I love the idea of a heavy, super cozy blanket. There are those who are against the idea of sleeping under something heavy and there are those who are in love with sleeping under a heavy warm quilt in the winter. I am of the “love with” category. There’s nothing better than waking up on a lazy winter weekend nestled under a heavy, warm quilt. It’s like getting a hug… all night long.
So when Christmas was approaching, and my mother-in-law had not been feeling well for some time, I decided the best thing I could make for her Christmas gift was a really heavy, warm blanket she could snuggle under all winter long. I decided when I made the handmade Christmas pledge this year that all of the handmade items I made myself were to be made with as many recycled/upcycled materials as I could manage. With this line of thinking, to accomplish a heavy warm blanket I came up with recycled sweaters. I’m kind of a sweater junkie. I realized recently my closet needed a re-vamp – mostly being browns and blacks and mostly being heavy, bulky sweaters and not much of anything else. I managed to pull 12 sweaters from my wardrobe I wouldn’t miss and all of those ended up being in the colors blue and brown (big surprise, my wardrobe wasn’t very colorful).
What I came up with was a simple squares pattern. In fact, I have a quilter’s square that was just the right size, so I used that as a template for cutting the squares. As I cut each sweater to pieces, I also saved the arms to turn into leg warmers for next winter season, as well as the “scraps” to use to make wrapped flower buds (sweater flowers – yahhhh!).
After all the cutting was done, I laid out all the squares on the floor in the pattern I wanted them to be in. Now, I didn’t have even numbers of all the squares, so I just did my best to make sure two “same” colors weren’t next to each other and re-arranged a couple of times until I felt the pattern had enough visual interest….
After the pattern was arranged how I wanted it, I pinned all the squares together. From there I began sewing all the rows together. As you go, your row gets heavier and so you have to sew on a large table so that you can pile the completed row close to your machine or the sweater squares will stretch and that will cause problems when you start to sew the rows together. (Trust me, I had to take out two rows stitching because of this). Once each of the rows were sewn, I began sewing the rows together. As you go, you will discover the finished parts of the quilt get heavier and heavier. This is good – just keep piling it on the table so it doesn’t “pull” and stretch.
Oh and also – if you happen to have a two year old present, the two year old will probably want to help, so it’s a good idea to keep some of those scraps handy to occupy said two year old….
Once you’ve got your top sewn you’ll probably still have to go back around the edges and do some trimming, as no matter how much effort you put into keeping things from stretching and pulling, it happens… y’know… even if you really, really try hard. (Which I did on the first 3/4 before I started to get antsy to get the whole thing done.)
After all the edges are trimmed, you can work on the backing. For the backing on this quilt I decided to use an existing felt blanket. I originally wanted to use wool and blanket stitch the edge of the quilt, but then I couldn’t find any “good shape” wool blankets to use, so the one that I had which happened to be a blue fleece blanket made an excellent choice anyway. The blanket I made was set up to be a queen size, but the felt queen size blanket I had was just a little bit too long, so I just trimmed off the two inches left-over at the bottom.
I placed the quilt top face down on the backing and pinned. Pinning is important because otherwise, remember, those sweaters stretch really easily! I then machine stitched all around the edging with a 1/4 inch seam and because some of the sweaters on the edges were cable-knit with some wide openings, I used a tight zig-zag stitch to make sure it held. (It’s HEAVY so it’s a good idea.) I left a six inch opening along the bottom to flip the quilt right side out. After that, I hand stitched the opening.
I laid the quilt out along the floor again and spent a couple of hours kneeling over the quilt to “tie” it. For this you use a curved needle and some thick thread and just make sure the needle goes through both the top and the bottom layer. Oh wait – you may be asking yourself right now … “What about the batting?” This quilt is so heavy and warm already I decided I didn’t even need to put batting or lining inside. It worked out fine. Promise…
SO anyway, tying the quilt… make a short stitch through top and bottom layers, leave a half inch of thread on each end of the stitch and tie that together on the top of the quilt. I did this every other square because, well, again… it was a heavy blanket and would probably “shift” around alot if I didn’t.
The end result looked like this
And my mother in law loved it. Double bonus. So in the end, this particular project made an excellent gift and was also a perfect re-use of the items that very much needed to come out of my wardrobe!