Reading Blanket Tutorial

How to Sew a Reading Blanket

Yeah! Counting hanging chads, I got 10 votes for a tutorial how to sew the sleeved reading blanket that I had made. The reason why I asked my readers to weight in is that I want to blog about things that my regular readers would enjoy. I know some of my free patterns and tutorial get a lot of views. It’s people who come to the site, grab the pattern and leave. That’s a great amount of traffic that will has crash my site now that I’m on a cheaper hosting and made it worse for my regular readers. Since I don’t have advertising or affiliate links on the site, extra traffic does not benefit me. And in all fairness since the blog doesn’t make money, I can’t afford to spend more on hosting for random strangers who are just looking for free stuff. Sorry that got a bit ranty. Let’s get to the tutorial…

Instructions and diagram on how to sew a reading blanket are below.

Reading Blanket Instructions

** Don’t attempt to use this diagram ** It’s just plain wrong **

What? You don’t understand that? Neither do I. Ha! I had made so many changes, especially, with the cuffs I’ll have to reverse engineer the pattern.


  • 2.5 yards of fleece 59″ width. Solid or non-directional prints like the donut one I used is recommended.

Donut Fleece Print

  • thread
  • machine that can do a zig zag stitch.
  • armhole template

armhole template download button


Cut Pattern Pieces

  • Cut a 49″ x 64″ rectangle. This will be the body of the blanket.
  • Cut two rectangles 23″ x 24 5/8″. These will be the sleeve. Mark the 23″ edges with pins or tailor tacks.
  • Cut two rectangles 9″ x 24 5/8″. These will be the cuffs.

Cutting diagram

  • From the body rectangle. Cut two 7″ circles for the armholes. The holes are 17″ apart. This will leave 16.5″ from the outer edge of the hole to the edge of the fabric.

Cut Armholes


  • The best way to do this is to fold the body piece in half (see dotted line in diagram above). Mark the center with a pin. From the pin measure out 8.5″ and place your armhole template. Double check that your measurements match the diagram above before cutting.

Armhole Cut Out

Body Construction

  • Hem the sides of the body piece with a 1″ hem. I folded over 1″ and did a zig zag with a 4 width and 4 length.
  • Hem the top and bottom with a 3″ hem.

Hem Body

  • I hem from the wrong side so I can see that I’m catching the hem. Nothing is worse than unpicking on fleece fabric.

Hemming fleece

  • Here’s the finished hem. There are cleaner ways to finish the hem but I choose the quick and dirty method.



  • Sew up the sleeves. Remember the pins I had you put in? You want to sew the 2 edges with the pins together to form a tube. This tube will be your sleeves. I used the same zig zag stitch and sewed using a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Sleeve Construction

  • Set in the sleeves. You want to match the seam of the sleeve with the inside edge of the hole.

Sleeve placement

  • Sewing the cuff is a bit complicated if you haven’t done it before. I recommend looking up a few videos on YouTube for sewing a thumb hole sleeve to help make it more clear.
  • First you need fold the cuff in half (see diagram below).

Cuff 1

  • Mark the cuff edge at 1″, 2 3/4″, 1.5″, 2 3/4″ and 1″ with pins. Pin each layer separately. Do not pin them together.

Cuff 1a

  • Sew rights side together between the 1.5″ section in the middle.

Cuff 2

  • This is where thing get tricky. Rotate the cuff 90 degrees. Open up the cuff into a “X” or butterfly shape.

Cuff 3

  • Grab the top “wings” and put them right sides together.

Cuff 4

  • Sew from the end of the previous stitching to the pin.

Cuff 5

  • Repeat for bottom “wings”.
  • Next you want to open up the remaining little flaps and put right sides together. Sew from where the previous stitching stopped to the edge of the fabric.

Cuff 6

  • Repeat for the other little flap.
  • Turn the cuff inside out. You should have a cuff with a slit in the seam for your thumb.
  • Repeat for the other cuff.
  • Sew the cuff to the sleeve matching up the seams. I put right sides together and zig zagged together. There are cleaner methods of finishing this seam. I like the quick and dirty method.

