When you’re planning an outdoor date with a group of friends, figuring out who’s gonna lug the picnic blanket is like playing a game of hot potato. It’s bulky, awkward to carry, and let’s face it, we’d much rather bring the fun stuff along like good grub and playful party favors! But seeing as it’s such a key element to any al fresco event, we knew there had to be a way to conveniently carry a good-sized blanket and still have room in your bag for other crowd-pleasing provisions. Our solution: make a tote that transforms into a picnic blanket. The even more genius hack? All you need is a sheet!
In order to make the tote/blanket combo as compact and easy to carry as possible, we used a full-sized cotton bed sheet as our material. It’s lightweight, durable, and you can find them in all sorts of colorful patterns and colors. Note that this isn’t our typical 30-minute DIY. Like our jumbo floor pillow project, we’ll go ahead and call this a weekend project.
If the all-in-one approach is a bit overwhelming, try your hand at making just a fold-up picnic blanket. But we encourage you to give our tote blanket a shot :)
– Full-sized bed sheet
– Fabric scissors
– Needle and thread
– Sewing machine
1. Lay your bed sheet out horizontally on a flat surface, placing the top of the bed sheet on the right and the bottom of the bed sheet on the left.
2. First, turn the bottom of the bed sheet into a large square blanket: using the short end as your guide, trim the length of the bed sheet down to size, making sure to leave an extra inch of fabric for the hem. (You can measure the exact length of the short side with a ruler and trace with a permanent marker for accuracy before you make your cuts.) Reserve the extra fabric for later.
3. Fold over the trimmed end a half inch and iron flat. Repeat this step one more time, so that the final hem has been folded and ironed twice.
4. Sew the folded edge to prevent fraying. Fold the blanket into fourths and set aside.
5. Next, make your tote: Take the extra fabric from Step 2, fold it in half, and trace a 15 1/2 inch by 16 inch shape on it. Cut to size so that when unfolded, the tote piece measures 31 inches by 16 inches.
6. Repeat Step 3 with this piece of fabric. The measurement for your tote after the edge is hemmed should be 30 inches by 16 inches.
7. With the fabric inside out, fold your tote in half and sew around the edges in an L shape to create a pocket.
8. Flip your tote pocket right side out and grab your finished blanket. Line up the tote pocket with the bottom right hand corner of the blanket and sew along the inside to attach. Set aside.
9. Finally, create your strap: cut off the remaining thick piece of the top sheet, fold in half and sew together into a long tube. Flip the tube inside out and iron flat.
10. Trim the ends of each strap to make a clean line, fold over, iron, and sew each end of the tube shut
11. Take your tote pocket and line up the seam along the inside of the pocket with the strap and sew together.
12. Stuff the blanket in the tote and take off!
This first part is all about cutting out a perfect square shape for the blanket. Once you’ve laid out your bed sheet, measure its shortest side and use that length to mark the remaining three sides. But don’t forget – be sure to add an extra inch of fabric for the hem! Once you’ve +1’ed your measurement, trim the sheet and set the remaining fabric aside – we’ll use it later on.
Next, take the trimmed edge of your cut fabric square, fold it over half an inch, and iron flat. We’re creating a clean hemline so your bag will look like it was made by a pro ;) Repeat this step so that your edge has been folded over and ironed twice, then sew it down. See? No frayed hems.
You just made your blanket! But the fun is far from over. Fold in quarters and set aside. Now, onto the tote itself!
It’s time to measure and cut our tote! Grab the extra fabric we set aside from step 1 and fold it in half. Measure 15 1/2 inches from the fold line and mark with a Sharipe, then measure 16 inches and mark again. Cut to size so that when your final tote fabric is completely unfolded, it should measure 31 inches by 16 inches. We know there are a lot of numbers in this project, so take your time in order to keep things straight!
Now we’re just going to do exactly what we did in step 3: take the cut side, fold it half an inch, iron down, and repeat. With the hem folded over and ironed twice, your tote fabric should now measure 30 inches by 16 inches. If it does, give yourself a high five and a handful of goldfish crackers! Just wipe those fingers off for our next step.
Let’s sew this tote up right! With your fabric turned inside out, sew around the edges of the tote in an L shape to create a pocket. Try not to switch on autopilot and sew the entire thing shut!
Adjust the fabric right side out and admire your near-finished tote! Before we start making the strap, let’s fasten the tote and blanket together.
Simply line up the tote with the bottom right hand corner of the blanket and sew together. See how this is working? Just a few more steps to go!
OK, we’ve reached the home stretch: creating our strap. Take the scraps of bed sheet and cut the remaining thick piece of top sheet off. Once you’ve folded it in half and sewn it together, turn it inside out and iron it so that we’re working with a perfectly pressed and hem-free tube.
To make the strap even more pro, trim a bit off the ends to create a clean edge and sew it down. We’re sticklers when it comes to details, but paying attention to the littlest of things makes a big difference in the end. Just wait and see!
You’ve got your strap and you’ve got your tote/blanket combo, now let’s make this piece officially come together. Just line up the strap along the seam on the tote and sew together.
And here it is – a lightweight tote blanket! It’s looking pretty fly on its own, but it really shines in action. Time for a picnic!
We love how the tote and the blanket are effortlessly integrated in this design.
Don’t you love how durable this tote is? We tossed a laptop, notebook, water bottle and some snacks in it for our outdoor break. No room for a blanket? Think again!
Simply tuck the tote and strap underneath to conceal this all-in-one wonder and make a perfect square blanket. Now all that’s left for you to do is chill out!
How do you pack for hanging in the outdoors? Do you have any space saving tricks up your sleeves? Talk to us in the comments below!