We are often asked questions about what kinds of blankets and other items we can use. Some of the most frequently asked questions are answered here, but if you have other questions, please call (see telephone numbers at the left) or send us an email at coordinator@gtcaprojectlinus.org and we'll get right back to you!

How do I donate a blanket?

If you have made a blanket to donate to Project Linus, simply take it to one of our many Blanket Drop-off Locations throughout the Twin Cities. These locations are open all normal business hours. If you need a receipt for tax purposes, leave your name and address with your blanket and let us know that you would like a receipt. Donation slips for this purpose are available at all of our drop-off locations.

What kinds of blankets can you use?

We accept new, handmade blankets of any kind – quilted, knitted, crocheted, or made from fleece. Blankets must be handmade and not commercially manufactured.  Blankets should not have been previously used, even if the use was only gentle and the blanket has since been washed. Remember that these blankets are going, for the most part, to children in hospitals, who may be more vulnerable than others to the risk of infection.  

What size blankets do you take?

Blankets should be somewhere between CRIB size (minimum 30”x36”) and TWIN size (approximately 60”x72”). A good in-between size for a smaller CHILD or PRETEEN is approximately 42”x60”. 

These sizes are exclusive of any fringe or edging on the blanket. For example, if you are making a fleece blanket with 4” fringe on all sides, cut your fleece 8” longer and wider than the size of your finished blanket.

Blankets should be square or rectangular in shape. We mention this only because we’ve seen things like triangles and octagons come through the door. Try for something the size and shape of a child’s bed. If you are making a fleece blanket with a directional fabric (something with a pattern that has to go in a certain direction), the fleece should be cut so that the top of the pattern is at the top of the blanket. 

Please remember that we are giving blankets to kids and that they should be wide enough to cover a sleeping child. If your fabric is so long and narrow that it resembles a prayer shawl, a good solution is to sew or crochet two pieces together to make something wide enough to be a blanket.  Odd-sized pieces of fleece can also be used as binding or sewn onto another blanket as fringe.

What size and type of blanket do you need the most?

Most kids are bigger than babies or toddlers, so we have the most need for larger (twin-sized) blankets. We have equal need for blankets for girls and boys. Gender-neutral colors and themes are always welcome since they give hospitals the greatest flexibility with regard to which child gets the blanket.

Superheroes and princesses are very popular themes right now for smaller children, but animals and abstract themes are always good choices. Remember that we give blankets to kids as old as 18, so try to keep the teenagers in mind too!

Do you need blankets year-round or only in the winter?

Kids are hospitalized and need comfort at all times of the year.  We donate most of our blankets to hospitals in the Twin Cities area, and that need doesn't change over the course of the year.

What materials can be used in the making of a blanket?

Quilts should be made with reasonably good quality 100% cotton fabric. Some cottons are so thin and threadbare that they won't stand up to much washing, so we ask that you avoid those.  We also ask that you not use things like tapestry, burlap, upholstery fabric, double knit, felt, vinyl, velvet, corduroy, wool, or any other kind of fabric that is not soft, washable, and non-allergenic. You also should not use fabrics that will shrink or bleed with washing. Be careful even with cotton fabrics – some have embedded metallic threads or glitter, which can be scratchy. It's fine to use flannel or Minky as a backing fabric.

Knitted or crocheted blankets should generally be made with acrylic yarn. Wool is not acceptable because some kids are allergic to it. Cotton yarn may shrink when exposed to the heat of the industrial washers and dryers used in hospitals, so we recommend that you avoid using cotton as well.

Fleece blankets should be made with polar fleece. This is what you will usually find in fabric stores, but we have seen some other types of fleece show up lately. Polar fleece does not unravel. If your fleece is shedding and unraveling at the edges, it’s not a good idea to use it in a blanket.

Never attach buttons or any other decorations that can come off and present a choking hazard to a child.

Why do fleece blankets have to be single-layer rather than double-layer?

Double-layer fleece blankets are great for the cabin or a football game, but they are too hot and heavy to be used for very long indoors. Remember that most of our blankets are going to kids in hospitals, which is a temperature-controlled environment. The hospitals also have to find a place to store blankets before they are given to an individual child, and the double-layer blankets take up a LOT of space. The hospitals prefer single-layer blankets so that’s what we ask for.

Are there any common mistakes we should avoid in making blankets?

Most of the blankets that we receive are beautiful and go immediately out to hospitals to be put into the hands of children in need of comfort.  Still, some of the blankets that are donated do need some "re-work."  We are fortunate to have volunteers who will do the re-work (at least so far), but it would be nice if they didn't have to!  

Common mistakes include:

Blankets that are too small.  Blankets should be a minimum of 30" x 36", even if they are knitted or crocheted.  While tiny blankets can be used for many things, they aren't particularly useful for kids.

Blankets that are too big.  The opposite problem.  Most kids don't sleep in king-sized beds and don't need blankets that are larger than twin size.

Blankets that are oddly sized.  Usually this means they are too long and narrow, but we have had the occasional triangle, octagon or parallelogram.  We know you want to use up those odd pieces of fleece, but these shapes don't make a useful blanket for a child. 

Double-layer fleece blankets instead of single-layer blankets.  Double-layer blankets are too hot, heavy, and bulky for use in a temperature-controlled environment like a hospital.  Use a single layer of fleece instead.  There's a pattern here (No-Sew Fleece Blanket Guidelines) on the website!

