Tutorial for sewing a weighted blanket. Newly updated.
A couple weeks ago one of my sisters mentioned that she wanted a weighted blanket for her son, who has some sensory issues. Weighted blankets are pretty expensive, so I said I would look into how to make a weighted blanket. I slept on it for a couple nights, and came up with this very effective method. I was surprised at how nice the weight of this blanket felt – I definitely see how it can be soothing and comforting. My nephew adores his, and – after playing with this one before we shipped it off to my sister – my kids want me to make them one, too!
Update: This tutorial has been updated several times to reflect feedback on how best to make a weighted blanket from my readers. I would love to see your photos if you make a blanket using this tutorial – email pictures (or links to pictures) to mamasmilesblog at gmail dot com with “weighted blanket” in the subject line. Keep sending feedback on how I can improve this tutorial, too!
Looking for a ready-made Weighted Blanket?
If you decide to look for a ready-made weighted blanket, I recently discovered these for sale on Amazon. There are also several sellers on Etsy. This tutorial can be used to make weighted blankets to sell, but please give credit to my site in your listing.
Drop by this post if you are looking for more resources for dealing with sensory issues. You may also find these sensory activities to help kids calm down and stay calm helpful.
A Note on Sewing Machines
I sometimes get questions about sewing machines on this post. I have been using the Janome HD1000 for several of years now, and I like it! It is extremely sturdy; the only quirk I have noticed is that getting the bobbin in correctly can be tricky at first. My first sewing machine was an older-generation version of the Brother XL2600I. It was very easy to use, but couldn’t always handle thicker fabrics.
Tutorial: How to Make a Weighted Blanket
- 100% Cotton fabric – enough to make whatever size blanket you want, times two. If you are making a full-size blanket, you may find it easier to start with a comforter cover. You will either want to trim the edges or leave the edges un-filled, since you only need pellets in the sections that cover your body. If you pick one with a zipper, your final seam is done for you!
- Fairfield Poly-Pellets Weighted Stuffing Beads – Amazon is an expensive place to buy these, but the link will give you an idea of what to look for. If you can find them locally, that’s probably the most cost-effective solution – they are heavy, so shipping can add expense.
- If you have a walking foot it will make this project much easier – eliminates puckering and the fabric glides through. Thanks Anniebananie for this tip!
- Kitchen scale for weighing pellets for each section.
- Optional PVC piping to pour the pellets down to the bottom of the blanket. A vacuum tube or gift paper cardboard roll can work too.
- A funnel so that the pellets go where you want them to.
Poly pellets and other fillings for washable weighted blankets: I know that poly pellets are expensive. The best alternative I have seen in reader comments (thus far – January 2014) is Anita’s suggestion to use denim as the fabric with no special filling. It will naturally make a heavy blanket, but it will not dry as easily as one filled with pellets. I’ve stopped recommending cherry pits as a natural filling, because they contain cyanide. You have to eat them for them to be dangerous, but children may do that, and possibly even some adults. Read through the comments for more suggestions and helpful comments. Other alternative fillings that I have seen used include small metal washers and aquarium gravel. Remember that these alternative fillings will get hot in the dryer. They will also wear out your fabric more quickly.
How to make weighted blankets with fleece or minky fabric: Several readers want fleece or minky blankets, but have struggled with the beads catching on fabric and then being in the way when stitching. Reader Anniebananie wrote in with the tip of adding an extra layer of cotton against the fleece. Reader Cicely commented on Facebook that you can also line with broadcloth or sheer slippery fabric. Other readers have solved this problem by sewing the actual blanket out of cotton and then stitching a fleece or minky cover. Always make sure that you include the weight of ALL of your fabric (including covers) when calculating the weight of your weighted blanket.
Minky fabric can be very difficult to mark for sewing using chalk, pencil, or disappearing markers. You can use straight pins, or simply pick a print with some sort of grid design built in.
