As the leaves begin to change color this and Autumn evenings become shorter and more crisp, I have been longing to head out to the local beaches and forests for picnics. I know many people might think of a picnic as something to enjoy in the heat of summer with lemonade and watermelon, but my favorite sort of picnic is of the fall variety – sitting on a windswept beach or amid crunchy burnt orange leaves at the park with a blanket wrapped cozily around me and a cup of hot apple cider in my hand.
With that image of an ideal picnic hovering in my mind, I made a Fall picnic set! I made this set as a guest blogger for Britex who provided me with this gorgeous Etro Olive & Pumpkin Plaid Wool! This Italian wool is a unique mix of colors that are cheery individually (teal blue, bright orange!) while still decidedly autumnal over all. It is a large weave and it is quite light but strong – perfect for a blanket, and, with interfacing, as a bag!
I paired the wool with the contents of our Bag Making Supplies Kit to create a Grainline Studios Portside Duffle Bag and a car blanket. The kit includes 1 m (1.1 yards) of canvas (the canvas I used was from our old colour/weight choice but as of today we have two new colours in stock to choose from!) along with a separating zipper, Chicago Screws (like rugged rivets that screw together) and a bar of Otter Wax. The 1 m (1.1 yards) of canvas was enough to make all the lower half of the Portside Duffle and the blanket wrap while 1.8 m (2 yards) of wool created the top of the duffle and a 60″ square picnic blanket.
First, I will show you some of the bag and blanket set’s details and then, below, I’ve created a tutorial so you can make a picnic blanket and blanket wrap yourself!
The Portside Duffel is the perfect size duffel bag. It could easily carry a week’s worth of clothes for a light traveler or act as an exceptionally roomy weekend bag. I really like how the pattern includes all the details to create a professional looking bag – there is even a tiny pattern piece that you can use to create a leather zipper pull! I skipped a lot of the hardware and details for this bag because I didn’t have much choice in hardware at my local notions shop. I even had to use twill tape for the handles instead of webbing because my colour choices were so limited locally! Next time I sew the bag I will take the time to source all of the hardware and straps but for this picnic version, the lack of metal hardware makes this bag very cozy and it could maybe even work double duty as a back rest while lounging on my picnic blanket!
The bag can be as slouchy or as structured as you desire. I added heavy interfacing to all sections of the bag to stabilize the wool and create a more rigid bottom. I also ended up adding a rectangular cardboard insert between the lining and the canvas to fit the bottom of the bag. I think thin plastic would be the ideal material for this as the cardboard is a bit weak and sometimes buckles but it was a good experiment and certainly works well enough for my first rendition of this bag!
I applied OtterWax to the green canvas after sewing the bag. I love the rugged look it gave the bag! The waxed canvas is very water resistant so I can place it on damp Fall grass without worry of water soaking through. The wax also made the canvas stiffer and heavier which added a nice touch of structure to the bottom of the bag. I left the blanket wrap un-waxed so you can clearly see the huge difference that the wax made to the canvas:
To continue my earlier story of unavailable notions, the only metal zipper large enough for the duffle bag at my local shop was a separating one. That wasn’t a problem at all though – I just added a folded piece of canvas on top of the opening bottom end of the zipper as I stitched the zipper in place and it functions much as a regular zipper stop would! The zipper pull stops at the folded fabric rather than continuing to the end of the zipper…and voila, a functional closed-end zipper!
I used a heavy floral cotton for the lining. The colours pair superbly with all the varied tones that the wool include – only the wool’s cheery orange isn’t represented!And now, a little bit about the blanket and blanket wrap! When I saw this wool on the Britex website, I had all sorts of ideas for a funky peacoat or maybe a series of rustic bags…but when I opened up the parcel and it spilled out onto the living room floor, all I wanted to do was wrap myself up in the yardage! So cozy but also wonderfully light and airy! If you don’t like the feeling of wool against your skin, obviously you might disagree with me – but wool is my favorite fibre for scarves, sweaters, blankets or, really, just about anything, so a wool blanket suits my idea of cozy perfection.
