By Cassie Johnston
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Before I had a kid, I had never heard of a tag blanket in my life (also called a “lovey”), and in fact, when I first saw one, I had a definite “Uh, what the heck is that for?” moment. Tag blankets are small. At about 16” square, they’re too small to be used for warmth. And are covered by little ribbons. Weird, right?
But now that I have a beautiful baby girl, I totally get it. Tag blankets are a fun, portable way for babies to explore textures, colors and feeling with their hands. They’re basically a toy that doesn’t squeak, squawk, or make noise (which is awesome). They’re completely washable and can fit in almost any pocket of any bag. I’m a big fan of tag blankets. And so is the JuneBug. We handed one to her a few weeks ago, and she was immediately fascinated by the various feelings and textures on the blanket.
The “original” tag blanket is sold by a company that holds the patent on the design, and, let me tell you, they ain’t cheap. For what amounts to about $2 worth of materials, they can run upwards of $35! Because of the patent and copyright, there is supposed to be no selling of off-brand tag-style blankets on the market, but I thought I might share a quick tutorial for how to make one for other frugal parents out there. Just don’t sell them using this pattern. Because you might get sued. And that wouldn’t be cool. I don’t want you to get sued.
Here’s what you’ll need to make your own tag blanket:
For the fabric, I highly recommend using two different textured fabrics for the most varied tactile experience—I used two squares of soft minky, one with raised dots, and one with ridges. You could also use terry cloth, velour, satin, fleece—basically anything that has an interesting texture. Also, the bolder the patterns and colors, the more likely your baby will be to respond earlier.
Follow the same philosophy for the ribbon – pick different textures, fabrics and colors. I went with a collection of grosgrain, satin, and textured fabric ribbon. Don’t use any ribbons that have glitter or embellishments that could come off (these WILL end up in your baby’s mouth). And again, try for colors that are bright and bold—baby girl is really digging the orange and pink circle ribbons right now.
Also, I recommend checking with the cutting table at your local fabric store – they might be able to slide you some freebie short remnants of ribbon cuttings that they couldn’t otherwise sell. Trust me, they aren’t doing anything with their 4” ribbon pieces but throwing them in the trash.
This blanket is so easy to make, it’s ridiculous. Start off with one of your 17” squares of fabric, right-side up. Using a ruler and fabric pen, measure in 8 1/2” from one corner, and place a mark.
Then, take the ribbon you’d like to be in the middle of the row, and fold it in half, right-side out. Pin that ribbon down on top of the mark you just made—aligning the center of the mark with the center of the ribbon, and aligning the raw edge of the ribbon with the raw edge of the fabric. Make sure the folded side of the ribbon is “pointing” in toward the middle of the piece of fabric.
Fill in left and right of the center ribbon with your remaining ribbons—folded in half, right-sides-out—making sure to space them out evenly (this will depend on the width of your ribbons). Also, make sure to leave about an inch free on the ends.
Repeat with all the ribbons on the remaining three sides. It looks a little crazy, but I promise it’ll end up working out when you’re done.
Go ahead and place the blanket on the sewing machine and sew 1/4″ away from the edge to tack the ribbons to the blanket—removing the pins as you go.
Now take your second square of fabric, and place it, right-side-down, on top of the piece of fabric with the attached ribbons.
Align all the edges neatly and then pin it down.
Using a 1/2” seam allowance, sew all the way around the edge of the blanket, except leave a 3” gap in the middle of one of the sides to allow you to turn the blanket inside out.
Using that gap, turn the whole thing inside out. Like magic, the ribbons are facing the right direction!
Give the blanket and good pressing, and then carefully fold under the unfinished part of the seam, and pin together.
Using a coordinating (or contrasting, if you’re feeling crazy) thread, top stitch 1/4” from the edge of the blanket, all the way around. This not only closes the opening, but it also reinforces the ribbons so little exploring hands can’t pull them out.
Give it another good pressing, and voila! A tag blanket.
This would make an awesome gift for a baby shower. And they’re so easy to make, you could make a couple with various patterns and textures to keep baby guessing.
