Introduction: Quilted Weighted Blanket

About: Hi. I'm Ellen, PhD student by day and sewer/crafter/maker by night. I believe anyone can be a maker, so I post videos on YouTube about what I make and how I make it to offer some help. I believe that if you m…

Weighted blankets are intended to help with restlessness and anxiety, as well as help you sleep better. I’ve had issues with all of those things, so I figured it would be worth a shot to make one.

I’d already made a quilt top with the intention of turning it into a weighted blanket. You can check out that Instructable here:

But at some point during the process of turning it into a weighted blanket, I had to take a break and I just never picked it up again. Fast forward two years, including three moves and me now living in another country, and I finally sat down to finish it.

To make this weighted blanket, I used poly filling beads. The beads will need separate compartments to keep them from shifting around, so I made the somewhat foolish decision to turn each square of my quilt top into a compartment. It gives a great look and feel, but it’s a lot of work. So if you plan to make one, it’s probably smart to use bigger compartments than I did.

Step 1: Basting the Layers Together

I’m using three layers of fabric: the quilted top, an inner layer, and the backing. I’m leaving the inner and backing layers oversized, so that it’s not a problem if the layers shift around a bit during the basting and quilting.

The layers need to be basted together to help prevent any shifting and pleating in the individual layers as I sew.

I’ll have to roll, fold and otherwise move around the quilt quite a bit in the following steps, so I can’t use regular pins. Not only would they poke me, a lot, I’d also run the risk of them sliding out of the fabric and messing things up. So I’m using curved safety pins for this, placed roughly 20 cm apart. The curve in these safety pins makes it easier to go through several layers of fabric at once, especially when the piece is too big to lift the fabric off the table.

Step 2: Quilting the Lines

With the basting done, I can start quilting. I’ll start with a line in the middle, then slowly work my way out in parallel lines. I rolled up the sides to make sure the whole thing will actually fit through my sewing machine.

I’m using a quilting technique called stitch-in-the-ditch, where you follow the seams in the quilt top as closely as possible. This makes the quilting blend in, leaving it nearly invisible in the end result. I’m also using a grey thread, since that will stand out the least against all the different fabric colours.

The reason I’m quilting in parallel lines is that this will allow me to add the filling to all of the squares in a row at once, before sewing it closed and moving on to the next row.

With all the lines quilted, I sewed across one side to close them. I then trimmed the inner and backing layers down to match the front.

Step 3: Edge Binding

I made some edge binding by folding the fabric over several times and cutting 6 cm wide strips. I attached these together at a 45 degree angle, so that the thickness of the seam is not all in one place.

I sewed the strip of binding to the back of the quilt, lining it up with the edge. At the corners, I folded it away from the quilt, then back over itself to line up with the next side. This results in nice mitered corners.

Now I could fold the edge binding to the front, folding the raw edge inwards as I did so. I sewed it in place close to the fold.

I left the open side of the blanket unfinished, so that I could fill it with the poly filling beads.

Step 4: Filling the Compartments

A weighted blanket should weigh around 10% of your body weight. For me, that’s 7 kg. The blanket itself already weighs 1,2 kg, so I’ll have to add 5,8 kg of filling. That means 13 grams per square.

I added the filling to the blanket one row at a time. I used a funnel to pour the poly beads in between the inner layer and the backing, so that it wouldn’t get stuck in the many seams of the quilt top. But it was still quite a pain to get all the beads down to the lowest square, so I experimented with using a paper tube. That worked a lot better, so I continued to fill the entire row.

I then sewed that row closed. This was pretty challenging, since I had to constantly push the beads to the side. They’re pretty sturdy, so hitting one is likely to bend or break your needle. So I started using clips to keep the beads away from the stitch line. This wasn’t a perfect solution though, and the whole process was pretty frustrating.

Step 5: Two Years Later

This is the point where I had to take a break from working on this project, and as you can imagine it took me a while to get started again. Two years in fact. But I’m back, and determined to finish this thing.

By now, I figured out some improvements to the process. I taped a pipe to my funnel for easier filling. I cut it shorter as I finished about half the rows to make it easier to handle. I was also using slightly less filling, 12 grams per square instead of 13. That gave me a bit more room to move around, although it was still tight. I used long pins to keep the beads out of the way as much as possible, and pushed the remainder aside as I went. I still managed to bend two needles by hitting beads, but it went much smoother than before.

A new issue to deal with was the weight of the blanket. It was becoming heavier and heavier with every row I added, and moving that weight around definitely gave me a workout. Normally, the sewing machine pulls the fabric through on its own, but those feed dogs where not designed for something this heavy. So I had to keep helping it along by shifting the weight of the blanket and guiding it through. All of this put a lot of strain on my arms, so I had to take lots of breaks and only did three or four rows a day. But I got it done.

When I got to the final row, I sewed it closed to keep the filling inside, and then moved on to finishing the edge binding.

I again stitched it to the back of the blanket first. Then I folded it over to the front, tucking the raw edge in underneath itself. A final line of stitching, and it’s done.

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