This double layer blanket is so fast and easy, you could start it after lunch and be using it to dine al fresco by dinner. And, because this is Sew4Home, you know we’d never be satisfied with just a blanket! Ours features reinforced corners with grommets. Use these to spike the blanket into the ground to keep it from blowing away. Plus, there are instructions for an optional carry handle.
Although you could certainly opt for any type of fabric that can withstand outdoor use, we used and recommend a combination of outdoor fabric and polyester fleece for the top and back layers. Now’s the perfect time of year to find a huge selection of outdoor fabric at online and in-store retailers.
We consider the top to be the outdoor fabric, which is water resistant as well as stain resistant (kind of important when using it for picnics)… and the collections are available in so many cute colors and patterns. A stripe is a fun option because you can play with the direction of the stripes, allowing the corner accent triangles to pop.
The back is a thick polyester fleece, which is also water resistant (because it's 100% polyester), quick to dry, and soft enough that there’s really no reason to add an inner layer of batting. We chose a solid color that coordinated with the front print. The solid fleece substrates tend to be a bit thicker than the printed ones.
The two layers are held together with eight lines of topstitching through both layers. This stitching holds the layers flat during use as a picnic blanket as well as during laundering after the picnic is over.
Normally, outdoor fabrics are not meant to be machine washable. It can remove the protective coatings that help keep them from fading in the sun and molding in the damp. However, a picnic blanket is not meant to be left out in the elements for days on end, so fading and molding aren't the concerns they might be with pillows or cushions left out all season. You can launder the blanket in cold water with mild detergent on a gentle setting. If you're new to working with outdoor fabrics, you may also want to take a look at our tutorial outlining some basic outdoor fabric care facts.
Each of the corners is reinforced with a double layer of the outdoor fabric and a grommet is added at the point. Use this handle little grommet to hold a “wind spike” that can keep your pretty blanket from shifting in the summer breeze.
With a spike in each corner, the blanket also lays flatter, which makes it easier to spread out dishes and utensils. We used a standard garden spike – easy and cheap to find at most home improvement stores. Tent stakes would also work.
The optional carry handle is a simple harness made from colorful Dritz Belting with Velcro® as the closure. Simply fold the blanket in thirds, then fold in half, and roll up. This results in an approximate 17½” x 6½” bundle that, which wrapped with the harness, is easy to carry to your final destination… it’s also a much tidier size and shape to store when you’re picnicking is done.
Our Picnic Blanket finishes at approximately 53” x 53”.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- Walking or Even Feed foot; optional but best for thicker layers – or use your machine's built-in fabric feeding system, such as the Janome AcuFeed Flex™ system
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 2 yards of 54"+ wide outdoor fabric for the front; we used 54” Waverly Sun-N-Shade in Draw the Line Fiesta
- 1½ yards of 54"+ wide polyester fleece for the back; we used 58" Blizzard Fleece in Piquant Green
- 1½ yards of 1½” wide belting or similar for the carry wrap; we used 1½” Dritz Belting (which comes in handy 2 yard packages) in Orange
- ⅓ yard of ⅝” wide sew-in Velcro® for the carry wrap
- FOUR large grommets (apx. 1” in total diameter) and grommet setting tools; we like Dritz Extra Large Eyelets, which often come with their own setting tools
- All-purpose thread to match fabric and belting
- See-through ruler
- Tape measure
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Tape measure
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Iron and ironing board
- Straight pins
- Hand sewing needle
- Seam sealant for the cut ends of the belting
- Hammer to set grommets
- Heavy metal, stone or wooden block to use as a cutting and hammering surface – you need a very hard surface; we like to use a small granite block
- Tent or plant stakes; optional
- From the outdoor fabric, cut the following:
- ONE 54” x 54” square; if you choose a stripe as we did, measure carefully to insure your stripes are straight and true
TWO 17” x 17” squares; sub-cut each square into four triangles, giving you a total of eight finished triangles
- From the fleece fabric, cut ONE 54” x 54” square.
- From the belting, cut TWO 22” lengths and ONE 10” length.
NOTE: Our belting lengths were based on the rolled-up diameter of our finished blanket, which was about 6½”. If your fabric is substantially thicker or thinner, you may want to finish the blanket first, then roll it up and measure the diameter to confirm the 22” length will wrap and provide a 2½” overlap for the Velcro® seal.
