Picnic ready quilt.
Crafts, Projects, Sewing

DIY Picnic Quilt – Part 1

We’re going on a picnic. Before you pick the menu and pack your basket, you’re going to need something to sit on. Now of course literally any old blanket could do, but why settle for something getting musty in your basement when you could have something awesome. We’re going all out with this one; we’re making a picnic quilt.

Quilting was something I had never done before until last fall when I decided for Christmas I would make my parents each their own quilt. As I started doing some research into what would be involved I became a less sure that this was a good idea, it was an intimidating process. Focusing on one step at a time helped and at the start of each new step there would be a moment of panic that I was in over my head and that this would be the step where I would have to quit. Luckily that point never came and everything was completely doable within my skill set.

The results were well worth all the thoughts of possible failure. For my Dad I made a Star Trek themed quilt and for my Mum I used clothes she had kept from when I was a child. The pictures I’m going to include will be more heavily focused on my Mum’s quilt as I want to show some of my favourite patches to show the versatility of repurposing old clothes.

You can probably tell that I’m really into picking a theme for each quilt. For me it helps narrow down the fabric selection and achieve a cohesive end result, but it’s one of those things that is down to personal preference. I’m sure you’ve guessed that the picnic blanket will have a theme. We’re going nautical. This mainly because I want to use some fabric I have on hand. When I lived at my parents I had a twin bed, which meant that you could get some pretty sweet sheets that were probably meant for kids. This meant that I got to sleep on pirate sheets (I’m sure you’re jealous), but it also meant that those days were over when I moved out and got a queen bed. I really loved those sheets so this is my way to repurpose.

These are my sweet pirate sheets.

An easy way to save yourself time and money is to buy a flat sheet to use as the quilt backing. Get your flat sheet on sale and it will not only be less money than buying fabric, but you won’t have to sew any panels together to make the fabric size needed. I’m going to use a navy blue queen size flat sheet.

Grab your calculator; it’s time for fabric math.

These are the three fabrics I selected to compliment my pirate sheets.

First we’ll calculate how much fabric will be needed for the top of the quilt. We’ll need to know the size of our squares, how many different fabrics and how much of each fabric.

I’ll use mine as an example. I tired to keep it simple, you can also find quilting calculators online if you prefer.

  • Queen size flat sheets are 90”x102”
  • I’m going to use 10” squares
  • I’ll need 90 squares for the quilt
  • Fabric is usually 45” wide so I can get 4 squares across
  • If I buy 1 meter of fabric (39″) I can get 12 squares
  • I purchased 1 meter of 3 different patterns, which will give me 36 squares
  • I estimated that I can get the remaining 54 squares from the sheet set and have enough left over for a special finishing touch
  • If I was going to do it again I would buy 1 ½ meters of each fabric (59”) so I could get 20 squares per fabric


Almost done, now we need to calculate the amount of bias tape needed. Add your sheet length and width together and double it. I’ll need 384” or 9 ¾ meters.

Here's what you will need for this project.

What you will need:

  • Mat and rotary cutter
  • Large ruler (can pick up proper fabric rulers at the fabric store they are rectangular, I have a triangle ruler from school – I like to use what’s on hand when I can)
  • Fabric
  • Thread – I like to match mine to the colour of the back fabric
  • Sheet or back fabric
  • Filling
  • Scissors
  • Bias tape
  • Pins
  • Stitch ripper – because mistakes happen.
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron & ironing board
  • Fabric adhesive – fabric or craft stores carry these – makes sticking the layers together so much easier.
  • Large workspace
  • Masseuse on standby – I cut my fabric on the floor in front of the TV, best and worst place to do it. My back hates it.
  • Clear calendar – I’m only half joking on this one. If you are like me and like to work on something until it’s done prepare yourself, this will be a completely worthwhile investment of many man-hours.
  • Tons of movies or TV shows – preferable something you know by rote, as it can be hard to hear over the sewing machine.

Have fun selecting your materials and next week we’ll start cutting and sewing.

See you soon!

These are the four fabrics I'll be using for this project.

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