My kids are grown, but I remember those days when we’d spread out a blanket for the family at the beach or a park and wonder why we even tried. Either all our feet were in the sand as we sat with our backs to each other or we had to take turns sitting down. Kind of a silly way to promote family togetherness! So, the Big Beach Blanket tutorial on the Maiden Jane blog is a pretty exciting project and I know you’re going to love making your own. And, look, it holds five friendly adults, too!
Your Big Enough Beach Blanket has a quilty appearance since it’s created from rectangles of fabric. But, it’s not actually a quilt, so if you’re not a quilter, keep reading. It’s simple and anyone can make one. Take a breath and keep saying to yourself “I’m not quilting, I’m not quilting.” Quilters, make it a quilt if you want, though. Why not enjoy a craft you love while creating a wonderfully practical piece of beach or picnic gear.
First, you get to choose fabric. Hurray!!! I always think that’s one of the most fun parts of any sewing project and for your Big Enough Beach Blanket, you’ll be choosing either 20 fat quarters, 10 half yards or 5 whole yards of fabric. And, if you’re experienced with creating quilts, choose whatever amounts you’d like for a 6’ x 7’ top. If you’d rather use pieced blocks or a version of whole cloth, go for it!
Maiden Jane backed her blanket with a washable canvas drop cloth from the hardware store. If your local store doesn’t have the 9’ x 12’ size you need, take a look online, you’ll find lots of sources there, too. The advantage of the canvas drop cloth is that it’s somewhat water repellent and has the ability to easily detach from the sand when you shake out your Big Enough Beach Blanket. Sand is lovely, but taking it home with you just isn’t very fun. If you find a fabric you love that’s specifically designed for the outdoors that would work well, too. The key things you want are a tight weave and some ability to repel water.
Once you’ve chosen your fabrics, you’ll start by pre-washing them since this blanket will be washed a lot in the future. Next you’ll cut your fabrics into rectangles and square them up. Hang on non-quilters, squaring up is not a magic skill that belongs only to quilters. You’ll want to make sure that all of your rectangles are the same size so they fit well when you sew them together. Do some careful measuring and cutting with a ruler and rotary cutter if you own those and you’ll be much happier with how your rectangles fit when you’re stitching. And, you have now “squared up”!
Your rectangles will be arranged into a grid, sewn together in strips, then the strips will be sewn together to create the top of your Big Enough Beach Blanket. Next you’ll place the top wrong sides together with the drop cloth backing and be ready to bind the layers together with fabric that will go all the way around the blanket. There are a couple of ways to do this – self-binding with the backing folded up or strip binding with a separate fabric. Maiden Jane has thoughtfully included links to tutorials for both of these options. Once you’re ready to bind, take a little break, click on the links and decide which method you want to use.
I love this part! There are straps on the Big Enough Beach Blanket, so you can roll it up to take to the beach. Isn’t that just the best ever?! You may also want to add another piece as a shoulder strap to make your blanket easy to transport.
Well, there you go – problem solved, and once again our magic sewing powers have saved the day. Click here for Maiden Jane’s tutorial. And, look, it works as a human game board, too!
About the Author
Annette Millard began sewing at the age of three, made her first dress at ten and is always happiest with needle, fabric and thread in her hands. Annette feels very privileged to have spent most of her work life in the sewing industry and loves teaching, making her own handmade wardrobe and writing about sewing. She spent over ten years as the newsletter and web site content writer for the Pacific Northwest's largest locally-owned family of fabric stores and is now thrilled to have the opportunity to share her passion for sewing with the Sewing Secrets community.