I always have too many things to carry when I go to the beach-- this "blanket in a bag" is the perfect solution, with room for suntan lotion, a book and snack! I use my blanket in a bag at the park too... I love laying on the grass, people watching :) Wanna make one?
Sewing Skills • This project is fairly easy (lots of steps though) and includes step-by-step photos + clear instructions to make it easier. The project requires basic sewing machine skills and uses straight lines only, nothing too fancy. If you need a boost, I made a chipper video about how to use your sewing machine.
If you a) want to learn how to sew or b) crave mad skills, technique, and sewing confidence or c) wanna make 32 creative sewing projects with step-by-step photo + written instructions, check out the Home Ec eCourse! I created and co-wrote Home Ec with Rachel Denbow & Courtney Tucker and we've helped almost 2000 women learn & love sewing via Home Ec! Our eCourse starts with the very basics and we work through fun and useful projects wth a new sewing skill built into each one! By the end, you'll be able to sew dresses, follow a commercial pattern, make a quilt and sew handbags! More info here :)
• 6-10 Shirts For the blanket, I thrifted golf/polo shirts because I liked their colors & texture for my blanket. For the bag, I used a Pic-a-Pop T-Shirt.
• Fabric Scissors (or Sharp Scissors)
• Ruler or Measuring Tape
• Spool of Thread in a Coordinating Color
• Straight Pins
• Iron (for Step 16)
• Sewing Machine (it would be a lot of handstitching otherwise)
I did this project one day at the cabin with minimal tools. It's a bit imperfect because I wanted to get to the beach with the girls afterwards :)
^ Step 2 • Lay the cut shirts on your work surface and pick the smallest one (in height). In my case, the smallest shirt was 14.5 inches tall. Use that measurement to cut 2 squares from each shirt material (ex. 14.5x14.5 square).
Tip • To reduce the hemming on your blanket, use the shirts bottom edge to your advantage and include it as one side of your square. If some squares don't have a hemmed edge, leave an extra half inch so that you can hem it in.
Note • If you only have 6 shirts, you will need to cut three squares from a few shirts. To do this, cut the shirt along one seam so that you have one wide piece of fabric, then cut 3 squares. One will probably have a seam on it, but don't worry, it looks cute on the blanket :)
^ Step 3 • Cut all your shirts into squares of the same size (leave one full shirt uncut for your bag). You will need 15 squares (plus 1 more XL square for the bag).
^ Step 4 • Lay your squares in a 3 x 5 pattern, aiming all the 'hemmed' edges outward. Make a pattern that you like :)
^ Step 5 • On the shirts that don't have a hemmed edge, fold it in a quarter of an inch and sew (straight stitch or zig zag stitch). On the corner pieces of your quilt, you'll need to hem one more edge (see above).
^ Step 6 • The squares above show one column of the blanket's hemmed edges and hemmed corners (arrows point to arrangement of hemmed sides). Once you have all your outside edges hemmed in, you're ready to start connecting the square panels! Begin with one 'column' of 5 (like above).
Note • I just have my squares folded up so they're easy to fit on the table.
^ Step 6 • Take your first two squares, position/line-up the 'hemmed' edges on the same side and face the good sides of the fabric against each other. "Good side" means the side of the fabric that is meant to be seen (ie. pattern, textured side or colored side). Pin together the raw edges you will sew together.
Note • 1. If your cuts are uneven (see above), choose the straighter edge and use that as your straight line guide when sewing. 2. If one square is wider than the other, focus on making the outside 'hemmed' edges in line with each other (you can trim the overhang once your 'column' is done... to even it out).
^ Step 7 • Sew a straight line, back stitching at the beginning and end.
^ Step 8 • Add another square to the raw side of the column and sew on with Steps 6+7 above (make sure you don't add it to the 'hemmed end' of your column). Notice the straight seam holding them together (arrows).
^ Step 9 • Your panels will look like this as you keep adding squares. Connect your column of squares, then move on to the next 5 panels/column. Do all three columns before connecting them together.
^ Step 10 • If you have any inconsistent raw edges, trim them straight. Then lay out your 3 columns (5 squares sewn together). At this point, your squares are in order... if your pattern feels off, rotate the center column and see if you like that better.
^ Step 11 • Pin 2 columns together (face to face) and sew the length from top to bottom (backstitching at the beginning and end of each line). Once you've done the first 2, add your third. If you columns are different in length, you can hem in the excess afterwards or try to slightly stretch the shorter column as you sew the entire length.
