This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Weighted Blankets

There are many options for purchasing weighted blankets. I've found many sites over the years. You can look at Etsy
Amazon - http://amzn.to/2gAvwVG
Here's a list put out by friendshipcircle.org - 15 Places to Find Custom Weighted Blankets and Other Products

Make Your Own Weighted Blanket - It's a lot easier than you think!

Here are some basic instructions I adapted for making a weighted blanket for those who do not want to purchase one at the ghastly prices some places are asking, want to customize the blanket, or just prefer to do it themselves.  

Determining Size - What Is the Blanket to be used for?
Calming tool - for the car, using TV/computer, at school (although a lap pad or weighted vest might be a better choice), in church, etc. -- Lap blanket (34" x 43")or a Wrap blanket (43" x 52"). These sizes are also a good fit for those in a wheelchair.
Sleep - blanket size depends on the height of the person using the blanket and /or the bed size. For smaller children, it is recommended that a weighted sleep blanket be made to fit on the top of the mattress  and not hang over the sides of the bed, this is not an issue for older children, teens and adults.  In most cases, a  sleep blanket should always have the weights evenly distributed throughout the entire area of the blanket (although it's not necessary to weight parts that won't be covering the body (like the parts over the edges of the mattress or if your child is only 40" tall, there's not much point in putting weights at the bottom of a twin blanket!) and NOT concentrated in one area, although people with Restless Leg Syndrome may prefer the weights to be heavier in the lower part of the blanket. 


What Materials Do I need?

Materials - Scissors, pins, thread, yardstick, a water soluble marking pencil/ marker/ chalk, and a sewing machine.  Fabric and Filler.

Fabric - How much fabric you need depends on what you want to use the blanket for!  You'll need 2 pieces of fabric the size of blanket you've chosen.  Almost any type of fabric will do.

For the inside part, you will want something pretty sturdy, especially for a heavier blanket and/or rougher textured filler.  This piece can be pretty basic, like a simple mid-weight cotton quilting fabric. You can make it two sided with different fabrics for each side.

You can also use something pre-made - like heavy bed sheets.
To make it water resistant (good idea for bed wetters), use a water resistant fabric like a shower curtain (the fabric part, not thin plastic that would tear when you sew through it), or a heavy vinyl table cloth (the kind that has a "fabricy" side). 
  • Crib/Toddler Blanket (36" x 52") 
  • Lap blanket (34" x 43")
  • Wrap blanket  (43"  x 52") 
  • Throw (50" x 60")
  • Twin size (43" x 75")
  • Full size (54" x 75")
  • Queen Size (60" x 80")
  • King (76" x 80") 
Ex.  For a lap blanket about 34" x 43" , your fabric should be approximately 45" wide and 72" long (you'll want a little extra width and height for seams).  

Duvet Cover

The duvet/cover is a great idea for blankets that are heavy/ difficult to wash.  The cover fabric can be anything you want, even fleece, and can be chosen for sensory properties.  You can even make it two sided with different fabrics

Materials:
Fabric: If you want to make a duvet/cover for your blanket you will need 2 more pieces of fabric  - 2-3 inches wider and longer than the dimensions of your blanket.
Velcro (1/2" or 3/4" width)- Sew-on Velcro about 3/4 of the width of the cover, plus about 8 inches.
Ex. For a twin size bed this would be about 33" + 8" so 41" total.
(The extra 8 inches will be cut into five 1 1/2" pieces to help hold the cover in place on the blanket).
TIP: Make sure you get the sew on kind, not stick on, or you will muck up your sewing machine!  

Filler Weight
Weight Calculation  - Weighted Blanket standard formula is 10% of your body weight plus one pound.  This is recommended by most Occupational Therapists as a starting point.  

TIP:  Don't forget to subtract the weight of the materials when determining how much weight that you need!  Heavy fabrics can add a lot of extra weight! Weigh all the materials of the blanket, including the duvet cover if you have one, together with your filler - reduce the amount of filler needed accordingly). 

