Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Making a blanket out of pashmina scarves

$25 and some street haggling later,
 I have a throw blanket
Our current apartment is very small. It is approximately 450 square feet. As we were packing to move I realized that for the space to feel orderly and clean, it would have to be well organized and coordinated in terms of both shape of items and their color.

We decided to buy some new furniture to fit the space. I went on the hunt for the perfect throw blanket for the living room couch. I knew that I wanted the blanket to be predominately white and turquoise, without a lot of intricate patterning. This turned out to be a fruitless search, as the gods of West elm, CB2, Target etc. all seemed to conspire to be really into gray and yellow at the time I started the hunt. This is when I decided to make my own blanket.

As our move coincided with the last three months of my pregnancy, grant season and a major publication project, I knew I didn't have a lot of time to quilt or knit a blanket. Moreover, I had just seen the perfect turquoise color on the streets of NYC - a "pashmina" scarf being sold by a table vendor. Fake pashminas  pepper Manhattan. They are sold by every street vendor in the city, for about $5 a piece. That's when I decided to make a throw blanket out of pashmina scarves.

My street shopping bounty 

I picked up two turquoise scarves with white scarf for contrast,  and then more or less followed the blanket-making instructions I found at Centsational Girl. I made a few adjustments, mentioned below. The blanket is basically a striped duvet cover that sewn directly over a piece of quilt batting. The total cost of this project is $25-$35 - $15 for the scarves, and $10 or $20 depending on whether you want polyester or cotton batting.

Cut the scarf into strips and pin the first
 two strips together

Three scarves will make a blanket about the size of a twin coverlet. The first step to make a striped blanket is to cut the scarves in half, lengthwise. The scarf strips will, eventually, be assembled and sewn in two groups of three. The two sewn groups are then sewn together. To start, pin two of the lengths together, right side in, and sew them with a straight stitch. Since the scarves fray, I found it helpful to give myself a little bit more than the standard 1/4 seam allowance. I left about 1/2 inch of allowance.

It is helpful to leave a 1/2 inch seam allowance

To this pair of sewn strips, add and pin the third strip and sew. Repeat this entire process a second time to make a second sewn panel of three strips. Then assemble the two panels, right side in, pin and sew along the two long sides and one short side. Leave one short side open. Turn the newly assembled blanket cover right side out and carefully line up with the quilt batting and temporarily pin it in place. Us as few pins as possible, as these scarves sort of lack a self-healing ability. The holes left by the pins might be apparent.

 It's possible, due to differences in scarf, seam allowances and batting widths that the cover will be slightly smaller than the batting. At this point, the batting can be trimmed if needed. I found that the batting needed to be trimmed, though Centsational Girl seemed to get her batting to slip in effortlessly - no lining up, no trimming.

No pic of the lining up process, sorry

After trimming the batting,  it's a simple matter of guiding the batting into the gigantic duvet cover just sewn and straightening it so that the batting corners fit into the cover corners. Once the batting is in place at the corners, I stitched the batting to the cover in a few places, along the fringe of the scarves. I don't have pictures of this process because in the tiny apartment in which I assembled this blanket, I had to slip the batting and then hang the blanket across a door and a few other structures to complete this task. Presumably, you have a more spacious apartment and won't have to spread you blanket across two separate rooms to get the batting into place.
hand stitch the open side of the cover
and you are done!

Once the batting is in place, be sure to lay the blanket flat, smooth the cover and batting and pin the open end to the batting in a handful of places. Hand stitch the open end of the blanket closed using a slip stitch, or whatever stitch rocks your world. Centsational Girl likes colorful and apparent stitches so she used very colorful thread. I prefer less apparent stitching, so I used a more subtle color.

The finished product in its usual place. 

Three final thoughts on this project. 1) I love the blanket (it is super warm), but would have liked it to be a bit more square. If I were to redo this project I would resize the batting 2) the blanket actually holds up really well. It has collected a few snags from heavy use, but that's hardly a problem. 3) I really like this project because when the cover eventually gives out or I grow tired of the colours, the batting can be used again and again.

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