Color-blocked fleece blanket

size: 46"x54"

June 2009

From a LOT of other fleece blanket projects, I had accumulated a LOT of fleece remnants. These remnants ranged from substantial (could almost be used by themselves) to small (but large enough that I was unwilling to throw it away). I didn't want to throw them away because they were almost useful, if only I could think of what to make with them.

Then, a stroll past the fleece aisle at my Joann's store provided the inspiration: one of the bolts of ready-made fleece was of large blocks of different colored fleece stitched together with a serger cover stitch! That was what I was going to do with my own remnants .... stitch them together into my own patchwork fleece blanket!

However, I don't own a serger. BUT, my Janome 6500 sewing machine has a number of different strtch stitch-type stitches and I played around with a number of them to see which would work best as far as joining sections of fleece together. The stitch needed to not only join the sections together but yield a flat result. A plain zig-zag was obviously unsuitable; it would fall apart with the first tug. In the following picture, the stitch modes I refer to are from my Janome 6500.

Stitch E is the commercial seam on the patchwork fleece that I purchased. It is a cover stitch; feels flat on the right side. On the wrong side, both layers of seam allowances are pushed to one side and stitched through; it feels bulky.

Stitch A is Mode 2, stitch 31. Stitch 31 is a feather stitch. I sewed a standard 1/4" seam first, then spread the seam allowances open before I proceeded with stitch 31. This resulted in an attractive and flat join but the feather stitch takes soooooo long to sew and since I was stitching from the right side, it was a challenge to keep the seam allowances open.

Stitch B is Mode 2, stitch 68. Stitch 68 is kind of an "anchored" zig-zag stitch: on either end of the zig-zag, a very small backstitch is done to anchor the stitch. Oh My Goodness ... this stitch is S-L-O-W. For this sample, I simply butted the sides of the fleece up against each other and stitched them together. Unfortunately, the resultant join is not very sturdy; pulling on the fleece causes gaps in the stitches. Ergo, this sample is Unacceptable. P-tooey!

Stitch C is Mode 2, stitch 68 (again). This is the same stitch as B but I first sewed a 1/4" seam allowance! Much sturdier! On the wrong side, I tried two different seam allowance treatments: on the top part of the seam, I opened up the seam allowance flat; the bottom part of the seam had both layers of the seam allowance pushed to one side. Stitch 68 was then stitched from the right side. Both resulted in a very sturdy and flat seam.

Stitch D is a plain zig-zag, done with the pieces of fleece overlapping each other. While this is a very sturdy seam and nicely flat, it isn't as tidy looking on the wrong side as it is on the right side. This is because while stitching from the right side, I could make sure that the zig-zag went over the raw edge of the fleece. I couldn't ensure the same thing was happening on the wrong side. As a result, back side looks slightly messy.

So, what stitch combination did I finally choose? Well, the winner is .... Stitch C! :-) Yes, it did take quite a bit of time to allow the slow stitch 68 to progress down the very long seamlines, but it resulted in a very sturdy blanket. Since this blanket is to be given to the local charity I support, being sturdy was a prime consideration. After squaring it up, I finished the blanket with double-fold bias left over from a previous project. It just turned out that all the colors in the print fabric of the bias coordinated very nicely with the colors of the fleece! Definitely a win-win situation, as I not only was able to use up some almost-useable fleece leftovers but also use bias I had previously made. :-)

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