They’re known as weighted blankets for a perfectly good reason; they’re quite heavier than your regular blanket!
The popularity of weighted blankets has increased in recent years, as more and more people discovered their calming effects. Even if you don’t own a weighted blanket, you’ve undoubtedly heard or read about this type of blanket. So, as all of us, you start wondering about what goes into a weighted blanket and the materials used that make this blanket so heavy.
So, that’s what we’ll explain in this article, where you’ll learn more about weighted blankets and even how to make your own DIY weighted blanket.
What Is a Weighted Blanket?
A weighted blanket, also known as gravity or heavy blanket, is created to provide gentle, even pressure for a therapeutic effect, and it is relatively bulkier than your regular blanket. Gravity blankets usually contain several square pockets filled with beads, pellets, sand, or ball bearings in order to distribute pressure evenly all over your body. The weight of a gravity blanket should be around 10% of the user’s body weight, or approximately between 2.5 and 14 kilograms (around 5 to 30 pounds).
Weighted blankets work through deep touch pressure stimulation, which is a therapeutic technique used to reduce restlessness and anxiety. Weighted blankets can lower the production of stress hormones and stimulate the secretion of melatonin (sleep hormone) and serotonin (happy hormone), hormones that provide you with better sleep.
Weighted blankets have a calming effect, so they can be rather helpful for people who suffer from autism spectrum disorders (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), restless leg syndrome, PTSD, and sensory processing disorders.
Weighted blankets aren’t quite appropriate for small kids since they can cause suffocation, and potential leaks in the inner section can be a choking hazard. These blankets are also not a good option for people who suffer from some sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, other respiratory illnesses, or circulatory system issues.
Therefore, if you want to use a weighted blanket, first consult your doctor whether that’s a good option for you.
What Are Weighted Blankets Made Of?
In a nutshell, weighted blankets are made of three components: the blanket, blanket cover, and the most important component of the weighted blanket—the inner weight filler.
Weighted Blanket Covers
Some weighted blankets come with a fabric cover, which provides cushioning between your body and the inner weight. Usually, blanket covers can be made of chenille, cotton, fleece, or polyester. The covers of the weighted blanket can be either removable or sewn on.
Microfiber, linen, cotton, rayon, Minky, flannel, or fleece are fabrics used to make weighted blanket duvet covers. In order to make your life a little bit easier, it’s recommended to purchase a weighted blanket with a removable cover. A removable cover likely means that your weighted blanket cover is hand or machine-washable, meaning that you’ll need fewer visits to the dry cleaner.
Weighted Blanket Fabrics
Weighted blankets can be made of various fabrics, such as cotton, organic cotton, microfiber, bamboo, and Minky. Every material has its own advantages. For instance, organic cotton is eco-friendly and ultra-soft, while Minky and microfiber fabrics are perfect for a cozy and warm night.
Every type of weighted blanket fabric has its own breathability level. For instance, if your body’s temperature is naturally on the hotter side, you’ll want more breathable fabric such as bamboo viscose or cotton. These weighted blanket fabrics will make you feel more comfortable because they maintain airflow and wick sweat away from your body. Bamboo viscose is also hypoallergenic, so this is a big plus if you suffer from skin allergies.
On the other hand, if you are a cold sleeper, you need to consider a quilted cover for your weighted blanket. The quilted cover will keep all the heat around your body, so you’ll stay warm throughout the night.
Hand-Knitted Weighted Blankets
Most weighted blankets are made in layers, but there are weighted blankets made from hand-knitted weighted weaves as well. The diameter of the yarn and the weave density is what give the blanket its weight.
So, when it comes to hand-knitted weighted blankets, the weaves add weight as this type of weighted blanket doesn’t include fillings. Also, they are often DIY weighted blankets.
What Are Weighted Blanket Fillers?
We mentioned the term “filler” multiple times now, and it refers to the materials (weights) used to fill the inner section of the weighted blanket, the thing that makes your blanket heavy enough to simulate deep touch pressure points.
For a weighted blanket to be good, it needs to have several square pockets that need to be filled with fillers and stitched together to make the blanket. This way, you get better weight distribution all over your body, preventing the fillers from going to one side of the blanket.
