By Christina VanGinkel
If you want to make a gift for the next toddler whose birthday party you are invited to, because you know they already have every toy imaginable, make them a tied fleece blanket. These are not only easy to do, thanks to some manufacturers now cutting the fleece to size and pre-packaging it as a ready to go kit, it is even easier than before (if that is possible!). Add to that the wide range of colors and designs to choose from, including many favorite cartoon characters, and it will be a big hit with the birthday child.
What they are, you might be asking, is a cozy blanket that is a piece of fleece, or two pieces layered for an extra cozy one, whose edges are cut into strips and tied. For the single or double layer ones, cut even width strips, approximately one to two inches wide, by about eight inches deep, around the edge of each fleece square. For the single layered blankets, you simply tie each strip in a knot. For the double-layered ones, it is the same, except you match up the pieces and ties the strips in knots two layers at a time. You can also go back on the double-layered ones and with a yarn needle and short pieces of yarn, and tack the two layers together. Simply run the needle though both layers and ties each loop in a secure knot in random places over the blanket.
Fleece is available in not only solid colors and a variety of pleasing patterns such as flowers, animals, geometrics designs, strips, plaids, and more, but it also comes printed in a variety of kid pleasing characters, such as Sponge Bob Square Pants, Bob the Builder, and assorted Disney characters such as Cinderella.
Finish the gift to perfection by making a simple bag for the blanket to be stored in when not in use. It can also double as a pillow on the child's bed during the day. With pieces of fleece to match the blanket, cut two squares large enough to allow the folded blanket to lie flat, allowing an edge all the way around of about six inches, on all four sides. Cut strips as you did for the blanket on three sides. Tie the same way you did for the blanket, except doubling it if you originally made only a single layered blanket. With the fourth side, sew a simple whipstitch to give the edge a finished look, using yarn in a matching color with a large yarn needle. If you are proficient at sewing, you could also sew a fold around the opening to create a cord pocket to pull the opening closed. Make a matching cord out of leftover strips of fleece, braided together to provide strength. The blanket can be a snug fit in the bag, as long as it fits and shuts. Fold the blanket and tuck inside the pouch before giving. Any child will love receiving a blanket of fleece, especially in a color or character that they love, and the parent's will appreciate that you put the effort into making their child a gift from the heart.