A pretty picnic blanket
Last weekend I made a quilted picnic blanket. My last project, this baby quilt, reminded me how much I enjoy the process of designing a quilt. Its tiny size, however, made me forget how much more time-consuming making larger quilts can be. Even this project, which is relatively small at about 62 inches by 62 inches and is relatively simple in design, was a lot of work! Of course, as is usually the case, I started out with a somewhat simpler plan and decided to get a little more elaborate as I went along. I worked most of the kinks out this time though, and I’m sure it will go much faster next time I make one of these.
You know you have a substantial fabric stash when you’re able to put together a quilt like this one with coordinating fabrics without going to the store! Most of these fabrics were left over from old projects, and a couple were fabrics I bought without knowing what I’d do with them (which I’m trying to stop doing, now that the cabinet I keep my stash in is full, but that’s another story.)
Here’s the plan I drew up:
I made the center out of small squares, about 8 inches, in a 4 by 4 pattern. Then I did a border of the larger squares, which were 16 inches.
If you want to attempt this pattern, I recommend cutting the small squares a bit larger, say 8.5 or 9 inches, sewing four of them together to form a larger square, and then cutting the large square to 16 inches. Then everything will line up better. I learned this (as usual) the hard way. The problem arises because four 8-inch squares sewn together are not exactly 16 by 16… they are somewhat smaller because of the seam allowance! I tried to fix the problem by using double the seam allowance when I sewed the larger squares together. What I would do next time is make a 16 inch cardboard square and cut a circular hole directly in the center of it. Then I would use that hole to center my large square (made from four small squares) and then cut it to exactly 16 inches. Then the large squares and the small squares would line up perfectly.
For the back, I trimmed the selvedges off of a piece of fabric that was 45 inches wide. I needed to add about 20 inches of width so I cut 8 squares using a legal-size FedEx envelope, which was 10 inches by 16 inches, as a template. (Shhh, don’t tell FedEx I misappropriated one of their envelopes, they get rather upset about this kind of thing.)
I added triangular corner pockets to the back side of the quilt, to put rocks into for holding the blanket down. I got the idea from this tutorial, which was my starting point in designing this quilt. (Of course, I had to make things more complicated.) I recommend checking out that tutorial for much more detailed instructions than I have written here, and very helpful photos.
I thought about adding ribbon ties to the center of one side so that the blanket could be folded into thirds, rolled up, and tied together neatly for travel. I would probably make the ties from double-fold bias strips from a coordinating fabric, or possibly from twill tape. I didn’t add them though, because I thought they might be bothersome when the blanket was being used for other things, like cuddling up on the couch on a chilly night. (Did you ever use a sleeping bag as a comforter and wake up with those darn ties stuck to your face, or is it just me?) I’d love some input on this idea, and maybe I’ll try it next time.
At the last minute, I decided to quilt the layers together, rather than hand-tie them. I really love that quilted look, although even when quilting by machine it is time-consuming to make sure all the layers are laying flat as you sew them. I think I need to buy a walking foot. Maybe that will make this part of the process easier. Or maybe I will just hand-tie next time. Does anyone have an opinion on whether either method is preferable for a picnic blanket?
Forgive the blanket for looking a bit rumpled in the photos. That’s what happens when you roll around on a pretty picnic blanket with your puppy.