There are a few different types of fillers that can make weighted blankets. Here are the most common ones:
Plastic Poly Pellets
Polymer pellets are small plastic solids with a regular shape and low individual weight. They’re made from polypropylene that isn’t toxic. The plastic poly pellets used to make weighted blankets are similar to those used to stuff children’s toys. Plastic poly pellets are typically non-toxic and colorless, and when you touch them, they feel hard.
You might prefer a smoother filler that won’t feel so bumpy against your skin if you have texture sensitivities.
Micro Glass Beads
Micro glass beads are one of the highest-quality choices. As the name suggests, micro glass beads are extremely tiny and feel and look similar to salt crystals or white beach sand. They’ll appear much smoother inside your weighted blanket and are probably the best choice for people with any type of sensory, physical, and auditory sensitivities.
Most people prefer weighted blankets with micro glass beads filler because they are slightly heavier than plastic poly pellets, and due to this, you’ll need fewer micro glass beads to achieve the weight you want for your weighted blanket. This is perfect for people who want extra weight but not a tremendous amount of bulk on top of them.
Beans, corn, rice, and grains aren’t just things that we eat—they can also be used as a filler for weighted blankets. These organic fillers tend to be cost-effective but come with some significant disadvantages. Since they are organic materials, they can degrade over time, attract insects, promote mildew growth, and give off unpleasant smells. Moreover, because the material is organic, it cannot be hand-washed or put in a washing machine.
Sand is lower quality but a budget-friendly option for adding weight to your quilt or blanket, though it isn’t preferable as it can cause many issues. However, by using this filler, you can make a budget weighted blanket. Keep in mind that sand doesn’t spread out as easily as plastic poly pellets or micro glass beads. Moreover, it’s much more difficult to wash and dry than non-organic fillers.
Sand expands when it comes in contact with water and bundles or clusters up inside the blanket’s pockets, which can cause huge uneven bumps in your fabric. This is why they’re not machine-washable.
Steel beads are commonly used as a filler for weighted blankets because they’re machine-washable, heavy, and durable, meaning you need fewer units to reach the pressure and weight you desire.
The main disadvantage of steel beads is the fact that they’re often noisier than other fillers like plastic poly pellets or micro glass beads. If you’re sensitive to sound, particularly when you’re asleep, a weighted blanket with steel beads filler is not the best choice for you.
How to Make a Weighted Blanket (DIY)?
Things you need to make a weighted blanket on your own:
- Fabric for the back and front of your weighted blanket, by your choice
- Fillers – you can choose one of the ones we mentioned above
- Blanket batting cut to the size of the fabric (optional)
- Kitchen scale
- Ruler or a fabric tape
- Fabric pencil
- Pins, scissors, and thread that match the fabric for your blanket
- Sewing machine
Once you’ve obtained the things above, just follow these steps:
- Stitch the pieces of fabric together on both left and right edges. Then, by adding a horizontal center seam, join the two pieces of fabric. This way, you’ll have two pouches on the bottom and the top of your weighted blanket. If you decide to use batting, just put one or two layers between the bottom and top fabric pieces, and sew it up.
- Now, divide each pouch into an identical number of columns approximately 7.5-10 centimeters (3-5 inches) wide and sew every column. These pieces will hold the weight of your blanket, so use a triple stitch.
- By using a kitchen scale, weigh the amount of filler you want to put in each section. You can determine the amount of weight for each section by dividing the total weight you want to put into your blanket by the number of squares you plan to have.
- Once you fill each section, close the open ends using a triple stitch. Alternatively, you can put the filling onto cloth bags of approximately equal size as an additional precaution against spills. This way, you can also try different weights of fillers by placing the filled bags into the sections and then pinning them with pins. After you’ve decided on the desired weight, sew each section until all the sections are full and the weighted blanket is done.
- Put your weighted blanket on a flat surface and sift through every side to ensure the stitching is good and the fillers are secure.
- The only thing left to do now is to enjoy your newly made DIY weighted blanket.
A Few Words Before You Go…
Hopefully, we were able to help you understand more about weighted blankets, which materials are used to make a weighted blanket, and how to make one on your own.
However, despite all you have ever heard or read about weighted blankets, consult your doctor whether they are suitable for you before using one. If the answer is yes, you can choose where to buy the best weighted blanket for you, or if you have some spare time (and skills), you can make one on your own.