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Making Blankets

I hope to soon provide more detailed instructions regarding how to make my blankets. However, if you review The Basics below, as well as the many production photos, even a novice should be able to get a good idea about how to make these blankets...which have been featured on Soldiers' Angels' site as pretty and optimal blankets for soldiers. (A fact of which I'm extremely proud!)

The Basics
Hit your local fabric store and purchase 2 yards of some patriotic or camo fleece fabric, 2 yards of some patriotic cotton fabric and two packages of ribbon...one about 4 yards of red, white or royal blue color and one of white, just over 2 yards (or get a 4.75 yards pkg [common] to use for two blankets). You'll also need red, white or blue thread.

You will also SURELY want to install your WALKING FOOT on your machine to avoid "bunching" as you sew. If you don't have a walking foot and plan to continue making blankets...invest in one! A WALKING FOOT has feed dogs on the foot to feed the fabric evenly from the top as the machine's feed dogs push in the fabric from the bottom, helping to ensure even sewing...something all quilters know about, but a fact those who don't quilt may never have heard of! Check the web site for your machine to find this accessory...they're about $20 in most cases.

Don't bother with batting (warm cushion material sewn between quilt fabrics). You can get away with just using the fleece on one side and the cotton on the other. This gives soldiers a warm and cool side of the blanket, as well as a LOVING gift from a THANKFUL American! Lay the fleece out, wrong side up. With the help of a friend, float the cotton fabric over the fleece so it lies evenly on top of the fleece...wrong side down against the wrong side of the fleece.

Note that fleece is generally about 52" wide, whereas cotton is generally about 42-44" wide, so the fleece will be wider, so once you match up the two pieces evenly, you'll have a bit more fleece on each side. Fold that over to meet up with the cotton and pin in place. Also pin much of the rest of the two pieces...as you would a quilt. Sew through the fleece/cotton seam to keep it in place and then attach some type of ribbon (I use wide satin) to hide the ends of where the two fabrics meet. Pin the ribbon in place. Sew the ribbon through the fabric...I use a blanket stitch to make it look pretty. Then sew down the two fabrics in a few places...maybe every 4-5" like a quilt to hold them together. I use either a wavy stitch or a straight stitch when in a rush.

Once the two sides are stitched together...cut the top & bottom evenly using a ruler and rotary cutter. DON'T cut too much, but cut enough to give both the top/bottom sides even edges so they can be sewn/closed off. Fold over the bottom and run some type of blanket stitch to make it pretty as you close the bottom. Along the top, I run a white ribbon. Once the ribbon is fastened on the back, folded over and blanket stitch along the front/ribbon side, I then engage a nice "lettering" feature on my sewing machine to sew THANK YOU...FOR YOUR COURAGE!! along the top ribbon.

IMPORTANT NOTE...if you have lettering on your machine, but have never used it...PRACTICE!!! You need to MAKE SURE that the fabric is easily and freely moving to ensure the letters don't bunch up and make a mess. TRUST ME! Trying to remove machine lettering takes HOURS of delicate clipping to remove and still leaves the fabric/satin looking quite beat up!

I have had so many people ask me how I make my blankets and American Flag afghans/lapghans, that I will soon be providing more detailed instructions so you, too, can learn to make a blankets like the ones pictured below.

Since making the stars is the hardest part, I've created an online video that allows you to see how I make my stars. Watch it here: Making Stars

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Hero Blankets

I spent my 2008 mother's day making a couple blankets to send to the soldiers and recently finished another. I ordered lots more patriot fabric, so I have a lot more blankets to make, as time permits.

I found a great patriotic fleece to use for the backing. Since there are specific measurements that need to be met and the average cotton fabric, which is the flag fabric I used for the front, generally measures only 44", I used the wider fleece to fold over to add a little to the blanket width. I pin the two together, not using batting since the fleece adds to the blanket's thickness and warmth.

