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OT supplies can cost a fortune. As if the therapy itself isn’t already expensive, the supplies can be overbearing. As a homeschooling family, technically we can get speech and OT through the school district, but our state adds rules to families who do (like requiring that our curriculum be pre-approved by a school administrator each year), so we opted to go ahead alone. We get help from family to pay for private therapy, but the supplies are on us. So, I got creative.
Weighted blankets are one of the more expensive OT items, and yet are really easy to put together if you know how to work a sewing machine. I make these for a local OT, and if they didn’t weigh so much (and therefore cost a fortune to ship), I’d open an Etsy shop. Last week I made one for another family and I tried to catch a picture every step of the way.
So, how do you put together one of these things?
- Sewing Machine
- fabric – 1.5 yards x2 (front and back side). I like to use flannel because it has a little texture to it, but really, you can use whatever you’re comfortable sewing. The pictures are solid color, but really, it’s your blanket so go crazy with patterns and cartoons!
- sewing scissors
- yardstick or measuring tape
- disappearing ink fabric pen
- weighted beads – Order here, or they can be found at Joann’s in the doll/stuffed animal making aisle (not the polyester stuffing section). I haven’t been able to find these anywhere else.
Talk to your OT first to determine how heavy to make the blanket! Our OT says to go 10% of the person’s body weight, plus one pound – this is a blanket, not a lap weight and some of the weight will hang off the side of the body. The weighted beads from Joann’s cost $10 per 2 pound bag, which does get to be pricey, but these will last forever. Beans or rice in a sock is great for a lap weight, but I don’t want my son’s blanket to get wet and sprout (or worse, rot)!
- Sew together wrong sides of fabric on three sides, like a pillow case. Turn right-side out and reinforce the edges.
- Use the measuring tape or yardstick and fabric pen to draw a grid on the blanket. Aim for approximately 4 inch squares. If you hold the blanket so the open side is up (remember, you only sewed 3 sides so far), sew the vertical lines first. My son likes to pretend this is a race track at this point for the weighted beads to go down.
- Math time! My grid is always 10 squares across by 12 squares high, so, 120 squares total. Your’s might be a little different, so adjust this formula if needed. Most blankets I make are 5 pounds, so I need 2.5 bags of beads. The bag of beads from Joann’s says for 2 pounds, it contains 7 cups of beads. (I have the liquid equivalents song from Classical Conversations in my head saying that’s wrong, but this isn’t liquid and these beads are made to be heavy.) I can’t make the math look right on a computer screen, but here it is so you can plug in your own numbers into the formula. Seven teaspoons is close enough to 2 tablespoons, so that’s what I go with.
- Pour the beads into a bowl and find a tablespoon measuring spoon. Fill each lane on the blanket with 2 TBSP (or your adjusted amount); hold the blanket at the top and shake the beads to the bottom. Sew across the row to hold the beads in place. BE CAREFUL not to sew over a bead! This can break the needle, and that’s just never fun.
- Repeat step 4 until you’ve used all the beads. For me with these measurements, I get 12 rows of beads. It should look something like the picture on the right.
- Cut the top about 2 inches above your last line. Fold over once and hem. Fold over a second time and tack down using either a straight stitch or a fancy stitch to match the other three sides. Cut off all the extra strings.
A note: other blogs talk about mixing beads with poly filling and making a big puffy blanket. I choose not to do that because my kids need this year-round. This isn’t super warm, so it’s an addition to their regular blankets, not a replacement. Also, we hand wash ours because I’m nervous about it tearing in the washing machine with the weight.
Step 7: Enjoy the blanket!