The Great DIY Weighted Blanket Experiment

Adventures in making your own weighted blanket using nothing but duct tape, rice and sheer determination.

Happy panda with a bowl of rice on a picnic blanket

I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to consider a weighted blanket for my kids.

Maybe because they’ve always been pretty good at settling at night, until we moved house last year and they had a room of their own for the first time. This has taken some getting used to. We’ve tried to find the right kind of night light, experimented with a fan on for white noise and letting the dog sleep in the room. Letting the dog sleep on their bed. Letting the dog sleep on the floor when they argued over who got the pillow.

Then I remembered that lots of people find weighted blankets to be comforting at night. I got to work researching where to buy one and quickly found out that (a) there were none close by and (b) those suckers are expensive. I wasn’t sure the kids were even going to want the blanket, so it seemed a little risky.

I figured making my own would be a great low-risk solution, completely ignoring the fact that I have no skills of any kind. But hey, I’m a crafting optimist.

Cut to a couple of hours of internetting later and I had become despondent at all the tutorials touting “It’s sew easy!” (see what they did there), and talk of exotic things like seams and stitching and cotton batting. I’ll let you in on a secret. I don’t know how to sew.

Oddly, this has in no way dampened my enthusiasm for collecting vintage sewing patterns, of which I have over 500 for no reason other than they’re completely and utterly awesome and I am in intense fascination with every single one of them.

See?

Look at how awesome this is. How could this not make you insanely happy.

The collars!
The sling-backs!
The Farrah Flip!

I digress.

Just as I was getting sick of people telling me how easy it would be to sew my own blanket, I stumbled across instructions to make one when you don’t know how to sew. Like an oasis in my crafty-skills desert, here was this awesome post telling me that all you needed was rice and duct tape. I totally know what those things are!

So the next day we pounced on the local grocery store and bought pretty much all of their rice (I’m not kidding, it’s a small town). As I heaved the bags onto the counter, I smiled at the lady and said “Yup, making risotto for fifty”. Mental note: She will never get you.

I thought the blanket-making would be a fun homeschool activity for the kids, so we sat together and calculated the weight of rice we needed in each bag and how many grams were in 1 cup. Then had to convert all that to 2/3 cups since I’d ruined my 1 cup measure making the plaster bricks for our DIY Ancient Egyptian pyramid. Did I mention I’m not exactly crafty?

You can read the instructions on the original post, but long story short…

  1. Rice was poured into ziplock bags
  2. Baggies were taped together
  3. More taping
  4. A crapload more taping
  5. Taping taping taping for-the-love-of-god-when-will-it-end-taping
  6. Then voila! A finished weighted blanket.

I’d measured it based on the size of the kids’ sleeping bags, which I thought was kinda genius on my part because now all I had to do was slip it inside and zip it up. Who needs to sew when you have stuff that already zips!

The kids couldn’t wait to try it out and argued over who would go first. The weight immediately calmed them and they both loved it to bits… woohoo, success! Then they started fighting over who got to have it on their bed. Cue many silent expletives and a second round of Tape-a-palooza, and an hour later we had not one but TWO of these extremely ugly looking suckers.

The worst part about the whole thing is that duct tape in bulk smells. A lot. The best part is that they work, and each one cost me less than $20. Which is awesome, because two nights later the kids decided that they were over it and don’t want them anymore.

So I’m really glad we made that discovery with the cheap prototype, and not after spending hundreds of dollars on the real thing. And it’s not all bad, I’ll probably use one of them (I have restless legs) and with this stockpile of rice we’re now totally prepared to survive the zombie apocalypse.

26 May, 2013 by Bec Oakley

Bec Oakley is an autistic writer and proud parent, with an intense passion for 80s text adventures, Twizzlers and making the world a better place for autistic people and their families.