Why Didn’t I Make One Sooner?!
I walk the dog everyday and I’ve been suffering from needlessly from cold hands syndrome. Yes, I could wear gloves but they prevent me from texting and selecting podcasts on my phone. And I feel like I need to take the gloves off while picking up after the dog, just in case. It wasn’t until I was making the thumb hole cuff for the reading blanket tutorial that it hit me. I needed a sleeve with a thumb hole. It reminds me of a leg warmer but an arm version, hence, arm warmers. I thought it was going to be easy but my first attempt was a disaster. Good news for you I’ve made the mistakes so you don’t have to. The instructions look more complicated than it really is.
Cutting Your Pattern
- You’ll need approximately 24″ x 24″ of rib knit .
- Fold your fabric in half with the greatest amount of stretch going along the folded edge.
- Place your hand on the fabric with the folded edge at your finger. Determine how tall you want the sleeve to cover your finger and how far up your arm you want it. I like the sleeve to cover most of my fingers. I fold it down when I need more finger mobility. Cut the fabric to size.
- Fold the fabric over your arm and chalk your arm. Pin along your chalk line leaving the thumb area unpinned.
- Try on the arm warmer and adjust the pattern as needed. This try on is important since all knits behaves differently and everyone likes a different amount of ease.
- Trim your pattern with a 3/8″ seam allowance. Notice how I cut a curve at the thumb hole. This curve gives you more thumb mobility.
- Trace the pattern onto a piece of paper to keep for future use and to cut your second arm warmer.
Sewing the Arm Warmers
- Instead of pins make a clip at the top and bottom of the thumb hole.
- Open up the fabric and fold right sides together so that you have a long and skinny piece. Sew the middle section from notch to notch.
- Open up the ends to a “X” shape.
- Grab the two top flaps and put them right sides together.
- Sew from the end of the last stitch to the next clip. I marked the end of the last stitch with blue chalk to make it easier to see.
- Check the underside to make sure the fabric didn’t shift and you have sewn to the end of the previous stitch.
- Repeat with the other two flaps. Again checking that your stitching meets the end of the previous stitch on both sides.
- Open up the piece into an upside down “V” shape. Sew up one side with a 1/4″ seam allowance and the other with a 3/8″ seam allowance. The two different seam allowances is to adjust for the turn of the cloth. The layer inside needs to be smaller (larger seam allowance) so that it lays smooth.
- Sew from the end of the previous stitch to the hem.
- Baste the seam allowance open. I use a glue stick. When I turned the sleeve inside out it was really difficult to keep the seam allowance open which created weird lumps and bumps in the seam. Pressing it open seemed like a dangerous undertaking.
- Turn the arm warmer inside out with the layer with the larger seam allowance as the inner layer. Don’t worry, just turn it and look at the seam allowance. If you have the layers wrong, flip it inside out.
- You’ll notice that the inner layer will be longer than the outer layer. It’s that turn of the cloth thing again. Trim the hem even to each other.
Sew the Hem
The next couple of steps are difficult to describe. The end goal is to sew the hem right side together leaving an opening to turn the arm warmer inside out. Here we go.
- Fold over the hem seam allowance. It doesn’t matter how much seam allowance.
- Grab the seam allowance from the inside.
- Turn the seam allowance inside out. Zig zag the hem all the way around leaving a 2″ opening. When you get to the point in the sewing where the bulk of the arm warm preventing you from sewing further you’ll have to stuff the material in. I know this is confusing. You will understand when you get to this step.
- Turn the arm warmer inside out.
- Hand stitch the opening close. I’m not sure of the name of the stitch I used. It’s like a ladder stitch where you’re stitching the edge of folds. I make almost like a back stitch in order to give the stitch some stretch so the thread doesn’t break when putting the arm warmer on and taking it off.
You have arm warmer with thumb hole. I hope you enjoy these as much as I have. I’ve been wearing everywhere, not just walking the dog. The grey goes with everything but I would love some colorful pairs.
Happy Arm Warmer Sewing,
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.
** 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.
- machine that can do a zig zag stitch.
- armhole template
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- I hem from the wrong side so I can see that I’m catching the hem. Nothing is worse than unpicking on fleece fabric.
- 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.
- Set in the sleeves. You want to match the seam of the sleeve with the inside edge of the hole.
- 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).
- 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.
- Sew rights side together between the 1.5″ section in the middle.
- This is where thing get tricky. Rotate the cuff 90 degrees. Open up the cuff into a “X” or butterfly shape.
- Grab the top “wings” and put them right sides together.
- Sew from the end of the previous stitching to the pin.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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,