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Handwoven Baby Blankets, part 3

handwoven baby blankets with hearts
I promised to show you the four handwoven baby blankets when I finally had the binding on them.

The pink hearts have a pale pink binding, the blue hearts a pale blue binding, and the cranberry & aqua have white binding. I did get these up on my website, as this is the time of the year that I tend to get more orders for or sales of my handwoven baby blankets. (I do realize that the blue & aqua look pretty similar in the photo, but they’re not so much in real life. The aqua has much more green in it.)

In addition to the four heart blankies, I also wove three cotton flannel baby blankets in a variegated yarn. These were really popular last time I had them. The cotton flannel is so very soft, and the colors are just right for baby.
handwoven cotton flannel baby blanket
I wove these blankets in doubleweave, since I wanted them to be wider than either of my looms would accommodate. I’ve done this before on my sweet, little counterbalance loom without difficulty. But I’d just finished the heart blankets, which required all 8 harnesses of my Macomber, and so decided to do the doubleweave on the Mac, too, even though I only needed 4 harnesses. I knew I’d get a better shed, and it would just make my job easier.

I admit it, I’m getting used to the Mac. I still love my counterbalance, and hope that it remains my favorite; only time will tell, I guess.

Back to the topic I wanted to talk about – binding these baby blankets. I admit it: I hate sewing on the binding. Previously, I’ve sewed it on and then taken it all off and re-done it. I’ve lived with binding that looked less-than-professional, reducing the overall look of my carefully woven blanket. At my show last weekend, I even tried to get one of the other women there, whose product is handsewn purses and bags, to do the binding for me. She wasn’t having any of that. So I wasn’t looking forward to the task of binding 7 blankets. YUCK!

I did one each of the hearts and the cotton flannel prior to the show. I hated it as much as I’d anticipated. And I still had 5 more blankets to go.

Then I got a brainstorm: I can’t be the only one who has difficulty with this slippery fabric. I looked online, and found lots of places where people asked the question of how to do this without pulling your hair out. Several of the sites didn’t offer me any helpful insights, but a few did. I’m going to pass on to you the information I found useful.

First and foremost, blanket binding has an top and a bottom. For me, with the narrow binding (1″) that I’m using for my baby blankets, the top of the binding is a scant 1/16″ narrower than the bottom. So little difference I’d never noticed it before. Trust me when I tell you this was the most important hint I got! Putting that ever-so-slightly-narrower edge on the top of the blanket as I pinned & sewed completely eliminated the likelihood of missing the edge of the bottom portion of the binding. I can’t believe that it made so much of a difference, but it did.

Second, don’t worry about ‘filling up’ that binding. If you leave a little bit of space at the top of the binding, it’s okay, and gives you a little room to fool around with as you machine stitch.

Third, pull the binding really tight as you pin. (Or baste, if you’re a baster. I’m not.) That way it’ll be tight when you sew and not bunch up.

Not from hints online, I also did three other things.

  • I used a layer of tissue paper underneath the binding as I sewed – between the feed dogs and the presser foot. This helped ensure that I wouldn’t have slippage there, and the tissue rips off cleanly when you’re done sewing.
  • I used a sort of long stitch length – a bit higher than the middle of my stitch length options on my machine. I also sewed sort of slowly, not at my usual get-‘er-done speed.
  • I pulled the blanket-and-binding combination rather tightly both in front of and behind the presser foot. My goal was to maintain the same tension as I did with my pinning.

The result? The binding on those 5 blankets went on like a dream! Not a snag, not a bunch, not a curse word while sewing on 10 ends. Yippee! I’ve apparently found the magic combination of techniques to make this once-horrible task not bad at all. I’m really pleased with the results. If I was a bit more obsessive than I am, I’d rip the binding off those first two blankets and redo them. (You can see how much smoother the binding is on the heart blankets than on that cotton flannel.) But I won’t. I may be crazy, but not that crazy.

Your turn: have you used online tips to make your life easier?

13 comments to Handwoven Baby Blankets, part 3

  • Vee

    Hi. I just found your blog and I’m enjoying browsing. I really like your baby blankets and I understand what you mean regarding attaching the binding. When I bind a blanket with satin binding, I use a clear monofilament thread and a ziz-zag stitch. You can use a matching cotton thread if you don’t like monofilament. The zig-zag makes it easier to catch both edges of the binding evenly and it does not emphasize the lack of bias in the satin binding. Play around with the length of the stitch until you’re happy with how it looks with the fabric. I hope this helps make attaching the binding more pleasant and you’re more pleased with the result.

    Blessings,

    Vee

    • Peg Cherre

      Thanks, for the hints, Vee. I’ve tried the zig zag stitch on my machine before, and wasn’t so happy with it. But now that I know the OTHER hints about successful bindings, perhaps I’ll give it another shot!

  • Remind me what the washing instructions will be for the blankie. Will the hats and socks have the same rules?

    • Peg Cherre

      Holy cow! I forgot to put a care tag on the blanket! It’s 100% cotton, so should be able to be tossed in the washer & dryer (I’d do cool on both to not shrink it) without a problem. The blue & green hat & blanket are acrylic – again washer & dryer. The multi hat & socks an acrylic blend – again washer & dryer.

  • […] variegated cotton flannel baby blanket. An alpaca houndstooth scarf. Several bamboo scarves woven in different colors and designs. Three […]

  • Kathy

    I’ve just found your site and all of a sudden 1 1/2 hours have passed! A question though. I have never put a binding on my blankets. I either have a short twisted fringe or I hem them using a walking foot and it goes very fast. May I ask if there is a reason for the binding? Your blankets are lovely.

    • Peg Cherre

      Thanks so much for the compliment, Kathy – you spent an hour and a half reading my stuff? Wow!

      Anyway, here’s why I bind my baby blankets: I don’t think babies and fringe go well together. Initially I primarily did rolled hems (I don’t have a walking foot, just a regular presser foot). Parents and grandparents kept requesting binding. Babies and little children love the silkiness of that binding. So now I bind them all, unless a rolled hem is specifically requested.

  • […] wove 4 cotton flannel baby blankets in variegated yarn. I’ve woven them before, but didn’t have any all last year. They’re so soft and colorful, they usually sell […]

  • Dinah Coble

    Thanks for your tips on sewing the blanket binding on. I’m wondering if you full yiur blankets before you add the binding or at the same time.

    • Peg Cherre

      Dinah – My blankets are cotton, so they don’t full like wool or some other fibers. I do sew the binding on before washing & drying the blankets.

  • […] I had this problem before, and solved it, and blogged about it! All I had to do was go find that blog post and see how I did […]

  • Dee

    Hi,
    I just found your site. Beautiful blankets. Can you tell me what flannel cotton is and where you got it? I am learning a lot.
    Thanks so much

    • Peg Cherre

      Gee, Dee, I’d LIKE to tell you what cotton flannel is, but I can’t say I really know myself. It’s definitely a very soft cotton, it may be brushed, and it’s sort of a thick & thin type of yarn. I bought mine from a woman on eBay. I just checked her shop and she doesn’t have any more right now…don’t know if she ever does any more. Her shop is http://stores.ebay.com/Fiber-Options. Hope this helps!

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