Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My favorite DIY baby gift (part 1): Mitered Corner Blanket

I grew up with two creative parents who were always up to something with new hobbies. I didn't realize the bug had hit me until I bought myself a silly $100 sewing machine and starting sewing little things for during my first pregnancy. There were a million DIY baby projects out there--from blankets to burp clothes--and I just had a try a few myself.

Since then I have developed what has become pretty standard for me as a homemade baby shower gift—a mitered corner blanket, some homemade burp clothes, a pair of baby shoes (and whatever else strikes my fancy at the time.)

First up… the Mitered Corner Blanket.

Ooh—I love this project. I received one of these from my mom at my baby shower for Miss M. It’s two layers of coordinating flannel fabric. With bright, bold fabrics, it’s so beautiful and has a great purpose too! For newborns, it’s a square blanket of a good size so it’s perfect for swaddling. When little one (LO) gets older, it’s a great size for a toddler “blankey”. Flannel is durable, soft and doesn’t stain easily. Miss M has sent hers through the ringer and it’s still holding strong.

BONUS—while striking and beautiful and sure to be a show-stopper at your baby shower, it’s also a 90 minute or less project.

My inspiration? This idea didn’t come out of thin air. Here are a couple of other tutorials I used when first making this project: USU Extension and donswife blog.

What you’ll need:
2 coordinating flannel fabrics (you could use other fabrics of course but I LOVE flannel for this)
  -1 yard of one*
  -1 ¼ of the other
Matching thread
A sewing machine
*P.S. if you’re making all three of my DIY baby gifts, I usually buy 1 ½ yards of each)

Step 1: Cut your fabric

Cut your two pieces of fabric into squares so that one is 10 inches larger than the other. Say, 40" x 40" and 30" x 30". The manufactured width of your fabric is probably between 40-42" so that will likely decide your maximum size.

Step 2: Center fabric edges together

You will need to center the smaller square sides with the larger square sides. This will create perfect border all around.

Now I have to admit here that I hate pinning my fabric… so here’s how I do it. Choose your first side to meet together and fold in half. Put a pin at the center of the smaller fabric. Now repeat with the larger fabric. With RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER pin the two fabrics together where you marked the centers. Match up the edge (flannel is nice because it will stick together without needing to do extra pinning). Of course, you’ll find the larger fabric will be five inches longer on the top and bottom of each side.

fold fabric in half to find the center

 pin at the center

 two center pins meet. pin fabrics together here. 

Step 3: Sew edges together

Starting 1/4" in (again right sides together), sew the edges together with a 1/4" seam. End 1/4" inch from the end. You leave the ¼” on each side to make room to sew at each corner. Don't worry if there are some minor gaps. Your finishing seam will close everything up.

Repeat for the two more sides. Pin the centers together. Match the edges. Sew the edge leaving ¼” at each end. 
sewing edges together

Step 4: Finishing the last side

Repeat the same process for centering and placing your fabric on the fourth and final side. Instead of sewing all the way down the seam, you will need to create a gap in the seam where you will turn the blanket right sides out. 

The gap will be easily hidden when you complete the finishing seam so give yourself plenty of room here. I usually leave a 4-5" gap. Double-pin 2-3" away from your center pin on either side as a reminder to yourself to stop when you're sewing. Backstitch a few stitches when you reach your double-pins. 

center pin and double pins on each side

Step 5: The corners

Once you have your four sides sewn together, you’ll see the border has formed and you have a good idea of what the blanket will look like (inside out). Now you've got to deal with the "floppy corners" and make them into the perfect mitered corner!

what your "floppy corners" looks like with the four sides sewn

Now I’ve looked at A LOT of tutorials on making this blanket. The corners seem to be the most confusing part so I hope I don’t add to the confusion and instead simplify it.

close up of the floppy corner

Here’s what you do… Fold your corners edge-to-edge diagonally (like you're forming a triangle with the blanket). Hold the long edge vertically. If you have a ruler mat, it’s handy to place it along a straight line. Place a ruler or straight edge from the end point of your seam to the folded edge to create a 90-degree angle. If you have a marking pen, draw a line along your straight edge. Pin along the line and sew your seam along this line for each corner. 

front view of folding the corner together 

folded and flat along a straight edge. draw line to create
a 90-degree angle.

 Once you’ve sewn your corner seam, trim the excess fabric from the corner. Before you trim you can flatten your blanket out and check to make sure the corners look right. 

trimming the floppy corner fabric

 your successful mitered corner

Step 6: Iron your interior seams

Iron the corners seams open and the inner square edges toward the inner square.

iron corner seams open

(p.s. a new ironing board cover is on my short list of projects. ignore the water stains. ew. :O)

Step 7: Turn your blanket right sides out & press

Reach in through the gap you created along the one side. Grab each corner and pull your blanket right side out. Be sure to really poke at the corner so you get a nice square corner. Work at your blanket to make sure your borders are even. (The more your pull at your corners, this should happen pretty naturally.) Find the gap and press the seam so that it fits in with the rest of your seams.

Take the time to press the outside edges of your blanket. This will make it easy to sew your finishing stitch on the interior border and will keep the borders nice time after time when washing. 

Step 8: Sew your finishing seam

Now that your blanket is all pressed. Sew a zig zag stitch or other decorative stitch along the seam of the inside square to finish and secure your border. I would recommend starting with your gap so that you know it's closed with your zig zag stitch. Then you can fly through the rest of the seams.**
 line up your sewing foot right in the middle of the seam 
between the border and small square

a close-up of border stitching

Trim your threads and you're done! 

**If you don't know this trick, I feel it is my responsibility to share... when you approach the corner between two sides, DO NOT end your seam and take your project off of the machine. Instead, carefully approach the corner with the needle and stop right at the corner and lower your needle into the fabric. Lift up your pressure foot and turn your fabric 90-degrees and begin sewing down the next edge. This way you can sew the entire border without having to stop. Be sure to overlap just a few stitches to secure your seam.

If you already knew this, your momma taught you well.