This is a bittersweet moment for me, friends–it’s the end of the Solar System CAL!
This week, I’m going to show you how to add a fabric backing or lining to your Solar System Blanket. It’s easier than you might think, but it does take a little bit of time (and some patience).
You can also apply these principles to lining any blanket with fabric, not just your Solar System Blanket!
Let me tell you why I love adding fabric to the backs of my blankets. For starters, it means I don’t have to weave in all of those ends–YAY! I simply tie them (several times, very securely!) together along the back side of my blanket, trim the ends (leaving tails of at least an inch long), and throw the backing over the ends. This makes my lazy heart so happy!
I also love the way a fabric backing can complement and complete the look of a crocheted blanket. By choosing the right patterned fabric, you can add a really nice finishing touch to your blanket. In my mind, a crocheted blanket isn’t quite finished unless you’ve lined it with fabric! Plus, fleece is so soft and warm that it adds extra oomph and coziness to the entire thing. What’s not to love?
I’ve listed out all of the materials and tools you’ll need in order to get this done. I’ve also included links to the fabric and the rotary cutter I used, in case you need a little inspiration!
Ready to start in on the end of the Solar System CAL? Let’s do it!
Solar System CAL: How to Line Your Blanket With Fabric
Materials & Tools Needed:
- Fabric (make sure you have enough to cover the entire back of your blanket!)
- I recommend using fleece or something like this, like I used
- Skip-stitch rotary cutter (I like this one)
- Locking stitch markers (I’d say 6-10 would be enough)
- Yarn needle
- Yarn (to make the ties–I used the same color yarn as my void space)
- Something heavy to help weigh down your blanket while you measure/cut the fabric (I used some encyclopedias and myself!)
- Some sort of cutting surface that you won’t mind damaging with the skip-stitch rotary cutter (or use a cutting mat, if you have one)
- A large enough floor area to spread out and work
Tutorial: How to Line Your Blanket With Fabric
Step 1) Choose your fabric.
Before I went to the fabric store, I measured the diameter of my blanket. Then I took that number to the helpful ladies at the cutting counter and asked them to cut just a few inches more than that–that way, I’d have a little extra wiggle room.
I used this lovely Soft N Comfy fabric in grey stars, and I’m so in love with it! I just love the way the brightness of the fabric contrasts the darkness of the void space in my blanket but still ties in with the grey of my orbit rounds. Plus, stars!
JoAnn’s also has a lot of other Soft N Comfy fabrics in solid colors, dots, and I believe some shapes other than stars, if that suits your needs.
If you want to add a little more weight and warmth to your blanket, you can opt for fleece instead, which comes in all sorts of fun colors and designs!
Personally, I like using the Soft N Comfy fabric and fleece for my blankets because when I cut them, the edges don’t fray. This means I don’t have to do any extra sewing or worry about the edges (or the holes from my skip-stitch rotary cutter) coming apart.
Step 2) Wash and dry your fabric AND your finished crocheted blanket.
I took my fabric home and washed it. I also washed my blanket at this time, but I was careful to put it in a garment washing bag (sweater-size worked just fine for me), just in case my knotted ends decided to try and catch on something.
Both the fabric and the blanket were tumble-dry friendly (thanks, Stylecraft!), so I let them tumble in the dryer. I’m paranoid about my finished projects, so I checked on them several times during the drying cycle. I had absolutely no problems with this, but it made me feel better to keep checking.
When washing/drying your fabric and/or your crocheted blanket, make sure you check the care instructions on your yarn and your fabric (if you have any for the fabric). If you can, machine wash your materials and put them in the dryer. If you need to, you can let your fabric and/or your blanket dry flat.
Step 3) Cut your fabric to size.
I’m always looking for an easier way to do things, so let me tell you how I did this the easy way.
First, I rolled back the area rug on my living room floor. There’s no table in my house large enough for this, so I decided to make myself comfy on the floor. (Don’t forget to sweep!)
I laid out my fabric on the floor, then placed my Solar System Blanket on top of the fabric, making sure I could see the edges of the fabric on all sides of my blanket.
As you can see, there’s some extra fabric here to be lost (or saved and used for something later, like I’m planning to do), and that’s because we’ve got a round blanket and a square or rectangular piece of fabric. That’s okay! Just make sure you can see the fabric beneath your blanket all the way around the blanket, because that’s where you’re going to cut.
Next, I needed something heavy to place on top of the blanket to keep it in place. I have an old set of encyclopedias that have been used more for weighing down craft projects than anything else over the years, so I pulled several of them off the shelf and placed them on top of my blanket.
Next, I started cutting my fabric.
