Soft and sweet describes this easy to assemble knit blanket. Made from 15 wide and narrow panels in three coordinating knits, the blanket layers together in a snap. We used the brand new Eloflex stretchable thread from Coats, which kept our seams and hem flat and pucker-free. The blanket’s panels are cleverly sandwiched and topstitched so all the horizontal seams are finished front and back.
If you’ve ever worked with knits, you know seams can pop when stretched. Not with Eloflex. It expands with the stretch of the fabric, keeping the seam soft, flat, and secure. It’s a dream for knits, but would be just as nice when working with woven substrates that contain Lycra, like stretch denim or twill. Eloflex stretches and then snaps right back into shape.
We found the Eloflex very easy to sew with, using it on this project in both the top and bobbin and in two colors: white for the main construction and yellow for all the topstitching. The 27wt thread comes in 21 pretty colors on a 225 yard spool. Although we tested it just on a sewing machine, it can also be used with a serger.
We selected three wonderfully soft organic cotton knits from Cloud9 Fabrics, and thank them so much for providing these adorable prints and stripe. Cloud9 is always one of our go-to favorites for organic fabric, a perfect choice for baby items. We offer direct-to-buy links for the exact three fabrics we used, but you can find a wide range of Cloud9 knits and wovens at in-store and online retailers everywhere.
By layering together the front and back panels, our baby blanket is completely reversible and has a surprisingly nice weight to it. Sometimes, knit blankets can be almost too lightweight. This double-layer version is softer and heavier, which is a comforting feel for babies and young children.
Remember when working with knits that you want any layers sewn together to be cut with the stretch running in the same direction. The Eloflex stretchable thread certainly helps prevent rippling and puckering, but even it can't help you if you have two layers trying to stretch in two different directions. As you can see below, we cut all our panels width of fabric, alternating the motifs front to back.
Straight stitching almost always makes a knit fabric wave a bit, but the elasticity of the Eloflex thread returns to smooth and flat with just a short puff of steam. Not only is it great for a new project like our baby blanket, it would be excellent for repairing knit items, like the hem of a t-shirt.
Eloflex has been rolling out into retailers this summer. You can currently find it across the USA at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores and Hobby Lobby, as well as online at CreateForLess. If you're having trouble locating the thread, you can also contact the Coats Consumer Service line at 800-648-1479 or through the contact us link on MakeitCoats.com
Our blanket finishes at approximately 43” x 47”.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing machine and standard presser foot
- Walking or Even Feed foot; optional but helpful when working with knits - if appropriate, you can also engage your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system, such as the Janome AcuFeed™ Flex available on many of our Janome studio machines
- Topstitching needle; we used 14/100
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 1 yard EACH of TWO coordinating 44”+ wide cotton knits for the alternating wide panels on the front and narrow panels on the back; we used Diamonds in Citron and Gray and Little Kittens in White both 100% Organic Cotton Knits from Cloud9 Fabrics
- 2 yards of ONE additional coordinating 44”+ wide cotton knit for all the narrow panels on the front and all the wide panels on the back; we used Narrow Stripe in Citron and White, a 100% Organic Cotton Knit from Cloud9 Fabrics
- Coats Eloflex thread to match fabric for construction; we used Eloflex in White
- Coats Eloflex thread to coordinate with fabric for topstitching; we used Eloflex in Yellow
- See-through ruler
- Scissors and rotary cutter and mat
- Measuring tape
- Iron and ironing board
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
NOTE: In order to most easily follow along with all the layering, we’ll refer to our particular prints throughout the instructions below: Diamond print, Kitten print, and Stripe. As mentioned above, all the pieces should be cut so the stretch of the knit is going in the same direction from piece to piece. We cut horizontally (width of fabric) for all of ours. The illustration below of the front and back of our design will also help you keep track of all the pieces.
- From the Diamond print, cut the following:
TWO 11½” x Width of Fabric (WOF) strips
TWO 4” x WOF strips
- From the Kitten print, cut the following:
TWO 11½” x Width of Fabric (WOF) strips
ONE 4” x WOF strip
NOTE: For the best results with the random print motifs, we suggest using a cutting mat and rotary cutter.
- From the Stripe, cut the following
TWO 10” x WOF strips
TWO 11½” x WOF strips
THREE 4” x WOF strips
ONE 2” x WOF strip for the front accent band
- The striped knit is easiest to cut using scissors, allow you to follow the stripes. Select a starting stripe and cut across on that stripe to square the fabric.
- Measure down from this straight cut to determine another stripe to use as the guide line for each of your panels. In the photo below, you see us measuring to cut one of the two 10” strips.
