DIY Craft Series: How to Make a Waterproof Picnic Blanket

Warm weather plus longer days and more free time equals the perfect recipe for a picnic. Take the outdoor eating experience to the next level (and keep grass out of your food) with this simple DIY project.
DIY Craft Series: How to Make a Waterproof Picnic Blanket

This post is the first installment of our DIY Craft Series, a semi-regular feature dedicated to helping you get down with your creative self. Studies show creativity can make us feel happier and boost overall wellbeing. Plus, DIY projects build self-sufficiency, challenge us to learn new skills, and are often easier on our wallets (and sometimes the environment) than purchasing things online or at the store. We’ll be bringing you our favorite seasonal craft instructions throughout the year. Stay tuned!

You heard it here first: Picnicking is the latest health wunderkind. Taking the time to eat with friends can boost happiness and may even help people make healthier choices at the table (or on the blanket) The Association between Family Meals, TV Viewing during Meals, and Fruit, Vegetables, Soda, and Chips Intake among Latino Children. Andaya AA., Arredondo EM., Alcaraz JE. et al. National Institutes of Health. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 2010 Oct 20 Don't hide your happiness! Positive emotion dissociation, social connectedness, and psychological functioning. Mauss, IB., Shallcross, AJ., Troy, AS., et al. University of Denver, Denver. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2011 Apr;100(4):738-48 The Association between Family Meals, TV Viewing during Meals, and Fruit, Vegetables, Soda, and Chips Intake among Latino Children. Andaya, A.A., Arredond, E.M., Alcaraz, J.E., et al. National Institutes of Health. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 2010 Oct 20. Plus, spending time in nature can reduce stress, boost self-esteem, and improve mood and cognitive function What is the best dose of nature and green exercise for improving mental health? A multi-study analysis.  Barton, J., Pretty, J. Interdisciplinary Centre for Environment and Society, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, Colchester, UK. Environmental Science & Technology 2010 May 15;44(10):3947-55 The urban brain: analysing outdoor physical activity with mobile EEG. Aspinall, P., Mavros, P., Coyne, R., et al. School of Built Environment, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK. British Journal of Sports Medicine 2013 Mar 6. Making a picnic blanket from scratch adds even more health benefits: Studies suggest being creative can increase happiness and improve overall wellbeing. Added bonus: Depending on the fabrics you choose, making your own blanket may save some dough.

We’ve chosen the tutorial below because it includes a very practical component: a waterproof bottom layer. Say goodbye to damp grass soaking into healthy picnic foods. It’s time to get crafty!

Materials and instructions slightly adapted from Design Sponge

What You'll Need:

2 yards tablecloth vinyl* (or any other water resistant fabric, such as oilcloth)
2 yards flannel* or another sturdy fabric of your choice (or make your own patchwork fabric)
Pins or binder clips
Sewing machine or needle and thread
Fabric Scissors
Thread (color corresponding to flannel)

*If you want a larger blanket, use more than 2 yards (just make sure the vinyl and fabric are the same size). Note that this measurement applies to length — in the U.S., many bolts of fabric are a standard 54 inches wide. If you’d like a wider blanket, sew two pieces of cloth together or ask a salesperson to point you in the direction of a wider bolt of cloth.

What to Do:

  1. Cut the flannel so that it is 1 inch smaller than the vinyl on all sides
  2. Lay the vinyl pattern-side down on a flat surface
  3. Center the flannel pattern-side up on top of the vinyl
  4. Starting with the long sides, fold over the raw edge of the vinyl ½ inch. Then roll the vinyl over again (about ½ inch), catching the edge of the flannel. Pin or clip it in place.
  5. Stitch down seam with the sewing machine, starting on the long sides. Repeat on short sides (If you’re new to stitching corners, check out this tutorial.).
  6. If you want to get extra fancy, make a fabric handle for easy blanket toting.

Have you ever made your own blanket? Any tips for the crafting noobs among us? Share in the comments below or get in touch with the author on Twitter @lauranewc.

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