One of my top five favorite baby items when I first had P were those gorgeous Aden and Anais muslin swaddle blankets. They are huge and soft and sheer. They're perfect as sunshades for babies in the summer because they stay cool and they're a good size for nursing covers. Lots of boutique stores (and Buy Buy Baby) carry most of the prints, there are stripes, animals, polka dots, cupcakes... I really recommend them for a baby gift if you need one! Target carries a limited selection of prints for a significantly discounted price. Speaking of the price, they are a little steep. I figured, "How hard can it be to find this soft, natural muslin?" Well, the answer is pretty hard. I have not been able to find the exact quality, texture and softness of those blankets!
The closest thing that I've found is cotton gauze. You'll see it out now that the weather is warming up, I picked some up at Joann's for $6.99/yd in the apparel fabrics. There were quite a few bright solids and white, of course. The white was by far the softest so I chose that for my baby blankets. I'm thinking that the more it's washed and worn the softer it will get.
Each blanket takes 1 1/4 yard. I wanted two so I bought 2 1/2 yards; washed, dried and ironed it; trimmed off the selvages, split the piece in half and squared everything up. I found that snipping and ripping was the best way to get a straight line since this fabric is kind of wavy and stretchy. Then just go to the ironing board (get yourself a nice book on tape or something) and start pressing the raw edges under 1/4 inch then under another 1/4 for the hem. (I did not miter the corners.) Next just sew around the edges with matching or contrast thread!
Now for the fun part! I wanted patterns similar to the Aden and Anais blankets so I busted out the trusty Tulip Soft Fabric Paint in matte, some foam stamps I picked up at Hobby Lobby a couple years ago ($1.99-99 cents for a sheet), and some cheap foam brushes. My dear friend, H, is having a boy so I decided to do animals on one and transportation on the other--you know, boy stuff!
I covered my coffee table with freezer paper, squeezed some paint on a paper plate and got stamping.
One thin, even coat looks the best! Dab paint onto the stamp with the foam brush.
Don't rock the stamp, press firmly all the way around so you get a clear impression on the edges too.
Don't forget to mix colors if you can't find the perfect shade (or don't want to buy a million tubes of paint). I have mostly primary colors that I mix until I get what I want, but mix enough at once for the whole blanket so you don't change shades part way through.
If the stamp isn't exactly what you want, change it! I went back with a foam brush and blotted out the faces on my goofy monkey and lion so I had less cartoonish animal shapes.
Decide the 'pattern' before you start stamping, but don't stress about it! I didn't measure or anything like that, just eye it and do what looks right! For the cars and train blanket I stamped all the trains then went back and filled in with cars. The animals I did one row at a time from top to bottom and just kept changing stamps/colors with each row. I think the train/car blanket went faster.
Let the paint dry a few hours before handling, heat set with a hot iron and wait about 72 hours before washing.
P recognized these blankets as soon as he saw them and grabbed them off my work table to snuggle! He sleeps with an Aden and Anais blanket almost every night.
Since these are hand stamped, every impression is a little different. I think that just makes them more special. They're handmade without looking home-made. Think of all the things you could do! I love the idea of getting some letter stamps and creating a print with initials or just a single initial. They can also be packaged in so many cute ways, roll them up and tie with ribbon, maybe tie a small toy on top or stuff them in a basket with other baby goodies. You could even gift a baby book along with blankets decorated with colors and images from the book. Wouldn't a set of Goodnight Moon or Hungry Catterpillar blankets be awesome! Can't wait to make more!