Monday, March 17, 2014

Softball Fleece Tie Blanket

Hey, World! Fastpitch softballs are YELLOW! 

Baseballs: small and white
Softballs: big and yellow

Yes, white used to be the standard color, but yellow has been standard for softballs since 2004.

If you are a softball family like me, you know a good solid blanket is a key part of the game day gear. Spectators and players can wrap up in it to keep warm, or can spread it out on the grass for a comfortable resting spot on a warm day.

I had an itch to make a quick no-sew tie fleece blanket with a softball theme in our team colors. What I found was a lot of fleece with white balls, intended to apply for baseball and softball. That just will not do! 

Here's what I came up with.

Here is what you'll need to make a similar blanket:
  • 2 yards each of any two colors of fleece. There are a couple kinds of fleece, and you want the kind that is not super "stretchy". Look for sales!
  • 1 yard bright yellow fleece will make two large softballs. I used them to make two blankets.
  • A special marker from the craft store that wipes off with a damp cloth. Don't get the kind that disappears in an hour unless you're a quicker stitcher than me!
  • Tape measure
  • Masking tape
  • Sharp sewing scissors
  • Red and florescent yellow embroidery floss, I strongly recommend DMC brand.
  • Straight pins and a large embroidery needle
  • Optional: a small piece of fleece with matching embroidery floss to add a number or logo

Here are the basic steps I used.
  • Use something large, like a round laundry basket to trace a circle from yellow fleece with your special marker. You can fold the fleece in half to cut two circles at once. Or you can cut smaller circles to add several softballs instead of one large one.
  • Create a curved pattern for the softball seams. I freehanded one half of a smooth arch on a piece of paper and flipped it over to create the other half of a symmetrical arch. Tip: draw the arch quickly, and don't overthink it. Trace onto the yellow circle with your special marker.
  • Use two strands of black embroidery floss to backstitch the seams. See Youtube for many tutorials on back stitching if needed.
  • Lay the two large pieces of fleece on top of each other. If there is a right size to your fleece, put it on the outside (faced down, and faced up). The fleece on which you wiant to place the softball should be on top. Trim off the edges if there is a thick curl or finish. Trim both pieces of fleece to make them very close to the same size and shape.  
  • Place the yellow softball in the middle of the top piece of fleece. Use a tape measure to make sure it is centered. Pin it to the top piece of fleece, using as many pins as you can around the outside of the circle. Set the bottom piece of fleece aside.
  • Sew the sotball to the large fleece with bright yellow floss using a blanket stitch. See Youtube for many tutorials. Remove your pins.

  • Use red floss to create the stitching along the seams. You'll want to make the red stiches longer than you think, at least a half inch per stitch. I made them too small and had to re-do them twice! The red stitches should go through the yellow circle and the large piece of fleece to help hold the softball to the blanket.

  • Optional: Trace a number or logo onto a piece of fleece, and attach it to the center of the softball, using the blanket stitch.
Type a number into a document, increase the font size, and print for a pattern.
Trace a logo on a t-shirt using tissue paper for a pattern.

  • Once again, place your two large pieces of fleece on top of each other with the right sides out. Line up the edges as closely as possible. They can be off by a fraction of an inch, but trim if necessary.
  • Use your tape measure and masking tape to mark a border 4 inches from the edge, all the way around the blanket.
  • Cut off the corners of the blanket, from the edge to the tape, removing 4"squares. Cut 1-inch wide strips all the way around the blanket, using the taped border as a guide for how deep to cut. Remove the tape.
  • Double-knot every-other strip to attach the two pieces of fleece. The knots should be tight so they don't come undone, but be very careful not to cinch them too tightly toward the base of the strips. The blanket will pucker and won't lay flat if they are cinched too tightly. You'll also want the knots to be tied consistently. 
  • Flip the blanket over so the back color is on top, and tie the remaining strips. This helps the blanket look good from both sides.

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