I managed to finish a rather large and unusual project for my son today…a weighted blanket.
Weighted blankets are often used for children and adults whom have sensory issues. It is meant to calm and relax by applying a reasonable amount of pressure. Somewhere in the neighbourhood of 5 to 10% of the user’s body weight.
I had done some online research and they seemed very expensive. Since I sew, I figured it would be a project that would be a “do able” sort of thing and I could keep the cost down as I already have fabric, batting, etc.
My son does have some sensory issues, he also has Tourette’s Syndrome, ADHD, and Anxiety Disorder. The first question I usually get is “does he swear?”. He does, with intent and absolute clarity, and not because he has TS. His tics are verbal hooting, grunting, throat clearing, full body jerks, funny dance move walking, and multiple eye tics…and that’s the short list. They cycle in and out, but the full body tics tend to wake him up through the night and no one gets any sleep. So I am hoping that this will help.
The process for making this quilt and there are things I would change in hindsight. It is not a showstopper and far from perfect, but it is loved by my kid and that is what matters the most.
Finding the pellets was the hardest part for me. I finally found two 1 kilo bags of “teddy bear weights” at the Spotlight (like Joanne’s in the US) and sourced some calico/muslin (from my stash) to make the pellet holder part. The quilty top was of fabric that my son picked from my stash and one piece from the local sewing store. The backing is Minkee (bane of my existence fuzzy stuff).
Once I assembled all of the pieces parts, I started by making the “quilt top”.
Then I made the pellet holding innards. For this I took two pieces of muslin/calico and sewed it on three sides. I then marked a grid with pen (it isn’t visible so I didn’t care what I used to mark with, it just needed to be easy to see for sewing.) I used 9 columns across and 8 columns high.
Here is a shot of 3 sides sewn:
Then the grids drawn:
From there I sewed the “up down” columns first.
The columns are sewn with about a ½ inch of space between. Hindsight I should have used one inch, it would have made it easier to sew.
I then figured I would have 72 pockets that needed filling and took away the top two rows since my son tends to pull blankets up around his face and I didn’t think that his face and neck needed weighting. That left me with 54 pockets to fill. So I took the weight of the pellets and divided it by 54 and weighed out 25 grams or so of pellets per pocket…
Getting the pellets in was the trick. I used a pyrex liquid measure cup and poured them into an old wrapping paper tube to get them to the bottom of the columns and then I would sew the cross row trapping them into their square repeating the procedure till the 54 squares were filled and stitched down.
Next I stitched the “Quilt side” to the gridded, pellet filled baggie. I did that by sewing the middle of the divider grids so I wouldn’t hit the pellets. (a great way to ruin a sewing machine) Another way to do this would be to sew the pellet filled insert and create a “duvet cover” for it and it would be easier to wash. (this one is technically washable, but I think it may be too heavy for a washing machine)
Then once the “quilt side” was firmly attached, the minkee backing was sewn on just the four edges.
It was a very tiring sewing project and one better suited to an industrial machine, but hopefully it will make a difference for my little guy.