Cuff 7



You made yourself or someone you love a reading blanket. Say “good bye” to cold arms. If you spot any errors, please let me know in the comments so others can be alerted. If you made a blanket send me a pic. I love seeing that people are actually sewing my tutorials and patterns. Don’t be that random person who comes for the free stuff and leaves.

Finished Reading Blanket


Other Design Feature Ideas

  • I have thought about making a small pocket for a book, reader or remote control (for those who watch TV instead of reading). This would make the blanket go on in only one direction so I wasn’t sure about adding it. If you’re interested, e-mail me and I’ll attempt to describe to you my idea on how to make the pocket 2 directional. detectivehoundstooth at gmail dot com.
  • Mcathur on Pattern Review suggested adding an LED light to the collar. It’s a great idea. I just have no idea how to execute it. You’re on your own.
  • You can also make this a longer length i.e. Snuggie type of blanket for lounging on the couch or other places where you don’t have a blanket.
  • Obviously the best design feature is using all the great fleece prints available. There is a fleece for everyone, from John Deere tractors to Hello Kitty. I could see these making great holiday gifts for book worms, TV buffs, knitters, hospital patients… I spent about $20 in fabric so it’s pretty inexpensive, though time consuming so make sure the recipient is worthy of your precious sewing time.


Happy reading blanket sewing,

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8 Responses to Reading Blanket Tutorial

  1. Pingback: Reading Blanket - Detective Houndstooth

  2. Karen Slater says:

    I will make this, and comment. But I am really writing to say that I made the flower scarf last year. I had a hand dyed wool coat that was eaten by moths, so I felted it to get rid of the moths and holes, and used that for my fabric. The artist who made the coat was surprised and delighted. Thanks for the pattern.

  3. Jane T says:

    I think I will purchase some fleece while it is on sale right now and will have an entire year to make around 10 of these for Christmas presents for year 2016! Thank you for the measurements and idea.

  4. Pingback: Tutorial: Reading blanket that keeps your arms covered – Sewing

  5. embee says:

    This is neat and it would make such a thoughtful gift to somebody who likes to read! Maybe even myself 😉 I’ve decided this is going to be the year of reading for me, haha

    • I’ll make you a deal. Sew this up and enjoy it while reading a book. If the book thing does go well, you can use this while using your phone at night or reading a sewing magazine or eating in bed. There are many uses that doesn’t involve reading. :)

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Reading Blanket

It’s Finally California Cold

Here’s in Southern CA it was hot through October. Hot as in shorts weather with temperatures in 80/90s in the days. Finally in November we’re getting some cooler weather. Nights have been particularly cold here, dropping into the mid-low 40s. In the day time I’m bundled up. At night I can’t sleep with long sleeves or pants because my clothes will strangle me from my constant turning. Instead I hide under 3 layers of blankets. The problem is the time that I’m reading in bed. My bare arms are totally exposed to the cold. :(

Reading with Exposed Arms

The Reading Blanket is Invented

I have a sleeved blanket but the length just adds a 4th layer and I get too hot. I thought to myself if only there was a short version that only cover the exposed limbs. Yup, you guessed it. I sewed up this little idea. Couldn’t resist the donut print fleece.

Reading with Arms Covered

But wait! There’s more!! I improved on it by adding a thumb hole so that the sleeve doesn’t slide down your arm if you’re laying flat.

Reading Blanket with Thumb Hole

I tested several different methods and this one was the best. It’s secure and doesn’t add too much bulk that would make it difficult to hold a book or restrict your fingers for page turning. The problem is that the sleeves are pretty wide and lets a cold air in. I simply close up the open space and the fleece clings to itself a bit and keeps it close. Maybe on my next version I’ll taper in the sleeves at the cuff.

The last surprise benefit is that this reading blanket can be used right side up or upside down. If you can get both arms in you’re good to go. I had planned on adding a pocket in the middle for a small book or reader but that would make it one-directional. I do have a pocket design that can be used right side up or upside down but I haven’t experimented with it yet. And I’m also concerned that I’ll wash the reading blanket with a book or reader in the pocket. That would be a disaster.