I started in, cutting as close to my finished blanket as I could risk. Don’t worry about keeping your edges super neat! You’re going to add a crocheted border to the fabric later, so you won’t even notice. However, that crochet border is going to add a little extra length/width to the piece, so you want to cut as close as possible–your Solar System Blanket will stretch a bit to match the size of your fabric with the border.
A few cuts in, I was worried about my encyclopedias moving about, so I decided to climb on top of them. This also let me get right up close to my fabric as I cut it, which was super helpful!
Keep cutting all the way around your blanket. If your edges look a little less neat than you’d like, that’s okay. You can very carefully trim them–just make sure you don’t accidentally cut away too much of the fabric (that could make your fabric piece too small!) AND make sure you don’t accidentally snip your crocheted blanket (that would be so sad!).
When you’re done cutting, remove your crocheted blanket and step back to examine your work. As I said, you can trim any obvious not-round edges, but be careful!
As you can see in my photo (below, left), I left a little bit of fabric exposed around the outer edge of my blanket. I did that because I knew that my blanket had a fair bit of stretch to it (and because I was scared to cut any closer to my beautiful blanket).
Step 4) Use your rotary cutter to make small holes along the outer edge of the fabric circle.
This is the part I dislike the most, primarily because it takes me so long. I have weak wrists, and I’ve found that my rotary cutter, while great, takes a little bit of strength in order to wield effectively.
For my cutting surface, I used our old coffee table, which was a thrift store find when we were still in college. It’s been used for pretty much everything, and it’s pretty close to falling to pieces. I don’t know what I’ll use when it’s gone, but for now it’s the perfect cutting surface (if a bit small…).
Spread your fabric out over your cutting surface. Very carefully, use the skip-stitch blade on your rotary cutter to cut small holes all the way around the fabric circle.
Note: you’ll want to leave a little bit of room between your cuts and the edge, but not too much–try to shoot for a 1/4″ gap all the way around.
It doesn’t matter very much if you accidentally cut through to the edge of your blanket or if your cuts aren’t straight, or if your holes don’t exactly line up. The beauty of the Soft N Comfy fabric (and fleece!) is that it’s very forgiving. If you mess up, simply find the place you were last satisfied with, line your blade up with those holes, and start again.
Once you’re done, you’ll be able to see all of your tiny holes. In the next step, you’ll be crocheting very loosely into the these holes to make a border around the fabric circle.
Step 5) Crochet around your fabric circle.
Very carefully, you’ll now create a single crochet border around your entire fabric circle. This will make it much easier to join the fabric to the blanket later on.
I used a G/4.00mm hook for this process, but you can use whichever size hook you feel is most helpful (I wouldn’t go much larger than this, though, or else your hook won’t fit into the skip-stitch holes).
Insert your hook into any of the holes you made in step 4. With your yarn of choice (I chose the same yarn that I had used for the void space in my blanket), ch 1. Then, very loosely, work 1 single crochet stitch into every hole in your fabric circle.
Note: Your circle may begin to “pucker” and pull tight, but that’s okay–just stretch it out as you go and make sure that it will lay flat for you. This is why it’s important that you work your single crochet stitches very loosely–more loosely than you think you’ll need. I’ll show you a trick later on how to get your “puckered” fabric to behave.
Work all the way around the circle, then join to the first single crochet stitch with a slip stitch and fasten off, leaving a tail long enough to weave in later.
Step 6) Pair the fabric to the crocheted blanket.
In order to not have to fight with my “puckered” fabric circle, I enlisted my husband for some help.
First, I laid out my Solar System Blanket face-down on the floor so that the knotted tail ends were facing up towards me.
Then, I placed the fabric circle on top of the blanket. At this point, yours may look like it might not fit, but don’t worry!
To keep it in place, I placed a stitch marker through the crocheted border of the fabric circle and through the last round of my blanket. Then, with my husband holding down the stretched-out fabric circle for me, I placed another stitch marker on the opposite side of the blanket, pinning those sides together.
I repeated this process until my fabric circle sat nice and neat on top of the blanket. It took a little while to readjust the placement of the stitch markers and the fabric to get it to work, but it made the next step much easier. I highly recommend that you pin your fabric to your blanket with locking stitch markers!
I should also say that after I had pinned all of my edges together, the blanket kept trying to curl up onto itself. If that happens to you, don’t worry! It all comes together in the end, I promise.
Step 7) Join the fabric to the crocheted blanket.
Now, this is where things got a little tricky.
Note: If you read through all of this and you can’t make sense of it, I’m sorry! Know that you can always whip-stitch the edges together with some yarn and a needle–I just prefer the crochet route.
It’s important to note that the number of stitches you made around your fabric circle will probably not match the number of stitches in the last round of your Solar System Blanket. In my case, my crocheted blanket had way more stitches than my fabric.
