Well I finally got around to making a faux chenille baby blanket! Yay! I knew I needed to make something special with the robot print quilting cotton that I picked up specifically with making a baby shower gift in mind. After considering several other projects, finally it dawned on me that the fabric would be PERFECT for the faux chenille baby blanket project that had sat gathering dust in my brain for months (and months and months).
Google “faux chenille baby blanket” or “diy chenille baby blanket” and you will come across a plethora of tutorials. My main inspiration tutorial was the one over at Made and this tutorial was probably the first one I’ve seen using this technique. Oh how I wanted to whip up one of these back when I was pregnant with Pen but with only 24 hours in the day I can’t get around to every project.
Since so many tutorials already exist, I won’t go into too much detail on my blanket but I wanted to take the time to add some observations I’ve made along the way.
Observation #1: NO pre-washing is definitely a good thing.
Pre-washing being a good thing might pop into your head. Colors might bleed and there might be some concerns about fabric shrinking too much. I was even pretty chicken about letting nature take its course considering the red flannel I was using but I had pre-washed the same type of flannel before for another project and noticed it seemed reasonably colorfast. To cover my butt I used several color catchers on each wash cycle and washed the blanket until I no longer noticed the blue was no longer tinting the color catchers. Each cycle just made the blanket more awesome looking and it was all well worth the effort. The wrinkly texture caused by the shrinkage after sewing is what I really think makes the blanket extra special. Not to mention that the flannel might of not fuzzed up as nicely if I had pre-washed.
Observation #2: The iron is your friend.
Even though I did NOT pre-wash the fabric it did have some wrinkles from storage and using an iron to smooth things out was a big help with pinning. I turned my kitchen table into a giant ironing board by doubling up a thick cotton blanket. Each layer was carefully ironed as I added it to the stack. I’m really glad I thought of this instead of my original plan of wrestling big pieces of fabric on my ironing board or doing something like attempting to hand smooth the wrinkles.
Observation #3: I pin therefore I am.
I did not go the spray basting route due to not wanting to spend $11 on something I don’t normally use and I did not really have anywhere in the house with enough ventilation to get the task done safely anyways. Pinning was not that tedious and I was through enough where the shifting of layers while sewing was not that bad either. I also had a one year-old that was “helping” and I think the pins held up well to her antics. I switched from large straight pins to safety pins about 1/4 of the way through the project and while the safety pins were more fiddly to use, I did not stab myself repeatedly on them like I did with the straight pins. Next time I’ll exclusively use safety pins.
Observation #4: Do buy a chenille cutter.
In stark contrast to not wanting to splurge on basting spray, I did talk myself into buying a chenille cutter. I was on the fence before making this blanket but I truly believe my hands would have fallen off without it. Seriously! I’ve spent many (many, many, many) years typing away at a keyboard and using a game pad. My joints hate me for it. To make this purchase useful in the future, I figured I could use the same technique on doll blankets, throw pillows, or even a scarf. This technique could be used for all sorts of things!
Observation #5: Snip, snip, snip.
I took the time to use my scissors to snip a bit into each row, through the right layers, to help give a clear guide on where I needed to place the chenille cutter. It seems slower but I think it allowed me to confidently know I had the cutter at the right level for each row instead of spending time triple checking my placement at each new row and then cutting the wrong layer anyways.
Observation #6: Labels make everything snazzy.
This was the first project I completed after receiving my new labels and they indeed make everything look snazzy.
Observation #7: Know when to move on…
Not that the fact that my modern computerized machine went on the fritz during this project directly relates to you making a chenille baby blanket. Neither does me having to quickly get the vintage Babylock, that I grabbed “as-is” at a flea market in October for under $5, up and running. I do think my lesson in knowing when to stop being stubborn, might be of interest.
I hate not having solutions to problems and sometimes my obsession with knowing the answer leaves me blind to the more efficient route. Instead of spending what spare time I had over the course three days trouble shooting my Brother, I should have set it aside and went to plan B which was getting the Babylock into service. Yes, I did diagnose what was wrong with my Brother but this stubbornness to keep going until I had the answer ate up the week I allotted for the project. This left me with just a sliver of time to clean up the new-to-me machine and actually sew the baby blanket. I totally squeaked by on this one folks!
Speaking of my new-to-me Babylock. Even though my time was limited, I did document my cleaning of the machine and there will be a post dedicated to that subject next week.
Even with the headache of my machine issues, I’m really happy with the way the blanket turned out.