Reading Blanket

Let me know in the comments if anyone is interested in a tutorial on how to make one. If I get at least 10 votes for a tutorial I’ll write it up.

Link to my Pattern Review.

Edited to add link to the tutorial.

Happy sewing reading,

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19 Responses to Reading Blanket

  1. Midge says:

    Such a clever idea! Please do the tutorial! Or maybe I can just hire you to make one as a gift for our great mail carrier! LOL! :)

  2. Pingback: Reading Blanket Tutorial - Detective Houndstooth

  3. That is a clever idea!

  4. deb says:

    Yes! Would love a tutorial, this is so clever!

  5. Accordion3 says:

    Hi there – this would be good for people who are stuck in bed for long periods – like hospice’s, long term nuero rehab and nursing homes.
    I’d like a tutorial too!

  6. Caroline says:

    This seems like the ultimate holiday gift! And we will have to shoot your parody As Seen on TV ad once I get back!

  7. Junie says:

    A “yes” vote on the tutorial, please…from a fellow Southern Californian.

  8. Sew focused says:

    I would love a tutorial. I thank you in advance as I also am shivering in southern Cali. Hope you get your ten requests.

  9. Lodi Srygley says:

    As somebody said, “necessity is the mother of invention”! I’d love to see a tutorial. Did you use the burrito method for the sleeve cuffs? Do you have any tips for sewing with fleece? It’s pretty bulky.

    • Thanks Lodi. That’s vote #2.

      No I didn’t burrito the sleeve cuff. I’m not sure that it’s possible. You can sew right sides together fold the cuff in half with the seam allowance folded under and stitch in the ditch for a cleaner finish. I folded the cuff in half, sewed right sides together in a round.

  10. Karen says:

    I love the idea. I just use a fleece jacket, backwards, when reading in bed. If I get hot, it is easy to remove but your thumb hole is brilliant. I would love a tutorial.

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The Cost of A Sewing Blog

Just a Little Rant

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the cost sewing blogs. By cost I mean the time, effort and money to create, maintain and generate content for a sewing blog. I know a lot of sewing bloggers have tried to offset some of the monetary costs or maybe even tried to make a little money by being affiliates, getting sponsors, selling ad space etc. I generally get a bit turned off when this happens until I got my hosting renewal bill. For the past 2 years I’ve been using hosting that was at an introductory price of $48/year + the domain. I know I can do a free blog on WordPress or Blogger. For me, if I’m going to have a blog it’s going to look, feel and function the way I want.



The $291.63/year Blog

If I kept the hosting and domain exactly the same as I’ve had in the past 2 years this blog would cost me $291.63/year. Whoa! That can buy a lot of fabrics, patterns and machines. That led me to a cross road of (A) paying $291.63/year, (B) shutting down the blog or (C) looking for cheaper hosting. I definitely thought about leaving the blog world because I didn’t have much time to sew, let alone blog about it. I went with option C. My current hosting company basically told me “don’t let the door hit me on my way out” when I asked if there was a better rate I could get. The traffic on my blog is pretty low, it’s also not very content (gigabyte) heavy. It was painful and time consuming to transition hosting services during which I looked long and hard at option B. In the transition I did lose 2 blog posts but that’s not a big deal. If you’re looking for the post on my sewing room or sun protection fabric, I can send it to you in an e-mail. E-mail me at detectivehoundstooth at gee mail dot com. One day I might re-post it.



1.5 cents/pattern

I did the math and if everyone who downloaded one of my free patterns, this does not include the free tutorials, paid 1.5 cents for the pattern that would pay for the expensive hosting. That’s all it would take. You can find 2 pennies on the ground on any day of the week. No, I am not asking for anyone’s pennies. I’m curious about what it is about the internet age and sewing blogs in particular that we expect so much for free? I’m definitely guilty of it myself. And then I think about the much debated, alleged pay gap between men and women. Yes, there are plenty of men sewing bloggers but I think they’re outnumbered by women. And I think maybe we’re selling ourselves short by offering up so much free content.