This is where your stitch markers come in handy! Focus on one “section” between stitch markers at a time.
Working through both layers of the blanket (fabric and crochet), I started making single crochet stitches. Because I had more stitches in my blanket than I did on my fabric, I worked through both loops but I had to work some decreases along the crocheted side.
To do so, I worked a “special decrease”.
I inserted my hook into the fabric layer first (note in the photo below that I have the fabric facing towards me), then I inserted my hook into one stitch of the crocheted layer. Then, instead of just completing my stitch, I yarned over again and worked my hook into another stitch on the crocheted layer, and then I completed my stitch by yarning over and pulling my hook through both layers, finishing my single crochet stitch as usual.
Basically, you’re going to pair one stitch of the fabric border and two stitches of the crocheted blanket together, all in the same amount of space.
I worked most of my stitches as usual, pairing one stitch of the fabric with one stitch of the crocheted blanket. However, some of these “special decreases” were necessary in order to keep the two halves of my blanket “even” and together.
If you don’t do these “special decreases”, you’ll end up with more crocheted blanket than fabric remaining by the time you work your way down to the next stitch marker. By placing these “special decreases” intermittently into my work between stitch markers, I used up the “extra” stitches of the crocheted blanket, and therefore had the same amount of crocheted blanket and fabric lined up together by the time I reached my next stitch marker.
This sounds a bit complicated, I know, but trust me: after a few inches or so, you’ll start to understand what I mean!
Starting anywhere you like, place your hook through the border stitch made on the fabric and through the stitch of the crocheted blanket. Pull up a loop of yarn and ch 1.
Continue to crochet through both layers of the blanket (fabric and crochet), working some “special decreases” in where needed. If I had to estimate, I’d say you’d probably need to do at least 5 of these “special decreases” per every 18″ or so, but it’s going to vary.
Once you’ve reached the very end, join to the beginning with a slip stitch and fasten off, leaving a tail long enough to weave in.
Step 8) Tack the two sides together.
At this point, you may find that the two sides of your blanket pull apart from each other pretty easily. That’s where tacking comes in handy!
Basically, you’re going to use some smaller strands of yarn to tie through the two sides of the blanket, tying them together so that the fabric can’t pull apart as easily from the crochet. This makes your blanket more user-friendly and adds a nice touch, too!
You can use strands of yarn and a sharper, wide-eyed needle to basically “tie” the two sides of the blanket together. You can work yours in any sort of arrangement that you like. I did mine by working in the round, selecting three rounds sort of evenly spaced apart from the inside (sun) and the outer edge of the blanket. If that’s not your style, you can work a simple 3×3 grid of ties, or any other sort of tie arrangement that you like best.
Here is a photo of the arrangement of my ties:
To help me keep track of where I wanted to place my ties, I placed stitch markers in each of my three rounds on the crocheted side of the blanket.
To do the ties, cut strands of yarn roughly 6″. This will give you plenty of length to work with. Use a needle (preferably one without a blunt tip!) to pull the first half of the yarn tail through both layers of the blanket.
Starting on the crocheted side of your blanket, carefully feed the yarn through the both layers of blanket with your needle, then gently pull the yarn tail through part of the way, leaving half of tail on the crocheted side.
Use your yarn needle to pull the other half of the yarn tail through. Pull this end of the yarn tail through just about a quarter of an inch away from where you pulled the first end through. Pull it through…and there you go!
Tie the yarn tail ends together. I did a few square knots, topped with a Lark’s Head knot. Pull the yarn ends tight to secure the knot. Repeat as necessary for each tie you want to make.
To trim, you can either use a ruler to make sure each tie is the same length, or you can estimate as I did: place your thumb next to the tie, holding the ends of the yarn up and out of the way with your fingers. Then use your other hand to trim the ties so that they are the same length as that first knuckle on your thumb.
Make sure you trim all of the ends of your ties, and make sure each knot is nice and secure.
If you don’t quite like the placement of your ties, pull them out and try again! Don’t worry about any leftover holes in your fabric from re-tying your ties–as I’ve said before, the Soft N Comfy fabric (and fleece) is pretty forgiving. No one will notice!
And there you have it! Now that you’ve backed your crochet blanket with fabric, your Solar System Blanket is now complete.
I sincerely hope that you’ve enjoyed working on this project over the last several weeks! This is one of my most favorite projects that I’ve ever made; I can’t wait to gift this blanket to my aunt-in-law, who loves space even more than I do.
Please feel free to keep tagging photos of your Solar System Blankets on social media with #solarsystemcal! I absolutely love seeing all of your photos, and I’d love to see what kind of fabric other people have selected for the backing!
Have you enjoyed this CAL?
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