Picnic Blanket How To
For the quilt squares:
Pick out 8 fat quarters in a color scheme of your choosing (I used yellow). Also pick out 3/4 yards of 2 additional fabrics you want to use (I picked a solid yellow and the citrus fruit print). Layer the fat quarters into a stack and square them up to 12″ on all sides. Cut the 8 12″ squares in half vertically, leaving 6″ sections in 2 piles. Move one half of the top pair of pieces to the bottom of the pile, leaving a new fabric to match the remaining half.
Take the new top 2 pieces (which should now be 2 different fabrics) and line them up right sides together along the vertical cut you made. Pin in place and sew a 1/4″ seam. Iron the seam flat towards whichever side is darker. Repeat with all the fat quarter pieces until you have 8 sewn blocks made up of 2 fabric halves.
Take the 2 3/4 yards of fabric and cut 4 12″ squares out of each (I only had 1/2 a yard of the citrus fabric, so I made 3 of those squares and 5 in the solid yellow). If you want your additional squares to be the same size as your quilt blocks, cut them 12″ by 11 1/2″. I like the slight difference in shapes ( think it looks more interesting), so I cut mine to 12″ square.
Arrange your quilt blocks on the floor in your desired pattern. In the picture of my finished quilt above, the bottom left square was actually my top left square when I worked; imagine that quilt turned clockwise 90 degrees.
Take the top row of 4 blocks and pin them together left to right, making sure the right sides are together for each new seam you sew. I actually worked two at a time. So the top row, I took blocks 1 & 2, sewed them together. Then I took block 3 and sewed it to 2, and block 4 to block 3. Sew the blocks together using 1/4″ seams. Repeat with the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th rows. When you have 4 rows of 4 blocks each, work top to bottom and sew each row to the next. Pin the top row to the 2nd row, right sides together. Sew down the long side. Then pin the 3rd row to the 2nd, etc. When you’re finished, your quilt top should look like the photo at left.
For the border:
You’ll need 2 yards for this. I used the yellow polka dot print because it was already in the quilt and I had tons of it. Cut four 6″ wide strips that are 54″ long. This is why you need 2 yards. The fabric won’t be wide enough, so you’ll have to cut down the long side of the fabric to get the strips. Working one strip at a time, pin to the quilt top with right sides together. Sew in place and iron the seam flat. I pinned the first strip flush with one corner, leaving about 6″ of fabric hanging down. Eventually as I sewed all around the extra fabric was attached to another strip, and I cut fabric as I needed to to match up the border pieces.
For the backing:
You’ll need 4 yards of a fabric of your choice. I used a burgundy fabric for nice contrast with the thread, and also because that side will be directly on the ground a lot. Dark hides stains.
Fold the fabric in half horizontally, so the selvage edges are on the left and right. Cut the fabric in half horizontally. You should now have 2 pieces that are 72″ x about 44″ (or whatever the width of the fabric was). Cut off the selvage edges.
Now, this took me some time to get my mind around, so let me break down the measurements. Your quilt top is now basically 54″ square (mine was a little off because of crazy math, but it’s about right). So your backing fabric needs to be at least 54″ square to cover the quilt top. But every book I read says to add another 6″ on every side because during the quilting process that bottom fabric and the batting will shrink. So your backing fabric actually needs to be about 66″ all around. You now have 2 pieces that are 72″ x 44″. Sew the 2 pieces together along the shorter side, so you have one giant piece that is 72″ x 88″. You will have leftover backing fabric, but this is the best way I could work out to do this.
Lay your backing fabric seam side up. Cut your batting to 66″ square and put that down on top of the backing fabric. Cut off the excess backing fabric until it’s the same size as the batting. Put your quilt top down on top of that. Baste the whole thing with basting pins (giant safety pins).
Quilt the whole thing by stitching in the ditch. This means follow each folded seam line in the quilt top and just sew down each seam.
When you’ve finished quilting, square up the entire quilt and pin the sides as you go.
For the binding:
I actually cheated and used store bought quilt binding that I happened to have in my supply closet already. If you want to make your own binding, I would check out a tutorial like this one from The Purl Bee.
A lot of tutorials say open up the binding and only machine sew one side of it, then fold the binding over and hand stitch the other side to the quilt. I didn’t do that. Since this project is meant to be used outside and look homespun, I decided not to fuss the details to death. I just folded my binding completely around my quilt, pinned it in place, and sewed both sides together at once.
Once the binding is on, you’re done!