Luxurious Wool Blanket
Of all of my handmade projects, this luxurious, organic wool-melton blanket is definitely my favorite. I can't wait to bundle up with it during the winter! The rich tone of the organic wool-melton from O-Wool is complimented perfectly by the vibrant print from Liberty of London that I used to bind the edge. Although I'm planning to keep this blanket for myself, it would also make a great gift. --Molly
To make the blanket you will need:
- 1 3/4 yards of Organic Wool Melton from O-Wool, I used Chocolate.
- 1 spool of Gutterman 100% cotton thread in color 2960
- 1 3/4 yards of Liberty of London Tana Cotton Lawn, I used Rapunzel, #7295A
(The background fabric is Almond Woodgrain from Joel Dewberry's Aviary collection.)
Prepare Fabrics, Cutting and Tearing
Press the Liberty and cut it into seven 9-inch strips from selvage to selvage.
Snip and then tear the cut edge of the O-Wool. It will make a nice straight edge for the binding to go over. I left the selvage edge alone because it was already straight and I was not planning on washing my blanket so I didn't have to worry about it shrinking unevenly. (When it gets dirty I will take it to an environmentally friendly dry cleaner.)
A NOTE: If you want your blanket to be machine washable you can wash the O-Wool and the Liberty beforehand. The O-Wool will shrink about 10% and get very fuzzy and fluffy. I chose not to do this because I liked the unwashed look better.
Piece Binding Strips
Honestly, to me, pinning and sewing all the binding strips together is my least favorite part of the whole binding process. It is necessary though so I always do it as the first step to get it out of the way early on.
Line up your strips right sides together so they make a 90 degree angle as in the picture above. (It might be hard to tell because the Liberty is such a saturated fabric but the horizontal top fabric here is wrong side up.)
Use a hera marker or piece of chalk draw a diagonal line from right to left across the intersection of the two strips. You will be sewing along this mark so make sure you can see it.
Pin the on either side of the mark and in the middle to hold it all in place for sewing.
Sew along the marked line.
Cut off the excess on the right side of your seam, leave a 1/4-inch seam allowance.
Pull the top fabric open and press your seam to the side from the front. It should look like the above photo.
Do this six more times until you have one really long binding strip.
Now you can move on to the fun part!
Pin and Mark Binding
Starting in the middle of any side leave an 8-inch tail of binding strip before your first pin.
Fold the binding in half as you go with the right side of the fabric out, so the raw edges are together.
Pin the raw edges of the binding to the raw edge of the blanket all the way down the side.
When you get to a corner follow along with the pictures below. We are making mitered corners, which sound a lot harder than they are.
Pin the strip until you arrive at the corner. Fold the binding over itself so that it makes a 45 degree angle as in the photo above.
Fold the loose side down so it lines up with the next edge of the O-Wool.
You will have a triangle of excess like this if you've done it correctly.
Once you've gotten around the entire blanket leave another 8 inch tail at the end.
Using a Hera Marker or chalk mark 1 1/4-inches from the edge all the way around the blanket.
You're ready to sew!
I use the walking foot to attach the binding in order to keep all three layers moving together.
Starting at your first pin (and leaving your 8 inch tail alone) sew directly onto the marked line along your first side. (Make sure to back stitch at the beginning and end of each seam.)
When you come to the the corner sew to within an inch of the end and then take a few back stitches. (Make sure not to sew your "triangle of excess", you want that to stay loose because you'll use it later.) Pick up the needle and start 1-inch from the corner on the next side.
Repeat this for all sides.
Once you get back to the first side leave a 4-inch gap as pictured below. This gap is where you'll close the loose ends of your binding strip.
Joining the Binding
Getting the two ends of the binding together is a little bit fiddly, but it will make the whole thing look very neat and clean so it's important to see it through.
Line up the tails and fold them so they meet up nicely in the middle of the gap as pictured above. Try to leave an equal amount of tail on either side of the gap.
Unfold the binding so that the wrong sides are flat against each other and mark the line where the edges meet up on the wrong side of the fabric with a pencil.
This part of the process is shown well in another project journal, Molly's Handmade Napkins, under the Finish Binding Edge section.
Sew the two binding strips together along the pencil line.
Using scissors, trim the excess from the tails leaving a seam allowance that is approximately 1/4-inch wide. The seam allowance doesn't have to be exact (as you can tell from my wobbly cut in the picture above).
Turn the newly unified strip back so the right side is facing and mark 1.25 inches from the edge. Sew it down like you did for the rest of the binding, being sure to backstitch at the beginning and ending of your seam.
Turn and Pin Binding (Again!)
I think this next step is fun because you can really see things beginning to come together, especially the mitered corners.
Folding the binding around to the other side of the blanket edge as shown above. The binding should fold around right to the seam you made on the opposite side.
Pin your binding every 2-inches along the length of the blanket edge. Make sure the pin heads point away from the edge or else you will get stuck later.
When you get to the corner, pin it to the seam line and lay the next side flat. It will make a 45 degree angle as shown above.
Fold the side with the 45 degree angle so that it meets the top strip and creates a neat 90 degree angle. If you do this correctly the other side will "miter" like this as well. Doesn't it look so professional!
Continue around the entire blanket.
Finishing the Binding: Final Step
The binding is finished by hand with a slip stitch. I used to dread this part, I thought it was pointless and boring. Why not just sew it on with a machine? Well let me tell you, it looks way way better if you do it by hand! Also once I relaxed and realized that I didn't need to rush, I actually enjoyed making slow progress one lovely hand-stitch at a time. I reminded myself that this wasn't a race, it's about making something beautiful.
I want to put a little disclaimer here: I'm not sure if the way I start and end each row of slip stitch is correct but it works for me. I would love to hear how other more experienced quilters do this!
With that said, tie a knot at the end of an 18-inch length of thread. Hide the knot by putting the needle through the inside layer of the folded binding and come out right at the fold to start the slip stitch. The little knot gets hidden behind the binding.
The slip stitch is an almost invisible way to tack something on.
Take a tiny horizontal stitch (just a few threads) from right to left, just above the sewing machine seam on the O-wool as pictured in the first photo above.
Then you put your needle into the hole you came out of on the top fold of the binding. Slip your needle through about 1/4-inch of the fold of the binding fabric and pull your needle out of the top.
Repeat all around the blanket.
When you get to the corners give them a few extra stitches to tack the mitered fold down.
To hide your thread ends follow the pictures above.
Take a few tiny stitches into the same place.
Then tie a little knot around these stitches and pull your needle through the binding towards the edge of the blanket.
Pull it taught and snip it off. It should disappear.
Continue slip stitching and tacking down the corners all the way around the blanket and you'll be done!