The main project for the last week and a half (and during which my forearm fell victim to my iron) was working on two faux chenille blankets for a coworker’s baby shower! I used the tutorial by Aesthetic Nest for my “how to” and changed up a couple of things along the way… and they were a hit with both momma and soon-to-be-big sister!
One blanket is for the new baby girl, and the other is for big sister. Big Sister is the little girl that I’d made a Little Red Riding Hood cape for as a Halloween Costume about a year and a half ago. Since it was large on her then, she still wears it, so I thought that Moda’s Lil’ Red line would be perfect for a pair of coordinating snuggle blankets!
I made the blanket for the new baby first, for no other reason than the fabrics for it were done pre-washing first. I pre-washed all of the fabrics, since I was combining JoAnn Fabrics flannels with quilt shop quality cottons (I expect there was a different shrinkage rate between the two types of fabrics and qualities) and because red. Hello, bleeding fabric. Actually, after one pre-wash on warm, and then three rounds in the washing machine (on cold) and through the dryer, the Shout Color Catcher sheet was still coming out pink from the red fabric bleeding. I blame the flannel. That lovely red binding was from the quilt shop, and I’ve had far fewer problems with quilt shop fabrics bleeding than cheaper fabrics. I started out with a layer of the cotton for the backing and four layers of flannel, 41 inches square, but because of fabrics shifting during sewing, this blanket came out about 36″ square(ish) after I squared it up. I cut the binding on the bias, because I find it much easier to work with (especially around rounded corners) and I like that it is supposed to be sturdier. I also have far fewer problems with the raw edge fraying as I manhandle the blanket while I hand stitch the binding to the backing!
It was harder than I thought to keep everything from shifting… and to square it up afterwards, since it was larger than my biggest cutting mat and ruler!
Big Sister’s blanket ended up about 38 inches square…ish. With her Red Riding Hood cape, this fabric was just too perfect to pass up, and it didn’t seem fair for baby sister to be getting all of the presents at the baby shower! I’m glad she’s still young enough for blankets, too! After realizing how easily layers had started to shift (even with basting spray) on the first blanket, I was a little more liberal in applying basting spray for the second blanket – and I added some stitched basting as well. I sure love how the multiple colors of flannel had the chenille strips turn out – I used blue, spring green, white, and red flannels.
I’m thankful that my new Pfaff sewing machine was easy to sort out. The much higher capacity of the bobbins (compared to my Singer Touch and Sew 603e) and integrated walking foot made a huge difference with this project. As it was, each blanket took nearly three bobbins of thread!
I know all of the tutorials I found online list the Olfa Chenille Cutter tool as “optional”, but it was seriously an enormous help. I’m sure mine needs a new blade at this point, but it made cutting the strips so much easier. The “foot” that slides underneath the bottom layer you want to cut helps to keep the blade centered for even cutting, and also keeps you from accidentally nipping into the back layer that you are not supposed to cut. If I had, I’m sure there would have been much in the way of tears and language you don’t want small children to hear.
I mentioned at the beginning that I’d deviated from the tutorial in a few spots. The tutorial at Sisters, What! recommended starting each row with scissors, so that the pulling motion of the chenille cutter doesn’t start ripping up your stitches instead. I started my cuts on both ends of each row… and then basted them back down so everything would hold still for a bit, and attached my binding at this step, while the blanket was still more stable (and less linty) than it would be once cut all the way across. Once I had machine stitched the binding to the chenille side, and then folded it over and hand stitched it to the back, I used the chenille cutter to finish cutting my strips all the way across. You can see the edges started (and binding already attached) in the photo above.
It’s amazing how big of a difference a round or two in the washing machine will make in turning those rows above into the delightful fuzzy rows you see below! Since the flannel is sewn (and then cut) on the bias, the strips will fuzz up but you don’t get the long ugly strings that you normally see when they fray. They’ll sure load up the lint trap on the dryer the first several washings, though!
All snuggly and soft!
And seriously. Beware the iron when trying to use a lint-roller on the ironing board while you hold the iron in your other hand.