Years ago I prepared the fleece for my first couple of crochet-edged blankets with just fabric scissors and a 1/8″ paper punch! An H hook (5.0 mm) can easily slip through a 1/8″ (3.175 mm) hole in stretchy fleece.
If you decide to go this route, be careful that you buy a tiny 1/8″ punch, not an everyday 1/4″ one.
There’s a Big difference in the holes they each make!
I punched holes about 3/4″ apart and 3/4″ in from the edge of the fleece. It’s not terribly hard to make holes in fleece with a paper punch, but your hand will get tired. I usually punched a few holes, crocheted into them and then punched a few more.
So yeah, you can prepare a piece of fleece for crocheting an edging with just a paper punch and scissors, but if you plan to border more than a few blankets you’ll probably want to buy the tools that make the process both faster and easier on your hands –
a 45mm rotary cutter, a skip-stitch blade and a self-healing mat of at least 18″ x 24″. Couldn’t find the blade in any local store, so I ordered one from here. I got the #1 blade, designed for use with fleece and a worsted weight yarn, like RHSS. It makes little slits that work well with size H or I crochet hooks.
Update re: Blades (Jan. 2015) – “Havel’s Wide Skip Blades” look similar and sell for about half the price of the brand I linked above. According to the customer reviews they work fine! Also, a reader told me that she found “Edge Perfect Blades” at a quilting fabric shop, another possible source.
My second cutter is loaded with a plain cutting blade. You could use one cutter and switch between the two kinds of blades or substitute a pair of fabric scissors for the plain blade, scissors sharp enough to easily cut through fleece.
You may also want to get a clear acrylic ‘quilting’ ruler. Mine is 5″ x 18″. A narrower one would work fine for this job.
Some, like this particular one, have a little lip on one end so it can grip the edge of the cutting mat, making it less likely to slip out of alignment. This is very helpful when cutting strips of quilt fabric, but not of much use when cutting a huge piece of fleece! Most of the time while making blankets I have it flipped over so the lip is out-of-the-way and I can more easily slide it around.
And you’ll need a straight pin. One with a colored ball head will be easier to see. If you follow the Linus Project Pattern, ‘Skip-Stitch Blade Instructions’, for a square-cornered fleece blanket, you’ll use a pin to mark wherever you stopped perforating the fleece with the skip-stitch blade.
But if you want to round off your blanket’s corners like I do, I find it easier to mark where I begin perforating. I’ll explain that better a little later. I used a lunch plate, one that’s about 9″ in diameter, as a pattern for my blanket’s curved corners.
And, of course, you need a piece of fleece! The size is completely up to you.
Fleece often goes on sale at 40 or 50% off and once in a great while at 60% off!
At ‘my’ JoAnn store I can save another 50% by buying fleece remnants. – I don’t know if every JoAnn store allows a remnant discount on top of a sale discount or not; you’ll have to check your local store’s policy. – This special double discount means that $10 per yard fleece, for example, ends up costing me only $2.50 per yard, and $15 fleece would be $3.75. Yay!
I look for remnants of at least a yard. This particular one is 1.11 yard or about 40″ x 58″.
Let’s check out just how rectangular my remnant really is. Are its two cut edges perpendicular to its selvedges? Wow, this edge is Great, cut right along the stripe line! Yay!
But the opposite side is a little off, so I’ll give it a trim. Yes, the scissors are laying there, but with such a tiny sliver to be removed it was easier to use the ruler and rotary cutter.
I also cut off the selvedges. Usually they’re a different color, but sometimes there’s an area that’s only different in texture, rather ‘bald’ or with a line of teeny-tiny holes.
Obviously squaring up a striped piece of fleece is very easy. I check the general squareness of other prints and solids against the grid pattern of our kitchen’s vinyl flooring and trim as necessary.
Next match up any two corners.
Round them off by trimming around the plate.
You can begin perforating with the skip-stitch blade anywhere along the fleece’s edge except on a corner curve. Stay about 3/4″ in from the edge. Having done this many times before I can just eyeball it now, but you’ll probably want to use the ruler. Mark your starting point with the straight pin.
Double check that you’re about to use a skip-stitch blade and not the regular kind. Bad news if you should ever forget to switch!
Perforate the fleece from the pin to the far edge of the cutting mat.
Hold the fleece along its edge right next to where you made the last hole. Move that spot down to the bottom of the mat so you can continue perforating along the same edge.
Carefully pull the fleece out at its edge so you can clearly see the last hole that you just made.
Insert the bottom-most spoke on the skip-stitch blade into the last hole.
Continue perforating and moving the fleece until you near a curved corner.
Slowly go round the corner. My cutter makes ominous creaking/binding noises but nothing bad has happened so far!
Continue perforating until you find yourself back at the starting pin. Don’t hit the pin!
Remove the pin and check your first and last holes. Hopefully they will be well aligned and you can say Ta-Dah! as I did here.
But if your first and last holes are too far apart you can carefully add another hole between them. – or – If they’re too close together, you can just skip a hole when you crochet the foundation round.
The Linus Project Pattern also includes the Foundation and Finishing Crochet Rounds. I’ll cover how to do them on pieces of fleece with rounded corners in next week’s tutorial – Part Two.