Sunday, December 22, 2013

Ssssssh....Another gift idea, this one sewn, not knitted

Many of my knitting friends have met my husband John, who does so many things to keep my machine knitting work going and to assist my customers.  So don't tell him what I made him for Christmas, okay?  I'll tell my readers just in case you can use this idea for someone in your life, but John doesn't normally read this blog, it's two days to Christmas, and I think I can get away with it.

In the evenings, we often sit on the couch in our den (near a large, drafty window) and watch TV for about an hour, wrapped in our fleece throws.  Afghans are wonderful, but these are bang-around, let the dog climb up, warm throws that get laundered fairly often.  After they're worn, they go in the trunk for an emergency or get folded for a washable doggie bed.

I've bought quite a few of them over the years, but many of them were thin and cheesy, and some were just too small.  The typical fleece throw is 50" x 60", which is skimpy for even an average-height female.  I'm 65" tall, so 60" is not enough to tuck around my feet and also pull up over my shoulders.  They're 'way too short for most guys; even my sons, who don't use a throw much, have grumbled that most throws are too small.

I went to JoAnn's and bought their best printed fleece.  It's expensive, but with a special and a Wednesday senior discount, I was very pleased with my bargain.  My friend likes to watch for fleece on sale at Hancock's too.  It comes in a 60" width.  I purchased 3 yards each of two prints, so I had two 9-foot by 5-foot pieces.  I made humongous fleece throws with a big pocket across the bottom to keep feet warm.

Here's the general procedure: 

I started by trimming away the selvedge edges and straightening the ends. 

With the fleece prints I used, it was difficult to tell the right from the wrong side.  They look nice on both sides!  I finally decided that one side had a darker, clearer print.  Keeping track of the right side, I folded over the short end about 3/4" for a hem (wrong sides together) and zigzagged that down, putting in a wide zigzag that fully covered the raw edge.  Then I pinned that same edge, right sides together, to form a 24" pocket and sewed down each side, using a straight stitch, about 3/4" from the edge.  I triple-stitched these seams, since they'll get some stress.  Then I flipped the pocket right-side out and poked the corners out so they'd be square.  Next, I pinned around that whole pocket edge and sewed about 3/4" from the edge in the wide zigzag, then continued on sewing a hem with the zigzag all around the blanket to finish it neatly.  The sewing part of the job took me about an hour for each throw.

Finished size is a little less than 5 feet wide by 7 feet long.  If that turns out to be too long, I can always trim off some and re-hem the plain end.

I made a mental list of things that made the thick, stretchy fleece easier to sew.  With such a big piece, you'll want to try not to stretch it or have its weight pulling the work one way or another.  I needed to keep moving the fabric around on my sewing surface.  Secondly, pinning is quite worthwhile to keep the edges matched up.  Pinning also helped when I topstitched over around that pocket edge at the bottom.  By pinning, I could keep the seam at the edge, not pulled toward the top or bottom, and I even pinned the folded edge to keep the fold from moving.  Another thing I noticed was that the fleece was easier to sew if I used at least a medium stitch length.  It's fuzzy, and the sewing machine doesn't pull it through quite as easily as a smooth fabric. 

If you don't sew:  my friend makes fleece throws by simply fringing the edges using a rotary cutter, mat, and quilter's slotted cutting guide.  I don't know why you couldn't tie the "fringe" to make a pocket; she does that to make matching pillows.

1 comment:

  1. Diana, thank you for the video from your church. I have taken the liberty to place reference to it on my facebook page. I knew it would not be a problem since we want to get the message out as much as possible. I do enjoy your machine knitting videos as well and have relearned much since I have not used my machines for years.