How-To: DIY Winter Blanket from Repurposed Receiving Blankets

My daughter was a summer baby.  Born in early July, she lived in a t-shirt and diapers for the first few months of her life; it was too hot for anything else.  As the weather started to cool, though, I went in search of warm winter baby blankets that were both affordable and made from non-synthetic, breathable fabrics.

Wool was too expensive for us (and truthfully, it would probably be overkill here in Texas!), and I couldn’t find anything else that was made of natural fibers.  As I sat staring at the pile of little cotton flannel receiving blankets she had been given as a newborn, it occurred to me that those blankets could be repurposed into a new larger and warmer blanket. I searched the web for a little how-to, took out my scissors, and went to work.

Reasons to Repurpose Those Receiving Blankets

Cotton flannel receiving blankets always seem to multiply in great abundance whenever a baby is born. In reality, however, I found them to be sort of impractical – too small for swaddling, too big for burp cloths, too hot in the summer, and too thin in the winter. They are practically begging to be repurposed into something else.

Even if you love and use receiving blankets, babies outgrow them rather quickly. You can save them for the next child, but if you’re like me, you had far more blankets than you ever needed. This is the perfect project to put some of those blankets to use. It can even become a treasured heirloom for you and/or your child as they grow up.

In addition, they are made of 100% cotton – a natural, breathable fiber that is gentle on baby.  Yet the flannel is warm and soft, providing extra comfort  and coziness.  Here are a few tips for making a new warm winter blanket out of those tiny little flannels.

Things to Consider

1.  Choose a few different blankets that complement each other in color and pattern. I used five different blankets.  You can use as many or few as you want; it doesn’t really matter as long as you like the way they look together.

2.  Decide how big you want your blanket to be. I wanted it to be big enough to actually cover up my daughter’s whole body for a few years, and then be used as a throw blanket later, for times such as getting cozy on the couch. My finished blanket is about 33 x 55 inches.  Random size, I guess, but it’s fine – it doesn’t really matter too much.

This blanket is now three years old and well-loved.

3.  Get out some graph paper (or Adobe InDesign) and sketch out your blanket. Assign an inch to each square on the paper, and fill in colors to represent the colors of your blanket, arranging them until you like the way it looks.  My blanket uses a total of 15 patchwork squares: three of each pattern, arranged in three columns and five rows, and each finished square is approximately 11 inches wide.

You can make your squares as big or small as you want; there are no rules. I wanted maximum effect for minimum effort (since this was my first attempt at patchwork), so I chose to use large squares.

4. Decide what you will use for your backing. If you have an old sheet that you can repurpose, that would be perfect. Another old blanket or bedspread, or perhaps something from your fabric stash would also work well, as long as it is large enough, or can be pieced together to become large enough. I used cotton chenille; it is soft and warm, like flannel, but with a bit more heft to it.

Here you can see the cotton chenille backing on one side and the patchwork on the other.

Time to Sew

I am really not a seamstress, so for the specific instructions on sewing your blanket, I am going to refer you to the same tutorial I used (and have since used again and again).  It is excellent – very clearly written and simple to follow.  As I said, this was my first attempt at patchwork, and I was so pleased with the way it turned out.  Find the instructions here.

Note: this project is not a quilt, meaning that there is no batting between the two layers and it is not quilted. It is simply a patchwork top with a solid chenille backing. You could always add a layer of cotton or wool batting in between the layers if you wanted something even thicker and warmer – but I have never done that, so I won’t be any help!

I love having this blanket for my daughter, and she loves it, too. Now that she’s three, she refers to it as “the blanket Mama made for me,” and it’s her first choice for cozy winter cuddle times. I also love looking at the squares and remembering the little babe she used to be.

Do you have an excess of receiving blankets? Have you ever used them for another purpose? Please share your ideas!

Reading Time:

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18 Comments

  1. Erin Wallace

    I had SUCH an excess of receiving blankets. it was nuts. I sewed some into cloth wipes, used some as an occasional flat-fold cloth diaper (they work really well for that!), threw a handful into the play room to use for swaddling dollies, and gave a bunch away. I should have made a cute blanket–that’s adorable!

