Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Embroidered Baby Swaddling Blanket

A few weeks ago, we had a baby shower for one of my friends. I was in the mood for a crafty project, so I embroidered a swaddling blanket for her, using a little owl pattern, since she is decorating her nursery with baby animals. Despite being a slightly larger project than my Embroidered Cocktail Napkins, the steps are exactly the same, and it's still fairly quick and super fun.  The stitching will take probably an afternoon or two, depending on how comfortable you are with embroidery.

A muslin swaddling blanket is great for stitching, given the loose weave of the fabric, but this pattern would be equally cute on little bibs, a decorative pillow, or framed for the nursery walls (you could even frame your work inside an embroidery hoop as seen here, here, and here).

So here's how I did it!

1) Find a Pattern

I used this darling pattern that I found on Pinterest.  It was meant for a stuffed plush owl, but it's equally perfect for embroidery.
(pattern from Denise Loves Art!)

2) Gather Supplies
Here's what you'll need:

Printed out pattern (it's a big blanket so I used a whole piece of 8.5"x11" paper)
Cardboard box, broken down
Embroidery Hoop (I used an 8" hoop)
Aden + Anais
Aden + Anais Swaddling Wrap (this brand was highly recommended by friends with babies)
Tapestry Needle, Size 22 or 24 (tips on choosing needle types and sizes)

3) Pick Floss Colors
I used the following embroidery floss colors, opting for a pink-hued palette, as my friend is having a little girl. Blue, green, brown, and yellow would be sweet for a little boy. Or use whatever colors tickle your fancy!
         Owl Outline: 838 - Beige Brown Very Dark
         Wing Outline: 3832 - Raspberry Medium
         Inner Wing Stitches: 3833 - Raspberry Light
         Inner Eye Circles: 676 - Old Gold Light
         Middle Eye Circles: 3833 - Raspberry Light
         Outer Eye Circles: 3832 - Raspberry Medium
         Beak: 676 - Old Gold Light

4) Trace the Pattern

This was actually the trickiest part of this project! Because the blanket was so cozy and thick, I couldn't see the pattern through the material. I was working at night; therefore, holding it against a lit window was out of the question.  So I had to get a little creative, cutting the pattern out of cardboard using the following steps:

Step 1: Cut out the owl with scissors.  Tape the paper pattern to a piece of cardboard, and trace the outline. Use an X-ACTO knife (and an extra piece of cardboard underneath to protect your work surface) to cut the around the outline.

Place the cardboard pattern wherever desired on the blanket (I chose a corner), and trace around it with the soluble pen.

At this point, it will look vaguely reminiscent of the Millennium Falcon. (Side Note: How cool would that be on a swaddling blanket?!)
Step 2: With the paper pattern, cut out the wings and along the bottom of the eyes and beak. Lay the remaining piece of the pattern on the cardboard. Trace around it, and cut along the lines, setting the cut-away pieces to the side.

Align the remaining cardboard pattern with the outline on the blanket, and trace the wings and the bottom of the eyes and beak.
Step 3: Now take the paper pattern of the owl's head, and cut around the top of the eyes and beak. Place on the cardboard head and trace. Cut along the lines, so that you're left with a cardboard pattern of just the eyes. (It'll look like cardboard owl sunglasses)

Line up that piece on the blanket and trace around the top of the eyes.
Step 4: Next, cut out the middle circle of one of the eyes from the paper pattern.  Place it on top of the blanket, centered on the eye, and trace around it for each eye. Repeat this method for the inner circles.
Step 5: Finally, I used the edge of a cardboard wing to fill in the wings. Line up the curved edge where you would like to place the lines, and follow the edge, drawing short dashes. Repeat until you have three dotted lines per wing to match the pattern.
Now you're finally finished tracing!

5) Start Stitching

We've made it to the fun part! Place the blanket in your embroidery hoop, and start stitching!  You can use whatever combination of colors and stitching techniques you would like to create your little owl, but here's what I did:
Owl Outline:

Using all six strands of the dark brown embroidery floss, back stitch along the outline the owl, leaving the outer edge of the wings un-stitched (see final picture for clarification).

(Note: Embroidery floss is made up of six strands, and you can vary how many strands you use to create thicker or thinner stitches.)


To embroider the wings, use all six strands of the darker pink floss and the stem stitch (I use Wild Olive's alternate stitch, as I find it much easier than the first technique). The stem stitch gives a little texture to the wings, like feathers. Then, with all six strands of the lighter pink, use back stitches to embroider the dotted lines on the wings.


Stitch the outer eye circles with all six strands of the darker pink floss and the back stitch. Switch to the lighter pink floss, and use all six strands to back stitch around the middle eye circles. Finally, switch to the pale yellow floss, and use all six strands to back stitch around the inner eye circles. Then use a horizontal fill stitch to fill in the center of the eyes.


With all six strands of the pale yellow floss, back stitch around the beak; then fill it out using a fill stitch.

6) Rinse

Now that you're done stitching, remove the blanket from the embroidery hoop, and rinse under cool water to remove the soluble ink. Once it's dry, you have an adorable, personalized, one-of-a-kind baby gift. Ta da!

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