- From the Velcro®, cut FOUR 2½” lengths
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Prepare the corner triangles
- Find the eight triangles. Fold under the diagonal edge of each triangle ½”. Press well.
NOTE: Outdoor fabrics can vary in fiber content. Test the setting of your iron on a scrap of fabric. A pressing cloth may be needed for the best results.
- Pin a triangle into each corner of the front and back panels. As shown in the drawing above, in our design, the corners with horizontal stripes go on the front panel and the corners with the vertical stripes go on the back panel.
- Thread the machine with thread to best match the outdoor fabric in the top and bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch.
NOTE: We used our machine’s built-in fabric feeding system, the Janome AcuFeed Flex™ system throughout the project.
- Edgestitch along the folded edge of each front corner triangle.
- Repeat to edgestitch along the folded edge of each back corner triangle.
Sew front to back
- With all the corners edgestitched in place, place the front and back panels right sides together. It’s best to work on a very large surface; a clean floor works great. Take the time to smooth out both layers so they are nice and flat and all four edges are flush.
- Pin in place around all four sides, leaving an approximate 10” opening for turning along the center of one side.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch around the entire perimeter. Remember to pivot sharply at each corner and to lock the seam at either side of the 10” opening for turning.
- Grade and trim the seam allowance to reduce, bulk, trimming back the fleece side of the seam allowance to about ¼”.
- Press open the seam allowance and trim each corner on a diagonal.
- Turn the blanket right side out through the opening.
- Using a long blunt tool, such as a knitting needle, chopstick or point turner, reach in through the opening and gently push out each corner so it is as sharp as possible.
- Fold in the seam allowance along the opening so it is flush with the sewn seam.
- Pin in place across the length of the opening.
- Thread a hand sewing need with thread to blend with both the front and back fabric (we used green) and hand stitch the opening closed with a tight slip stitch.
- Smooth both layers, pressing as needed. Remember, fleece never likes the heat of an iron, so any pressing should be done from the front. Even then, as mentioned above, outdoor fabrics can vary in fiber content; a pressing cloth may be needed for the best results. On the good news side, neither fleece nor outdoor fabric tends to wrinkle much during construction.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the top fabric in the top and to best match the back fabric in the bobbin. Lengthen the stitch.
- At the finished 53” x 53” size, eight lines of topstitching through both layers is a good amount to hold the layers flat during use as a picnic blanket as well as during laundering after the picnic is over. We used a repeating stripe within our motif as the guideline for our topstitching.
- You can do the same or you could draw in lines to follow, evenly spacing the lines about every 6½”.
NOTE: It will be important that you are able to clearly see all your marked guide lines – choose a color that shows up well against the front fabric but that will also easily wipe/wash away or vanish with exposure to the air or the heat of an iron
- Your stitching should come right up to but not cross the edgestitching along the bottom of each corner triangle.
- Mark for the four grommets, one at the point of each corner triangle, centering it 1” in from each side seam.
- Cut a hole through all the layers at each marked point.
- Insert the stud half of the grommet through the hole from front to back.
- Place the cap half of the grommet over the stud at the back.
- Using the proper setting tools, hammer to seal the halves together.
NOTE: Grommets are quite easy, but if you are brand new to the technique, take a look at our full Metal Grommet Tutorial prior to starting.
Optional carry wrap
- Find the three lengths of belting. All the cut ends should be sealed with seam sealant, or if using a polyester belting like the Dritz 1½” belting, you can also melt the cut end with a small flame.
- Place the two 22” lengths parallel with one another.
- Place the 10” length across the 22” lengths at the exact center. Pin the ends of the 10” length in place. These ends should be just inside the outer edge of the 22” lengths.
- You have formed a capital H with your belting.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the belting in the top and bobbin. Keep a slightly lengthened stitch.
- Stitch each end of the 10” length in place with an approximate 1¼” X Box Stitch. It’s easiest to work from the wrong side so you can keep the box centered within the end of the 10” length.
- Find the four 2½” lengths of Velcro®. Pull them apart. Place the two hook lengths (the scratchy half) side by side on one end of each 22” length of belting. Pin in place.
- Repeat to place the two loop lengths (the soft half) side by side on the opposite end of each 22” length of belting.
- Re-thread with thread to best match the Velcro® in the top and keep the thread to best match the belting in the bobbin. Keep a slightly lengthened stitch.
- Edgestitch around all four sides of both pieces of Velcro® on all four ends.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild