You can buy weighted blankets for autism, anxiety and sensory issues online, but they can cost a hundred dollars or more. For families on a budget, it may be more practical to learn how to make a DIY weighted blanket.
When you make a weighted blanket, you have more freedom in selecting the fabric type, weight, type of filling, and other factors that will make the blanket more comfortable and practical for you or your child.
What is a Weighted Blanket and Who Uses It?
A weighted blanket is a heavier than normal bed cover filled with plastic poly pellets. Heavy blankets help make anxious, autistic or high-energy children calm so they can sleep. Occupational therapists often use weighted blankets to treat children with sensory disorders, but children and adults who experience insomnia or high stress can benefit from replacing a light blanket with a weighted one.
How a Weighted Blanket Works
Weighted blankets use Deep Touch Pressure (DTP) to distribute weight on the body gently. Like hugging a stuffed animal, touch or snuggling a weighted blanket produces a calming effect. The soothing effect of the blanket helps lull you to sleep.
- Research shows that using weighted blankets provides the following benefits:
- Increases serotonin in the body to balance mood and enhance relaxation. Serotonin helps create melatonin, the chemical that lets your body know it’s me to sleep.
- A heavy blanket helps curb the anxiety and restlessness that hinder sleep. A weighted blanket makes it harder to move around, so it reduces the squirming that keeps you awake at night.
- One study showed that weighted blankets helped calm anxious adults. Consistent use of weighted blankets may cause positive physiological changes that will make you or your child calmer at night and in stressful situations during the day.
What You Need to Make a DIY Weighted Blanket
You’ll need fabric, poly pellets, needle and thread, a sewing machine, measuring tape, scissors, and wash-away wonder tape to make a traditional DIY weighted blanket.
You can purchase high-quality poly pellets from Amazon.com, Walmart or a fabric store. For children with autism or ADHD, occupational therapists suggest using solid fabric on one side of the pillow and a pattern on the other in case the child finds the pattern too stimulating.
Step-By-Step Guides to Making a Weighted Blanket
There are many ways to make a weighted blanket. Pinterest and YouTube contain many examples of DIY blankets, as do craft websites. The particulars may change in each of the tutorials, but they all have the same basic template. Choose the fabric, amount, and type of stuffing, and fill the pockets with the pellets, and sew the ends.
Check out this step-by-step guide for making a traditional weighted blanket. We’ve also included some non-traditional ways to make a weighted blanket at the end of the article.
Decide how much the blanket should weigh.
- A three-pound blanket needs a yard of 45-inch wide fabric for each side.
- For a five pound blanket, use a yard and a half of 45-inch wide fabric for each side.
- A seven-pound blanket needs 63 inches of 45-inch wide fabric on both sides.
- A ten-pound blanket needs two yards of 45-inch fabric for each side.
Place the right sides of the fabric together. Use a single-stitch setting to sew a seam about an inch in on the fabric on three sides. Don’t sew the top two inches of fabric.
Clip the two corners you’ve sewn.
After turning the blanket right side out, sew around the edges twice in a single stitch setting. When sewing around the corners, let the needle stay in and move the fabric to get a better-looking corner.
When you finish sewing your blanket, it should have roughly the following measurements:
- Three-pound blanket 30×40 inches
- Five-pound blanket 40×50 inches
- Seven-pound blanket 40×60 inches
- Ten-pound blanket 40×70 inches
Now you need to prepare your blanket to hold the pellets.
A three-pound blanket needs to be divided into five columns. Find the center mark (about 17 inches and measure the columns from there. The columns on this size blanket would be measured at 6.5 inches each. Mark the columns with masking tape. For an odd number, you can add extra to the ends like this
Sew each column in a triple stitch or stretch stitch. This will make the blanket last longer and withstand rough handling.
- For a five pound blanket, divide the width into seven columns
- A seven-pound blanket is also divided into seven columns
- For a ten pound blanket, divide the width into eight columns
When you have a blanket that is 39 and a half inches long, divide 39.5 by seven if you want to put seven rows of pellets in the blanket. Each row will be 5.5 inches. Mark the rows with masking tape. Put an extra inch or half an inch (if you have it) at the bottom or top row.
- A three-pound blanket has seven rows.
- A five-pound blanket has nine rows.
- A seven-pound blanket is divided into 11 rows
- A 10-pound blanket contains 13 rows
Now you are ready to add the pellets. Pellet brands differ slightly in weight. Always weigh the pellets before adding them to the blanket.
Your fabric blanket should weigh about a pound. Use fewer pellets if it weighs more.
Each pocket on your fabric blanket will take a quarter-cup of pellets. Sew below the masking tape after you’ve filled each pocket. Make sure there are no pellets under the needle. Check out this video to learn how to sew without hitting the pellets.
Shake the blanket after filling a row to make sure the pellets have filled up the pocket. Make sure the pellets are in the bottom of the pocket if you use a fleece material.
After you reach the top of the blanket, use a double-sided tape to keep pellets in the last pocket. The tape washes away after one laundering.
Fold the two inches that you didn’t sew; then put the tape in between the two sides. Pin the part on the sides where there is no tape.
Finish sewing with a double seam and use a triple stitch to make the top more durable. You may want to start where you sewed before and sew toward the corner. Leave the needle in the fabric when you reach the same measurement; then turn the fabric to leave a clean corner.
You can tie all the strings before you cut them. Pull them through or tie them at the end of the fabric, whichever you prefer.
Alternative DIY Weighted Blanket Tips and Tutorials
- Try this DIY weighted blanket using duct tape, rice and baggies if you don’t know how to sew. It may not be as durable as a sewn blanket, but it will add calming weight.
- While most DIY weighted blankets use poly pellets, some people prefer non-toxic glass beads. Glass beads have a sand-like texture and eliminate the “bumps” in a regular weighted blanket.
- Use an old pillow case instead of fabric to save time and even more money.
- Here’s another weighted blanket tutorial which uses step-by-step drawings to show you how to sew the blanket.
We hope you found this tutorial on how to make a weighted blanket helpful. It may take more time to make a DIY weighted blanket than to buy one, but you will save money and have a blanket your child will love.