No-Sew Fleece Blanket; a Toy-Free Birthday Gift

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In the month of March this year, my kids were invited to five birthday parties. FIVE! Three of them were all in one weekend! In April they were invited to three. Two birthdays in July and then two again in August. Birthday kids varied in ages, from three all the way up to age nine. Some were close friends, some were school acquaintances. We didn’t have a ton to spend on these multiple birthday gifts and I have been striving to have less toys in our kids’ lives, so I somewhat vowed to myself not to buy toys as birthday gifts… which is a lot easier said than done, especially for younger kids.

Instead I decided to to make fleece blankets for the first month of birthdays and from then on, we were hooked. Depending on the age of the kid, we usually bought one and a half yards of no-pill fleece in two colors or patterns. The top layer is always a favorite character or some genre they’re into at the moment (Star Wars, Paw Patrol, Minecraft, or just unicorns, puppies, or a favorite sports team). There are LOADS of choices in fleece patterns. A quick text to a mom or dad helps us choose too. For the bottom layer, we chose a solid color that compliments the pattern. For the birthday kids who were turning nine, we got two full yards so they could have a slightly bigger blanket. With coupons, the fabric ends up costing between $20 and $30 per blanket. I’m sure if I planned ahead better, I could get an even better deal.

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For three of the birthdays, the pre-cut, no-sew fleece blanket kits that you can find at craft and fabric stores happened to be on sale for 40% or 50% off, so a few times we opted for those. They ended up being $15-$20 with sales or a coupon.

JoAnn’s is my first choice for fabric when it’s time to make a blanket. I choose not to shop at Hobby Lobby and we don’t have many other fabric stores where we live. Plus, JoAnn’s often has great deals through sales or coupons.

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Materials Needed:

  • 2 pieces of no-pill, polyester fleece, size is up to you. I like 1.5 to 2 yards for a great kid-sized throw. For an adult, I may opt for 3 yards.

  • 1 pair of very sharp scissors (I recommend having a pair ONLY for fabric. I have like 3, but you do you)

Step 1: Choose your fabric.

Step 2: Lay them out, stacked on top of each other and trim any edges so they’re the same size. If one or both of the fabrics are patterned, make sure the RIGHT sides are facing out.

Step 3: Cut a 4 inch square from all four corners. You can cut a piece of cardboard to use as a guide if you want, but I have always just eyeballed it based on the knowledge that my fabric scissors blades are about five inches long.

Step 4: Cut a 4 inch fringe along the sides, through both layers of fabric, all the way around the blanket. They should be about 1 inch wide and 4 inches long. Use your corner cuts as a guide. If you would prefer to use a ruler to make sure your cuts are precise, that’s totally up to you.

Step 5: There are lots of different ways to tie the ends. I usually take the stacked fringe pieces and tie a square knot, tying the two layers of fabric together. You can do a balloon knot like done here or once I did a braid-like tie like this (although I cut the fringe longer than they did). This video on YouTube shows four different ways you can tie off the fringe depending on what look you want. The choice is yours.

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Most importantly, my kids really love giving a gift that they helped make. Of course, now we need to think of something new to give if we’re invited to the same kids’ birthdays next year!

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Custom Mason Jar Labels

I love canning. My mom taught me how to make jam when I was a teenager and she learned how from her mom and her grandma. Growing up, we had a plum and an apricot tree in our backyard, so when June and July came around and the fruit was ripe, we'd hurry to pick the ripe fruit before it fell or the birds got to it. Then we'd spend an afternoon cleaning, pitting, crushing and stirring pots of molten sugar and fruit. The reward at the end of the day was the satisfying POP when the jars sealed and snacking on the leftovers. 

If you've never made jam before, it's fairly simple and lots of fancy tools aren't required. I didn't own a water bath canner until this year. I just processed jars in my big soup pot. I don't own a pressure canner either. I love this post and send it to anyone who's interesting in canning for the first time. It's a great place to get the basics. 

Half pint mason jars are my favorites to use, (both in standard and wide mouth, but in late summer, they sell out pretty quickly in my local stores, so I will order from Amazon, and save from having to drive from store to store hoping some are still in stock.

Every year my husband and I typically give whatever we canned as gifts to friends, coworkers and family, so the jars naturally NEED some sort of fun label. I created a couple of new ones this year and I added them to my Etsy shop for purchase.

Thanks to a local friend sharing the wealth of New Haven Peaches on her tree, I made a few batches of peach jam and peach vanilla butter. 

Then I created a few different versions of the label for whatever else someone may be canning. I have watercolor graphics of many, many different fruits and I'll adjust the background color to make sure there's a good contrast between it and the color of the fruit.

This next design I created was a blast to work on and definitely moves toward the non-traditional when it comes to canning labels.

So far I have created similar labels for strawberry and plum jams. I'll create a breakdancing fruit cartoon for whatever kind of jam you've made. 

This "That's My Jam" theme really only works with jam. Jellies, sauces, pickled items won't really work with this design. But I can always create something different with the same font and overall look, like I did for our "Twerkin' Vanilla Peach Buttah." If you'd like to do a custom label like this, just shoot me a message.

Lastly, this is the label design that I created last year. It's printing on what looks like faintly stripped kraft paper with a custom little fruit or vegetable cartoon.

These can be customized for pretty much anything that goes into jars. I can add a greeting to the bottom or not, totally up to you.

I can set these up to be printed on Avery labels, 22807 for standard sized jars or 22830 for wide mouth jars. If you'd prefer to not go with Avery labels, I can squeeze as many on a page as I can and you can print them onto full-sheet sticker paper and the use a circle punch. It's pretty easy.

Links for each label:
That's my Jam
Script & Watercolor
Kraft Paper Cartoons

As always, if you're interested in creating a custom label with fonts, color, verbiage, or anything that's different than these, don't hesitate to send me a message or email. Thanks!

*This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase an item through these links, I get a few cents and you're helping keep my website running. I appreciate it!