    I was recently at a baby shower and saw that someone who was crafty had purchased the pack of receiving blankets from the mama’s registry (the adorable ones that coordinated with her nursery), and made them into a patchwork tote bag. So fun to have a cute bag that coordinates to hang on a hook in the baby’s room and hold randomness! (at least, that’s what my tote bags always end up doing) I filed the idea away for future reference. 😉

  2. Kara

    Cute idea. 🙂 I’m saving this for someday when I have kids. Your blanket turned out really well.

  3. GranMom

    As I was readying your blog (very well written, by the way), I was thinking back to her first Christmas and that picture of her on the blanket – and then as I scrolled down – there it was! So happy to see it! Brings back many happy memories. It is a fantastic idea and as you said, an heirloom! Thank you for posting!

  4. priest's wife

    I have already given away most of the baby’s blankets- but this is such a great idea! Wish I had thought of it….

  5. Maria

    I sew mine into toddler sized bed quilts. That way they still have something snuggly and warm after they move out of the crib, and something new and special to celebrate moving into a big kid bed. I sell custom quilts made from customer’s own receiving blankets in my Etsy shop, Big Sister Designs.
    Great article!

  6. Amanda

    I only have a few blankets left-I always make mine into cloth wipes for the kids. But I think it’s time to dig out the ones I do have and try this! I love the picture too, so cute! I liked how she calls it “the blanket mama made for me”. That’s where are true memories are, and just think, she’ll probably save that blanket for her kids!

  7. Julia

    Looks lovely! I was thinking of using the remaining receiving blankets to make potholders too.

  8. Wardeh @ GNOWFGLINS

    That’s so cute, Katie! What a great idea — not only functional (repurposing), but wonderful in that it helps you hang on to the special memories carried by the receiving blankets.

  9. Nicole aka Gidget

    great idea, Katie! I always seem to have too many receiving blankets, especially since I really only use the ones my mom made me and not the store-bought one. I did cut up a couple to make into cloth wipes, but I love this blanket, too!

  10. Rachel P.

    When my daughter was born I was given ten 9 inch double-thick flannel squares at her baby shower. I hadn’t yet switched to cloth diapers, but they were very handy beforehand as wash cloths and spit cloths. Then they became essential for a very bad wave of colds and I switched to cloth diapering and needed more wipes. My second son’s receiving blankets were languishing in a drawer (he already had a special quilt he was very attached to) and so they became the new wipes with the help of my mother-in-law. They have become absolutely the most important fabric item in our home! Some for wipes, some for wash cloths and all are perfectly soft and sturdy. My daughter does not have a soft, warm quilt for herself so her receiving blankets are destined for that purpose. I plan on backing it with some second hand fabric that will be a “cool” side of the blanket with the flannel patchwork as the “warm” side. If you are a sewer receiving blankets are a great source for fabric.

  11. Nina

    they are great to use as throws on the floor for diaper changing. I actually used it on top of his dresser with a mattress cover for changing too. they are also great for tucking into our car seats to cover them for the dog when we go to the dog park (as well as infant towels) and for having in the car for random spills and wiping up messy faces and hands.

  12. Stephanie

    I’ve always used them as a cover for the changing tables in public restrooms. That way I know that the place I’m laying my son is clean. Seems like I have so many though that I could save a couple for that purpose and make a quilt from the rest! Great idea! Thanks.

  13. coolerNights

    Nice blog! I really appreciate you for this idea, your idea is very simple and so easy make the Blankets for our Babies.Thanks for sharing.

  14. Colleen

    I would love to give this a try but the link to the sewing instructions is not working -any suggestions? Thanks!

  15. Diane

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  16. kit

    Seems everyone cuts the baby blankets into lil squares ,i dont want to cut these up so guess i will find two contrasting materials cut them in 4inch wide long strips put batting between them and attach these blankets to these strips so a strip will go complwtely aroynd a blankt and be connected to another blanket shud work yes?

  17. Joy V.

    Oh my gosh thank you so much for motivating me to do something with my little ones blankets!! I never could part with them and they just sat in my hope chest forever! Both my daughter and son love their new blankets and I have you to thank for that! 🙂

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