^ Step 12 • Love!! This project is meant to be easy and fun... don't worry about matching your joints, the staggered look is cute and playful :)
Step 14 • Cut two squares from your t-shirt (if you have a logo, line it up so that it will show well on your bag). Remember to cut the squares at least 2 inches bigger (width & height) than the squares you cut for your blanket.
Note • If you'd like the same fabric on the front and back of your bag, use the extra square plus the front of your T-Shirt in the next step. If you'd like a fabric that matches the blanket showing on the back of the bag (that's what I did), use the two squares from your shirt cut in Step 14 above.
Step 15 • Place the good sides of your squares 'face to face' and sew the 4 sides LEAVING a 3 or 4 inch opening so that you can turn it rightside out. Just like if you were making a cushion cover.
^ Step 16 • Iron the edges of your double-sided square and sew the opening closed (fold the 'flaps' in a bit). If the corners are not very square, poke them out from the inside a bit before sewing the opening closed.
Note • This double-sided square acts as a panel on the bag, with a nice side showing from both sides (when it's inside out as a bag).
Next • Now we're going to add one more shirt-square to the 'logo side' of the double-sided square (above). This extra step will make your look really finished because there will be no raw edges showing when your bag is being carried.
Step 17 • Cut a t-shirt fabric (with the top edge 'hemmed') the same size as your double-sided square. Lay that square against the logo side of your shirt, with the hemmed edge at the top. Pin around the edges of all four sides to keep everything lined up, ready to sew together.
^ Step 18 • To create the bag shape, sew 3 sides of your pinned layers from Step 17, leaving the hemmed edge at the 'top' unsewn. This will be the opening of your bag. Backstitch at the beginning and end of your sewing or your bag will fizzle.
Note • I lost the photo for this step so I'm using this image from Step 26 below. Ignore that the strap is attached in this image, you didn't miss anything!
^ Step 19 • Now we're going to make a strap for the bag from scrap t-shirt pieces in Step 1. Cut two long pieces that are the same width. I made one strap for my bag but it could also be made with two. If you want two, make two straps using Steps 19-23.
Note • If you want your strap to be 2 inches wide when complete, double that number and add 1 inch for seam allowance (ie. the area between the stitching and raw, cut edge of the fabric). That would mean your 2" strap would need to start with a fabric width of 5 inches (2" x 2 + 1" = 5"). My strap was about that size.
^ Step 20 • Sew the two short sides of your fabric together to make a longer piece for the strap. Test the length of this fabric as a strap on your body and trim it shorter if it feels too long for how you will wear your bag.
Note • On my bag and in my photos (step 26 below), I sewed both ends of the strap to this yellow piece of fabric (one side of the bag). Instead, I recommend you put one strap-end on the outside of the yellow t-shirt, and one strap end on the outside of the double sided square (it carries way better and doesn't fall open).
^ Step 25 • Sew your strap onto the bag (making sure you don't go through the other layers of the bag). Then do the same on the other end of the strap. See sewing tip below before sewing your straps.
Note • If you made two straps (see Step 19), mimic the placement of your first strap when sewing the second strap to the other side of the bag (the double-sided square).
^ Tip • For a strong attachment, sew a square on the bottom of the handle, then an 'x' through the square.
^ Note • This is what my strap looks like once attached but with my suggested changes to the strap location during Step 24, one end of the strap would be on the navy shirt, one on the yellow, at opposite corners).
^ Step 26 • With the 'bag' still inside out, lay your bag onto the back of your beach blanket. It should be placed in the middle column, on the very bottom row (between the 3 squares). The handles need to face towards the center of the blanket (not to the outside). Pin in place.
^ Step 27 • Attach your bag onto the blanket by sewing along the 3 edges of the bag that don't have the handles (so that you leave the top unsewn for the opening of your bag). Backstitch at the beginning and end. Trim any stray threads and you're done! :)
How to Fold it Up:
• With the good side of your blanket up, fold the left column towards the center column, then the right column towards the center column.
• Take the end that doesn't have the bag behind it and fold the end towards the bag end, square by square.
• Once you have it folded like photo 3 aboce, take the bag part and fold it inside out (kinda over the folded blanket).
• The blanket will get folded into the bag and it's ready to carry :)
This is my sister Amanda, her weiner dogs Roxy and Reece and my neice Kennedy.
My blanket turned out to be the perfect size for one person sun tanning comfortably or a two person picnic.
If you do this sewing project, I'd love to see a picture of your Bag in a Blanket (via email or with a link in the comments). Let me know if you have any questions!