(Ex.  For a 100lb person the calculated amount would be:
10% + 1lb = 11 lbs calculated weight.  If the blanket materials are 1.5 lb.  The Calculated Weight would be 9.5 lbs.

What do I use for Weight?
  • Beans/ Rice - Beans are a good weight for the bulk, smooth and rounded to not wear on the fabric, cost effective.  Just the regular dried beans you buy in the grocery store work, Navy or Pinto beans are a good size and inexpensive.  Make sure though if you need to wash it that it is in cold, short cycle, and hang to dry. You will definitely want to consider a water-resistant fabric.
    1 pound of dried beans = about 2 cups of beans
    1 pound of dry white rice = about 2 1/3 cup rice
  • Popcorn - another good choice, but may wear fabric out sooner as the kernels are pointed on the end. Should also consider a water-resistant fabric.
    1 pound of popcorn kernels = about 2 cups of kernels
  • Poly pellets - more expensive, also a lot more bulk for the weight.  These work better for lighter/smaller blankets (like throws and child blankets).  They are Hypoallergenic and washable.
    1 pound of poly pellets = about 3 1/2 cup of pellets
  • Aquarium Rock - great if you can find it inexpensively. Check out thrift stores!
  • River Rock* – a pebble-like gravel found super cheap and in bulk at home improvement stores (rinse thoroughly several times to get rid of all the dust and grit), Can be rough so you might want to use a heavy/thick fabric to protect the skin and cover/duvet. Also, will most likely can't go through the washing machine so consider a fabric that can be wiped clean rather than washed, or plan to wash it in the bath tub or outside with a hose.
    1 pound of gravel, dry 1/4 to 2 inch = about 1 1/4 cup of gravel
TIP:  I've made several blankets with river rock.  It's super cheap, but can be a bit rough so I'd recommend a heavier fabric.  My husband likes that it doesn't retain heat, as he tends to sleep hot.


Instructions: 

1.  Prep the Fabric (Add Velcro if using Duvet Cover). It is strongly recommended you wash then dry your all your fabric at least twice, three times is better, before measuring and cutting.  This will help you avoid shrinkage that will make the cover not fit in the future.
If you’re planning on using a duvet/cover, now is a good time to sew on your Velcro to the blanket.  
Attach Velcro. To keep the duvet cover on the blanket and hold everything together attach the fuzzy side of 1 1/2" long Velcro strips to one side of your blanket fabric (you'll attach the rough/ "sticky" side to the inside of the duvet cover later).  On the right side of your fabric, stitch a 1 1/2" strip in each corner (about 2" in from the corner) and one in the middle.  (see figure 1 - Velcro tabs go where the "X"s are located).

X




         X





















X















X





       X
figure 1

TIP: When stitching Velcro, it's best to use a fresh machine needle in a larger size, like you would use for denim, or a size 14 or 16.


2.    Stitch the Outside Seam. Place fabrics right sides together and stitch the two pieces of fabric together with a 1/2" seam allowance along the edge of the two long sides and one short side.  Use a strong stitch like an overlock, or run a second seam close to the first for more strength. You will then have a rectangular bag, kind of like a pillowcase.



3.    Turn the piece right side out (you can trim the corners first), and lightly press the edges (unless you're using a fabric that can't be ironed, like vinyl!). 



4.    Determine number of needed sections.
        Width - Measure across the width of the fabric. Divide by 5 to determine the number of sections needed
Ex.  For a lap blanket (34" in width divided by 5 = 6) you would end up with 6 sections (each 5" in width) across.
For a twin (43" in width divided by 5 = 8), you would have 8 sections across.

TIP: If you are making a larger blanket (full, queen, king) , keep in mind where the body will be located, and rather than spreading the weight across the whole blanket, you might want to concentrate on where the body will be (could be more on one side of the bed or smack in the middle keeping about 8 sections, approximately 5" in width, concentrated on where the body will be. 

