Did-It-Myself Faux Chenille Baby Blanket

April 27, 2014

DIY Faux Chenille Baby Blanket
When a friend asked me to make a baby shower gift, I knew immediately what I wanted to make. I pinned this Heirloom Cut Chenille Baby Blanket from Aesthetic Nest a while ago and was just waiting for a good excuse to make one. Now that the blanket is finished, I wish I hadn't waited so long! It was an easy, albeit time consuming, project and the end result was extremely rewarding. Now let me tell you a little bit about how I chose my fabric, what I did differently than the original tutorial, and what I will do differently the next time I make one of these adorable baby blankets.

First, fabric selection. I knew I needed a premium quality fabric for the top of the blanket since that was going to be the majority of the design, so I headed down to a local quilting shop, Quilting Adventures in Richmond, Va. This was actually my first time in the store (I don't do a lot/any quilting) and I was very impressed with the selection. They have a wide variety of premium quilting cottons, patterns, notions, etc. and the staff was wonderful. {Side note: When the sales associate asked if I wanted a bag, I said no because I carry a fairly large purse and I hate wasting bags for just one or two items. It turns out that every time you make a purchase and don't take a bag, they enter your name into a monthly drawing for a free $20 gift card to the store. Reducing waste and possibly winning some free fabric at the same time, how awesome is that?!} Anyway, I was looking for something in the pink family since that was the color the mother-to-be is using in the nursery and I came across an adorable print from Kate Spain for Moda Fabrics. It is from her Daydreams collection, the print is called Wonder and the color-way is Rose. For the binding I found a solid orange Kona cotton on sale at Joann's, and while I was there also got 3 shades of pink flannel to use for the backing.
Fabrics for Faux Chenille Baby Blanket
Now I had to decide whether to pretreat my fabrics. Reading online about other bloggers experiences making this blanket provided mixed reviews. The argument FOR pretreating was that the colors in the flannel could bleed onto the top fabric when washed for the first time, and pretreating helps lessen the likeliness of that occurring. The argument AGAINST pretreating was that the flannel shrinks and softens up more if you wait to wash until after it is sewn and the chenille is cut. I ultimately decided to pretreat since I wasn't using the highest quality flannel and I was paranoid about them bleeding onto the not inexpensive quilting fabric I was using.

To pretreat, I sewed the cut ends of the fabric with the right sides together using a zig-zag stitch, like the diagram below:
Pretreating fabrics for Faux Chenille Baby Blanket
This helped keep the cut edges from fraying too much and also kept the fabric from getting too bundled up or stretched out during washing. I washed the brighter colors in one load and the top fabric and light pink flannel in a separate load to further prevent bleeding. I used gentle detergent with 2 Shout Color Catchers and washed in cold water on the gentle cycle. I tossed them in the dryer until they were just slightly damp, immediately removed and ironed each piece, then removed the stitching along the cut edges. The whole pretreating process added a considerable amount of time to the project, but I think it was worth it since I didn't have any issues with colors bleeding.

Now, here's what I did differently from the original tutorial:
--The flannel I used was only 42" wide, so I used 42" square pieces to make the blanket as big as possible
--I used a good old-fashioned pair of scissors to do the cutting. Joann's doesn't carry the special chenille-cutting tool in the store and I didn't have time to wait for shipping, so I decided to just do it all by hand. It took a while and my hand/arm was definitely sore for at least 2 days after, but I cut slowly to make sure I wasn't cutting the top fabric and I am happy to say there were no mishaps.
Back of Faux Chenille Baby Blanket
--I used regular quilting weight cotton for the binding, rather than satin. I had never bound a quilt, and satin isn't know for being easy to sew with so I took the safer road. I do wish I had time to find an orange polka dot fabric (like this one). I think that would have been really cute, but I still love the way the solid orange looks.
Front of Faux Chenille Baby Blanket
--I liked the look of the rounded corners, but I know enough about sewing to know that sewing curves isn't easy so I wasn't going to try them on my first quilt binding. I found this machine binding tutorial on Cluck Cluck Sew and I was sold for a few reasons: 1) NO HAND SEWING! because ain't nobody got time for that 2) the mitered corners looked clean and finished and 3) the technique is straightforward and simple. The tutorial was clear an easy to follow and I just went step-by-step and I absolutely love how it turned out. This is definitely a technique I will be using again. The only mishap was this:
Cat taking a nap on my Faux Chenille Baby Blanket
She was so cute I couldn't bring myself to make her move, so got to stay there while I took a snack break.

So what will I do differently next time? Use a walking foot while sewing all the layers together. I had a lot of shifting going on with the flannels, which isn't a big deal since the chenille covers up any imperfections. But when I went to even up the edges I had to cut more fabric off to get the quilt square again, and the finished size ended up being a little smaller (around 39"-40").

I think the blanket turned out absolutely adorable, and it was a huge hit at the shower!
Front and Back of Faux Chenille Baby Blanket
Close up of Faux Chenille Baby Blanket
Close up of back of Faux Chenille Baby Blanket
My best advice to anyone interested in making one of these blankets would be, be patient! It is a slower process (think quilting, not sewing) and it is a lot to try and finish in one weekend, but the results are absolutely worth it.

Have you made one of these blankets and have some tips and tricks or words of wisdom? I would love to hear them in the comments!