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Muslin baby blankets top the list of lightweight wraps for your little one. The fabric itself is a loose weave of 100% natural cotton. It allows a bit of airflow or breathe-ability so that your baby can more easily regulate body temperature and not become overheated.
Muslin baby blankets are typically used for swaddling but are very versatile. Other uses are nursing covers, stroller sunshades, burp cloths, even cloth diapers when you've run out of disposables! Plus, muslin baby blankets are available in dozens of delightful patterns and designs AND they wash up well, getting even softer with use!
If you are interested in making your own custom muslin baby blankets, you need to know that all muslin is not equal. The fabric is available in many weights, or grades, from sheer to coarse. Since muslin can be used for nearly anything, from dress-making to kitchen uses to wallpaper to making theatrical settings, muslin you buy for baby blankets must be a thin, loosely-woven weight, often called cotton gauze. It is usually quite sheer.
Some muslin is called double gauze. This differs from regular cotton gauze because the manufacturing process tacks two layers of gauze together with indiscernible tiny stitches at regular intervals. In this way, the two layers act as one and are not as easily seen through.
You'll find that muslin is available unbleached, bleached, patterned, or dyed, and may have a finish or sizing from the manufacturer. Most fabric shops have a variety of muslin weights; the nearby big box store carries a minimal collection of muslin in their craft department, however, plain cotton gauze cannot always be found. I did find a cute elephant-patterned muslin, however, and made this easy swaddle blanket.
FYI, muslin fabric is a bit wrinkly, which adds to its charm and breatheable, insulating properties.
Historically speaking, muslin is believed to originally have been developed in Dhaka, now the capital of Bangladesh. References to this textile have been made in writings as long ago as the 9th century. Marco Polo referred to the cloth in his writings in the year 1298. So muslin has been in use for a very long time. The first Dhaka Muslin Festival began February 5, 2016, and lasted an entire month. The government of Bangladesh is attempting to revive world interest in them as a center for fine muslin fabrics. Muslin is currently produced in several countries including Bangladesh, India, Switzerland, Australia, United Kingdom, and the U.S.A.
Although traditionally muslin is made of 100% cotton, muslin can now be made using bamboo fibers. Usually this is a blend of 70% bamboo and 30% cotton. Bamboo is said to be even softer than cotton, possibly having hypoallergenic properties. Plus, bamboo apparently takes less water to grow than cotton and has no natural pests; therefore it could be more earth-friendly than cotton. The Little Linen Company in Australia states on their website that they have created the first bamboo muslin.
Aden + Anais, another popular baby products company, has some muslin products made with a “smidge of spandex” for a bit of one-way stretch. When swaddling babies, this could be helpful if you're in a hurry and inadvertently wrap them a bit too tightly.
Muslin may be still be plain-woven or made with a pattern woven right in. Depending on the thread made from the cotton fiber, muslin can still be very sheer to very opaque. Muslin is used for many purposes, such as the following:
As you can see, the properties of muslin make it a go-to fabric for baby blankets as well as many other items 21st century babies need.