DIY Receiving Blankets

Receiving blankets have been around for centuries. Prior to the 1950’s, receiving blankets were typically made from just dull beige cloth, and used to “receive” babies when they were born. In the early 1950’s A.L Mills wanted to change the look of receiving blankets, and after a quick survey of area hospitals decided on white cloth with pink and blue stripes now know as the Kuddle-Up Blanket. This standardized receiving blanket became widely popular in the 1950’s with 88% of all births being in hospitals. Sixty five years later, these blankets are still being used and the company sells roughly 1.5  million Kuddle-Up Blankets each year.

Receiving blankets are typically made from lightweight materials such as cotton, muslin, fleece, flannel and bamboo. While receiving blankets have not changed much in the past 65 years, they are being used for more things each day. You can use them as a swaddle blanket, a substitute for a changing mat, a burp cloth, a nursing cover, a play mat and to shade a baby in a car seat. The possibilities are endless.

Standard store bought receiving blankets are typically a 30″ square made from a lightweight flannel material. Depending on the store and brand you can expect to pay anywhere from $15-$30 for a pack of four receiving blankets. While it is tempting to go out and buy some of these wonderful blankets, you can actually make them for a heck of a lot cheaper with minimal effort.

I personally like homemade receiving blankets a bit better than the store bought ones because they are larger, cheaper, and available in many more patterns than you can find in the store. With a little bit of time and a sewing machine, you can make your own. Here is how:

You will need:

  • 1 yard of a soft flannel, cotton, fleece or muslin material. I used the nursery flannel sold at Joann Fabric. It retails for $6.99 a yard, but if you can get it on sale or use a coupon the price will decrease. (I went while the flannel was on sale and got enough flannel to make 13 yard long blankets. The fabric was on sale for $2.79 per yard and I doubled it with a 15% off entire purchase including sale items coupon…..making it $2.37 per blanket)
  • A sewing machine or serger. While you can do this by hand, it would be a long and tedious process.
  • Thread. I just used the standard white thread for all of my blankets, but you could use other colors if you want. You will need to load both a bobbin and thread onto your sewing machine.
  • (Optional) Pins for the hem
  • (Optional) Iron and Ironing board

Directions:

  1. Select the material that you are going to use. Try to make it 1 yard. If it is a little bit bigger or smaller it is ok, but if the material is significantly larger than 1 yard you will need to cut it down to size.
  2. With the wrong side of the fabric facing up, you will create the hem by folding the edge of the material over 1/4″ and then folding it another 1/4″. This will create a tube. Some people choose to pin the hem and then iron it to create a nice crisp hem. I personally create the hem as I sew it – forgoing the use of the iron and pins.
  3. Starting about 1/4″ down the fabric, use a zig zag stitch to secure the hem. Make sure you back stitch to secure the thread. When sewing you are going to want to sew as close to the inside edge as you can in order to secure the fabric.
  4. When you get about 1/2″ from the next corner, fold the fabric the same way you did for the first side and stitch through to the middle of the next hem.
  5. Lower the needle and rotate the material. Keep sewing just as you did the first side. Repeat with the other 2 sides.
  6. When you have gotten back to your original start point, back stitch to secure the fabric and then remove the blanket from the machine.
  7. You now have a completed receiving blanket.

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Cost breakdown:

You know me and cost comparisons! Using the lower price point for the store bought receiving blankets, I would have spent $15 for 4 blankets or $3.75 per blanket for a 30″x30″ square. For 13 blankets I would have spent $48.75. By combining the sale price of $2.79 with a 15% off coupon, I spent $2.37 per 36″x44″ blanket. For 13 blankets I spent $30.81. Essentially I spent $17.94 less to make the blankets and was able to make them bigger than the store bought ones.