Project: Summer Picnic Blanket

By Giuseppe Ribaudo

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This summer I’ll be going camping. I am already envisioning picnics by the lake. What picnic would be complete without a beautiful picnic blanket?

I have no shortage of quilts I can use as picnic blankets, but we have to be smart about what we carry with us. We have a 3 mile hike just to get to our campsite so keeping things as compact and light as possible is important. Additionally, I’m not eager to be eating meals on a beloved quilt project that took me ages to make. So I thought I would make a special summer picnic blanket, one that I can fold up small and get a little dirty.

It’s a quick and easy project, but a high impact one. I wanted to use bold, graphic prints in a simple motif. Mediterraneo by Katarina Roccella for Art Gallery Fabrics. I used the large scale prints in bright colors and made big half square triangle (HSTs) to show off the designs. To keep it light and drapey, I used flannel in place of batting so it’s not too heavy. It can be a picnic blanket or even a summer quilt. The whole project could be put together in a long weekend.

MATERIALS

Part of what makes this quilt come together so quickly is that we will use the 8 at a time method of making HSTs. We’ll chain piece our blocks together and nest our seams and that will make everything move so quickly in putting together the quilt top.

To make this 72” square quilt we will 144 HSTs. Don’t freak out! Again, we are going to make 8 at a time and if you’re accurate in your cutting and your piecing, you won’t even need to trim them down.

The top is broken up into four quadrants, 36 HSTs per quadrant.

To make 8 at a time HSTs, figure out what size FINISHED HSTs you need. For this block, they are 6″ finished. Add 7/8″ to your 6″ measurement. That’s 6 and 7/8″. Multiply your total by two. That equals 13 and 3/4″. So we need to cut 13 and 3/4″ squares to get 8-6 and 1/2″ HSTs (with seam allowance).

To cut my fabric as accurately as possible, I put some masking tape at the 13 ¾” line on a 16” Olfa ruler.

I use 1 background fabric and 10 foreground fabrics for my quilt top. Cut 20 – 7 and 3/4″ squares from background fabric and set aside. From foreground fabrics cut as follows:

  • Center and outer most row (Rows 1 and 11) – 1 square
  • Row 2 – 1 square
  • Row 3 – 2 squares
  • Row 4 – 2 squares
  • Row 5 – 3 Squares
  • Row 6 – 3 Squares
  • Row 7 – 3 Squares
  • Row 8 – 2 squares
  • Row 9 – 2 squares
  • Row 10 – 1 square

Let’s make some HSTs! Take a foreground and background fabric and place them right sides together. On your light colored fabric, draw an X from corner to corner as shown.

With any standard presser foot on your machine, sew a 1/4″ on either side of the line you have drawn.

Cut the block as shown below.

Press your HSTs to the DARK side.

Again, if you have cut and sewn accurately, you won’t need to trim your HSTs. If you do need to trim them up, you can use a 6 ½” Olfa ruler and use tape as shown below to help make sure you are trimming carefully.

Line the diagonal of your HST with the taped diagonal line to help you square up accurately.

Make the rest of your HSTs and lay them out as shown. You will have some spare HSTs. Save them for a rainy day or use them in the backing if you like.

Now to assemble your blocks. The nice thing about this block is that as long as your HSTs are all facing the same direction, you can put the quadrant in any corner of the block and you will still get the right look.

Piece each quadrant one at a time. Starting from the top left of each quadrant, pile each column with your top-most HST on top and the bottom-most on the bottom of your pile.

Take the first two columns…

…and chain piece your first column to the second. Make sure all HSTs are facing the same direction.

Now add the third column to the second. Then add the fourth to the third, etc. You will end up with a piece that looks like this.

To the ironing board. Lay your blocks face down. We want to nest our seams as we sew our blocks together so we don’t have to use any pins. Assembly will go super quick that way.

Press row 1 to the left, row 2 to the right, row 3 to the left, etc. The seams can now nestle into one another.

Sew your rows together and press. You’re done with one quadrant.

Repeat these steps for the other 3 quadrants. Join together as pictured below.

Quilt with flannel instead of batting to get a light-weight, drapey picnic blanket. I bound mine by machine.

Again, I wanted this to be a fun quick project that looked great but that wasn’t a crazy amount of work. Something I won’t be heartbroken about if it gets a little stained at the picnic.

 

 

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