When my nephew was born (years and years ago) I made him a sweet little quilt because he was wonderful. Pinwheel blocks in bright reds and blues and yellows with black and white sashings for baby neural stimulation. I hand quilted the whole quilt in a fussy clamshell design and, so proud of the quilt, declared that all my nieces and nephews would receive such a quilt from their loving aunt. Yeah. This lasted for about one more nephew before I was lapped by the next niece-on-the-way. I just didn’t have the time to make a laborious baby quilt for each new baby that came along (I also blame my time issues on
“Wednesday, Thursday, Pie-day!” and other unrealistic, ambitious plans).
But what to do? Though they can be time-consuming to make, homemade baby blankets are the sweetest gift for a new baby. They warm that baby up and the handmade sentiment tells a new mom that her baby IS as special as she thinks. And they always win at baby showers. (“Aww! You MADE this?!”)
So, for run-of-the-mill babies (joke.) I like to make super-easy baby blankets made from two wonderful fabrics, simply sewn. The quilt pictured is made from a high-quality calico on one side and a crazy-soft brown “teddy bear” fabric on the other. (I thought it would be very clever to give a blanket that can double as a “teddy bear skin rug” playmat.) Calicoes come is very hip, modern prints these days and you can find tons of great prints to coordinate with baby’s nursery or mom’s diaper bag. Just pair your calico with a soft fabric and you’re in business: silky minky fabrics, shaggy fleeces and pajama bottom flannel (which also come in tons of cute prints now) are great options. Below are simple directions for this basic baby blanket. It’s a fabric-efficient, quick-sew blanket that you can churn out when twelve of your coworkers have a baby shower in the same month.
Easy Baby Blanket
1 1/3 yd. of 45″ wide calico
1 1/3 yd. soft/fluffy fabric in a coordinating color
Sewing machine*, thread, pins, scissors
Prewash and tumble dry both fabrics. Cut calico into a perfect square by first folding diagonally and drawing straight, even edges with a straight-edge ruler. Place fluffy fabric right side up and smooth out wrinkles. Place calico square right side down on the fluffy fabric (if the fluffy fabric has a woven grain – is not knit – then make sure the grain of the two fabrics run perpendicularly). Smooth out any wrinkles. Pin. Cut fluffy fabric to match calico square. Sew, right sides together, with a 1/2 inch seam allowance, leaving an 8″ opening for turning. Clip corners to reduce bulk and turn right-side out. Press. Hand sew opening with an invisible stitch. For a pretty presentation, fold blanket into quarters lengthwise and roll, tying with a coordinating ribbon.
*If you do not have a sewing machine, simply handsew the seam by sewing small running stitches in place of the machine stitching.
For those ambitious crafters out there, you can make a coordinating stuffed animal out of the fluffy fabric scraps. (I usually have a 15″ wide strip left over that would give you more than enough fabric for a little teddy bear.) The pattern books at the fabric store have stuffed animal patterns in the Home Decor, Crafts, or Baby sections.
Now don’t get me wrong: tedious, hand-quilted baby quilts still have their place. A spectacular heirloom, they really do make an extra-special gift. But save them for babies you’re trying to impress like Godchildren, an oil baron’s heir, or the baby of a celebrity you’re stalking. Or quilt one if you’re locked in a tower, trying to fill endless days in captivity. But definitely sew up an Easy Baby Blanket for all the other babies.