Weighted blankets are often recommended for providing calming deep pressure input for individuals with anxiety, ADHD, ASD, and insomnia. The blanket contains some kind of weighting material distributed throughout the blanket to provide overall deep pressure input. This tutorial described the process I use to make a DIY washable weighted blanket.
This tutorial explains the process I use to make a washable weighted blanket for use in my own family. Please consult an occupational therapist to determine the appropriate weight and use of the weighted blanket for yourself or a child. Use this tutorial at your own risk.
How much should my washable weighted blanket weigh?
The best answer to this question is to consult an occupational therapist. The blanket should weigh enough to provide calming deep pressure input, but not so heavy as to restrict movement. The actual appropriate weight will vary with each person based on their age and weight. Although online sources differ on how much weight is enough but not too much, the general rule of thumb seems to be 10% of the body weight plus 1-2 lbs.
Materials for a Washable Weighted Blanket:
- 2 pieces of fabric (one for the front of the blanket and one for the back). I use woven fabric (non-stretchy) such as flannel or quilting cotton. Pre-wash and dry your fabric as cotton fibers will shrink. I usually purchase between 2 and 21/2 yards depending on the finished size I want to make and if I want extra fabric for binding the blanket.
- 1/4 yard of one fabric for binding or enough bias tape to go around the edges of the blanket.
- Poly Pellet weighted stuffing beads. Purchase enough bags to cover 10% of the person’s body weight. For example, the last weighted blanket I made was for a 53lb. child, so I purchased 3 2lb bags. This can be bought from Amazon or JoAnn Fabrics. The poly pellets are the washable filler that weights the blanket.
- Polyfil Stuffing. A small bag is enough stuffing. This can be purchased at JoAnns, Walmart, or from Amazon.
- Sewing machine and thread
- See through grided ruler
- Washable markers
Process for Making a Washable Weighted Blanket:
- Wash and dry your fabric. If you bought flannel, it can shrink several inches and you want that to happen before you sew the blanket.
- Square the ends of each cut end of one of your fabric pieces and cut to designed length. Unfortunately, fabric that is cut at a store is rarely squared correctly. The easiest way to do this is to fold your fabric in half and use the see through grided ruler to draw a new line that is straight across.
- Unfold the fabric and lay the two pieces on top of each other wrong sides together. As you can see, my flannel fabric is smaller than my quilting cotton (bottom fabric). Pin the layers together to hold in place and trim the fabrics so they are the same size.
- Next get out a washable marker and your see through grided ruler. You are going to draw your sewing lines on one of the pieces of fabric. Draw horizontal and vertical lines to make a grid on your fabric. I usually make mine about 5″ square. Begin my measuring the width and length of your fabric. Then divide each number by 5. This will rarely come out even, but you can adjust your square size to fit. Lines spaced 5″ apart fit well on the length of my fabric, but on the width I drew 4 3/4″ lines.
- Next you will sew channels along the length of your fabric. Do this by sewing the two fabric pieces together along your lines going down the length of the fabric. You will soon fill these channels with fiberfill and poly pellets.
- Sew down one of your of your middle grid lines across the width of the fabric.
- The next step requires a little math to calculate how much poly pellets you need to put in each square to give you the desired weight. The purple blanket I made ended up having 104 squares in the grid. I weighed my pellets, and 1lb of pellets was about 51 Tablespoons. So for 5 lbs of poly pellets, I would need (5×51) or 255 Tablespoons total. I divided this by my 104 squares and came up with approximately 2.5 Tablespoons of pellets per square. So for your blanket, first determine how many Tablespoons of poly pellets you need total by multiplying your desired weight in pounds by 51. Next, take your resulting number and divide that by your total number of squares drawn on the blanket.
- Start at one end and pour in the desired amount (I used about 2.5 Tablespoons) of poly pellets into the channels along one end of the blanket. Shake the blanket until the poly pellets mostly settle along your sewing line in the middle of the blanket. Next lightly stuff the same squares with polyfil. I used about 1/2 cup of stuffing per square. Lightly stuffing can be a tedious process, but makes the blanket more comfortable.
- Sew your filled squares closed by sewing along the next line across the width of your fabric.
- Repeat steps 8 and 9 until you have sewn closed one end of your blanket.
- Repeat the same process to complete the other side of the the blanket.
- Now it is time to finish your blanket by binding the edges. I cut 3.25″ wide strips from my leftover fabric to create the binding. I had a 20×40″ piece of fabric left over, and I needed to bind 53″ (the perimeter of my finished blanket. I determined I had enough scrap fabric to make 6 rows and thus cut 3.25 strips. I used a 1/2 inch seam allowance while binding. Packaged bias tape can also be used. Measure around your blanket to determine how much bias tape you need. There are a lot of tutorials about binding blankets and quilts and using bias tape available. Here is a short YouTube video demonstrating how to attach bias tape. Sewing binding on uses the same process.
- Wash and dry the blanket to remove the washable marker grid lines.
Final Notes on a DIY Washable Weighted Blanket
I filled the blanket with about 5lbs of poly pellets. The finished blanket weighs about 7 lbs with the fabric and polyfil. The green washable weighted blanket pictured to the left is one I made using the same process a couple of years ago using two layers of flannel. It has held up well and functions perfectly.