Surround your dear little one with this soft blanket as he or she drifts off to Dreamland. Babies and toddlers will feel so safe as they wrap their hands around the smooth fabric, fingering the silk charmeuse binding as they listen to a bedtime poem or story. Every night after bathtime and putting on pajamas, my son and I cuddle together in his bed and I recite him this poem by the gentle, flickering light of a beeswax candle:
By Sarojini Naidu
From groves of spice,
O’er fields of rice,
Athwart the lotus stream,
I bring to you,
Aglint with dew,
A lovely little dream.
Sweet, shut your eyes,
The wild fireflies
Dance through the fairy neem;
From the poppybole
For you I stole
A lovely little dream.
Dear eyes, good night,
In golden light
The stars around you gleam;
On you I press
With soft caress
A lovely little dream.
Choose the highest quality materials that you can afford for the Cradle Song Blanket; they will greatly affect the quality of the finished product. I recommend the following fabrics from nearseanaturals.com: organic silk/hemp charmeuse and organic cotton/hemp fleece.
Remember to wash, dry, and press all fabrics before you start sewing. This will ensure that you don’t get shrinkage later on that could cause unsightly puckering in your finished project. The yardages given for the silk charmeuse and cotton fleece include a little bit extra to account for shrinkage during washing.
Note: All fabrics should be at least 54″ (137.2 cm) wide.
— 11⁄8 yd (1 m) of silk charmeuse for blanket front and binding (shown here: silk/hemp charmeuse from NearSea Naturals; Main)
— 11⁄8 yd (1 m) of wool of cotton fleece for blanket back (shown here: Organic Hemp/Cotton Fleece from NearSea Naturals; Contrast)
— 5 yards of coordinating wool yarn for tying blanket
— Chenille needle for tying blanket
— White quilting pencil or tailor’s chalk (if working with darker Main fabric)
— Thread to match Main fabric
— Rotary cutter and self-healing mat
— Clear acrylic ruler
— Bent-arm blanketing safety pins
— Walking foot for sewing machine
Finished size: 36 x 36″ (91.5 x 91.5 cm)
Cut Fabric and Prepare Blanket Front
1. Cut one 36 x 36″ (91.5 x 91.5 cm) square each from the Main and Contrast fabrics. Set aside.
2. Cut four strips of silk charmeuse, each 4″ (10 cm) wide, across the fabric width for straight-grain binding. Trim the selvedges off the pieces and then set aside.
Tie the Blanket
3. Layer the blanket as follows: fleece (softer, fuzzy side facing down), and blanket front (right side up). Smooth the layers outward from the center and begin basting the layers together using bent-arm blanketing safety pins. Start in the middle of the blanket front and pin in a row from the top to the bottom. Work your way toward the blanket edge, pinning in rows, then return to the middle and pin rows to the other edge. Place at least one safety pin every 6″ (15 cm), horizontally and vertically, to minimize fabric shifting.
4. Use a white quilting pencil or tailor’s chalk to lightly mark the location of the ties on the top of the blanket (the right side of the Main fabric). I arranged my marks by sight without measuring – the distances don’t need to be exact. Use the following diagram as a guide (Figure 1).
5. Cut a 5” length of yarn and thread it through the chenille needle. At one of the marks you made in step 4, push the needle through the right side of the Main fabric and through the fleece layer as well. Leave at least a 2” tail of yarn on the Main fabric side as you push the needle back up through the layers a few mm’s away from where you first inserted it. (Figure 2) Remove the needle and tie the yarn taut with a double knot on the right side of the Main fabric. Trim the yarn ends to within 3/8” of the knot. Repeat until the entire blanket is tied. Remove the bent-arm pins as you tie – you’ll no longer need them.
6. Square up the blanket to ensure that all layers are flush around the edges before you bind the edges. Place your blanket onto a self-healing mat and square up the edges by using a metal yardstick or a rigid blanketing ruler and rotary cutter to trim each edge as necessary so that all layers are even and the corners form neat right angles. Use the edge of the yardstick or ruler as a guide to make straight cuts with the rotary cutter.
Make and Attach the Silk Charmeuse Binding
7. Retrieve the silk strips cut in Step 2 and follow these instructions for making a straight grain binding to create the doublefold binding. Because you are using silk for the binding, be sure to use the silk setting on your iron to protect the fabric.
8. Join the strips end to end with a diagonal seam (figure 3). Be sure to remove the selvedges from the strips.
9. Fold the strip in half lengthwise with wrong sides together, allowing one raw edge to extend just past the other edge (about 1⁄16″ [2 mm]), rather than folding it exactly in half; press. The slightly extended edge will make it easier to catch the bottom edge of the finished binding when it is sewn into place around the edge of a project.
10. Open up the fold and then fold each long edge toward the wrong side, so that the raw edges meet in the middle (figure 4).
11. Refold the binding along the existing center crease, enclosing the raw edges (figure 5), and press again.
Attach the Binding
12. Place the binding around the edge of the blanket, snugging the raw edge of the blanket up into the center crease of the binding. Be sure to place the slightly extended side of the binding on the bottom of the project. Pin the binding in place to the first corner.
13. Using your walking foot and a zigzag stitch, topstitch the binding to the project a scant 1⁄8″ (3 mm) from the binding’s lower edges, stitching through all layers. Be sure to sew on the binding with the fleece side facing you – it is more important to get a precise seam on this side since your thread is the same color as the binding and blanket front, and thus more forgiving! As you sew along, check often to make sure that you are catching the edge of the binding on the bottom of the project as well. Continue sewing all the way to the first corner and backtack. Remove the project from the machine and trim the threads. Use figure 6 to help you miter the corners. Finish the binding by folding under the unfinished short edge. Pin it in place over the spot where you began attaching the binding and topstitch in place.
Meg McElwee is a certified Montessori teacher, sewing pattern designer, and author. She blogs about her adventures with fabric, thread, and mamahood at Sewliberated. Her second book, due out in late 2010, is tentatively titled Growing Up Sew Liberated: Over 30 Sewing Projects for the Daily Rhythm of Childhood.