my Brother machine the stitch length is 2.5 and the stitch width is 5.0.

When you sew the satin on to the blanket, stitch near the edge of the satin. Because the shorter side of the satin is up, you will always catch the longer edge, but you want the zig-zag to straddle the satin edge on both the top and the bottom.

Sandwich the flannel in the satin at the prepared end so that the shorter side of the binding is up and the fold of the satin lines up with the blanket edge. Do this so that the satin covers a little more than half of one of the blanket sides. Pin from the beginning of the satin to the corner of the blanket. Starting at the tip of the folded satin, use zz1(backwards then forwards) to secure. Make sure you are catching both the top and the bottom edges of the satin! Then use zz2 to continue stitching to the end of the blanket. If the satin slips some and you have to adjust the pins, don't worry, that is why we are only doing one side of the blanket at a time. Your flannel might have a little fold right at the end near the straight stitch, and that is OK too because it will be covered by the satin and no one will know! When you get to the end, back-stitch about 3 or 4 stitches to secure. Cut thread.

***Tip: if you are getting a lot of slippage of flannel vs satin, after you finish the initial folded bit use both hands to grab the fabric & satin behind and in front of the needle and pull gently to create more tension where the needle is. Make sure you move your hands in the direction of the fabric and feed it through at the same speed as the feed dogs while sewing. I find that when I do this, I don't have to reposition any of my pins and I can go the whole length of the edge without slippage.

Step 8: Attach the Binding: Mitered Corner

This is the most fiddly part of the whole process. When done right, the corner looks very neat and tidy.

Pinch the edge of the blanket and open up the satin. Bend the satin so that the corner of the satin and the corner of the blanket are at the same place, then close the satin so that there are satin folds coming out at 45 degree angles from the corner. Pin.

Now sandwich the rest of the blanket edge between the satin and pin to secure.

Since the satin is slippery, folding the corner can get a little funky. I usually pin through just the back layers of satin once I have them folded nicely and then turn over and and fold and pin through just the front layers of satin . Then I put pins all the way through all of the layers and remove the first ones. As you can see in the 4th picture, I usually have two pins per corner when I am done. The trick is to get the 45 degree folds to line up on top of each other. When you sew, you want the zig-zag to straddle the two edges, so the folds you have to be symmetric to within your stitch width.

Now that you have your folds pinned, use zz1 to secure the folds near the corner (back and forth about 4 stitches each), then switch to zz2 to finish the 45 degree folds, turn the corner, and sew the rest of the blanket side. Err on the side of caution to make sure that you catch both sides of the folded satin. They might not line up exactly and thats OK, as long as both sides are secure, the blanket will be very durable! Again, adjust the pins if needed, just make sure that the middle satin fold lines up with the flannel edge.

Repeat this twice more. For the last corner, pin, but don't sew yet.

Step 9: Finishing

Pin the 4th corner and the first few inches of the side. For the final blanket edge, cut the satin so that it overlaps with the beginning plus 4ish inches. Do the same airplane-wing fold as in Step 6. Iron so that the new folds are on top of each other.

Finish pinning the satin around the blanket edge taking care to make sure that the tip of the satin is even with the edge of the blanket. Sew the corner as in the previous step and use zz2 on most of the rest of this side. Just before the tip of the satin, use zz1 (back and forth) to secure.