Monday, February 20, 2012

the weighted blanket project

What is a weighted blanket and why did I need to make it?
 In our case, Faith is the one who will benefit from this. Everyone processes outside information differently. everything that comes into your brain via your senses is a form of stimulation. In Faith's case, she gets overwhelmed sometimes because her brain just hasn't learned how to deal with all the stimulation coming in. Some things overwhelm her like food textures that she's not used to, too much play time, and new places (to name just a few). On the other side of that, she is calmed by some things and she seeks out certain stimulation for example she likes to have her tongue brushed, she likes her skin brushed, she likes little pressure squeezes, music, and touching soft things. The theory behind the weighted blanket is that it can be really calming and helps a person's brain to reset and figure out all the incoming stimulation. Since Faith is so young it's possible that if we help her in these ways, her brain can figure out how to rewire itself and this won't be an issue later on.
Here's a helpful website that shows all the different ways that this kind of product can help many people, not just people with sensory processing issues. Keep in mind though that they are trying to sell their product so it's a little hyped up in some areas.
As you can see, this is expensive!
So- I was thinking... I have a sewing machine and a JoAnn's gift card, maybe I could make something.

I started out with a plan to make a traditional quilted weighted blanket. Seems easy enough. When I got to the store I found this amazing fabric that had all sorts of different fabrics and textures in the pattern and that is perfect for us! I got the textured pre-planned blanket fabric which came in the size I needed and I didn't even have to measure out the blanket.

I bought
1 yard of the special fabric,
1 yard of the fuzzy bumpy kind of fabric,
1 yard of some thin polyfil
heavy duty upholstery thread
extra sewing machine needles
2 bags of crushed seashell (1.75 pounds each)

I had
some scrap flannel

I decided to make little pouches of the crushed shell instead of just pouring it right into the blanket.
-The first thing I did was measure out what sizes the pouches should be against the design of the fabric. In this case, I wanted my weights to be in each little elephant. The blanket or weighted clothing should be about 10% of the body weight + 1 pound. my blanket is about 3.5 pounds since she's growing so fast and it's distributed really nicely.

-I decided wash everything so it would shrink BEFORE I sewed it since there were so many different fabrics on the blanket face.

-While the fabric was in the wash, I took my shells and my flannel and made little pouches. I put about the same amount of shell in each one (compensating for size once in a while)
-You can see that I used a diamond stitch because it seemed really strong and was less work than double stitching everything. You should either use a really thick stitch or double stitch because I have a friend who has done one of these and she didn't double stitch it and hers sprung a leak eventually. I'm also hoping that making the pouches will help me avoid a leak.

-For the blanket, I pinned it right sides together and sewed around the edges like you would for a normal blanket.
-Then I sewed around each elephant leaving the top open and then putting the corresponding pouch in and sewing up the top as I went. then I closed it up.

It was a LONG patience-trying process and as I added more pouches it got hard to maneuver.
If I did this again I would have chosen the square quilted pattern in this theme that still had as many fabric textures and I would have just done square pockets for the weight.
I might consider selling these if I have a friends or what not who wanted to buy the supplies but to me, it's not worth the work to makes them and then list them for sale to strangers. I understand why they charge so much for these but with my gift cards, coupons, and manual labor, this project only cost me $2 out of pocket.

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