TIP: You can also make your blanket just this width and position it accordingly in a "pocket" in the duvet, rather than have the blanket be the full width of the duvet. This would also allow you to remove it from the duvet for washing and even use it as a throw or lap blanket. If two people share the bed, this would allow one of them to not be covered by the weighted blanket on their side of the bed, or for them to use a blanket properly weighted for them. 

        Height - Measure down the height of the fabric. Divide by 5 to determine the number of sections needed.
Ex. For a lap blanket (43" in height divided by 5 = 8), so you would have 8 sections down.
TIP: If you are making a larger blanket (twin, full, queen, king), keep in mind how tall the body is and add about 2 sections. 
Ex. For a 43" tall child you would want 10 sections (43" in height divided by 5 = 8 + 2).
For a person who is 5' or taller, you would want 15 sections (65" in height divided by 5 = 13 + 2). 


5.  Making the Grid. Now you will mark off a grid on the fabric.  Use a pencil, air soluble marker or chalk, draw the lines in lightly.
Width
Take the actual width of the fabric and divide by the number of sections you just figured to determine exactly how large to make each section (this will vary a little depending on the actual width of your fabric, but each will be approximately 5" x 5).  Mark off and draw lines down the length of your fabric.
Ex. A wrap blanket is 43" in width and your fabric is 45" in width. Your lines across would be approximately 5 1/4" apart.
Height
Measure the length of the fabric - subtract 1" to leave room to fold over the top. Divide the length of the fabric by the number of sections to determine how large to make each section.  Mark off and draw lines across the width.  When you are finished, you will have a piece of fabric with squares marked off on it like figure 1.  (Note - they won't be perfect squares, in any case, the length and height will be different, I just use the word squares to describe the sections we are creating.)

TIP: For bedding (twin, full, queen, king), don't forget to keep in mind the length and location of the body.  If this is a blanket for a petite person or child, it doesn't make sense to have the the weight distributed all the way down the bed.  
The bottom edge of your grid should stop at the number of sections you already determined above x 5",  plus the one inch at the top.

Ex. For a 43" tall child your grid's bottom edge would be at 51" (43" in height divided by 5 = 8 sections + 2 sections = 10 sections = 10 sections x 5" = 50").    



6.    Sewing the grid. Now, straight stitch along the marked lines that run from the open top edge to the bottom edge.  Stitch along the bottom edge. You will end up with a long row of channels, open at one end like this (the top edge of the fabric is open - sorry about the graphic making it look like it's closed on the first channel):
TIP: Use pins through both layers to make sure that the bottom layer doesn't shift while stitching.





















7.  Determine how much weighted filler for each section.
Now to determine how much of the weighted filler to add to each grid square.
First, determine how many squares you have, then divide your Calculated Weight by this amount.
Ex.  Lap blanket is 6 sections across by 8 sections long (6x8) = 48 squares.
For a 100lb person the Calculated Weight would be 10% body weight (10 lbs) + 1 lb - weight of the materials (1/2 lb) = 9.5 lbs. So,  9.5 lbs / 48 = .2 lbs)
TIP: There are 16oz in a pound. So .2lbs is 3.2oz

TIP:  Once you have your gross measurement of weight, rather than measure or weigh each individual amount as you go, I recommend dividing it ahead of time.   I put each section's weight in a plastic baggie.

