Come January we will be lambing out 56 ewes and 12 does on the farm. Most of our lambs and kids are born between mid January and late February. And without fail, this will be the coldest part of the year. If there is going to be a cold spell or a winter blizzard, count on it coming during lambing season.
Because temperatures get well below freezing in Virginia, we use heat lambs in our lambing and kidding jugs. And although we prefer to keep newborns under them for the first three days, it is not unusually to have lambing jugs turn over every 24 hours. If one lambs, they all want to lamb!
Several years ago we started using newborn baby lamb and goat blankets. We put them on shortly after birth and leave them on for several days. Depending on the size of the lamb and the weather, some even keep them on for couple of weeks.
How to Make Newborn Lamb & Kid Blankets
Making your own newborn lamb and goat blankets for winter is very easy. Best of all, it requires no special pattern or sewing skills.
You know that saying “barn hair, don’t care”? Well your sheep and/or goats are not going to look and see how straight you seams are. Nor will they look to make sure every blanket is exactly the same size.
There are two main goals of this project. First, make something to keep newborn lambs and kids warm. Second, to use the materials as efficiently as possible, and with little waste. Keep that in mind when you see size measurements below ending in -ish. 😉
I make my blankets using red and blue fleece so that I can easily sex lambs from a distance.
I know, I know… pink and baby blue would be so cute. But over the years I have found that those colors always looked dirty. So I’ve changed to red and royal blue blankets which seem to hide dirt much better.
It takes 48″ of fleece to make 9 blankets. So with the supplies I have listed below you will get a total of 18 blankets, 9 red and 9 blue.
If you don’t need that many, remember that each 16″ of a 58″ wide fleece will yield 3 blankets. Divide the number of blankets you need by 3 and then multiple that number by 16″ to get the total length of fleece you need.
9 blankets ÷ 3 = 3
3 x 16″ = 48″
you need 48″ to make 9 blankets
Equipment You Will Need
Supplies You Will Need
- 1 1/3 yards (or 48″) of red fleece, 58″ wide
- 1 1/3 yards (or 48″) of blue fleece, 58″ wide
- red thread
- blue thread
Yields 9 red blankets and 9 blue blankets
Instructions for Making Newborn Lamb & Goat Blankets
Create 16″ x 19″ Rectangles
The first thing to do is to cut the width of your fleece into thirds.
Most fleece fabrics are just about 58″ wide, including the selvage. Equally divided that will make each section just shy of 20″.
Position the fleece on top of the rotary mat so that you are able to line up the quilter’s ruler 19″ from the edge of the fabric for cutting. Using your rotary cutter, firmly cut along the ruler 19″ from the edge. Be sure you are cutting on top of your mat. Unless, of course, you are looking for a reason to buy a new table.
Continue down the entire length of the fleece, moving the fabric and measuring 19″ from the edge each time. When you finish you will be left with an 19″ x 48″ piece of fleece, as well as, a 39″ x 48″ piece of fleece.
Repeat this process with the leftover 39″ wide fleece. Starting from the top, measure out 19″ from the edge and cut using the rotary cutter.
When done you will be left with two 19″ x 48″ sections and one 20″ x 48″ section.
Next you are going to cut each section into smaller rectangles.
Position your fleece on top of the rotary mat and from the top measure down 16″. Using your ruler and rotary cutter, cut a rectangle measuring 16″ x 19″ rectangle.
On your 20″ wide strip you will measure and cut a rectangle measuring 16″ x 20″. To save both time and waste, I leave them at 16″ x 20″. In the end, the blankets will be 1/2″ longer on each side which doesn’t bother me… not one iota! Remember, “barn hair, don’t care!”
Continue cutting all three narrow sections until you are left with a pile of 16″ x 19-ish” rectangles.
Create the Neck Cutout
Now let’s make those plain old rectangles look like newborn lamb and kid blankets.
Fold the long edge in half, giving you a 10″ x 16″ surface.
Start by using your rotary cutter to cut a semi oval approximately 4″ in along the folded edge and 5″ down (see drawing).
You can either free hand the cutout for the neck or make a template. The quickest and easiest way I have found is to free hand my first cut. Then I place that blanket on top of the next, using it as a pattern.
I also use this time to clean up any rough or uneven edges with the quilter’s ruler and rotary cutter, as necessary.
Repeat until all blankets are done.
Once you finish with all of the neck cutouts, it is time to move to the leg openings.
Cut Leg Openings
To create the leg openings, we are going to cut 5″ slots giving ourselves a 2″ allowance on each side and between the cuts. We are also going to give 2″ allowance from the bottom.
With the fleece still folded, prepare to use your rotary cutter to cut leg openings.
Helpful Tip: As you can see in the photo below, I added masking tape to my quilter’s ruler marking where each edge lines up and at each stop and start point for the leg opening. This speeds up the process considerably, while insuring that the right cuts are made each time.
To make your cuts, line up the middle of the blade with the masking tap. Apply firm pressure and cut.
Before moving the quilter’s ruler, give a gentle tug to be sure you have cut through both layers of fleece.
Repeat with each blanket until all blankets are done.
Finishing the Newborn Blankets
You’re almost done. All that is left is to stitch the front seam together.
The fleece I used really didn’t have a noticeable front and back side. If your’s does, start by aligning and penning the right sides together. If not, simple pen together the seam below the neck opening.
Using a sewing machine, sew a medium width straight stitch, 1/4″ from the edge.
Starting at the top, sew forward 1″, then reverse your stitch for 1″, then sew forward again the length of the edge. Be sure to back stitch at the bottom of the seam as well. This will help reinforce both ends.
Turn your blanket so the seam is inside.
That’s it — you’re all done. I told you this was going to be easy!
Using Your Newborn Lamb & Goat Blankets
A couple of things to keep in mind when using your blankets.
As I mentioned earlier, depending on the weather and the thriftiness of the lambs or kids, you can safely leave blankets on for several days.
Blankets can be put on the lambs and kids while they are still wet. In frigid temperatures, we put blankets on as soon as they are able to stand and the ewe or doe is finished cleaning them off. Often this is while they are still wet. We have not found this to be a problem. If the blanket feels wet on the outside, put a new blanket on.
These blankets are washable. Be sure to use an unscented detergent to wash.
Always wash blankets between uses. This will prevent the smell of the past lamb or kid from being passed on. And the last thing we want on a cold winter night is to have a ewe or lamb disown their own newborn.
I think I covered all the bases… but if I missed something or you have any questions, be sure to drop me a note in the comments below!
Hope you enjoy your newborn lamb and goat blankets. You are going to love your newborn lamb and goat blankets!!
Other Sheep Posts You Might Like:
- Caring for Pregnant Ewes Before Lambing
- Purebred Animals on the Homestead
- Buying Sheep: When is the Best Time?