There are lots of baby's on the way in Hubby's department at school. It seems we are a relatively fertile group!
My standard baby gift has been blankets; an item I can make and always useful. In fact, after my sister had her baby and we got to talk about all sorts of baby things, it become apparent that many blankets are not big enough to swaddle a newborn, and everyone loves a blanket with a warm side and a cool side -- and that's what I make!
If you have a sewing machine and about 2 hours, you can make this greatly appreciated baby gift. Many of my blankets are a bit fanangled, making due with what I've got. This is a style of blanket that is simple and easy to resize to fit the need. I'm generally of the opinion that bigger is better. I have started making mine about 3' x 3', give or take a few inches.
Material: Most recently I used cotton flannel and flannel-backed satin for the two layers. I generally go for a patterned cotton flannel and a single colored satin, aiming to have the satin a color that matches one of the minor colors in the flannel. Thread? Something matching.
1. Cut the flannel to size. Don't be too worried about getting exactly 3' x 3' or 4' x 4', as the fabrics tend to stretch and shift. Use the flannel to cut the satin to size. (As often as not, I take the short size of the fabric, fold it diagonal and cut to make a square with which ever fabric is smaller; use that to cut the other fabric to size.)
Pin the two pieces of fabric so that right sides are together.
2. Stitch around the edge, leaving a 3 or 4 inch gap in the middle of one side to flip the blanket right side out after sewing. The flannel will stretch and the satin will slide; finishing with the corners exact has eluded me so far. It seems that the flannel stretches less if it is on bottom as you stitch. But anyway about it, when the four sides are stitched (with the gap left for flipping), clip the corners, flip the blanket right side out, and poke the corners out so that they are as sharp as you can get them.
3. Iron lightly to smooth the blanket and get good edges. Pin the edges such that the flannel and satin meet right at the edge, even if your satin doesn't lie completely flat doing so (looks nicer and satin never really lies all that flat). Pin the gap closed.
4. Choose a decorative stitch, or a simple zig zag stitch, and stitch around the edges. Keep the stitch close to the edge, within 1/8 to 1/4 of a inch at the most. This will stitch the gap closed and set the edges. All done!
These aren't hard to make and once you get the hang of it, you might be able to make one in about an hour (or less if you are doing several at a time). I don't remember where I got the idea, but it isn't original with me.
Have fun making baby blankets!