Weighted blankets are gaining in popularity at an astounding rate, driven by promising studies which suggest they may offer relief to people with a wide range of ailments. Some research even indicates that they may improve sleep and general relaxation.
Although investing in a weighted blanket usually costs upwards of $100, it’s also possible to make one yourself for far less. If you’re comfortable using a sewing machine, you can make a custom, DIY weighted blanket to take advantage of the benefits without having to pay a premium.
In this guide, we cover the basics of weighted blankets, as well as how to choose a weight, size, and pattern that works for you.
If you’ve ever enjoyed the weight of heavy blankets on a cold night, you might already understand the appeal of weighted blankets. Although they vary in style and fill material, most weighted blankets follow the same design: soft fabric sewn to include pouches of heavy weights which provide gentle, even pressure over the body.
These weights encourage the production of hormones like serotonin and melatonin, promoting stress relief and deep sleep. Strong evidence suggests that weighted blankets have this effect on most people, making them an easy, drug-free way to improve your well-being.
The increasing popularity of weighted blankets has made it easier to find a wide range of models. However, one reason why weighted blankets are available in so many styles is because the best size and weight vary depending on who’s using it. A child with autism spectrum disorder, for example, will require a much different blanket than an adult with insomnia.
Making your own weighted blanket will save you money (even including the cost of materials) while allowing for more customization.
Making your own weighted blanket doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Follow our step-by-step guide below to choose your materials and the appropriate size and weight, then get started on your new blanket.
The choice of fabric for your weighted blanket is just as important as your choice of filler, particularly since people who benefit from weighted blankets often have sensory concerns.
When choosing your fabric, it’s crucial to decide on two things: the weave, which is often available in popular sheet weaves, and the material. You can also make or buy a separate duvet cover for the inner blanket, which is a good choice for delicate or hard-to-wash material like silk.
|Cotton||Breathable Can be light (percale weave) or warmer (flannel knit Natural, organic options available||May not be warm enough in cold weather Can feel scratchy to some people, particularly those with sensory disorders|
|Polyester/minky||Ultra-soft and plush, suitable for sensory problems Warm enough for cold weather||Some people dislike synthetic fabric May be too warm for some climates|
|Rayon from bamboo||Very breathable Often softer than cotton||Some weaves can pill Some fabrics may be too lightweight for heavy pellets|
|Silk||Incredibly smooth, great for sensory problems Breathable natural material||Very delicate and snags easily Hard to clean Works best with a lining to reinforce the weight compartments|
Most weighted blankets use two kinds of filling:
The most popular weighted filling is plastic polycarbonate (or “poly”) beads. Inexpensive and easy to find at most craft stores, poly beads are washable and non-toxic. However, their small size makes them less appropriate for young children (children under the age of eight shouldn’t use a weighted blanket except under the care of their doctor).
Other popular weight options include dry grain (like buckwheat or lavender), smooth pebbles, glass beads, or metal discs. Dry grains have a uniquely relaxing texture but are attractive to pests and cannot be washed, while most other weight options are similar to poly beads and differ mostly in price and texture.
Polyester stuffing is a popular cushion material used in store-bought weighted blankets, but we suggest using blanket batting. While batting will slightly increase the warmth of your blanket, it’s an effective all-in-one solution that makes the construction process easier.
If you’re confused about how heavy your weighted blanket should be, don’t be concerned. There’s a simple formula: 10% of your body weight, plus 1-2 pounds (children) or 2-3 pounds (adults). For example, a 90-pound child would use a 10-pound blanket. This ratio provides enough weight to experience the benefits of a weighted blanket without being too heavy for most people to move beneath.
Of course, everyone has their own individual preferences, and making your weighted blanket gives you the opportunity to “test drive” different weights before making your final decision.
Here are three further considerations when choosing a final weight:
Most people prefer a weighted blanket that covers them comfortably with only a little overhang. This keeps the weight where it works best — on top of you — while reducing any movement difficulties.
Weight and size are closely connected when choosing what weighted blanket is right for you or your child. Heavier weighted blankets, like those appropriate for adults, are almost always significantly larger than lighter blankets. This is to ensure that the weight is spread evenly and that the blanket is easy to maneuver.
However, heavier small blankets and lighter large blankets are still possible, particularly when you’re making your own. The most important consideration is making sure the blanket is easy to move underneath, as too much weight per foot of blanket can become a hazard, particularly for children and the elderly.
Here are some popular weights for weighted blankets, as well as the suggested size and the required fabric:
|Blanket Weight||Yards of 45" Wide Fabric||Finished Dimensions|
|3 lbs.||2 yds.||30W" x 40L"|
|7 lbs.||3.5 yds.||40W" x 50L"|
|10 lbs.||4 yds.||40W" x 70L"|
Before beginning construction, be sure to assemble the following weighted blanket components:
1. Stitch your fabric pieces together on both the right and left edges, then add a horizontal center seam joining the two. This will leave you with two “pouches” on the top and bottom of your blanket. (If you are using batting, simply place one or two layers between your top and bottom fabric pieces, then sew through normally.)
2. Divide each pouch into an equal number of columns 3-5 inches wide. After marking these out, sew each column. These will be the weight-holding compartments, so consider using a triple stitch.
3. Use a scale to measure out the appropriate amount of weights for each section. Determine the appropriate weight for each compartment by dividing your desired total weight by the number of compartments you plan to use.
4. After filling each compartment, use a triple stitch to close the open ends. Alternatively, you can place the weights into appropriately-sized cloth bags as an extra precaution against spills. This also allows you to test various weights by putting filled bags into the compartments and then safety-pinning them closed. This method allows you to adjust as necessary. Once you’ve decided on the weight you prefer, continue sewing each section shut until all the sections are full and your blanket is complete.
5. Lay the blanket out flat and examine each side carefully to ensure the stitching is correct and the weights are secure. (This is a particularly important step if you have small children, for whom loose weights can be choking hazards.)
While homemade weighted blankets can be washed, the process takes some time and effort. Buying or making a separate blanket cover is one way to avoid excess washing, particularly if the blanket is a comfort item for a child. If your blanket does not have a cover, always using a sheet between yourself and the blanket will keep it clean longer between washings.
First, examine your blanket for any holes, loose threads, or other wear-and-tear. If you find any, make the necessary repairs before washing to avoid spilling weights or further damaging your blanket.
Next, wash your blanket either by hand in lukewarm water or on the gentle/delicate cycle of your washing machine. Use a small amount of a mild soap rather than harsh detergents or bleaches.
Weighted blankets dry surprisingly quickly, given that the majority of their weight is non-absorbent beads or stones. Use your dryer on a low heat cycle to dry your blanket fast, or spread it out in a sunny place with good air circulation for a quieter option.