If you’re the crafty type, you might have already thought about a weighted blanket DIY- style. You might have great sewing skills and appreciate the challenge.
Let’s look more deeply at how to make your own weighted blanket, and whether you should attempt it or not.
There are weighted blanket tutorials available on You-Tube (along with “How to Build A Rocket Engine” and everything else under the sun).
But seriously, we will examine how a weighted blanket works and what goes into making one.
You need a well-made durable blanket with the right weights & weight distribution - one that’s machine washable.
You need one that is fully designed to do its primary job - to ease your anxiety and help you get a good night’s sleep.
You’ll see (we think) that it’s really best to buy yours from a reputable company that offers a warranty.
What IS a weighted blanket?
It’s heavier than the usual comforter or down quilt. Little plastic or glass weights are sewn inside (unless it’s a DIY weighted blanket, which might contain rice, sand, stones, or other small objects).
It typically weighs 15 to 25 pounds (adult size). A child would need a much lighter one. They have very soft fabric on the outside, to make it comfy.
But it’s the snuggly feeling of the weighted section that gives it the magical touch.
How a weighted blanket works
Just as a Thundershirt helps to ease a dog’s anxiety, a weighted blanket delivers a deep sense of touch that soothes the human nervous system. This is a comforting “hug”, as some have described the sensation.
Using one has become a natural alternative for growing numbers of people. They simply want a good night’s sleep despite the hassles of everyday life. They don’t want to take pills. They want a non-medicated method to soothe and calm them so they sleep more easily.
Scientists have helped explain the effect that a weighted blanket has on the stressed person.
It provides deep touch pressure that releases the brain chemical serotonin, which is critical to a calm and stable mood. When serotonin is released, the body also releases melatonin -- which helps to promote sleep and regulate the sleep cycle.
The blanket also improves levels of oxytocin, a hormone that helps provide a feeling of relaxation, making you feel at ease. It helps ground your body during sleep -- which may enhance the deeply calming effect, reducing nighttime levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that has a negative effect on blood sugar, digestion, and immunity.
In one study, researchers found that people who used a weighted blanket for sleep felt less anxious and had lower blood pressure rates. Among the study subjects, 63 percent said they felt less anxious, and 78 percent preferred it as a “calming modality.” This is good news for people who experience anxiety and panic attacks. (1)
What is inside a weighted blanket?
These wonderful blankets have several layers, including an outer cover and a weighted inner section.
They are heavier than the usual comforter or down quilt. They typically weigh between 4 to 30 pounds, as the person’s size (child or adult) will determine the safest weight for that person.
It will have an outer cover made of a soft fabric. This can be cotton, polyester or even bamboo!
Weighted inner section
There are 3 main methods for creating the weighted inner sections which can have an effect on the weight distribution and durability.
These can be made of various fabrics like cotton, wool or polyester. They are made by sewing together pieces of fabric with small pockets which are filled with the weighted material inside.
This can consist of grains, sand, rice, plastic beads, beans or even aquarium stones. Once the weighted material has been poured into each pocket another piece of fabric is layered on top and everything is hand stitched together to seal it inside.
Blankets filled with these organic materials are cheaper however, unfortunately, they also carry a mold/mildew risk and can attract insects. It’s best to use non-organic weighted materials in this case.
As homemade blanket makers usually don’t have access to industrial sewing machines there’s a higher risk of the beads leaking due to burst stitches and of the weight being unevenly distributed, however, this all depends on the makers sewing skills!
2. Standard Manufactured Layering Process:
This is the most common way that the blankets are filled with a weighted material. The manufacturer inserts the weighted material into individual pockets. They will place a thin layer of padding on the bottom, and pour the weighted pellets (usually plastic or refined sand) on top. Then they add another layer of padding on top and sew it all together.
Plastic poly pellets are the traditional filling. Use for the best quality poly pellets such as 100% virgin polypropylene. Make sure the pellets are suitable for machine washing/drying as not all poly pellets are rated for a high temperature.
The problem? Plastic pellets are usually made of polypropylene and may give off an odor. Also, the standard layering method doesn’t provide even weight distribution across the blanket. This is because the weighted material can move around more freely in the squares -- as it’s not held together, which causes clumping.
3. Advanced Blending Process:
More expensive blankets available (usually!) use this technique as it takes longer to complete in the factory due to added complexity = extra cost. The process involves blending the pellets (usually made from glass) with the padding material so that they are combined together evenly. As a result, the weight is a lot more evenly distributed across the body.
Micro glass beads are increasingly used. They are much smaller than poly pellets, and there is no odor. Because they are smaller, they can be used more densely inside the blanket. The blanket will lay more softly on the body, and is more likely to be washer/dryer-friendly.
This weighted blanket filling combines everything together evenly and prevents it from coming loose when in use. By using this process it significantly improves the weight distribution as it helps everything remain evenly balanced much longer.
And, because the weights are so securely combined, you can also feel good about machine-washing.
This advanced process creates a very durable one that will last a long time!
Still, want to make your own weighted blanket?
If you’re the crafting sort, it may be tempting to stitch together some pretty fabric with packets of sand or rice. People certainly have done that. But before you get your supplies together, ask yourself these three questions:
What’s your budget? You’ll need a scale and fill materials to add weight. Plus you’ll need quite a bit of fabric. After you price all these items, you will likely find you’re paying more than the one you saw online.
Are your sewing skills stellar? You can turn to YouTube to figure it out. But honestly, how often has it happened - you start one of those projects only to realize your skills (or patience) really aren’t up to it.
You’ve got a busy life and dedicating huge chunks of time to this project can get old quickly. Half-way through (or less) you’ll find you’ve run out of patience & time - and wish you hadn’t started. Watch a YouTube tutorial first and see just how far your patience will take you.
Why do you want this blanket? Your goal, after all, is to have one you can actually use. You want it to calm you so you sleep better. Why cause yourself so much stress trying to sew it up yourself? A one-time investment in a high-quality blanket will soothe your nerves - not rattle them.
Whether you make your own or buy a ready-made one just make sure that your choice aligns with your goals. Remember, the reason you are buying it in the 1st place - to de-stress or sleep better!
Homemade blankets CAN be a lot cheaper than buying a ready-made one -- but that’s only if they last as long. If it only lasts 3 months before you have to make a new one, then the time and money investment might not be worthwhile!