Spring seems to be the season for new babies – baby lambs, baby birds and lots of human babies too. A lovely present for a new baby is a swaddle blanket. One that has been handmade makes that gift extra special.
Swaddle blankets are easy to make and take very little time. You could easily whip one up in an afternoon. They make a beautiful and practical gift for a baby shower or new mum. Not just for swaddling babies (although they are great for that), swaddling blankets also make fabulous nursing wraps and pram covers.
Double gauze with its light, airy feel is the perfect fabric to use for a swaddle blanket. Sarah Jane has just released a new double gauze as part of her Sommer range for Michael Miller. Made from 100% cotton, it is deliciously soft, light as a feather and comes in a range of beautiful fresh colours. At 52 inches wide it is more than enough for a decent sized swaddle blanket. And because it is cotton, it is breathable and ideal for warmer weather.
So how do you make one? I searched the internet so you don’t have to and found this great tutorial by Molly from Purl Soho. This is my slightly modified version.
For a 44 inch square swaddle blanket you will need:
- 1.25 metres of Sommer double gauze (I used Mini Painted Gingham in Mist)
- 100% cotton thread (I used Aurifil 50wt in off-white)
- 70/10 needles (not essential however I found it helpful to use a finer needle)
The gauze I used is helpfully marked with a grid of one inch squares (you can see them in the photo above as a line of slightly looser weave which is where the gauze layers are joined together). These grid lines are much easier to see when the wrong side of the fabric is uppermost. Using these lines as a guide, cut the piece of double gauze to 46 inches long. I found it easier to use scissors and a single layer of fabric. Don’t be tempted to cut a double layer of fabric. That double gauze can be slippery. And don’t follow the printed lines of the gingham when cutting as these won’t be on the fabric grain. Leave the selvedges as they are for now.
On each of the cut edges, fold over a 1/2 inch hem and then fold over another 1/2 inch to give a double hem. Use your iron to press at each step when folding your hem (takes a little longer however the finish will be much better). Pin the hem from the right side of the fabric and sew the hem with the right side of the fabric uppermost. I used a 3/8 inch seam and a walking foot to make it easier to control the layers. I also increased my stitch length to 3. Sewing the hem from the front makes it much easier to maintain the correct seam allowance and it gives a nice neat edge on the hem.
Lay your blanket (hemmed top and bottom) on a table and, following one of the grid lines, cut off the selvedge on one side. Measure 46 inches from this cut edge across your blanket and cut your blanket to 46 inches wide, thus removing the other selvedge at the same time. Fold and sew a 1/2 inch double hem along each side. There is no need to mitre the corners. Just fold them over as shown in the photo above.
Ta-dah! Your swaddle blanket is now finished. See, even Ted loves it.
I found the Sommer double gauze lovely to work with. It didn’t fray and the sizing added to the fabric gave it enough body to make it easy to handle. I hand washed my swaddle blanket in cool water to remove the sizing and gave it a quick spin in the washing machine to get rid of most of the water. Shinkage was minimal – about 1% – and the fabric did become amazingly soft.
The mist colour way, a pretty light turquoise, is the perfect choice for a gender neutral gift or if the sex of the baby is unknown. Other colours available include pink, blue and grey. Fabric HQ, which is where I bought mine, has a good range of both the single and double gauze.