Fleece blankets that don't have the selvages removed.  The selvage is the area on both sides of a piece of fleece that is tightly woven, stiff and often a different color from the rest of the fleece.  It is put there during the manufacturing process to keep the fleece from unraveling while it is being woven.  The selvage should ALWAYS be removed before you do anything else.  Please .... we're begging you.  It's much more difficult and time-consuming for our volunteers to trim the selvage off of each individual piece of fringe after the blanket is done.

Blankets that are made from inappropriate materials.  Don't use fabrics other than cotton or flannel to make quilts, don't use any kind of scratchy or potentially allergenic yarn to make afghans.  Don't use fleece that sheds.

Animal hair or smells.  Yuck.  Don't let your pets sleep on the blankets before you donate them.  Just so you know, pet hair doesn't usually come off in the wash.

Why shouldn't we use holiday fabrics to make blankets?

It's tempting to snap up all of those holiday fabrics when they're on sale, especially if it's still before the holiday. The problem is that even if a holiday-themed blanket is made, donated and delivered to a child before the holiday, it still has a limited window in which it will be fun for a child to use. More often, the cycle of donation, delivery, and storage in the hospital is just long enough that the blanket you donated in December may not be given to a child until January or February.

It's also good to keep in mind that not everyone celebrates the same religious holidays. Since we don't know where any particular blanket is going to go, it's better to avoid using fabric that is religious in nature.

We recommend that if you do want to use holiday fabrics in a quilt, you use fabric from lots of different holidays that occur at different times of the year. It's okay to use non-religious Christmas fabric if you also use fabrics for other holidays (such as Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Fourth of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, etc.) in the same blanket.

Since fleece blankets are made with a single pattern, we ask that you avoid any patterns that clearly relate to a particular holiday or time of year. No one wants to give a snowman blanket to a child in July.

Why won’t you accept commercially made blankets?

While there is nothing wrong with most commercially made blankets in terms of quality, Project Linus is a labor of love. We want children to know that someone thought about them while they were making a blanket, and for them to feel uplifted by the good wishes and caring that went into the making of that blanket. 

What do you do with blankets that don’t meet Project Linus standards?

We try to find a place for every blanket that is donated to us. We generally give blankets that don’t meet the standards for hospitals in our area to social services agencies that specialize in helping children in need or that shelter homeless families. This is usually what happens to double-layer fleece blankets, although if we have time, our volunteers will take them apart and make two blankets out of them.

On occasion, blankets that are donated to us are simply too small to be used even by the smallest child. In that case, our volunteers will either try to sew several blankets together or we will donate them to area animal shelters.

There is not much that we can do with blankets that smell like smoke, pet urine, mold, mothballs or powerful detergents. Please don’t use fabrics that haven’t been properly stored and washed!

What scents or perfumes are acceptable on blankets?

Some children are very sensitive or allergic to perfumes and other scents, so it's best if there is NO scent at all on your blanket. When you are making a blanket, you should not use fabric or yarn that has unpleasant odors attached. This includes not only obviously bad smells (pet smells, smoke, mothballs, mold, etc.) but also the perfumes and scents that can be in detergents, fabric softeners, and spray starches. 

Please don't wash fabric or yarn with detergents that leave behind their own strong perfume odors! We recommend always using unscented detergents to wash materials that are going to be used in a blanket.

Sometimes fabrics that have been stored in a basement or garage take on the smell of mold or mildew, which is not only hard to get out but can be dangerous for the kids that you are trying to help. Sometimes fabric can be restored with careful washing, but you should wash any questionable fabric carefully and make sure the smell is completely gone before incorporating it into a blanket.

Along those lines, we've noticed lately that some companies that make kitchen trash bags have been adding strong perfumes to the bags. Please do not pack your creations in scented trash bags! Remember that those perfumes are intended to be super strong to cover up the smell of rotting garbage, and it's really hard to get that odor out. At best this means a lot of extra work for our volunteers to try to wash away the smell, and at worst it means we can't use the blanket at all.

Will you take anything other than blankets?  For example, pillowcases, stuffed animals or hats?

No. Our mission is limited to blankets. Sometimes the same institutions that we donate blankets to will accept other donations, but we are not in a position to determine which institutions will accept other types of donations or what their standards are. If you like to make other types of items, we encourage you to call around or do an online search for organizations that specialize in these items. There are many worthy charities out there that will appreciate your help!

Do you accept donations of fabric or yarn?

We are delighted to accept donations of fabrics or yarn from which Project Linus blankets can be made. In the case of fabric, this means 100% cotton fabric, flannel or polar fleece. In the case of yarn, this means any kind of acrylic yarn.

Is it OK to attach a personal letter or tag to the blanket I donate?

Unfortunately no. As nice as it is for a child to get a personal message from the person who made the blanket, many hospitals launder the blankets before they are given to a child and have to remove things that would be destroyed in the washer and dryer. The fasteners used to attach a tag or note to a blanket (such as a straight pin or a safety pin) can also be hazardous to children. Our volunteers do sew a Project Linus label onto each blanket before it is donated so the recipients will know who made the blanket for them and that it was a gift of love.

Can I or my children go with you to distribute blankets?

No, because we don't usually interact directly with the children who receive blankets. We normally donate a large number of blankets to a hospital or social service agency, which then stores the blankets and gives them to children when they are needed. In hospitals, blankets are often placed in a child's room upon admission, or a blanket may be given to a child in the Emergency Room. 

Can I get a tax receipt for my donation?

We do not routinely send out receipts to donors, but we will be happy to send you a "Gift In Kind" receipt for tax purposes if you request one. You can either use the donation form that is available at our blanket drop-off locations or simply attach a note with your name and address and indicate that you would like to receive a receipt.