Some readers use PVC piping, plastic vacuum extension tubes, or wrapping paper tubes to fill the blankets without pellets catching on the way down.
Making larger blankets: Anniebananie also had the wonderful idea of leaving both the bottom and the top open for larger blankets. She then stitched a horizontal center seam and worked her way out from both ends – less bulk to work with while stitching!
Another reader, Cicely, turned her sewing machine sideways, as she found it easier to manipulate the fabric and keep the beads in place that way.
How Much Should My Weighted Blanket Weigh?
Weighted Blanket Weights for Kids: The blanket should weigh about 10% of their body weight plus 1-2 pounds. Make sure the blanket is not heavier than 15% of their body weight at the most.
Weighted Blanket Weights for Adults: The blanket should weigh between 5-10% of your ideal body weight. This number will vary by build, but should give you a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 for your height.
Weighted Blanket Sewing Instructions
STEP 1: Stitch your fabric together on three sides. OR, if you are sewing a large blanket, stitch the two side edges plus a center seam. You will then fill the blanket from the center out.
STEP 2: Stitch vertical columns. Mine were about four inches apart.
This process is much easier if one of your fabrics has a pattern you can use as a guide; otherwise I recommend measuring out and drawing on your stitching lines with a washable fabric marker or disappearing ink fabric pen (you can buy these at the fabric store; the Crayola kids washable markers also work). I was having camera issues and this photo isn’t very good, but if you look closely you can see how I used the pattern as a stitching guide. You could stitch directly on the printed lines; I found it easier to line up my presser foot with them:
STEP 3: Add your poly pellets. This is what they look like – and I think it’s cool that they accidentally formed a heart-like shape.
How to Make a Weighted Blanket: Filling the blanket
STEP 4: Fill each column with however many pellets you want per space. I used about 1/4 cup of pellets for each roughly 4×4 inch compartment. Note: the final blanket should not be heavier than 10-15% of the user’s body weight for children, and no more than 5-10% of an adult’s ideal weight.
Here is a calculator you can use to figure out how many pellets to put in each square:
(number of ounces needed)/(number of squares) = how many pellets you need per square.
Remember, there are 16 ounces in each pound, and calculating this amount in grams may be easier. You can weigh out the amount of pellets for each square using a kitchen scale.
If you prefer to measure your pellets, put them in a measuring cup and then calculate how many tablespoons you need per square. There are 16 tablespoons per cup. Multiply the number of cups by 16, and then divide that number by the number of squares you intend to sew. This will tell you how many tablespoons of pellets to put in each square.
(number of cups x 16)/(number of squares) = how many tablespoons of pellets you need per square.
STEP 5: Once all of the columns have been filled, stitch across that row. Then repeat until you have filled up to the top of your blanket. I made the top row about 6 inches tall instead of 4, because that made it easier to stitch the blanket shut.
Here you can see the filled, stitched pouches. Orange is my nephew’s favorite color, and I’m showing the plain side so that you can see the stitching:
How to Make a Weighted Blanket: Finishing Off
Reader Linda Schmidt emailed me this tip for finishing the final rows, which I know a lot of people have struggled with:
“Getting closer to the last few rows I stitched almost all of the way across each of the the pockets leaving only enough room for the bottom of a funnel to fit in. This kept most of the pellets from cascading out as the last stitches were placed.”
Thanks for the tip, Linda! I love seeing photos of the quilts people have made and receiving feedback like this!
Another reader recommends filling only a few pockets at a time towards the end.
STEP 6: Finish the edges. You can bind them, but I took the easy route and serged them.
If using with a child, please be sure they keep their head outside of the blanket.
How do you help your kids calm down? I’ve written before about how sensory play helps my kids break out of grumpy moods. You can find all sorts of sensory play ideas at my collaborative sensory activities for kids board on Pinterest.
Now that you know how to make a weighted blanket, I would love to see photos of the blankets you sew! You can share pictures on my Facebook page or email them to me at mamasmilesblog at gmail dot com.