Make a Quick and Cozy Wool Blanket

Put your sewing skills to use by making a wool blanket.

| November/December 1983

We all know that wool is wonderfully warm . . . but many of you may be surprised to learn that a pretty blanket made of this natural fiber is a luxury that anyone with access to a sewing machine can afford! In fact, except for the backing material (which I found on sale), I didn't spend a cent on any of the colorful patchwork pieces shown in the accompanying photographs. All the material used in my creations was salvaged from old clothes or sewing scraps . . . and I even used thread left over from other projects to assemble the components.

Actually, I was downright astonished by how quickly I was able to collect enough usable wool fabric to make a wool blanket. People are usually so glad to have their castoffs put to good use that they thank me for taking them! Folks who make their own clothes are also great potential sources of cloth scraps. (I once got nearly a yard of brand-new wool fabric from a friend who had misjudged how much she needed to make a dress.) Don't overlook men's clothing shops, either. A lot of fitters throw out perfectly good material cut during the alteration process, and I've sometimes come across pieces as wide as six inches.

Wash the Wool

Before you begin to put a blanket together, wash all your material — both old and new — in cold water, with a soap recommended for laundering wool. (This cleaning should take care of any shrinkage that might otherwise occur the first time you wash your finished product.) In addition, be sure to cut around any moth holes or weak spots in used material. These can be found easily by holding the fabric up to the light.

I'd suggest that you avoid using knits, since they can be difficult to handle in sewing and will sometimes run. Blends of wool and synthetics are acceptable, but 100 percent synthetics aren't as warm as wool and are sometimes troublesome to work with and care for.

It's also wise to press all of your cloth before you begin, and to do so again after each step in the assembly process, using a steam iron or a damp cloth with a regular iron. Don't press all the seams open . . . just iron them so they all face in one direction (such seams are stronger than the open variety). Finally, since various weaves will stretch in different ways, don't knock yourself out trying to make each seam perfect. You'll find that irregularities actually add to the blanket's charm.

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