sew a convertible picnic blanket
Bags,  Quilting,  Summer Projects

Convertible Picnic Blanket with Pocket & Strap

Sew a Convertible Picnic Blanket

convertible picnic blanket

This picnic blanket converts into a tote with a few simple folds, making it great to take to the park, beach or on the road. The shoulder strap is tucked into the pocket when using the blanket, keeping it out of the way. Stuff the pocket with plates and cutlery for your picnic, a small pillow for a relaxing nap or conceal personal items when taking a dip in the water. The picnic blanket is made of two easy-clean vinyl tablecloths, so you’re protected from damp grass, wet sand or muddy lakefront.

Convertible Picnic Blanket on grass


Materials listed are enough to make one 52″ x 90″ (approximate) picnic blanket that measures 18″ x 20″ when folded into a tote.


If the vinyl tablecloths don’t have curved corners, use a plate or other round object to mark and trim each corner into a curve for easier binding later.

round corners

Trim the batting so it measures 52″ x 90″; reserve the excess.

Place the tablecloths wrong sides together with the batting sandwiched between. Use Sulky KK 2000 to secure the layers.

secure layers with KK

Thread the needle and wind a bobbin with matching Poly Deco Thread. Install a new size 80/12 Microtex Needle. This needle has a nice slim point that won’t snag the vinyl or create too large of a hole for the thread to pass through.

Stitch across the tablecloth rectangles from corner to corner in both directions for a crosshatch look. Or stitch straight lines vertically and horizontally. Straight line quilting works best for this blanket, as opposed to free-motion quilting or computerized quilt designs. The latter adds too many needle penetrations, which almost damages the vinyl with perforations. Keep the quilting about 7″ to 12″ apart for best results. Be sure to begin quilting in the center and work outward, stitching all lines in the same direction.

quilt picnic blanket

If the foot is sticking to the vinyl, install a non-stick foot.

quilting lines on picnic blanket

When the quilting is complete, trim the batting even with the blanket edges. If needed, trim the blanket so all edges are even (there may be some shifting during quilting and that’s ok! This is a generously sized blanket so there’s room to trim as needed).


Use a lighter to singe each end of the webbing to prevent fraying. Alternatively, turn under each end 1/2″ toward the wrong side and topstitch twice to secure.

singe end of strap

Note: If you want your strap longer or shorter, feel free to personalize the length based on your preference.

From the reserved batting piece, cut a 17 1/2″ x 19 1/2″ rectangle.

Place one pocket rectangle wrong side up on a flat work surface. Center the batting rectangle on the rectangle, using KK 2000 Temporary Spray Adhesive to secure.

layering batting on pocket

Quilt the pocket, stitching from the right side. Follow the same pattern used for the blanket or deviate and quilt something new. Follow suit with the blanket and quilt from the center working outward. The batting is already trimmed inside the seam allowance for the pocket, so there isn’t any wiggle room for shifting.

quilting on pocket fabric

TIP: The pocket rectangle is a great place to add machine embroidery in lieu of quilting. If desired, embroider a summer-themed motif or personalize the pocket with a monogram or licensed sports logo. Our Hello Summer design collection, also available as a Palette that comes with 10 spools of Sulky Rayon Thread, has a bunch of great options.

hello summer beach palette for embroidery

When quilting is complete, place the remaining pocket rectangle over the quilted pocket rectangle so right sides are together and all edges and corners aligned.


Position each strap end 1/2″ from the upper-edge corners, between the layers. Make sure the strap isn’t twisted. Clip the strap ends in place.

clip straps to pocket upper edge

Stitch the pocket sides and upper edge, using a 1/2″ seam allowance. Clip the upper-edge corners up to but not through the stitching line.

clipping corners of picnic blanket

Then, turn the pocket right side out.

pocket of blanket turned right side out

Tug on the strap ends, and then press the pocket flat.

Choose a blanket side for the “right” side (they should look the same at this point.) Place the blanket right side up on a flat work surface (or floor).

The quilted side of the pocket can either be the outside when displayed on the blanket or the outside when carried as a tote. (When carried as a tote, the pocket is turned inside out so the blanket bulk fits inside.) Decide on the pocket side to display on the blanket and position it that side up on the blanket right side. Center the pocket lower edge along one blanket long edge, making sure the strap is out of the way and toward the blanket center. Clip the lower edge generously to secure all layers.

pocket placed on picnic blanket right side


Baste or serge-finish the blanket perimeter to keep the layers together and flatten the edge for binding. These stitches also secure the pocket lower edge.

stitching pocket lower edge to picnic blanket edge

Then, stitch the pocket sides from the lower edge to the pocket upper edge.

stitching pocket sides to picnic blanket

At each corner, tack a nylon/elastic hair band. Squeeze a hair band together at one end; clip to each corner.

adding loop for tent stake

Bind the blanket perimeter using self- or pre-made double-fold bias binding. Begin and end the binding along the edge opposite the pocket. Make sure to stitch the binding along the hair band ends at each corner to secure them.

binding attached to blanket edge


When placed on the grass or dirt, secure the hair bands at each corner using a tent stake. (Then carry the stakes inside the pocket when not in use.)

hair tie at corner of blanket

To carry the picnic blanket as a tote, place the blanket on a flat surface with the pocket on the underside.

picnic blanket on grass ready for folding

Evenly double-fold one short edge toward the blanket center.

picnic blanket folded along one side

Then, evenly double-fold the opposite edge toward the blanket center. The second folded edge will overlap the first.

blanket folded into fourths

Turn the pocket wrong side out, so a third of the bulk is now inside the pocket.

pocket inside out

Next, double-fold the blanket into the pocket, pushing out the corners from inside the pocket. Tug on the strap to ensure it’s outside the pocket for carrying.

blanket folded into tote

Place a few items into the pocket, such as plates and napkins, sunscreen and sunglasses or a small pillow for napping.


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I am the Director of Content for Sulky of America. The former Editor in Chief of Sew News and Creative Machine Embroidery magazines, I hosted Sew it All TV on PBS for nine seasons. I've appeared on It's Sew Easy on PBS, DIY Network's Uncommon Threads, Hallmark's Marie Osmond Show, MacPhee Workshop and more! Come sew with me!