If you’re looking for a quick no-sew patchwork project for your kids to make a nice homemade gift (always welcomed by grandmothers) or get creative indoors on a stormy day, consider a knotted fleece throw or lap quilt.
It’s easy for children who haven’t yet learned how to sew – especially with a cute kit that gives them all the pre-cut fabric squares and detailed instructions – but equally fun in a DIY flavor for grownups. You’ll find it a fun and low-stress creative project to keep your hands busy at TV time, or while you’re on the phone or waiting for an appointment.
Let’s talk about how to make your own in a minute… but first take a look at the Knot a Quilt craft kit for kids, to get a quick overview idea of the knotted fleece technique.
The Fleece Knot-a-Quilt Kit from Alex Toys is a Parents Choice award-winning product, intended for ages 6 and up – but we grown-ups get a kick out of crafts just as much as any 6-year-old kid.
You know, there are times when you want to work on a craft project where you can make fast progress and don’t have to concentrate all your attention to get it right. Best yet, Mom and Daughter can happily work on a knotted fleece blanket together – as long as you both agree on a color plan!
The basic concept is easy-peasy:
- Cut squares of fleece fabric,
- Fringe the edges,
- Tie the squares together.
Of course there is just a teensy little bit more to it than that…
Fleece is the fabric of choice because it won’t fray at the cut edges, it’s soft and cosy, it stands up to a lot of use without showing wear, and it washes well.
But you could also use a lightweight felt, but felt just doesn’t have the wear-and-tear durability (or the cosy factor) of fleece. That’s why it’s so often used for baby clothing and sporty outdoor gear.
Minky is another super-soft and very practical choice, if you’re going for a more luxury feel, but just be aware that it is a bit harder to tie the knots with minky fabric.
Choosing the fabric colors is great fun. Match your colors to your decor, or to the favorite colors of the person you’ll be giving a gift of a cosy handmade blankie – even plan to mix in some patterned fleece for special effect, if you like. Sports fans may appreciate a cosy throw that incorporates fleece printed with the logo of a favorite team, for example, or the little princess in your life might like a pink print with fairies and unicorns…
The remnants bin at your local craft or sewing shop, even a local department store, will usually turn up a pretty good selection of fleece at an affordable price, or you can always check good ol’ Amazon for printed polar fleece by the yard, if you can’t find what you want close at home. There’s an unlimited variety of colors and prints out there to mix and match, so every knotted fleece patchwork creation you make will be truly unique.
First, decide on the size of quilt you want to make.
Try 48 pieces (six rows of eight 9-inch squares) or 30 (five rows of six 11-inch squares) for a generous lap quilt size – say, about 3 x 4 feet overall – or go larger by adding more squares. Don’t forget to allow about 3 inches for the fringed part you’ll tie together – the knotted part won’t count in to the overall size of the blanket.
Draw out your grid on a piece of paper.
Your plan doesn’t have to be fancy, and you don’t even have to use a ruler, though if you’ve got a piece of graph paper lying around that will make it really neat and easy. What you want is a rough outline of the layout you’ll use – for example 5 across and 6 up and down, if you’re thinking of using 11-inch squares.
Next, plan where your colors will go.
Grab some crayons or colored pencils, and just try out different color combinations until you have a plan that you like. You can also cut out squares of paper for each color and lay them out on the floor to get an even better idea of what the blanket will look like when it’s done.
TIP: I recommend no more than 6 different fabric colors for a lap quilt, or it can start to look really busy. If you want to mix in a few printed pieces – very effective, especially if you bring in some prints that reflect the hobbies and interests of the person who will be getting the blanket – just make sure the prints are in the same color family or contrasting in a way that will work well with the solid colors. In fact, if you plan to use prints, I’d suggest that you pick out your patterned fabric first, then pick your solid colors to match or coordinate. That’s much easier than trying to find a nice print to match a particular color!
A simple square knot will do. (You may know the square knot as a reef knot – it’s the same thing, just with a different name.)
Keep your paper plan of the layout nearby as you start to knot together your squares of fleece, so you’ll find it easy to keep track of which colors to put together in what order.
You’ll probably find it easiest to knot together all the squares for each row first, then go back and knot each row together, as shown in the kit instructions in this how-to video. It’s the method suggested in the kit instructions as well.
When you get really good at the knotted fleece technique, you may think of other projects you want to make using the same technique – a cushion cover for an accent pillow, for example, or a fun patchwork scarf or hood.
You can even make a super-warm blanket or clothing item by putting two squares of fleece back to back and knotting them as if they were just one, for a double-thick item.
Use your imagination, and have fun!
Top photo: Fleece Tie Blanket (modified)