Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sensory Time! A weighted blanket and a bit of navel gazing.

So, I know it's been a while since my last post. I'll get to that at the end, and for those not interested, you can skip it. Now for the sewing! I've mentioned in the past that my oldest son is on the autism spectrum and has some sensory issues. The same is true for my Duncan. Duncan has sensory seeking behaviors, which means he wants all the feels! It makes it very hard for him to focus on a task (even if that task is just eating breakfast) because he wants to feel all the things. His OT recommended a weighted blanket for him. They're sort of insanely expensive and since they're heavy, they're also costly to ship. So, I made him one.
And I'm so glad I did. We've only had it 12 hours and I can already see that it is helping him regulate. Why did I wait so long?!
And the answer is that I hate sewing straight lines and the process of filling 350 teeny pouches of flannel with itty bitty plastic beads filled me with dread. But it wasn't as bad as all that, and if you are considering making one for your little person, please let me encourage you to do it now! And I'll throw in a few tips I learned as I made this one.
I started with this tutorial on the Dandelion Mama blog. I made some alterations to make this work for us. I made my blanket a little longer than hers, so I used 1 1/2 yard lengths of fabric. I also used flannel rather than quilting cotton. While this makes for a very snuggly and soft blanket, it was also extremely difficult to fill each pouch with the pellets, since the fabric sticks to itself. A smooth quilting cotton would have been much easier.
The individual pouches are a little difficult to see. For Duncan's blanket, I made 3 inch wide channels (which I marked with a Frixion pen) and then 2 inch "boxes" to capture the pellets. I marked my lines before I started sewing so that the grid was there before I began. The trickiest part is definitely sewing closed those little packets of pellets, but if you go slow and feel along your stitching as you go, it's not too bad. I actually managed to sew up this blanket without breaking any needles. I just went slowly.
I left myself a little extra room at the top, which turned out to be a good thing, because keeping the pellets under control gets a little tricky as you run out of space in the channels. After I closed the last line of pouches, sealing in the pellets, I serged off the extra length and turned it under and stitched it. I'm not sure it is the prettiest finish I could have managed, but it is secure! I don't want those pellets escaping.
When I first gave it to him, he spent a lot of time exploring the feel of it. The pellets give it an interesting texture, and the flannel is very soft. He touched it with his hands, then explored it with his feet.
But it wasn't long before he figured out how good it felt to be enveloped in all that weight.
He carried it around everywhere yesterday. He even brought it with him in the car when we went to get the big kids from school, and he snuggled in it to go to sleep. I left it on him all night, and he slept an unprecedented 11 hours, and then woke up cheerful! Just for a restful night's sleep for all of us, I have to give this blanket a big win.

So, that's the sewing, You can skip the rest if you wish, but I wanted to put it out there. If you've been following me for long, you've probably noticed that my posting has really dropped off. I hate it when bloggers disappear without any explanation (I worry!) and I'm not planning to disappear altogether, but I just haven't been feeling the yen to blog lately. I've still been sewing. A lot. Because I have to sew like I have to breathe. I know you guys understand that. Blogging just hasn't been a priority. I'll still blog bigger projects (like this one) or new patterns, but really, do you want to read about my 400th Renfrew? Yeah, me either. So, that's it. I'm fine. I'm still here. Tweet at me and say Hi! I'll be around! But the blog might be a little quieter. That's all.

19 comments:

  1. I made a weighted vest for my grandson when he was little. I've never really thought about a blanket. Jacob's eleven now and 5' 4" already so it would take a large blanket. If it helped him sleep better it would be worth it. Where did you get the pellets? We live in Texas so I wonder if it would be really hot. It looks great. Glad he loves it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I got the pellets at Michael's, so I'm sure you could find them there. If you used a lighter weight fabric, I don't think it would be terribly hot. The pellets add weight, but don't really insulate. I think quilting cotton would be fine for the Texas summer. He wouldn't be using it outside anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Even if weighted blankets weren't stupidly expensive, just this great flannel print would have made this a wonderful blanket for Duncan. How wonderful that you have solved a problem for your little guy!

