July 7, 2009
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Project: All-in-One Picnic Tote (Sewing Option)
Step 1: Gather Your Supplies
This includes the blanket you will be modifying (any typical picnic-style blanket will do just make sure it’s not too fluffy or thick), the fabric for the pockets, the supplies you wish to carry (plates, cups, silverware, napkins, etc.) and buttons. Use our Picnic Tote Supplies List to make sure you have everything you need.
We recommend using a sewing machine to speed things up and create sturdier stitches. If you’re confident in your hand-sewing skills, feel free to use whichever method works best for you, or a combination of both! If sewing is not your forte try our No-Sew All-in-One Picnic Tote option.
Step 2: Plan Your Tote
Spread your blanket out and consider how you want it to fold up. You can use our provided Picnic Tote Diagram or create one of your own. Consider which pockets will be where. For example, if you are using real glassware and plates, these pockets are better placed on parts of the blanket that are on the inside of the folded blanket, and therefore more protected. Things like plastic cutlery and a sturdy thermos can survive the inevitable bumping, and can live in pockets toward the outside of the blanket.
Tip: Sewing all the pockets on the underside creates a nice clean look when it is in use. Sewing them on the topside allows you to use the pockets while you dine with your loved ones. Or mix it up and sew pockets on both sides!
Step 3: Create Your Pockets & Attach
Measure the items your blanket will carry, and then add an inch on all four sides. This will be a template for the pocket. Cut that size and shape from your extra fabric, and fold over the top (opening) edge, and sew the raw edge so that it doesn’t show. Then pin it to your blanket where you decided that item should go in step 2, folding the other three raw edges under so they can’t be seen.
After you’ve done this for all the pockets you want to add, unfold your blanket and make sure everything looks exactly as you want it. Sew all three sides of each pocket to the blanket, removing your pins as you go.
Tip: Sewing straight lines along the places where you want your blanket to fold at this point will make folding a large blanket easier, and help you remember exactly how it should be fold up after a long summer picnic.
Step 4: Strap it Up
Now it’s time for the straps. You can buy straps at your local fabric store, or make your own by cutting long fabric strips, folding them in thirds along the length, and sewing up one side. If you have an old or worn out tote bag, feel free to repurpose those straps.
Using your own personal preferences as a guide, decide how long the straps should be. If you’ve used our guide, one strap will be toward the middle of the blanket, and the other will attach near an outside edge. Sew the strap to the blanket on the side that is the middle of the blanket, first making a box with your stitches, then sewing an “x” shape through that box for added stability.
If you are using a repurposed strap, or one you made yourself, cut a slit on the other end for the button to pass through, sewing along the edges for re-enforcement. Double-checking the length you want the strap, sew a button on the other side of the blanket where that hole lands. This not only acts as a strap for carrying, but it helps hold it closed! Consider using two straps for extra stability and holding power.
Tip: If you are using a sew-through button (the kind with holes), insert a toothpick as a spacer to give the button room to wiggle and make it easier to use.
Step 5: Make it Your Own
Personalize it however you like and get ready to go on a picnic!
End on a Sweet Note
Instead of carrying around bars of melting chocolate in your tote for your next summer picnic, hike or campout, try this sweetly simple Pastry S’mores Recipe.
The basic ingredients of your typical s’mores are rolled up inside flakey cinnamon, sugar and graham cracker-dusted biscuit dough. It’s all the classic, gooey taste without the campfire—plus it makes this sweet treat more portable. Give each of your friends a printed copy of the easy recipe to take with them after your get-together.
With tiny pieces of fabric clippings and thread flying around, you may end up with a cluttered floor in need of a sweep. Forget the broom and dustpan and instead reach for a Swiffer ® SweeperVac ®. It lets you sweep it all—big and small—in any room of your home.
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