The selvedge of this fabric is a lovely scallop that would have been such a shame to cut off. I pulled and tugged at it to make sure it would remain strong and refrain from unraveling over time. It passed the test without breaking a sweat and so I used the selvedge to form two sides of my blanket.
For the other two sides, I created a sumptuous fringe! It was incredibly easy and only a little bit time consuming to do.
I stitched from selvedge to selvedge 3″ in from the fabric edge to prevent the fabric unraveling further into the blanket. If you are nervous about the risk of this occurring, you could stitch this length several times for added security or top-stitch ribbon or some other sort of trim as a ‘bumper’ to prevent fraying.
Next, I tugged, snipped and teased out all the weft fibres (extending from selvedge to selvedge) leaving only the warp fibres remaining.
My hands and shoulders were pretty sore by the time I was done but it was a mindless task that I could do while watching a show or just chatting with Matt!
To create the blanket wrap, I used the remaining canvas from the Bag Making Supplies Kit, the kit’s 12″ seperable zipper, a strip of leather and the kit’s two Chicago Screws. Once the blanket is rolled up, I use the wrap to keep it compact in the duffle bag which leaves plenty of room for a thermos and as big of a feast as I would like to bring along! The blanket and wrap could also fit under the front seat of a car so that it is ready if a passenger is chilly or wants a nap. Or…if you’re like me and get cold way too easily, you could simply keep the blanket in the duffle at all times while travelling so that you’re not rummaging around hotel rooms or extended family’s linen closets looking for an extra layer of blankets in the middle of the night.
To make the wrap, cut four rectangles of canvas measuring 11 1/2″ X 13″. If you aren’t using the Bag Making Supplies Kit to first make a Portside Duffle Bag, you will have more fabric at your disposal and you can skip the wrap’s seam by simply cutting two 22″ X 13″ rectangles.
If the seam is necessary for you, sew two rectangles together along the widest edge using a 1/2″ seam allowance.
Repeat with the second set of rectangles.
Press the seams open.
Pin the two large rectangles with right sides together along their two longest edges (this is where you will start following the instructions if you only had two large rectangles to begin with).
Stitch using a 1/2″ seam allowance (leave the two narrow ends open).
Trim the seam allowances if desired to reduce bulk.
Flip the rectangle so right sides are out and press both seams.
Top- stitch 3/8″ from the finished edges if desired.
To finish the narrow edges I applied decorative twill tape (the remainder of the tape from my duffle bag handles).
Place the twill tape centered over the raw edge and extending 1/2″ to 1″ on either end of the wrap.
Fold the twill tape over the finished wrap edge and pin in place.
Stitch along the edge of the twill tape, catching the folded twill tape on the other side of the wrap.
Fold the ends of wrap over 1″ (plus half the twill tape width which extends over the raw edge of the fabric) and press.
Stitch along the other long edge of the twill tape to enclose the raw fabric edge completely. This will now become the right side of your wrap and the twill tape functions not only to finish the raw edge but also as a decoration.
Add the separating zipper by aligning it with the folded edge of the wrap.
Fold under the ends of the zipper tape and stitch the zipper in place using a zipper foot. Make sure to catch the folded zipper tape in your stitching!
Create a handle for the wrap by cutting a strip of leather. I used a 1 1/2″ X 13″ strip and cut pointed ends.
Using an awl or some other pointy device, punch holes in the leather for the male part of the Chicago Screw to poke through. Punch corresponding holes in the canvas where you would like to place your handle. Insert the female portion of the screw up through the canvas hole from the wrong side, bring the male screw to meet it and tighten by hand.
And there you have it, a perfectly Autumnal picnic set! It was fun stretching out the 1 m of canvas to create so many items! I ended up with only one little rectangle (maybe 6″ long and 4″ wide) as a scrap! If you’d like to try your hand at bag making, head on over to our store to check out the new (super manly) canvas colours!