To add enhancement to the blanket, as well as cover the seam where the fleece is folded over, I add ribbon to both sides to add as a border. Then I add some quilting down the length of the blanket in various areas to neatly hold it all together.

So one side is warm fleece, the other side cool cotton, with a fleece and satin ribbon border on each side. The bottom is simply rolled over and finished with a blanket stitch. The top gets a white, satin ribbon.

Since my sewing machine has this great lettering feature, I take advantage of that to add a few words of support along the top border.

(Greg playing hidden model by holding them up for the full photo shot.)

The second blanket is pretty much the same. This is a nice, pretty and fairly fast design I came up with and seems to work well with the fabric I can get. Purchasing six yards of fleece allowed me enough for three blankets.

This one got the same backing and ribbon work done, but I used a new fabric design for the main area. Rather than flags, this one has sayings like Home of the Brave, Land of the Free and America the Beautiful.

A slightly different words of thanks on this one.

And a shot of the back. The fleece side is soft and warm, the cotton side smooth and cool.

Blanket #3. I still had some of the same fleece left, but found some great, military fabric.

This one says Thank You...For Your Courage!!

Each blanket sent by a Soldiers' Angel requires a tag to the soldier with the name of the person who made it for them. Here's mine.

Ready to be shipped off to soldiers' collection site in NC. Three down...only a few hundred thousand to go!

Want to help? You don't need to sew or crochet...there are lots of ways you can support the troops, including donating to help with shipping costs or writing letters to lonely soldiers! See the Soldiers' Angel site HERE for ideas and ways you can get involved!

I made blanket # 4 on July 4th. And, appropriately, I found some great fireworks fabric to use on the front. The backing is a new, flag fleece I found. Thankfully, Joann's had all their patriotic fabric for 1/2 off, so I was able to load up on the July 4th weekend, to give me enough to make several more blankets.

As you can see, I'm keeping with my standard design...folding the fleece to add to the width and a ribbon to cover the seam.

Working with this new flag design was nice because the flags helped me make sure things were even.

Hard to tell in the photo, but the firework fabric turned out GREAT! Very pretty as there is a lot of glitter in the fabric that makes it very shiny.

My lettering isn't always straight...but it does come from the heart!

Rolled, tagged and ready to ship.

But since there was still room in the box, I decided to whip off one more before I put away my sewing machine for this session. So I used the military fabric along with the flag fleece to crank out blanket # 5.

This one says..."Thank you...You Are our Hero!"

I jumped out of a plane for the first time on 08/08/08. At the jump center there were lots of military flags. And after the jump I was jazzed and motivated. With those two inspirations in my head, it was time to break out the sewing machine and crank out a few new blankets. So on 8/11/08, I managed to make THREE to ship off a full box of blankets! What a great feeling of accomplishment!

Pinning blanket number 6. This one was tricky because it was hard to see the safety pins in that mass of stars!

So there was a lot of feeling around to make sure I put enough pins in...and also got all of them off at the end.

This one gets a blue satin ribbon on each end.

The final blanket. As with all my blankets...sticking to my standard design helps me get faster. I'm now able to knock out one in about 2.5 hrs.

I like the satin look and these stars make the blanket bright.

Number 6 says: "Thank you...For Keeping Us Safe!

Wrapped and ready to go.

For number 7, I used this pretty blue and white fabric that displays important places, buildings and items in our country.

A red ribbon helps break up all the blue and white. As you can see below, the ribbon not only adds a nice enhancement to the blankets, but helps hide the fold over seam.

Blanket # 7.

This one says: "Thank you...For Your Courage!"

One more done and ready to pack.

Room for 3 in the box...so I crank out # 8. If I thought the last one was hard to see the pins...this one was nearly impossible. A FREEDOM theme, the fabric gives the look of pieced fabrics. All that busy color made seeing pins a tough job.

This one's seam gets blue.

A finished # 8 blanket.

Number 8 says: "Thank you...For Protecting Our Freedom."

Blanket number 8 in total...but number 3 for the day...ready to ship!

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