- Set aside the 2” strip, then trim the remaining 14 panels to 44” in width.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Adding the optional front accent band
- Find the 2” Stripe strip. Fold back both long sides ½” so the two raw edges meet in the middle. Press well.
- Find one of the 11½” Kitten panels. Place the panel right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Center the folded Stripe strip, which is now 1”, right side up on the Kitten panel. The ends of the accent strip will extend beyond the Kitten panel on either side. The bottom folded edge of the accent strip should sit 4” up from the bottom raw edge of the Kitten panel. Pin the accent strip in place down its center.
- Thread the machine with your chosen Eloflex thread color for topstitching. We used yellow. Slightly lengthen the stitch.
- Edgestitch along both sides of the accent strip, running these seams approximately ¼” in from the folded edge.
- Trim the ends of the accent strip flush with the Kitten panel.
Layering, stitching, and pressing section one
NOTE: Be aware that our chosen knit stripe was a reversible fabric – the same on both sides. Because of this, make sure you pay attention of our right side versus wrong side instructions below to make sure everything turns out correctly.
- Find one of the 11½” Stripe panels. Place it wrong side up and flat on your work surface.
- Place the bottom front panel, with the accent band stitched in place, right side up and flat on top of the Stripe panel. In other words, these two 11½” panels are wrong sides together. All edges of both panels should be flush. Pin in place along the top edge through the two panels.
- Find one of the 4” Stripe panels. Place it right sides together with the front Kitten panel, aligning the top raw edges. Re-pin along the top edge through the three panels.
- Flip over the three pinned layers so the back Stripe panel is now right side up.
- Find one of the 4” Diamond panels. Place it right sides together with the back Stripe panel, aligning the top raw edges. Re-pin along the top edge through all four panels.
- Re-thread the machine with the Eloflex thread to best match the fabric for construction. We used white. Re-set the stitch length to normal. Using a ½” seam allowance stitch across through all four panels.
- Press the two 4” panels up and away from the main panels.
- This means, once pressed up into position, the two 4” panels will now be wrong sides together, right sides facing out to match the wider panels below.
- Press well from both sides, making sure the top raw edges of the 4” panels are flush.
- Re-thread the machine with the Eloflex thread chosen for topstitching (yellow on our sample). Lengthen the stitch to match what you used to edgestitch the front accent band.
- Using a ¼” seam allowance, topstitch along the seam within the narrow panel.
Layering and stitching the subsequent sections
- Find the next wide front panel in the sequence, a 10” Diamond panel on our sample.
- Place the Diamond panel right sides together along the top raw edges of the narrow Stripe/Diamond panels. All three raw edges should be flush. Pin in place through all three layers.
- Flip over the entire unit.
- Find the next wide back panel in the sequence, a 10” Stripe panel on our sample. Place the Stripe panel right sides together along the top raw edges. The two wider panels are sandwiching the narrow panels. All four raw edges should be flush and all layers are right sides together. Pin in place through all four layers.
- Re-thread the machine with the Eloflex thread to best match the fabric for construction. Re-set the stitch length to normal. Using a ½” seam allowance stitch across through all four panels.
- Press the two 10” panels up and away from the narrow panels.
- As above, once pressed up into position, this means the two 10” panels will now be wrong sides together, right sides facing out. Press well from both sides, making sure the top raw edges are flush.
- Re-thread the machine with the Eloflex thread chosen for topstitching. Lengthen the stitch to match what you used previously, and using a ¼” seam allowance, topstitch along the seam within the wide panel.
- Find the next set of narrow panels (Stripe for the front and Kitten for the back on our sample). Place the front narrow Stripe panel right sides together with the wide Diamond panel, aligning all the top raw edges. Pin in place through all three layers.
- Flip over the unit and place the back narrow Kitten panel right sides together with the wide Stripe back panel, aligning all the top raw edges. Pin in place through all four layers.
- Using a ½” seam allowance stitch across through all four panels.
- Repeat the steps to add one additional set of 11½” wide panels (Kitten front/Stripe back) and one additional set of 10” wide panels (Diamond front/Stripe back) separated by one additional set of 4” narrow panels (Stripe front/Diamond back). As you can see in the drawing above, the topstitching through all the layers is always done in the uppermost panel, the panel towards which all the layers are pressed.
- The knit fabrics do not ravel, so we made a simple, single turn hem along all four sides. This also helps keep bulk to a minimum along the edges – especially along the center seams.
- Fold back both sides edges ½” and pin in place. Zig zag the hem in place along the unfinished edge, catching the hem with the right swing of the needle and the blanket with the left swing of the needle so the zig zag encases the raw edge. We used a 4.0mm width and 1.5mm length for our zig zag.
- Hem the upper and lower edges of the blanket to match. We used a scrap of layered knit as a starting block to help even the foot at the corners.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Michele Mishler