Happy dog blanket (upcycling project)

I love dogs, which is why I like making dog blankets. It’s the ideal playground for me to try out new techniques, as dogs don’t look critically at my stitches. They just want a cuddly blanket.

I inherited a bunch of old clothes and decided that this would give me a chance to see how best to make a blanket from jersey material. I looked at a tutorial (from Sew Sew Easy here). Laura from Sew Sew Easy did a great job of making a relatively simple but effective quilt from old t-shirts. Albeit t-shirts that looked brand new to me. My T-shirts are slowly downgraded from ‘all-purpose wear’ to ‘indoor only’ to ‘dog walk only/jogging shirts’. By the time I consider them too gaga to wear while walking the dogs they’re usually about to fall apart, so a quilt may just be out of the question. Next stage washing up rag, more like.

Failing to come up with my own t-shirts, I was using the baby/children’s clothes I was given. And I wondered if I could make my quilt without stabilising the pieces – partly because it’s a lot more faff if you’ve got numerous small pieces. I also thought that the blanket would end up less comfy if the pieces all had iron-on stabiliser attached – I’ll have to make a blanket with stabilised pieces to really test that theory. But some of her ideas made it into my design.

First of all I cut lots and lots of 5″ squares. I also cut 1 1/2″ strips from a larger t-shirt that I’d hand-dyed green.

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This is what the squares and strips looked like laid out all nicely on my cutting mat. You can see that I made a bit of an effort at fussy-cutting to show willing, but mostly the squares are cut to get the most of the material…

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  Here’s what was left of the t-shirt after I’d finished with it…

Then the squares and strips got put together to make the quilt top.

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And here’s Dylan road-testing it. It felt cosy even at this stage, which was very pleasing. After piecing the back in a random square plus 5″ strips-design, I put it all together to make a quilt sandwich: the top layer, the back layer and an old fleece blanket. My cats won’t miss it. I hope.

The next step was to decide how to quilt it. Given that I hadn’t stabilised the fabric, machine quilting – particularly free motion quilting – was out of the question. I tried it previously, and the fabric just moves around too much. So I decided to try hand-quilting, using the blanket as a playground for me to try various patterns in a kind of pattern sampler. I first drew the designs on, stuffed the blanket into my quilting hoop (not a mean feat), and set to work.

I can’t say that I was 100% successful. The fleece and the jersey material became quite thick in parts, and it was all I could do to ram the needle through the layers. Forget even stitching. Added to that I’m a beginner at hand-quilting and struggle to produce nice, even stitches at the best of times. At some point I simply decided to have a ball and forgot to be self-conscious about my scruffy stitching on the back. With other materials and more practice my stitching will get better in time, no doubt.

And this is what my quilting looks like. I chose contrasting colours to make it more fun. To finish, I added blank binding that came from a set of old bedsheets I’d been given. While it’s not perfectly stitched, this blanket really is as comfy as it looks.

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And here’s Trundle the dog enjoying his blanket. He looks happy…

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About alycevr

Academic, translator & maker of things
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