Tool of the Month: Weighted Blanket
This is my first Tool of the Month post and am so excited to share my thoughts about the WEIGHTED BLANKET!
So, here we go!
I chose the weighted blanket for my first tool because it is the first tool that I have ever made! When I made the jump as an OT working with at-risk youth, I worked on a pediatric inpatient behavioral health unit. A close friend gave me her sewing machine, so of course, I thought, I will bring this to work and make weighted blankets. There was quite a learning curve, but I figured out how to use the machine, and then teach kids to use the machine (or step on the pedal) to make their own weighted blanket that they could take home from the hospital. I have continued to perfect my art and have made them for friends, family, co-workers, and at-risk youth.
What is so great about a weighted blanket anyway?
A weighted blanket provides deep touch pressure to the body. Deep touch pressure provides calming signal to the brain from the body, and can help to inhibit irritating stimuli. Think about when you have a headache and put a pillow on your head, or when you are hammering and miss the nail, hitting your finger instead -, you squeeze it, right? The pillow and the squeeze are giving deep touch pressure to cancel out the pain and replace it with comfort. So imagine having this comforting weight or pressure all over your body. It can help you feel relaxed and grounded. Read more about deep touch pressure HERE. Weighted blankets can help with settling for bed, calming nerves, and easing stress by offering this wonderful sensory input!
Are you up to the challenge of making a weighted blanket?
YES! Read on.
How to sew a weighted blanket. begins now!
You will first need to determine size. I typically make blankets that are sized from chin to feet, so it is big enough to cover the whole body, but not so big that the weight is not distributed over the body. So for this blanket, the kiddo stood up, we held the cotton print fabric at his chin and cut at the floor. Then measured a piece of fleece to be the same size.
Next we sew the two short sides and one long side as close to the edge as we can, about a 1/2 margin. This step is repeated to make all outside edges of the blanket strong.
Now flip the blanket right-side out and smooth the edges. Measure the long edge of the blanket, and divide that evenly so the pockets will be no more than 8 inches. Once you have this measurement, measure across the blanket and tape the lines down. For our blanket, we were able to make each pocket exactly eight inches. We had a little tape fiasco, so I have a different picture here to show what the taped lines look like.
Here you will sew lines along the tape. Leave about a 2 inch gap when you get to the end. This allow you to finish the blanket neatly when you get there. Sew all the lines beside the tape.
Now you will take a measurement of the short side of the blanket and calculate approximately how many lines you need, no more than 8 inches apart. Tape these lines down as you did previously.
It’s time to fill your blanket! I order my beads from http://primoplasticpellets.com I find shipping costs to be low and the price to be reasonable as far as weighted beads go. Determine how much you want the blanket to weigh. Weighted blankets can be up to 20% of body weight. When I make blankets, I also consider what size and weight can reasonably fit into a washing machine without offsetting the machine, and settled on 12 – 14lbs as my maximum. If you plan to use a commercial washer, than the heaviness factor might not be an issue. Now we get to do some math!!
We decided to make this blanket 12lbs. The short side length was 40″, so we made 5 rows that were 8″. We converted pounds into ounces, needing 192oz. We divided that number by the 5 rows, requiring 38.4oz per row. Each pour was weighed on a small scale, and weight of container was zeroed out.
Holding the open side up, evenly pour the beads into all of the pockets. Sew across on your line to trap in the beads and then repeat until all rows have been filled.
After all rows are filled, carefully fold both edges inward and stitch shut. You may want to stop a 1/2 inch before each pocket to reposition and re-grip the folded fabric. You can use pins to help hold this project closed. I often work in programs where sharps are restricted, so we do our best without the pins or count them carefully.
Double stitch this end and the cut off all of the loose threads. And hooray! You made a weighted blanket! And of course, I didn’t take a picture of the final product, but here are some pictures of other final products.
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