Around here, magic blankets are not something you can buy in a store. You’ve got to know the right people.
Back when our first baby was born, we took swaddling seriously (shout out to Harvey Karp, he’s spot on), but the things sold in stores as receiving blankets at that time were little better than oversized burp rags. No exaggeration! So off I went to the local big box craft store and bought 5 one-yard lengths of flannel in fun prints. A couple straight hems and BAM, we had a pile of swaddling blankets.
Our first child loved swaddling and we got a lot of use out of the big blankets. When he got to be about 2 years old, I sewed two blankets end to end, then another two end to end, then quilted those together with a made-up meandering stitch. Without a walking foot. That’s what we call a labor of love, friends. I sewed the fifth blanket into a pillowcase that is still in use today (on the pillow that is propping me up while I write this, in fact!).
My son loved this blanket as only a child can unconditionally love the wonky things we make for them. He declared it the magic blanket and, eight years later, it is still a cherished possession. So much so that my younger child was eventually jealous. I needed to make her magic blanket, and soon, lest she stage a Leverage-style attack to take permanent possession of her brother’s blankie.
Of course she also had 5 (no, 6!) one-yard lengths of flannel that she used as a baby — although she was not one who liked to be swaddled. No, instead she wanted to be held constantly. For three months. Not that I am scarred or anything.
For her blanket I got fancy. I did a bunch of math (cooped up much?) and decided that 9″ squares would make the most efficient use of my fabric. I cut the blankets up and sewed them back together in an eye-blistering pattern of colorful delight that is different on each side. I ran out of patience at this time and quilted the whole thing together with straight lines, and machine bound it with commercial bias tape.
Thus was balance restored to our universe.
I take deep satisfaction in upcycling, but this project took it to the next level because of how much my kids love having something I made just for them and having something that is a direct connection to their early years.
I toyed with the idea of writing this up as a sort of tutorial, but the real message is: just sew that shit together! Your kids will love it, you will learn some things, and whatever you make will be NEW and get used, rather than gather dust in the basement or sadly slip away to a marginal existence in a thrift store.