Cutting a Wedding Dress into a Baby Blanket
Would you believe this was made from parts of a wedding dress? Yep! I'll prove it!
A new customer, Julie, reached out to me requesting that I use her wedding dress to create two baby blankets. However, she wanted to use as little of the dress as possible to be able to have plenty left over for an unknown number of future grandbabies. It was her idea to create a baby blanket and sew a small square into the center of each of them. I'm excited to share how I created this with you!
The first step was to create the foundation and decide what I wanted for the blanket. While Julie trusted me completely, which I loved, she did request the blanket be receiving blanket sized, thicker than flannel, satin bound, and with the wedding dress piece in the center. It also needed to be all white. These were pretty good guidelines to work from!
Fleece Fabric- Originally purchased on Etsy but I found this on Amazon (1 yard would work for this project)
Creating the Baby Blanket:
For the receiving size, I took two pieces of fleece fabric about 30" x 36", and laid them on top of each other.
One of the best tips I can give you with fleece fabric is to take your time and don't expect the exact measurement you have in mind.
It's finicky, shifts, and seems like it's 36" but you look again and it's 34". Take your time smoothing it out. I used basting pins to keep it together once smooth and then cut the ends again. I kept them in until I finished binding. This process may be easier with just using one piece of fleece, but I wanted that thickness in the final product of two pieces of fleece.
Satin Binding Tips:
I love the look of a satin binding on a baby blanket! My overall blanket was about 30" x 36", so one Wright's pack of satin binding was perfect. This is my favorite brand of satin binding. It comes in every color you would need and is of great quality. You can usually find what you want in an Amazon search but your local hobby store probably has all of the colors!
Some tips that I've found:
Take your time: Seriously. Take the time to line up the binding along the edge of the blanket and clip it. Sew several inches slowly, then stop. Make sure you're sewing along the edge of the binding. It's very easy to get off track with this and it's not so forgiving to seam rip. This was by far the longest process of this project.
Make sure your corners line up to miter: Stop about 6" before the edge of the blanket. Align the binding over the edge of the blanket down to the corner and pin. Roughly gather enough binding on the edge to miter your corner. Then, clip the binding down the next side of the blanket. It seems silly, but clipping down the next side helps a lot with the alignment of the binding and helps the corner come together at that perfect point. Take your time making sure the top and bottom of the mitered corners are identical (or as close as possible). By doing this carefully, you ensure that the top and bottom of the mitered corner are sewn together in one zig-zag stitch.
Pick a thread that matches very closely: This was the first project I've ever used an invisible thread on, and I loved the result! In the past, I would use colors either matching the blanket or the binding. Overall, it would look good but I wasn't so confident in my stitching to have it stand out. The invisible thread helped my stitches to really blend in and let the wedding dress piece be the showcase of the quilt!
Cutting the Dress:
I was excited that Julie gave me free rein while choosing where to cut from the dress. She wanted to keep enough to use for future grandbabies, though. We decided, together, to use about a 7.5" square, which I happen to have a ruler for! On my ruler, I have an 'X' marked with a sharpie. This allows me to see the exact center point of the square. With it, I 'auditioned' different places on the dress that could be used for the blanket. I definitely wanted to utilize the scallop edging in one, and for the other, I chose to have the pearls and beading showcased in the center.
I cut a tiny bit larger than my template, then took the piece to my cutting mat to carefully center and cut. I found it easier to have the beading facing down (wedding dress upside down) to use my ruler and cut.
How to Iron Silk:
This was a first for me!! And definitely a little stressful. I was not about to ruin this piece of wedding dress that I just cut! After several Google searches, I was confident in a low iron setting and a quick press. I did not leave the iron in one place too long. I would run the iron over the fabric and then lift it to make sure I wasn't damaging it. This process definitely made the end result look more professional and clean.
Sewing the Wedding Dress:
With my 1/4" double-sided tape, I carefully placed a piece along the BACK of all four raw edges of the wedding dress (with the exception of the scalloped edge-more on this to come). I even more carefully folded the dress over the tape, to create a 1/4" folded hem. Without the tape, I knew I couldn't create a perfect square. It would be a little wavy on each side. If I chose not to fold the edges under and leave the edges raw, there was the possibility of fraying in the future which is not ideal with an heirloom blanket.
With the finished baby blanket, I folded it twice to find the center point. I placed my wedding dress piece in the center of the baby blanket, using a ruler to make sure it was actually centered. Next, I took four small pieces of double-sided tape to secure each side of the wedding dress piece down smoothly and to keep it from shifting. A fun fact about silk is that you can't just pin it like normal quilting/sewing projects. Below, you can see I pinned the lace under to sew, but pinning the silk leaves holes that unfortunately don't go away!
From here, I switched to regular white cotton thread and did a top stitch around the wedding dress square. I made sure that the piece stayed flat. I had no issues with my needle/machine and the double-sided tape. I sew through this regularly for various projects and it works fine! I did find that my invisible thread was not strong enough to make it through all of these layers and the tape, so I quickly made the decision to switch to my regular cotton thread.
For the scalloped edge wedding dress piece, I sewed around the three straight edges. I folded about 1/4" of the edge of the lace under (where the pins are) so this wouldn't fray later. I very carefully followed along the scalloped edge with my sewing machine. I did this at the top of the lace as well as the bottom.
The end result is something I am so excited to share!
I'm not sure if I'll ever agree to cut another wedding dress. Especially more than just one square!
Share your wedding dress recycling tips/projects below! Follow me @southernsewingcompany on Instagram to see my latest projects or connect :)