How To: make a picnic blanket from tea towels


Remember that picnic blanket I made last week? Well, I decided to take photos (and notes) as I was making it, and try my hand at writing my first ever tutorial. What prompted me to do this? It’s Sew Grateful Week, and one of the daily prompts is to share a tutorial!

Sure, it’s not for anything overly complex, but I’m hoping it may inspire someone out there to get creative. (Plus, I find most of the tutorials I use online are for simple but fun things, and usually have nothing to do with sewing garments. So…..)

Since this is my first tutorial, I’d love to hear it if you have any feedback. What you like, what you don’t like, if anything is confusing. Basically, any ideas you have for how I can write better tutorials. (Which is also a reason I’m starting with something simple, so I can get a bit of practice at tutorial writing before I launch into explaining anything more complicated.)

Anyway, here we go…..

How to make a tea-towel picnic blanket

You will need:

  • several tea towels. I used 7, but you can use more or less, depending on how large you want your completed picnic blanket to be.
  • a single bed sheet. (If you want a much bigger picnic blanket, use a double or queen sheet.)

Step one:
Lay your sheet out flat and arrange your tea towels on top of it until you decide on a size and layout you like. (Make sure you note this layout down, so you don’t forget it when sewing everything together!) Use your sheet as a size guide – you don’t want to make the top of your blanket bigger than this.

Step two:
Trim off the hemmed edges of all the tea towels you’re using, so that they’re nice and smooth to sit on.
trim hems

Step three:
Sew your tea towels together, with a 1 cm seam allowance. Press all the seams open as you go. (Note: there’s no need to finish the edges as they’ll all be enclosed once the blanket is finished.)

Step four:
Unless you’ve managed some miracle of placement, chances are the edges of your tea towels aren’t all the same length. You’ll need to go and trim them down, so they’re all the same length. (Yes, you’re gonna lose part of the tea towel design in places. But that’s ok.)
trim edges Collage

Step five:
Now it’s time to cut out your blanket backing. Place your square of tea towels on the sheet, and cut around it so you’ve got a section of sheeting the same size and shape.

Step six:
Take some of your leftover sheet fabric (or if you don’t have enough, use up some of your scrap fabric, or another tea towel) and cut four right-angled triangles. These are going to be pockets on the underneath of your blanket, where you can put stones or other small weights so the blanket corners stay nice and flat and don’t fly up with a breeze. These pockets need to be big enough for stones/small weights, so make them 15cm long from the right-angle point to the centre of the longest edge. Here’s what they’ll look like on your finished blanket:

A quick way to cut out right angled triangles is to fold your fabric into four, take one corner of your blanket back, lie it on top and use it as a cutting guide. To save yourself some time, when cutting the triangles out, place the longest edge along the selvedge or hem of the fabric you’re using – that way, you don’t need to hem it. If you aren’t able to cut your triangles out with the long edge along a selvedge or hem, you’ll need to fold that edge under by 1 cm and sew it down to hem it.
cut corner

Step seven:
Take your four triangles, and attach one to each corner of the back of your picnic blanket, with the wrong side of the triangles against the right side of the picnic blanket back. Stitch them down with a 1 cm seam allowance along both of the short sides.

Step eight:
Now it’s time to attach the top and the bottom of the blanket to one another! Lay them on top of each other, right sides together. Stitch around all four sides with a 1 cm seam allowance, leaving a 15 cm gap in one side for turning.

Step nine:
Turn your blanket out the right way through the turning gap you left in one side. Press all the side seams. Press the edges of the turning gap under, so they’re nice and hidden on the inside of your blanket.

Step ten:
Top stitch all around the edges, about 3 mm from the edge. When you’re stitching over the opening, make sure you catch both the top and the bottom sides of the blanket so it gets sewn closed.

And you’re done! πŸ™‚

6 responses to “How To: make a picnic blanket from tea towels

  1. Thankyou! I am so going to make one of these! I must admit I nearly had a heart attack when I saw two tea towels in your blanket that I would if loved to own! Haha

    • Glad you liked it! πŸ™‚

      If you make a picnic blanket, I’d love to see the results. πŸ™‚

      I had a hard time deciding which tea towels to ‘sacrifice’ for this blanket. Until I realised that they’ll get appreciated more in blanket form that in drying-dishes form, at which point I promptly put one of my favourites right in the centre of the blanket, haha!

  2. That’s a wonderful idea! Why didn’t I think of that. I often see cute tea towels at thrift shops, but never thought of any good use for them. Well there you go πŸ™‚

    • Oh, there’s all sorts of uses for tea towels! Bags, cushion covers, wrap skirts….. They’re lovely little blank canvases for creativity. πŸ™‚

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s