Options for dividing your weighted filler (using example numbers of 9.5lbs):
  • Using a kitchen scale - You can carefully measure .2lbs (3.2oz) forty-eight times (and hope you're right - due to a faulty scale I once ended up with a 30+ lb blanket!).  
  • Eyeball/ Approximate* - You can measure out your 9.5lbs then divide it in half (I just "eyeballed" it - approximated). Then divide the two halves in half (approx.), then divide those in half... until you end up with the entire weight divided into 48 sections.
    Ex. I chose river rock as my filler, which needed to be cleaned and rinsed first (it was dusty!).  I spread it on a sheet in my driveway and rinsed it off with a hose, then let it dry in the sun. I then “eyeballed” it, dividing the weight approximately in half, then dividing both halves into halves, and so on until I had 48 little piles, which I put into little plastic baggies.
    *My personal preference! 
  • How many scoops in a pound? Using a small scoop or measuring cup (a 1/4-cup measure cup works well).  If you are using beans for your filler, start with a 1 lb bag.  Measure out the entire bag with your measuring cup or scoop; find out how many scoops are in 1 lb.  If you are using something that comes in bulk, like the poly pellets, use a food scale to weigh out 1 lb and do the same thing.
    Ex. Using their scoop, they get 10 scoops per 1 lb of beans.  Then, multiply the number of pounds you want in the blanket by the number of scoops per 1 lb.  For example, for an 8 lb blanket it will take 8 X 10 or 80 scoops.  Then divide the total number of scoops in the blanket weight by the number of squares.  In this example, 80 scoops and 48 squares gives us 80 / 48 or 1.66 scoops per square.  (About one and two thirds.)  It's a little tricky getting 2/3 of a scoop, but it doesn't need to be perfectly exact,  it will all work out. 



9.    Filling the  Channels. In each one of the long channels going across, drop in the measured amount of the filler (or the contents of one baggie).  Shake it all the way down to the bottom of the blanket, below the marked grid line.  Once every channel in a row is full, then stitch carefully across the grid line to enclose the filler in that row of squares.

(oooo - represents filler)

Continue working your way up the blanket, row by row the same way.  Add the scoops of filler to each channel, shake it down, then stitch the row closed, until you get to the last row at the top.

10.    Finishing the blanket. Before filling the last row, fold down a half-inch or so and press well into place (if you can't use an iron on the fabric, then finger press it), then fold again and press well.  Open the folded area and fill each section.  Pin the fold into place over the filled space.  Work your way across, filling and pinning each section so nothing falls out.  Then stitch the folded section closed, removing pins as you go along.  Stitch again to make it very secure.
If you aren't making a duvet cover, at this point you are finished!

Voila!!





DUVET COVER


Instructions:

1.    Attach Velcro.  Spread the finished weighted blanket out with the side with the Velcro tabs facing up. Loosely lay the matching 1 1/2" strips of Velcro (the rough/ "sticky" side) on top of the stitched on Velcro tabs.

Drape one side of the duvet cover material on the blanket (right side up), and position it so the blanket is where you wish it placed inside the duvet (centered, toward the left side, near the top...). Be sure to leave at least 1 1/2" of the duvet fabric around the edges for seam allowance. Pin the rough side of the Velcro strips to the duvet fabric. Stitch the Velcro in place on the duvet cover material.

On the "bottom" short edge of the duvet fabrics, fold over and press 1/2" toward the wrong side of the fabric. Do this for both pieces of duvet cover fabric.

Lay the fabric wrong side up and center each side of the long strip of Velcro (3/4 of the width of the cover) on the folded "bottom" edge of the duvet fabric. The edge of the Velcro should be about 1/4" below the folded edge of the fabric. Stitch around the Velcro. Do this for both pieces of duvet cover fabric.

TIP:  If you choose a fabric with an obvious top and bottom (like flowers growing upward!) then make sure you leave your opening at the “bottom” of your fabric.  You want the Velcro at the bottom of your bed, not near your face!

2.    Stitch the Outside Seam.  Place duvet cover fabrics right sides together. Stitch the two pieces of fabric together with a 1/2" seam allowance along the edge of the two long sides and one short side (the "top" edge), leaving the "bottom edge" open, just like you did at the start of weighted blanket.



3.   Turn the cover right side out (you can trim the corners first), and lightly press the edges (unless you're using a fabric that can't be ironed, like vinyl!). 

4.   Finishing the "bottom edge" of the duvet cover. Press the long Velcro pieces together. Along the "bottom edge," from each corner to where the Velcro is attached, top stitch the two duvet cover fabrics together along the folds.

Open the Velcro strip, place the weighted blanket inside the duvet cover, match up the Velcro tabs and press them together.  Seal the Velcro strip along the opening.  That's it!

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