Weighted blankets are beloved by those with sensory issues, anxiety, joint pain, and folks on the autism spectrum. They are expensive to buy, but pretty simple to make.
The finished blanket should be not too much bigger than the person, otherwise most of the weight will be on the bed, not on their body. The total weight of the blanket (including the fabric) should not exceed 15% of the user’s weight. For a small child, 10% is better. (A child should not be left unattended with a weighted blanket, and should be able to remove the blanket herself without help. It must never be placed over the face. Please use your common sense if you make this item.)
Here’s how I made an adult-sized blanket for a friend who suffers from joint pain. My friend is 5’2″ and weighs 148lb. The blanket measures almost 4 feet by 6 feet, and ended up weighing 24lb, which is a bit more than 15% of her weight.
Note: wrangling 24 lbs of blanket is a workout. You will not need to go to the gym on the day you sew this.
• 19lb weighted poly pellets (like these)
• 4 yards of corduroy for the outer cover
• A canvas drop cloth from a hardware store for the internal bags of pellets. It wasn’t quite enough fabric to complete all the bags, so I used a heavyweight cotton tablecloth for the last few. All up, you’ll need about 4 yards of heavyweight fabric. It doesn’t matter what it looks like, because it will be completely enclosed in the finished blanket.
• Strong sewing machine needles. I went through four needles making this blanket, so have spares on hand.
Cut 128 rectangles measuring 5.75″ x 8.75″ from the canvas.
Take two rectangles, and stitch along three sides, using a 1/2″ seam allowance. No need to backstitch at the ends.
Do not turn right side out! Leave it with the seams on the outside, and fill it with 1 cup of poly pellets.
Stitch the bag closed with a half inch seam allowance. Be careful to shake all the pellets away from the sewing line. They will break your needle if you stitch on them!
Repeat for the remaining 63 bags.
Pin two bags with a long edge overlapping. The edge of one bag should line up with the stitching line in the next.
Join with a zig zag stitch. Repeat till you have a row of eight bags joined together.
Then make seven more rows, ending up with eight rows of eight bags. Have a rest for a while.
Cut two pieces of corduroy 48″ x 72″. With wrong sides together, zig zag the two pieces together along one short edge. Open so that the fabric lies flat on the floor, right side down.
Lay one row of pellet bags about 3″ from your zig zagged seam, and centered left to right. Smooth everything out, then close the corduroy back over the pellet bags, enclosing them.
Pin through the half-inch seam allowance at the top and sides of the row of pellet bags, catching both front and back corduroy pieces.
Stitch through all layers, parallel to the zig zagging, with a slightly lengthened straight stitch. Don’t stitch all the way to the edges of the corduroy; stitch only the length of the pellet bags.
Lay a second row of pellet bags inside the corduroy ‘sandwich’, overlapping seam allowances with the row above. The edge of the second row should line up with the stiching line on the first row of bags. Flap the corduroy closed again, smooth everything out, and pin through all layers along the overlapped seam allowances.
Stitch along this line, parallel with your first line. (Note, the pins along the side are just there to help keep the layers straight. You do not stitch along the sides at this point.)
Continue in this manner, adding rows of bags and stitching through all layers. You will need to roll the unfilled side of the blanket and keep it to your right as you sew. The more rows you add, the heavier and more cumbersome the blanket becomes. Go slow and steady, taking stretch breaks as needed!
When all eight rows have been stitched into place, sew down the left and right sides, catching those bag seam allowances.
Trim the blanket to 2″ wider than the outer stitch lines.
Turn each edge under, creating a border 1″ wide. Top stitch close to the edge all the way around, mitering the corners as you go.
Attach your label! You’re done!
After three nights under this blanket, my friend reported: “I have been sleeping just so well, I couldn’t have anticipated such a difference. It’s been magical!” Hmm, maybe I need a magical blanket for myself!