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Love this! We had two tag blankets for Ty. We had one that had a crinkle fabric in the middle of the two layers, so it make crinkly sounds. He loved it. We also had the traditional one like yours here. It’s amazing how much a simple toy like this can entertain a baby!
Love this idea! What fabric/material do you use for the crinkly sound?
I used a washed cereal bag for the inside crinkle paper. It is super crinkly and food grade because we all know where the blanket is going to end up. Just don’t wash in hot water, iron it and what not.
Very nice! I suggest you make a couple indeed, but not with various patterns and textures: instead, make two identical blankets! If your daughter decides to make this her favourite comforter, you’ll want to be able to rotate between two blankets for cleaning, and you’ll be happy to have a back-up blanket in case you lose one. Babies can be picky about wanting the exact same comforter!
That is an incredible idea! With 4 kids attached to their blankie this would have saved many tears. I might even be tempted to make more and leave one at grandmas in case we forget…
This is a great tutorial! Never heard of these either (but also don’t have kids). I’ll definitely have to look into making these for a few baby showers coming up… $2 is so much better than $35!
If you’re looking to add in a “crinkle” like Shauna mentioned, you can use a clean cereal bag and sew it in between the two layers of fabric. Gives the perfect crinkly noise!
I wish I knew about this 27 years ago. I really have to laugh – My eldest daughter had a stuffed toy and she used to love to play with the tag all the time. We have a picture of her with the tag in her mouth and the toy just hanging. I guess had I been a little more creative, I would have thought it up myself!
Not much of a seamstress but I still love reading through your tutorials. Had to comment today to say: those leaf pins!!!!!!!!
Do you have to wash the fabric before you begin sewing it, for pre-shrinking?
Yup! Washing fabric is always a good idea before you dig into any sewing project. :)
Fantastic tutorial, great step by step photos! Thank you for sharing! Such a simple project for anyone with a sewing machine and a great savings on the retail mark-up price.
I pressed my taggie that had material with the raised dots, but my dots disappeared, and I did press lightly. How did the dots stay on yours?
Great tutorial! made my first taggie. If you put the oven roaster bag in it, what happens in the washer/dryer? Im assuming it would be ok because the bags go in the oven!
Please bear in mind that this process is patented so never try to sell any blankets made like this.
The word “taggy” is also trademarked for use on blankets, so again, don’t ever use it on something you are selling.
I just wanted to warn people as I regularly see Etsy shop owners posting in the forums to say they have been ordered to remove them from their shops.
I mention that in the post. :)
My experience with Minky fabric is that you cannot iron it. The “dots” flatten and do not pop back even after washing. (I tried on a small scrap.) I was told not to iron it and really, after washing it does not need it. Dry it on a lower temp. I usually take it out slightly damp. I used contrasting colors of Minky on my blankets. My granddaughter will not sleep without hers!
LOVE this one! I have a new Great Grandson and will make him one today!
I have made a ton of these! So easy and cute and a big hit at baby showers. I cut out the step of pinning and then sewing the tags on separately, I just tape the tags in place and then sew both pieces of fabric together, t&t.
How did you iron that real fabric? I bout similar fabric but when I ironed it (thankfully before any sewing), the texture ironed out :(
This might be a silly question but is the dye in the ribbon a worry for going into baby’s mouth? Is there a certain type of ribbon to get that is colorfast and won’t harm any babies when they chew on them? Thanks!
I wondered the same thing regarding the dyes in the ribbons.
I would definitely wash the ribbon first before giving it to a baby. Also would not give it to a baby without an adult around in case little fingers got tangled in the loop, but maybe that’s overboard cautious. Great tutorial
Thank you so much for this tutorial! I made a blanket for my daughter and for a few friends as well. Posted pictures on my blog with credits given ;)
Hey! I LOVE this, thanks for the tutorial! Question: Where’d you get your fabric?? I can’t find any decently priced minky fabrics anywhere (at least in a teal and gray color, which is what I want). Any suggestions? Thanks!
I always check the remnant fabric bin. I have gotten almost a yard of star pattern minky for $3 during a half off remnant sale, and a bit more than a yarn of black dot for $2.
I have been making this type of lovies, burb clothes and baby blankets of all sizes for years most of the time out of flannel fabric .
