Thursday, February 9, 2012

{Sew} Get Started: Pram Blanket Tutorial

Today's {Sew} Get Started tutorial is for a cute pram blanket. Having covered some basic sewing skills in the first 3 tutes, today is about making a larger patchwork item, practising your sewing accuracy, and learning how to sew binding. I make these blankets quite often as baby gifts for my friends, and I am often then asked to make them for their friends. They make a lovely baby gift, something a little bit different and special.

This tutorial is part of the {Sew} Get Started: Beginner Sewing Tutorials series. For a full list of tutorials in the series and links to past tutes, click on the link to go to the master page.

FairyFace Designs

Please read all the way through before starting. A 1/4" seam is used throughout.


  • 4-5 coordinating Fat Quarters + some large fabric scraps - enough fabric for 20 x 7.5" squares.
  • 29" x 36" Minky or Fleece for the back. I used Minky for this one. I buy my Minky fabric here - it is extra wide, so I get 2 blankets from 1 yard of minky if I cut in half lengthwise ( but a half yard will not do 1 blanket because it will be cut horizontally rather than lengthwise).
  • Approx 3.75 yards ready made bias binding, or 1/4 yard of fabric to make your own binding.

Making the Blanket Top:

Wash and dry your fabrics and minky/fleece before starting. Press your cotton fabric before cutting.

First, cut at least 20 7.5" squares of fabric. You should not cut more than 4 squares of any one fabric. I usually cut 4 squares of 3 different fabrics, then 2-3 of a couple more, and throw in one or 2 individual pieces. I often cut 22-23 squares to give me options when laying out but that's not necessary if you don't want to.

To cut 7.5" squares, you can use the markings on your cutting mat if you only have a standard cutting ruler which is 6.5" wide.  If you have a second ruler, measure 1" in from this with the 2nd ruler, and butt your 6.5" one up against it as in the photo to give you an accurate measurement.

 Once you have your fabric squares cut, take yourself off to a clean floor space, or a design wall if you have one, and play around with your fabric until you are happy with the layout. You need 5 rows consisting of 4 squares each:

Once you are happy, take a quick picture on your phone or camera for reference in case you get fabric mixed up. This can also be helpful when trying different layout options. I find I see things on the camera that I don't when looking at it, for some reason!

Next, stack and organise your fabric ready for sewing. I have a simple system - I stack each row from left to right, and then I pin each stack. I put the pin in with the point facing to the top of the square, so I know what way they should be sewn. I number my rows with a postit on each pinned stack to keep the order straight. It might seem like a pain, but it saves a lot of work and potential confusion in the long run and I think its time spent well. I do this for every single quilt I make.

Now, the fun part, you're ready to start sewing! First, sew the pieces of each row together using a 1/4" seam. Try to keep your seam allowance really accurate here, because it will make matching up your points much easier.

Press your seams, pressing in one direction on the first row, the opposite direction on the next row and so on for each row:

You now need to piece your rows together. Start with the top two. Match and pin each of the seams first. Because you pressed the seams in opposite directions they should "lock" together nicely.


Once that is done, pin the rest of the seam and sew. If your points are a little out you may have to "ease" the fabric a little when sewing, i.e. stretch one of the fabrics a bit and manipulate the other to get them to sit right.

After sewing the seam, check your points to make sure they match. This can be challenging when you are starting out, but it is worth trying to get them really matching because it will give your blanket a much more finished look.

I regularly rip back seams and redo them to get the points matching as well as I can. If you are happy with them, continue by piecing the next row onto the 2nd and so on until the end. Make sure you are piecing them in the right order, and that the rows are not upside down, which is easily done!

Yay! You're finished your blanket top. Press your seams on the rows - I usually just press the seams to one side on each row but you could press them open if you like. 


Next, lay your blanket top on the fleece or minky backing, wrong sides together. It is really important here to make sure your nap is running in the right direction. I like mine to be downwards. (Info here about nap if you need it).

Minky and fleece are stretchy fabrics to work with so take your time, smooth it out but don't stretch if you can avoid. You will be pinning your binding, but until you do, you might want to pin the top loosely to the backing to keep it all stable and nice. You will need to trim the minky/fleece back to match the quilt top size. Do this on a flat surface keeping them as flat as possible when cutting. Minky sheds a lot when you cut it, so be prepared to sweep up when you are done!

Next, prepare your binding. You can use shop bought bias binding for a project like this if you don't want to make your own. I often do this to save time, and for a small project like this, there is not much difference in cost to buying a quarter yard of fabric. The bias binding I use comes in a small roll, but you can also buy it by the yard/metre off a big roll. This binding is 20mm/3/4" binding, which refers to the width of the binding with the 2 raw edges folded in.

