Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fold-up Picnic Mat

Hooray for the end of winter!

We recently dusted off all our warm-weather outdoor stuff in anticipation of the exciting days ahead. Found that our old store-bought picnic mat, which had served us for the past three years, was too ripped and stained to take us through another summer. Its waterproof lining, however, was still in excellent condition, so I thought I'd give it a makeover with some much-more-durable outdoor fabric.

Don't tell the kids, but I call it Mama Was A Bumblebee And Papa Was A Wasp:

Here's the old waterproof lining (lightly padded) sewn onto the new fabric. 

I edged the whole thing with this running-stitch grosgrain tape I bought in Singapore and forgot all about till today.

Here are the dimensions and plan for the mat, if you want to make it yourself. I kept to the same dimensions as the old mat. All the seam allowances are included. I didn't measure how much of the grosgrain tape I used, but if you add the perimeters of the mat and the flap, you'll be able to figure it out yourself.

Here are photos of the completed flap, along with some instructions.

Step 1 
Make the flap first. Sew both pieces together close to the edge. 
Sew the webbing handle on the right side of the flap.

Sew the hook tape/velcro on the bottom edge of the wrong side of the flap. Notice that although it is the wrong side of the flap, the right side of the fabric is visible. Think of it as just a double-layered thing that was reversible until you picked one side to be the right side and the other to be the wrong side.

Then edge the sides and bottom edge of the flap, leaving the top edge unfinished.

Here's another shot of the handle on the finished mat.

Back to sequence now.

Step 2
Sew the outdoor fabric layer to the waterproof lining layer. To do this, just lay them  with wrong sides together, pin in place and sew all around, close to the edge.

Step 3
Sew the top edge of the flap in position to the mat. The wrong sides of the flap and the mat are together.

Step 4
Edge the entire mat.

It's almost finished!

Step 5
Remove child from mat.

Flip it over.

Fold each side towards the midline.

And again.

Fold the bottom edge up to meet the top.

And again.

And again. 
Mark the position of the loop tape/velcro. 
Open up the mat again, and sew that on.

Now it's finally done!

Toss it in the back of the car.
Put away the sewing machine.
Corral the sunglasses(es). 
Pack the sunblock. 
Strap the children in.
And don't come home till the sun goes down.


  1. I made myself something very similar last year. I made it out of leftover jeans that I had kicking around the house and appliqued the kids old t-shirt fronts from when they were babies - so Tigger and Dinos. I lined the back with an old sheet and used a belt sewn on the end to tie it all together. It is by far the most versatile piece of beach gear we own.

  2. Love it! And the instructions to stay out until sunset!

  3. I love your projects! You make every project that seems so detailed look easy! Here's to hoping some of your creativity rubs off on me :)

  4. I love it! I should probably try to make one for my family. The waterproof backing would be especially handy, since all of our picnics tend to be in between rain showers here in the PNW. :)

  5. Here is to lots of long happy summer days for you on the mat. Great mat & I like the edge trim, I have some similar tape and never thought to edge stuff with it before. mmmm - maybe we need a new blanket? :)

  6. What a great idea- it really makes it look fab! I have a picnic mat just the same so now I will be waiting for it to wear out so I can justify recovering it ( although as we are heading into winter now it has been packed away till next summer). Thanks for the tip.

  7. lovely! What a fun summer sewing project! I've been wanting to buy one of these, but making one is more fun :)

  8. I love it!Thank you for the tutorial!

  9. Love your Bumblebee/Wasp. Ahem. ;)

    Now, one question: Do we have to buy a picnic mat and use it till it gets worn out before we can do this project? ;)

    (Sorry... I'm in a 'mood'. An unexpected morning of SUNSHINE will do that to me! Did you get snow??)

  10. Awesome picnic blanket!! It's making me miss picnic days in the park that I used to get with my daughter before she started school. sigh...

    I linked to your tutorial on Craft Gossip:


  11. what a great great picnic mat!!! I must try this way as well!! Thanks =)

  12. Love the little carrying handle/flap! I'll definitely be adding this to my mat-in-progress!

  13. Great picnic mat!!! Thanks for the tutorial :)

  14. We shared a link to your tutorial through WeAllSew.com, and now we'd also like to share your photograph of the finished tote along with your link for our readers to see. If you'd rather that we don't share your photo, please let me know! - Erika

  15. What kind of waterproof fabric do you recommend since we do not have a worn out picnic mat to use! Love this project so much!

  16. Ripstop nylon or something similar for a backing. If you can be bothered, you can even quilt the backing so it's lightly padded.


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