One More Year

I don’t quite know that there’s a point to this post besides a little venting on my part. Thanks for listening. Hopefully you’ll stay with me for another year.



Happy sewing,

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7 Responses to The Cost of A Sewing Blog

  1. Pingback: Reading Blanket Tutorial - Detective Houndstooth

  2. Accordion3 says:

    Well I’m glad you decided to keep going to another year!

  3. Kyle says:

    Wow about the economic cost. My blog is on blogger so I’ve only thought about the cost of my time.

    Are you on Instagram? I joined at the end of August and am really enjoying it. IG is a bit like an appetizer and a blog is like a 3 course meal.

  4. Yeesh! I’ve only ever had a free wordpress blog, but I never dreamed that self-hosting would be so expensive!! I hope you can figure out a cheaper option soon!

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Vacay Like a Sewist

Vacay Fabric Shopping

For the past few years I’ve been adding fabric shopping to our vacation itinerary. On this trip I only managed to hit two stores. In Madrid I browsed Ribes y Casals. I had scoped out a few other stores near our hotel but after a full day of touristy sites, hills and heat I was out of steam.  I didn’t get any pictures of the store. It was a fairly large store with a really wide array of fabrics. They had everyday fabrics, home dec and even flamenco fabrics. The fabrics I was eyeing was a bit too basic, which was the opposite of my London shopping experience where everything was too fancy. I just couldn’t justify hauling back a yard of rib knit when it looked like something I could have picked up anywhere.

In Portugal I hadn’t scoped out any shops. Fortunately I spotted Feira dos Tecidos walking down the street. I immediately stopped Mr. DH and jaywalked across the street.

Portugal feira dos tecidos

Feira Dos Tecidos had a great selection of fabrics. They have fabrics piled in bins and tables like a fancier Michael Levine’s Loft. The store also had a nice selection of notions, trims, zippers etc.

feira dos tecidos inside

I found a piece of fabric I just had to have. It was love at first sight. I can’t explain my joy because it’s so super touristy. Where else can I get Lisboa fabric than in Lisboa. Obrigada Fiera Dos Tecidos!

Lisboa Fabric

The scale is large because it’s a home dec fabric. I was thinking a bag/tote. I’m tempted to make a jacket but I don’t think I bought enough. Any suggestions for patterns?

Vacay Sewing Magazine Shopping

In Spain there are newsstands on every other corner. They carry a surprising number of sewing magazines. I picked up 3: Patrones, Modelos and Anna Moda.

Spanish Sewing Magazines

Modelos is my favorite of the 3 for their fabric choices and styling. Every page looks like a page out of a fashion magazine. I love the prints they used. My favorite is this sheer chevron print. Paired with a matching mustard solid collar, it’s just fab.

Modelos 1

Another great print is this one with nesting dolls. Who knew nesting dolls prints could be so fashionable.

Modelos 3

Their pattern sheet comes in 5 colors and in 4 sizes.

Modelos Pattern Sheet

If they don’t have your size they’ve included their grading rules!! So brilliant.

Modelos Grading Rules

Patrones is my second favorite. They have knock off patterns from RTW. The cape pattern below is a copy of the Spanish clothing company PULL&BEAR. What great details.

Patrones 1

Their patterns are also pretty fashionable but I don’t think as fashionable as Modelos. Plus they keep putting jackets on all of their outfits. Some of the jackets worked but some were just plain awkward. The Michael Kors jumper below is pretty great. When the jacket goes on it hides the details and all you see are saggy thighs.

Patrones 2

The pattern sheet also comes in 5 colors but only 3 sizes. I didn’t see any grading instructions but I might have missed it.

Patrones Pattern Sheet

My least favorite of the 3 sewing magazines was Anna Moda. It’s just not my style. I think I need to just look at the line drawings because I’m sure there are some great patterns.

