How to Sew DIY Muslin Swaddle Blankets
Sew your own soft, light, and amazingly crinkly DIY muslin swaddle blankets for baby with my quick and easy tutorial.
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If you have babies in your life, you may be familiar with the popular swaddle blankets (like these) that are soft, light, and amazingly crinkly. They are perfect for gifts and since I love making my own, today I decided to share my DIY muslin swaddle blankets tutorial with you!
Before I dive into this post, let’s chat quick. Probably few of you need a tutorial how to make a plain old square baby blanket/swaddle. However, when making these DIY muslin swaddle blankets, there are a couple of keys to make sewing them SO much easier, and I wanted to share them with you.
For those who prefer a step-by-step tutorial, I’ve included that as well. But, the real meat of this tutorial comes from my tips on how to choose the right fabric and how to straighten it correctly (so important!) before stitching up your blankets.
DIY Muslin Swaddle Blankets
What are swaddle blankets made from?
Trick question! Oftentimes these blankets (made so popular by brands like Aden and Anais) are referred to as “muslin swaddle blankets”. Because they are so well-known as “muslin”, that is how I’m referring to them here. However, when shopping you’ll instead want to look for a fabric called “double gauze”.
Double gauze has the special trait of being two layers of lightly woven fabric that are interwoven together. The two layers form a fabric that is sturdy, yet light and airy. And don’t be fooled by its slightly stiff feel on the bolt. After washing, double gauze becomes soft, fluffy, and full of crinkles. Perfect for wrapping up sweet babes!
Where can I buy double gauze fabric?
The best place to find this fabric is a legit fabric store or online. Sometimes the large chain craft stores will be selling “gauze”, but it’s usually a single layer. Which is ok, but you won’t get the same results as with true double gauze. And if you choose to buy online, always read the description to make sure you are buying what you expect!
I prefer shopping brick-and-mortar for fabric, but you can also find double gauze on Etsy, Fabric.com, and plenty of other online fabric stores. I like the Shannon Fabrics Embrace line as a place to start.
What size should a swaddle blanket be?
Aim for a blanket that is 40” square or larger. Popular swaddles on the market today are generally about 45-47” square, so you may wish to follow those guidelines. I usually just plan to square off whatever width of fabric I buy (the Shannon Embrace line is about 48” wide) and the blankets I make are plenty big! While the swaddling stage in a baby’s life is short, these blankets can be used for SO much more. So, really any size you can make will be useful.
Should I wash my fabric first?
Normally I always advocate washing/drying fabric before using it. However, since these blankets can be flexible in sizing, I like to sew before washing. Since washing makes this fabric super fluffy and crinkly, I find it easier to square off the fabric and sew straight hems prior to washing.
There will be a bit of shrinkage afterwards (cotton fabric after all), but since these are just blankets, I always just cut the blanket into as large a square as I can (based off the bolt width), and allow the shrinkage to happen post-sewing and it’s not a big deal.
You could alternatively opt to wash, dry, AND iron the fabric first before cutting/sewing.
How to Sew Your Own DIY Muslin Swaddle Blankets – step by step tutorial
- About 1.5 yds of 45-48” wide double gauze fabric, or enough yardage to sew a square blanket*
- Sewing supplies: sewing machine, thread, pins, and measuring tape.
*Note: I always buy more than enough fabric to make a square blanket because I want to ensure I have plenty of yardage to straighten the fabric. My go-to is to buy 1.5 yards per blanket (I then save scraps for other projects).
Straighten the fabric
Besides choosing the correct fabric, straightening your fabric is the key to a successful swaddle blanket! Don’t skip this step. Fabric isn’t cut perfectly at the counter, so you’ll want to straighten the cut edges before sewing your blanket.
Double gauze usually has sort of a “grid” pattern within the weave of the fabric. If your fabric has this, you can simply follow one of the grid lines and trim up each cut edge of the fabric to straighten it. OR, you can use the following method:
- Lay the fabric out on a flat surface and pick a cut side to start from.
- Snip the selvage edge a tiny bit and begin to pull down one or two crosswise threads. Alternate gently pushing the fabric and pulling the threads to avoid breaking the threads before you’ve made it to the end.
- Now, cut along where the thread was pulled out. Repeat on the other cut side of the fabric.
- Tips: Oftentimes it’s hard to know how much trimming to do for straight edges. In this case, choose a grid line (or a point in the pattern if your fabric doesn’t have those lines) a few inches in from the edge and follow it up the fabric with your finger. If your line “falls off” the fabric, go in a bit further. Or, if you have lots of fabric left in the “trim zone”, try moving your cut point out a bit more so you can save fabric. Another tip: If your thread breaks before you reach the top of the fabric you can use the tip of a pin to pull it out from the fabric again and continue.
