Baby blankets are so easy to make, and make great gifts. In this post, I'll tell you some very simple (and quick) ways to make them. Whatever you make, start by washing all the fabrics you use.
First of all, fleece blankets. Ideally I suggest that for a baby shower gift, you consider making one for when baby is a bit older, i.e. when he or she moves out of the Moses basket into a full size cot. The dinky little blankets for the first crib or Moses' basket really only last for the first few weeks. If you want a more lasting gift, do think in terms of the larger cot the baby will move into by the age of six months or so. However, I must admit that I did make Moses' basket blankets for my grand-daughters. These also fitted nicely into bouncy cradles.
For the first size blankets, I bought full size cream fleece cot blankets. These were cheaper than the tiny Moses basket blankets! I cut each into 4, cutting them into 4 smaller pieces. Then I re-hemmed them or bound them with some satin bias binding. Finally, I stitched a little appliqué to the corner: teddy bears, rabbits, dogs etc. And that's it! (And you must stitch the appliqués on, don't try and use iron-on ones.)
I also have a couple of posts about making your own appliqués, here and here. Using these would make the blankets even more inexpensive to make. However, some of my first blankets were made in a hurry, one of the grand-daughters arriving much too early. So the appliqués I used here were purchased ones. Sadly, the teddy bear blanket and cute dog blanket are now no more, through being very well-used, but here's a rabbit, lion and elephant that survived.
Here are some other examples of the sort of thing you could buy as decoration.
If you can't find reasonably priced full size cot blankets to chop up, you could easily make baby blankets with fleece bought by the yard, or even a full-size adult fleece blanket, as long as it's nice and soft, and is suitable. The advantage of starting with a ready-made blanket is that it should meet all fire-retardant regulations etc.
The great thing about home-made quilts and blankets is they can be as simple or complicated as you like, and they can be personalised. You can add an initial or name, or even an appliqué that reflects the baby's name, if known. We have one with middle name Rose. Or perhaps your hopes and aspirations for the little one. (Is the mother or father a great musician or footballer? That might provide a nice theme; though if as is more likely, they spend their days staring into a computer screen, or into other people's U-bends, I suggest you stick with bears and rabbits.)
Next, the cheat's quilt. I've given you one method for making cot blankets (or rather crib blankets) above. Here's another very easy one. You can buy ready-quilted two-sided fabrics like these:
Some have an interesting or contrasting backing, others are just plain. If you want a thin blanket, you could just make a nice edge to a single layer or pre-quilted fabric, using bias binding or satin ribbon, perhaps choosing one of the fabrics with a more interesting backing. Or you could use two layers of the same or different designs, to make a warmer and reversible blanket. If you did use two layers, I would run a few rows of stitching across at intervals in both directions, using the ready-made quilting lines as a guide. However, every few rows would be fine. The quilted squares already sewn are only about 1 1/2" apart. You just want to keep the layers more or less together. Then edge with bias tape. An in-between weight quilt could be made with one layer of quilting and one layer of a soft material such as wincyette, flannel or brushed cotton.
There are several tutorials on the internet for other variations on blankets, for example, this one (pretty!).
An finally, a real home-made quilt. If you want to provide more of an heirloom, you could make a patchwork quilt, by piecing the front side, and layering with batting and a backing. I've now made 6, three smaller ones for the cots, and now three larger ones for the transition from cot to toddler bed. There will be more to come, I'm sure.
I'm aware my quilt making is not of the highest level, I don't have a fancy machine, nor the necessary skill to manage more complicated templates. But the children love their quilts. You can read more about how to make baby quilts here, and here. You can also read my somewhat tongue in cheek 'Rules for Perfect Baby Quilts'.
Whichever you make, be assured that a blanket or quilt will make a much-appreciated gift, or if you are making it for your own baby, it will be something he or she will love.