It’s been a busy week here at Casa de la Cuddle Bug Kids! I’ve just finished an order of 10 fidgets (assorted). I’ve been prototyping a finger biting/cuticle picking fidget for testing here at home (see above), and I’ve been getting to work on a 9 pound weighted duvet ordered from a local OT office’s referral.
So what’s up with the thumb fidget? Nail biting can be a particularly difficult sensory issue when it starts to break the skin. In some people their sensory system (sight, sound, smell, touch, taste, balance) processes the sensory information they are experiencing in a less than helpful way. Sensory information can be over sensitive or under sensitive and it’s not always consistent. Nail/cuticle biting has been a problem for us in the past and we seem to be re-visiting the problem. Because picking is largely subconscious, it’s a super difficult behavior to change. We’re working through strategies with our development pediatrician but if anyone has ideas and/or strategies that have worked for you please share!
Have you heard of a weighted blanket before? I hadn’t until as a parent I entered the world of autism and sensory integration! From what I’ve read, doctors are still unsure exactly why weight can be calming for some people. But for many individuals on the autism spectrum, with ADHD, sensory integration, and Parkinson’s, weighted blankets seem to help calm the nervous system. When I learned about this idea when our son was around 3, I set out to learn how to make him a weighted blanket to see if it could help. When we settled on the right fabric, weight, batting, etc, it was amazing how much it helped him!…for about two years…and then one day it didn’t help anymore (on a nightly basis). We now keep it around the house as an extra throw blanket and all use it from time to time. Those sewing adventures were the beginning of Cuddle Bug Kids!
It’s been several years since I’ve taken on a larger weighted project but I wanted to try out some hand quilting ideas I’ve been musing which I think will make sewing a large blanket easier. So here’s part 1 of my weighted blanket duvet insert!
I started this project using a decorator quality fabric and batting. I have made weighted blankets in lots of different fabrics with lots of different kinds of batting. One of the biggest complaints I hear from parents with kids using weighted blankets is that their kids love the weight but say the blanket itself is too hot. So for this blanket I decided to use a quality home dec fabric which is a cotton/poly blend. I wanted the fabric to breath (cotton) but I also wanted the extra durability offered by the polyester. Personal experience note here: I actually made our personal toddler sized weighted blanket out of 100% cotton fabrics. Just be aware that if your blanket needs regular washing (we still weren’t potty trained) then cotton does break down with each wash/dry cycle. Eventually our fabric wore out and holes appeared not at seams but in the fabric itself! Yes, our blanket was well loved!
I also chose for this blanket to use a double layer of cotton needled batting on the inside. Can I just digress for a moment to say I LOVED working with the cotton batting?!!! Perhaps it’s my own sensory issues or my own allergy to polyester but it was a lovely experience! I used a double layer so that I can quilt the weighted material in between the two layers of batting.
I cut 2 pieces of fabric and 2 pieces of batting and then sewed together the “sandwich” with the 2 fabric pieces right sides facing and then the two pieces of batting under them. I sewed around leaving a 10″ opening in the center top for adding the weighted material.
After sewing around the edges, I turned the fabric right side out to create my duvet. I then pinned the outer edges. I plan to top stitch around the entire duvet again. My personal experience has been that the corners of the blanket are also a weak point of the blanket. I’m quite sure that an extra layer of top stitching the edge will make the blanket much more durable.
I pinned the cotton batting to each side of the opening so that I don’t forget where to put the weighted pellets. It is possible to sew a weighted blanket without any batting in it (many people use 2 layers of only fleece fabric) but our experience has been so sensitive with sensory input that pellets alone were not comfortable and we found it necessary to use batting. And as for fleece, my son screamed every time he touched it until he was around age 5 (after significant sensory therapy).
My blanket is now ready to be filled with pellets and quilted…stay tuned! The above brand is what I use to weight my items which need to be washable. I am thankfully able to find it at my local craft store. There are lots of ideas online of what you can use for weighting a blanket. I’ve tried aquarium gravel, pea gravel, rice, beans, cherry pits, and polyester pellets. Polyester pellets are the most expensive of the options but they are washable and dry-able on low heat which makes them my favorite option when sewing a blanket.