    ReplyDelete
  4. What a wonderful gift for Duncan. What a lovely mother you are :-) I think you should just blog to suit yourself and we'll come and read it. Glad yu are OK though :-) - Sew Ruthie from http://ruthieksews1.blogspot.co.uk/

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm totally intrigued. What a concept and how well it works! Perfect fabric for driving that machine over, too.
    As for blogging, I'm with you. We all feel it when we phone it in and it's a chore- I know I cringe when I read post that feels like a duty- so I've backed off from blogging unless the writing and the sewing both feel like fun.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I've heard a lot about these weighted blankets and their benefits. I worry too so good to hear you aren't disappearing just appearing less often.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Obviously Duncan loves his new blanket and if it gave you a full night's sleep then it's worth it's weight in gold! I understand your feelings on the blogging front, even with new patterns I haven't made before I find it hard to say something new and interesting sometimes

    ReplyDelete
  8. I've said it before, but you are such a wonderful mom. I think about children I knew as a child who never received treatment and were labeled. Your children will grow and prosper rather than become lost adults. I truly admire you :)
    As for the blog, drop by whenever you can. As for me...I don't mind seeing the 400th whatever it may be ;)

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love this! I made a weighted lap thing for a student with autism that was in my class and saw a huge difference. I was so pleased I made one to send home with him too. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  10. this is Awesome!!!! It looks like he thinks it is too!

    ReplyDelete
  11. WOW, 11 hours of sleep--that is fantastic!
    I also worry when bloggers disappear so thanks for letting us know.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I'm new to your blog, but LOVE hearing the success stories about weighted blankets working so well for kids. That is why I do what I do - selling the plastic pellets. I try very hard to keep the price as low as I can so more of you who have these precious kiddos with the special needs can afford to buy them. Making the blankets can be intimidating but you can do it! And it is so worth it.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I think I need to try this blanket for Natalie. She doesn't sleep well. I wonder if it would help, and it would definitely be worth it if it did! I'm so glad he got sleep and woke up happy. That is a wonderful thing! I feel you on the blogging front. I've been not feeling it for quite a while now. I wish I could get back into it, but it just isn't happening.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks for letting us know! I too worry when bloggers disappear.
    What fabulous results with the weighted blanket! Those things are nice even without sensory issues. :)
    Congrats on sewing all the compartments without breaking a needle. I've made rice bags and those are super fiddly. A whole blanket is quite the job.

    ReplyDelete
  15. What a cool project for your kiddo! And I hear you on the blogging thing... sometimes even just posting a photo of a project and trying to write about it can be so daunting. But I see on Instagram how much you are sewing!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I am all "ditto" and "i feel ya" and "yes, sister!" about the lack of bloggy blog feelings AND about having a sensitive child. I love this idea of a weighted blanket, and as soon as our paychecks have some extra space I will go buy some of the pellets! I think though, I will need to make a duvet type of cover for it, as we are still potty training (and may be for sometime.) I love your posts, I read them all the time, but I will follow you through twitter and instagram! Thanks for posting and sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  17. A beautiful blanket for your sweet baby. That's wonderful that it's helping him too. I get the blogging thing too. Apparently I took 6 months off and didn't notice. I guess I needed to evaluate how much it's a part of my life and realize that I've missed this community of bloggers. It's good to be back, and I'm looking forward to whatever you have to share too!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I've read this post lots of times in the last week. You are a lovely mum. The blanket is beautiful and I love the pics of Duncan exploring it. Great concept. It's lovely to hear from you, but just blog when you feel like it, and we'll be here, just like Ruthie said. It's supposed to be a hobby, not a chore :-)

    ReplyDelete
  19. So happy to hear of your success. My grandson had similar issues. I recently made a shoulder rice pack that might be something you would find useful. You could resize it for the little one. The channels are easy to fill. Here's the link of you want to see it. http://www.athomebythebaye.com/2014/11/the-pinterest-shoulder-rice-heating-pad.html

    ReplyDelete