I even make blankets for adults, everyone
loves my hand made blankets..
These are so fun and colorful. Another benefit of the loops is the no-drop factor. The stroller, carseat, swing, etc seatbelt can go through one loop.
Have you ever had your child throw the blankie out of the stroller just as you drive over it grinding it into the mud? Not a pretty sight.
Super easy just made mine a little bigger..just too o cute can’t wait to give to my grandson for his first birthday!
Adorable! They didn’t have these years ago when I had my son, but my niece is about to be two, and all the new things for baby! So exciting! Of course, if we bought everything we wanted to give them, well… Thank God for sewing machines, crochet hooks, and knitting needles…. and all the things that make for great toys. A quick share! At one point, hubby and I splurged on $300+ in toys for our toddler. My mom was his daytime sitter though, and we took plenty to her house. She was a big fan of sodas though, and for a spell of bedrest (thanks to blood clots in my legs) I was given a collection of fuzzy posters in poster tubes to keep me occupied while unable to get up and move around. My son played with his expensive toys for a few minutes. Just a few. Then he dug through a toy basket and got… A two liter bottle that had some small bits and bobs with a cap, superglued on so he couldn’t get to the smaller things. When he tired of banging that thing around, he went wild with a poster tube from the fuzzy posters I’d colored constantly until the doctors said it was okay to move around more. LOL! The option of noisy, expensive toys, and he chose the toys my mother made out of things he saw us using and interacting with instead. It was the most important thing I could tell my sister when she wanted to splurge on things boasting to make baby so smart and interactive. They want what they see. Child proof it, and save for the toys you want to give them that you can’t make for yourself.
On the concern about baby getting fingers twisted in ribbon, I saw a lady on a post suggest to sew lengthwise down the middle of the ribbon which will eliminate the loop.
What a brilliant idea for a gift .. A friends daughter is having one soon. It will be better than knits that she will grow out of quickly. Can I use fleece fabric on one side?
I don’t see why not!
I ordered the crinkly sound plastic on Etsy I believe. It doesn’t take much. You only put in one corner. I have been told you can also use chocolate chip bags.
I have embroidery machine and put their name on it.
I made one and it turned out super cute. Cut the size down a little for my newborn but still looks great. THanks for posting this.
I’ve never sewed with minky before, but have made quilts with cotton fabrics before. Should I use a different needle when sewing with minky?
I just use a regular medium machine needle, and it works fine. Your cotton needles should do the trick!
Hi, I’m finishing up my blankie right now, made for my best friend’s new baby. Thanks so much or this tutorial.. I have two questions.
1. Where did you get the feather pins?
2. Any tips for sewing straight when only leaving 1/4 inch allowance? I love to sew but I feel like no matter how hard I try I can’t make a straight line! It stretches and pulls and goes all over the place.
I’m not sure about the feather pins, but this might help on the seam allowance bit: http://howtosew.com/blog/q/what-seam-allowance
Try putting some masking tape as a line on the right side of the sewing foot exactly 1/4 inch from needle.
Also use your left hand to support fabric at back .
Right hand to guide material in front.
Sew slowly when doing the straightline.
Don’tbe in a hurry.from experience I have never really sewed a proper straight line. It takes time snd practice.have funtoo.
Great blog here! Also your website loads up fast! What web
host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to your host?
I wish my site loaded up as fast as yours lol
Can these be made bigger and would it have to be quilted or tied, how easy is it to quilt minky?
I’m sure they can be made bigger, and you wouldn’t necessarily have to quilt it, though it might hold up a bit better if you do.
What a wonderful detailed tutorial. Great job.
Hi from Australia,
Yes you can buythese feather pins. These I use in my patchwork blankets. Should be able to get them from your local sewing , fabric craft shop.
Thank you for this tutorial, will be making these for Pediatric center at WRMC.
Thanks for the detailed instructions, but not sure how you could make this in just 15 minutes. It too me at least 30 minutes to cut out the ribbons.
Do you pre wash the ribbon & If so how do you do it? Would love to make one for a great nephew due soon!?
Nope, no need to pre-wash the ribbon!
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