Anna Moda 1

Their pattern sheet comes in 2 colors and 4-5 sizes.

Anna Moda Pattern Sheet

Bonus Tip: Google Translate Camera

If your Spanish is rusty like mine and you want to read your Spanish sewing magazine NOW, download the Google Translate app. It has a camera function that will translate the words for you instantly. For Android you can even batch the data so you can use it without using cellular data or WiFi which is perfect for reading signs and menus. The translation is a bit buggy when the text is not clear or when your hands are shaky. It’s still way faster than typing words into a translator.

Google Translate App

Happy Sewing Shopping,

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4 Responses to Vacay Like a Sewist

  1. Accordion3 says:

    What a find! Try the “Dog under my desk” bag patterns. Erin has terrific instructions.

  2. Caroline says:

    Darn, I LOVE that cape! I may need to trace that off, when / if I ever come back.

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Vacay Sewing

Pre-Vacay Sewing

Early September Mr DH and I went on a whirlwind vacation to Spain and Portugal. Waffle went on his own vacation to his favorite kennel. I’m not being facetious, the hound loves this place. He also loves the vet and dogs that are try to kill him, so he’s just a lover boy.

Park Guell

A few days before our vacation I decided to sew new clothes. Yes, I can hear your wincing. I managed to cut out 5 tops and 1 pair of shorts. I only sewed up a slimmer version of circus tent tank top seen in the picture below. Talk about a gap in sewing dreams and sewing realities.

Simplicity 1107

Post-Vacay Sewing

When we came back I had a really difficult time getting back to local time. I was falling asleep very early in the evening and waking up at 4 am. Needless to say there isn’t much I could do at 4 am but sew, not that I’m complaining. I sewed up the other 4 tops which were all Kirsten Kimono Tees.  I picked this pattern because there are only 2 pattern pieces, 4 seams and my best chance of getting it completed before we left. The black background fabrics were border prints that I had bought to make maxi skirts/dresses. I don’t like wearing black tops but these are growing on me.

More Kirsten Kimono tees

Unfortunately in my pre-vacay rush two were cut with the stretch going up and down. The tops are a bit snug but they do fit.

Chevron Top and Blue Shorts

This top also had another snafu. I cut 2 front pieces and I didn’t have enough extra to match the chevron print to recut the back. I had to use a different part of the border print so the hem had a bit of extra “design” element.

Chevron Top and Blue Shorts Back

In the pictures are the shorts that I didn’t sew up pre-vacay. It’s made in a beautiful blue pont de roma knit. I had this fabric for a long time and I’ve forgotten how wonderful it sews up. The pattern is a modification of the Jalie jeans. The shorts fits really well. I swear the camera doesn’t add 10 lbs, it adds 10 fit wrinkles.

Happy sewing,

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8 Responses to Vacay Sewing

  1. Betsy says:

    Oh lucky Waffle that he loves the kennel. My dog is terrified after a bad experience so now we have to plan trips that include him. Your t-shirts are really cute. Such a basic shape that you can never have enough of. Trip sounds amazing!

  2. Mads says:

    Oh DH, I can always rely on you to make me LOL–love the fit wrinkles joke!! (And Waffle sounds like no basset I’ve ever met–glad he enjoyed his “retreat!”) I am loving these t-shirts; the border print ones are especially neat, and look so unique and fashionable. I do love those chevrons though–so precise! I have that pattern…why haven’t I made it yet?!?!?

    • It seems like sewists are in 2 camps: I sewed up 80 of these or I have this pattern and have spent more time wondering why I haven’t sewn it then it would have taken to actually sew it. You seem to fit into the latter. Don’t worry you have plenty of company.

  3. accordion3 says:

    Loving the “adds 10 fit wrinkles” comment too. I like your shorts and tops, so cheerful!

  4. Kyle says:

    Bwah ha ha “the camera add 10 fit wrinkles”. Yes! that is totally true!! The Kimono tops look great! LOVE love love how you used the border prints for them. I downloaded it and printed that pattern ages ago but still haven’t sewn it up yet.

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