You just need to fold it in 2 and iron a crease down the middle for the whole length before starting. 

To make your own binding, cut some 2.5" strips of fabric - depending on the width of the fabric you're using and if you are using a fat quarter or a quarter yard - you need enough to make about 140" of binding. Sew the strips together along the short edges to give you one big long strip, then press a crease along the length of the strips wrong sides together. This type of binding is called double fold binding. (Sorry, I am using different binding photos here because I only did one blanket, but I hope you get the idea!)

Leaving a tail of 5-6", start pinning the binding to the raw edge of the blanket somewhere in the middle of one of the sides. 

If you are making your own, match the raw edges of the binding to the raw edge of the blanket:

If you are using the bias binding, you need to fold out one of the raw edges and match it to the raw edge of the blanket:

Pin all the way down to the corner. Don't forget to pin frequently to stop the minky stretching on you as you sew. To make your mitred corners, do as follows. Fold the binding back at right angles to itself, with the edge matching the edge of the bottom of the blanket like this:

Then, fold it back on itself again, matching the edges again:

This should leave you with a little fold of fabric running diagonally against the corner of the blanket if you have it done right: 


Leave pinned for the moment. Continue to pin all the way around, doing the same at each corner. If you hit a seam in the binding fabric on a corner, its best to unpin and move the binding a little and repin as seams will not sit properly on a corner with all the folding of fabric. A pain, but essential!

When you get back to where you started, open the binding out fully, butt the two ends of fabric up against each other and fold back and pin like this:

Either press the folds with an iron, or finger press, but make sure you have a clear crease in both fabrics. Then unpin back a little on either side to give you room, and put the two creases right sides together and sew a seam along the crease, joining the binding fabric, and trim the ends. Your binding should sit down nice and flat on your fabric now.

The hard work is done now! Your're ready to sew the binding on. Start close to the joining point and (backstitching at the start to secure) sew slowly and carefully down the seam securing the 3 layers together. I use a quarter inch seam here. 

Make sure the minky is the bottom layer, it will sew better and you will be able to see what you're doing with the binding. If you have a walking foot, this is the time to use it, it will help control the fabric feed but its not necessary so don't worry if you don't have one.

Sew down to 1/4" from the bottom of your blanket and backstitch to secure. Make sure you don't catch the little fold for the mitred corner, you should stop just shy of that.

Trim your threads. Then flip the fold of fabric over and pivot your blanket. Backstitch to secure and starting 1/4" in from the edge, sew the binding on the bottom edge. Again make sure to avoid catching the fold.

Continue like this all the way around until you're back where you started and backstitch to secure! Almost there now. You can handstitch the binding onto the back if you want, or, if you have thread that is a good match for the colour, you can machine stitch it. Use the method described here for handstitching it. To machine stitch, fold the other half of the binding around to the back of the blanket and stitch using a 1/4" seam again:

I am used to working with minky so I didn't bother pinning this part, but you can do so if you want.

When you get to the corner, lift up and look at the other side, pulling the binding fabric around to the back. Follow the fabric - it should settle into a nice neat corner on the front. At the back, fold it like this first:

and then fold the second side back over to give you a nice neat corner:

It should look the same front and back. Continue like this to the starting point and backstitch to secure. Now, all you need to do is take a hand sewing needle and sew in your threads.

Ta Dah! You're done! One lovely pram/buggy blanket!

Colourful on the front and soft and snuggly on the back

The finished size of the blanket is 35.5" x 28.5". I usually give the blanket a wash before handing it over to the recipient. I also always advise that these blankets are used as pram/buggy blankets and not for cots/cribs or night time use, as the fleece and minky are not breathable fabrics.

I hope you enjoyed making this! If you do, I would love to see it over in the Flickr group :-)

Don't forget to pop back next week for Karen's scrappy cushion/pillow tute.

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Shanea said...

Great tute! Simple and easy to follow. Your pics are helpful too. Great job!

Di said...

Brilliant tips that are transferable to other projects. Thanks for the tutorial.

Cindy said...

Great tute, Sarah! What a lovely afternoon project.

Irina said...

thanks of the tutorial, really clear and nice!

Anonymous said...

Hey Sarah, am so excited about this one - have my fabrics picked out already! Only thing is, am having problems ordering minky fabric from that link, am I doing something wrong? (have fallen in love with the monkey print)

personal injury lawyer new york said...

I like your style: brief and informative. Good job!

Sarah Lou said...

I used the pattern to help make a pram blanket for a very heavily pregnant friend ~ thanks!