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Blankets for Babies

Ah, the power of the baby blanket. Functional for keeping warm, yet so magical with its soothing properties. Whether due to the ability to comfort, the reminder of consistency, or the idea of something that belongs to baby and no one else, special blankets have comforted children for many generations. Blankets are toted around the house, to the store, and on vacations until thread-bare and love-worn.

As relatives and friends bring new life into their families, you'll receive invitations to baby showers and announcements of the event itself. Wanting to help the proud parents celebrate, you may consult gift registries, ask the parents directly what is needed for the nursery, or purchase an item that you have found to be "tried-and-true" from your own parenting experience. While such gifts will certainly be appreciated, don't forget the importance of a special blanket, especially one that is handmade. Give a blanket as a gift in itself or in addition to a registry item, giving a bit of yourself at the same time.

Assess your blanket-making skills. Do you knit or crochet? Can you piece a quilt? If you answered "no" and "no", don't be dismayed. With a basic sewing machine you can create beautiful flannel blankets or pint-sized satin and flannel blankets called "silkies", which cater to babies' love of satin edges on larger blankets.

Making a Flannel Blanket

1 1/4 yards each of two coordinating flannel fabrics (44/45 inches wide)
thread to match

1. Wash and dry flannel pieces to pre-shrink.
2. Place flannel pieces together, "right" sides touching, matching selvedges.
3. Trim any edges necessary to make pieces match perfectly in size.
4. Pin edges together on all sides.
5. Starting about 1/3 from a corner, straight-stitch along each edge with a 1/2 inch seam allowance, turning at corners, ending about 5 inches from starting point.
6. Clip corners at an angle, then pull the right sides of the blanket out through opening.
7. From the inside, use a thin but blunt object to push out corners.
8. Press all edges, turning in 1/2 inch at opening.
9. Slip-stitch opening closed.
10. With a full bobbin, select a zig-zag or decorative stitch and practice with it on a scrap of flannel.
11. Use this stitch on all edges of the blanket, about 1/2 inch in from the edge.

Making a Silky (one is never enough!)

3/8 yard flannel fabric
3/8 yard coordinating satin-like fabric (the softer, the better and make sure it's machine-washable)
thread to match

1. Wash and dry flannel piece to pre-shrink.
2. Cut a 12 1/2 inch square from flannel and from satin. (You will have leftover fabric, enough for 2 more silkies.)
2. Place flannel and satin together, "right" sides touching.
3. Trim any edges necessary to make pieces match perfectly in size.
4. Pin edges together on all sides.
5. Starting about 1/3 from a corner, straight-stitch along each edge with a 1/2 inch seam allowance, turning at corners, ending about 2 inches from starting point.
6. Clip corners at an angle, then pull the right sides of the blanket out through opening.
7. From the inside, use a thin but blunt object to push out corners.
8. Press all edges, turning in 1/2 inch at opening.
9. Top-stitch on all sides, stitching very close to the edges (this way you won't have to slip-stich the opening).


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