Sew the baby blanket
Now that you have straight edges, it’s time to cut the fabric into a square. I find the quickest way to do this is to fold the fabric in a triangle up to the top edge and trim off the excess. Keep things straight (use the grid lines of the fabric if you can) and don’t cut until you are good and ready!
Now it’s time to hem up the swaddle blanket.
Use a ruler to guide you in pinning up the hems. I go for a ½” fold over hem. Which means, I find the ½” point, fold up the hem, measure another ½” and then fold it up again and pin. You can see here that the “grid” within the weave of the fabric helps too!
Stitch the hem (close to the inside edge for sturdiness), removing pins as you sew.
Next side: Repeat the process and fold in the sewn edge along with the rest of the fabric as you pin it up. Stitch hem.
Repeat for the final two sides. Trim excess threads and now go wash your DIY muslin swaddle blankets! Washing up the fabric is my favorite part because the fabric loses its stiffness and gets soft and crinkly.
What double gauze fabric looks like before washing:
What double gauze fabric looks like after washing:
I hope these tips helped you sew your very own DIY muslin swaddle blankets! They really are so fun to make, and they are the perfect gift for little ones. Share with me in the comments if you give it a try!
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Why do you wash the fabric after sewing and not before? It is because it’s flatter before washing, when it crinkles up so nicely?
Normally I always wash/dry fabric before cutting it. However, since washing makes this fabric super fluffy and crinkly, I find it easier to square off the fabric and sew straight hems prior to washing.
I don’t really worry about shrinkage, since it’s just a blanket. You certainly could wash and dry the fabric first if you would like, but I think in that case I would plan to lightly iron it so that you can straighten/cut it more easily. Hope that helps! =)
Hi..just have a quick question. To be clear.. do I separate the two “layers” of gauze and then square up? Or, are you basically straightening up the double layers? Thanks in advance.
Thanks for your question! The layers of gauze fabric, while technically two layers, are so interwoven that it becomes a single layer as far as cutting and sewing is concerned. The “double layer” quality is what cause the fabric to puff and crinkle when washed. When you pull out a thread to straighten the fabric that will give you a nice guideline to work from and you should just be able to trim away the excess fabric to square things up. Hopefully that helps!
Thank you. Great instructions and tips. First Grandchild on the way, I love sewing and these will be made with Love.
Thanks so much Kim! Congrats on your first Grandchild–so sweet! =)
Thanks so much! As a total sewing newbie I was wondering, how to prevent the hems from fringing. Thanks for taking the time to describe and show the solution of a double folded hem. It may seem totally obvious to anyone who has sewn before. But for a beginner this is so useful! I was searching all over the internet for an easy tutorial like yours. Now I can do it!
Best wishes from Germany!
Thank you so much Judith! I’m glad this was helpful as you are learning to sew–it is such a fun hobby! =)
Thanks for visiting!
Would you recommend ironing the muslin fabric then pinning? I still seem to have uneven sewing lines despite watching my speed and precision.
First time mum and amateur sewer!
If the muslin is fresh off the bolt, I don’t iron it. I just straighten the edges as shown in the tutorial and then watch my grainlines as I pin the hems.
If your fabric has been washed or is just super crinkly and hard to work with, you can try ironing and that should make it a lot easier to get nice straight seams. The seams on the blankets definitely do not have to be perfect, since it’s just a simple square (versus a garment or something that requires more precision).
I hope that helps and happy sewing for your little one! =)
Thanks so much! This project was so much easier with your tutorial. I so appreciate your advice.
Thanks for your kind words Darlene! =)
Hi! I want to embroider a name on it, should I embroider one layer and then sew another layer onto the back? Or did you just use a single layer throughout?
Hi Jordon! Yes, the blanket is just a single layer. If you want a neat reverse side after embroidering then yes, you might want to opt for two layers. You’d want to do something similar to this easy baby blanket tutorial for that: https://melaniekham.com/easiest-baby-blanket-ever-sewing-diy/
Hope that helps! =)
This is a great article.
Since there will be shrinkage after washing, and I want the end result to be a swaddling blanket measuring
47″ x 47″, how much bigger should I cut it to allow for the shrinkage? Instead of cutting 48″ x 48″ (because of the double 1/2 hem), should I cut it? ( 50″ x50″????)
Hi there Lucy! Thank you!
Most of the double gauze fabric you’ll find is about 48″ wide, so it’s actually going to be tricky to get a blanket larger than that unless you want to add borders. I would cut it as large as you can and you can always lightly steam iron the blanket after sewing/washing and the crinkles will stretch back out if that makes sense. You can also make a slight rectangle (cut the fabric a bit longer than the bolt measurement, so like a 48″x50″ piece of fabric).
Have fun sewing! 🙂