It’s no secret that I love to upcycle, and personal picnic blankets are a great way to take an old blanket and give it new life. What’s more, a personal picnic blanket can take your picnic experience to a whole new level. Instead of everyone sitting together on a single blanket, which let’s face it, is a lovely concept, but a little cramped for a family, everyone can spread out a bit. No more trying to move without knocking someone else’s things over, or the inevitable lapses in shoe etiquette. You can even upcycle a blanket with holes or other signs of wear, like this blanket that the dog chewed when she was a puppy:
I’ve been holding on to it for years because it’s such a great blanket, but it has a big hole in it! Time to upcycle.
Here’s how to make a personal picnic blanket:
The first step is to cut off any edging that your blanket might have so that all of the sides have a consistent look once cut. You will notice that I did not do this (see purple-ish edging in some photos). That is because originally I had a different plan for finishing the blankets. After I changed course though, I removed the purple edging and realized I should have done so first.
Next, figure out how many personal picnic blankets you can make from the blanket you are upcycling. To do this, fold the blanket a few times until you have a rectangle that is a good size for one person, taking into account holes or anything else you want to avoid having in the finished blankets.
Then, either measure and mark the cut lines, or unfold the blanket back to the first fold, cut along that fold, and repeat for all of the folds:
Fortunately the hole the dog chewed in my blanket was right in the middle, along a cut line, so I was able to get six rectangles at about 23″ x 25″ each:
Once you have your blanket cut into individual rectangles, trim any uneven edges or parts you don’t want in the finished picnic blankets:
If you have rounded corners, use one as a template for rounding the others:
After you have your rectangles trimmed and ready to go, place one on top of the waterproof tarp. Make sure that the side of the tarp you want to see is facing down, and the side of the picnic blanket you want to see is facing up:
Cut the tarp all the way around the picnic blanket rectangle leaving about a 1″ boarder. This will make it much easier to pin:
Next, pin the blanket to the tarp about 1/2″ from the edge of the blanket. Keep the distance between pins small to keep the tarp from slipping. Also, smooth the tarp and blanket periodically while pinning to make sure they both stay flat:
Trim the edges of the tarp to align with the edges of the picnic blanket:
Last, attach the tarp to the picnic blanket using a blanket stitch:
Repeat this process with each personal picnic blanket.
I had never done a blanket stitch before this project and thought it would be really tedious. It’s actually pretty fast once you get the hang of it, and simple enough that you can binge-watch Netflix at the same time (yay!). There are lots of online tutorials if you need to learn it, including this tutorial from Craftsy that I used.
What you will need:
- Blanket that will not unravel when cut (wool, felt, or fleece work well)
- Waterproof, woven, poly tarp
- Embroidery needle with a sharp tip
- Embroidery thread that is twisted (not embroidery floss) or heavy, twisted yarn/wool
Tips and tricks:
- Using DMC No. 5 embroidery thread and blanket stitches of about 1/4″ – 3/8″, it took roughly 48″ of thread to complete 12″ of blanket stitching.
- Measuring and cutting the blanket on a carpeted surface will help to keep it in place since the two materials will stick slightly.
- I tried (briefly) to flatten the creases out of the tarp with an iron. This does not work. Even on extra-low temp it releases really toxic plastic gases, and would probably melt the tarp at a higher temperature. Please do not try to iron your tarp; just use the parts of the tarp that are less-wrinkled, or maybe set it outside, flat, and under something heavy for a day or so.
- Personal picnic blankets don’t actually need to be rectangular, so have fun trying other shapes, especially if you have lots of holes, or anything else, to avoid in your upcycled blanket.
I hope you enjoy making your own personal picnic blankets. Have a great picnic season and feel free to leave a comment or ask a question.
If you have leftover pieces of tarp, you can make a travel cutlery holder:
(click here for instructions) for your picnic kit, too!