Babies need blankets. When my kids were small, I liked to think of our blanket collection as little baby drop cloths. Because, just like painters, babies are often in need of their own little piece of clean real estate, which they can then destroy as they choose. In my mind, a cute blanket is always the perfect baby gift. Our adorable design is super fast and easy to make, especially if you have a ruffler attachment.
We originally made this sweet blanket in an aqua colorway with a bright, bold motif. We then re-did it in an whimsical set of fabrics with dancing bears and marshmallow trees. You’ll use three coordinating fabrics for the project, so it’s your chance to pick three pretty prints to match the new baby’s nursery. The options out there for children’s prints are wonderfully varied.
Of course, there’s no rule saying this has to be a baby blanket. Change up the fabrics to make a lovely lap quilt anyone would love!
There’s a whole lot of ruffling going on with this project. You can certainly do it conventionally, but we recommend using a ruffling attachment, like Janome’s Ultimate Ruffler. Not only is it much, much faster, the gathers are more even across the full length of the ruffle strip. Take a look at our article on the Janome Ultimate Ruffler for more technique details.
Our blanket finishes at approximately 35″ x 35″ with a 1″ ruffle. The yardage specified below leaves little to no waste. If you’re worried about making a precise cut, or if you want to do some fancy fussy cutting, you may want to consider getting an additional ⅛ or ¼ yard of each cut.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- Ruffler attachment; optional… but, OH BOY, it will save you time
- Satin Stitch foot; optional for decorative stitching
- Walking or Even Feed foot for final quilting
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 1 yard of 44-45″ wide fabric for the blanket front
- 1 yard of 44-45″ wide fabric for the blanket back
- ⅔ yard of 44-45″ wide fabric for the blanket ruffle
- 1 yard of medium weight quilt batting: we used a pre-packaged baby quilt size from Warm & Natural
NOTE: You will use the full 36″ and 24″ cuts. As mentioned above, it you are worried about your cutting precision or want to do any fussy cutting, get ⅛ to ¼ yard extra of each of the three fabrics.
- All-purpose sewing thread in colors to match fabric
- All-purpose sewing thread in a contrasting color for decorative topstitching
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- See-through ruler
- Tape measure
- Fabric pencil or pen
- Seam ripper
- Seam gauge
- Straight pins
- Iron and ironing board
- From the front fabric, cut ONE 36″ x 36″ square.
- From the back fabric, cut ONE 36″ x 36″ square.
- From the medium weight quilt batting but ONE 36″ x 36″ square.
- From the ruffle fabric, cut EIGHT strips 3″ x width of fabric (WOF). Trim off the selvedges.
NOTE: We used the rule of thumb that says your ruffle needs to be approximately 2½ times the length of the edge to which you’re applying the ruffle. Since our quilt will be 35″ square when finished, we multiplied 35″ by 4 to get 140″. Then we multiplied 140″ by 2.5″ to get 340″. We wanted a 1″ ruffle, so we knew our ruffle strips would need to be 3″ to account for folding the strip in half plus a ½” seam allowance. After all this math-noodlin’, we cut EIGHT 3″ x WOF strips. Sewn together, this gave us approximately 352″ of ruffle fabric with which to work. If you are new to this technique, you can check out our tutorial: How to Make Gathers by Machine.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Sew all eight 3″ strips together end to end. To do this, place two strips right sides together and stitch along the 3″ edge, using a ¼” seam allowance. Repeat to create one long strip. Press all seams open
- Fold and press this long ruffle piece in half lengthwise, wrong sides together.
- Hem one end of ruffle. To do this, turn one end under ¼” and press, turn under again ¼” and press again. Topstitch the hem in place close to the inner folded edge.
NOTE: This is a LOT o’ ruffling. We opted to use the a ruffler attachment for our Janome machine. These puppies look intimidating but are easy to use. Most machine manufacturers offer something similar to what we show. They come with pretty good instructions of how to set the ruffle depth and insert the folded fabric. You can also review our tutorial on the attachment. If you don’t have a ruffler attachment, you can ruffle the traditional way with two lines of machine basting. With this much length, it’s good to do the machine basting in easy-to-work-with sections of about 18″ rather than one continuous line of stitching that would be prone to snap. Again, you can take a look at our gathering tutorial. Janome also has a good video tutorial on their Ultimate Ruffler.
- Gather the entire length of the ruffle to the approximate length of the four sides of the quilt (140″). Leave some extra length for overlapping to finish the ends. No need to have an exact measurement, just give yourself plenty to work with.
- Starting with the hemmed end, and with that hem right sides together with the main fabric, pin the ruffle to the back fabric panel. Align the raw edges of the ruffle with the raw edge of the fabric panel.
- Continue pinning all around the perimeter of the panel. When you have about six inches remaining before the beginning and end meet, lay out the end of the ruffle so it overlaps the beginning by about 2½”.
- Cut off any excess ruffle beyond the 2½”, then hem this end in the same manner as you hemmed the other end above. If you’ve used a ruffle attachment, you’ll need to switch back to your regular presser foot to create this hem.
- Overlap the two finished ends so the ruffle lays flat and finish pinning.
- Machine baste the ruffle in place around all four sides.
Assembling the layers
- Machine baste the batting to the wrong side of the front fabric panel using a ¼” seam allowance.
- On the back panel, carefully pin the extra ruffle fabric away from the corners so it does not get caught up in the stitching when the blanket is sewn together.
- Layer the batting/front panel and the ruffle/back panel right sides together. The ruffle is now sandwiched in between the layers. Pin in place, leaving a 3″-4″ opening along one side for turning.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch through all layers around all four sides. Remember to pivot at the corners and to lock your seam at either side of the opening.
- Trim the corners diagonally.
- Grade the seam allowance, trimming the batting/front fabric close to the seam, but be careful not to cut into your stitching. Don’t trim the ruffle/back fabric.
- Turn the blanket right side out through the side opening. Pull out the ruffle and press well from each side. Use a long, blunt-end tool to poke out the corners; such as a knitting needle, chopstick or point turner.
- Press again, turning in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam. Pin to secure.
Topstitching and quilting
- Re-thread your machine with contrasting thread in the top and bobbin. Depending on your machine model, you may also want to switch to a foot that is good for decorative stitching; we used Janome’s Satin Stitch foot.
- Using a decorative, zig zag or straight stitch; topstitch around the entire edge of the blanket approximately ¼” from the ruffle seam. This will close the opening used for turning and will help hold the layers together at the edges. We used a decorative stitch.
- Fold the blanket exactly in half and press lightly to find the center line.
- Align your see-through ruler with this pressed crease, then use your fabric pencil or pen to mark along the crease.
NOTE: Our blanket is square but does have a directional pattern. If you have a similar type of fabric, make sure you fold lengthwise with the pattern so your quilting lines run up and down with the pattern not crosswise through the pattern.
- Pin along the line to hold all your layers secure.
- Using this center line as your guide, measure and mark three additional lines, each 5″ apart on either side of the center line. This will form a total of seven lines, each 5″ apart.
- Pin along these additional lines through all the layers as you did with the center line.
- If you used a decorative stitch around the edge, switch back to a regular straight stitch.
- Sew through all layers along each drawn line, removing the pins as you go. We lengthened our stitch and used a Walking foot.
- Press, fold and present your beautiful baby blanket. We attached our Sew4Home label to one corner.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Julia Chapman