Happiness is a warm blankie

There is little that is more comforting than when you can cuddle up with your favourite blanket. I’m sure dogs share that feeling, particularly when they go to a new place. A colleague of mine was just about to acquire a rescue dog & that’s when I thought that this potentially scared little dog needed a blankie. I’m not sure whether she really did, but in time, I’m sure she will come to love rolling around on it, chewing it, rearranging it precisely to her wishes & all the other things dogs do with blankets.

As I didn’t have much time, I decided to machine-piece the blanket. And as I was using cotton and polycotton (from a set of bedclothes I was given recently), I thought I could do some half-square triangles for the front & simple squares for the back.

For anyone, who’s never done half-square triangles: they’re dead easy to make. (Find Leah Day’s tutorial here; for a different way to do half-square triangles, see the Missouri Star Company’s tutorial here). First you cut enough squares. Then you place squares from different fabric (depending on your colour scheme, you might have one main contrast fabric or just go all out) right sides together. Mark up a diagonal line running from one edge to the other. On mine, the line is light blue in colour.


If you’re working in inches, sew with a scant 1/4″ seam allowance down the right side of the square.


Then repeat the same procedure on the other side of the line. You should now have a square with two sewing lines, each 1/4″ to the side of the diagonal line you drew earlier. Now take your fabric scissors and cut along that diagonal line. Voilà – two half-square triangles.


Now – and this is important, don’t skip this step, press your half-square triangles well. Press the sewing allowance to the side of the darker fabric – you don’t want it to show.


The next step is to square up all your half-square triangles, meaning you cut them to form exact squares. Any inaccuracies in sewing should be eliminated.

Next, you put all your squares on the floor (or any flat space that’s big enough) & arrange them to your liking. And then sew them together. Squares have an awful tendency to match fantastically well at the beginning of a seam & then to go all wonky by the time you reach the end. I ended up piecing blocks of four and then adding those together. This seemed to work better than sewing together rows and then sewing the rows together. You may wish to iron these seams apart rather than to one side – I find that makes sewing the blocks together easier. And finally iron the whole thing. Yep, patchwork involves a lot of ironing, but it is worth it.


The other side is made of squares…


And then the fun begins – putting together a quilt sandwich (backing, lining, top) & getting everything to line up before you fix the layers together with pins or thread. You can do this more quickly and accurately, if the backing is larger than your top. You can then cut the lining (an old fleece blanket in this case) to be slightly smaller than the backing and get everything lined up nicely and neatly before you put your pins in.


You can see how this doesn’t line up properly at the bottom right. I made sure it fit before I started quilting…

Once the sandwich is fixed together, you can begin quilting. I’m still not very good at free-motion quilting, and didn’t want to mess up this blanket. Also I figured that the dog wasn’t going to care much how the blanket was quilted. So I opted for zigzag lines that echo the shape of the chevrons, but did them in a contrasting colour to add some interest. My walking foot comes in handy with this sort of work, as it makes quilting three layers a doddle… I also sewed once all around the quilt to fix the outer edges in place.


The final step is adding binding, which is, curiously enough, one of my favourite things to do. This time I didn’t have bias binding in the house & made my own.


With a bias tape maker, this is a piece of cake. Simply cut 1 1/2″ strips of material, send it through your bias tape maker & iron it together. Job done.

And here’s the finished blanket.




And the owner of the little rescue dog kindly sent me pictures of her.


She still looks a bit doubtful, but at that moment she’d only been in her forever home for a day. Welcome home, little Bo…



About alycevr

Academic, translator & maker of things
This entry was posted in Crafts and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Happiness is a warm blankie

  1. notewords says:

    What a charming project – and for such a good cause. 😉

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