Procrastination towards patching our farm jeans has managed to give me a pile of jeans that are now too small for the children to wear but too good to just throw out. The ironic part of this is that I do enjoy sewing, I just don’t enjoy mending. So instead of using them for rags I decided to make them into field lunch picnic blankets.
These blankets are a quilt top with a flannel backing but no stuffing. The denim is quite heavy and we have found that these blankets work well as field picnic blankets as well as for lap quilts when watching television in the winter.
Finished size of blanket is 60.5 inches by 49.5 inches.
(to make a template)
Scissors or rotary cutter
Fabric for backing
Iron and ironing board
The first step is to choose the backing fabric. I have a huge stash of fabric where a lovely piece of flannel was hiding. The backing fabric should be .25 inch
larger than the top to allow for sewing the two together. Once you’ve chosen your backing fabric it is time to sort through your mending pile for old jeans to cut squares from. Amongst my pile there were some old gabardine slacks and coloured jeans from when my children were younger that I used to add a bit of interest to the top. This isn’t necessary though because denim fades into many, many different shades over time. Remember the purpose of this blanket is to sit on in a field or on the back of a pickup so it doesn’t have to be too fancy.
Cutting a 6-inch square out of a piece of cardboard makes the template. An old cereal box works well for this. It is very important to use a ruler to ensure the square is perfectly square. The 6-inch squares allow for a .25-inch seam allowance giving a 5.5-inch finished square. Our finished blanket is 11 squares by 9 squares but would have been better 12 by 9. When we use them in the house everyone’s toes are poking out the bottom while they watch television. But that was the size of the flannel I used and the goal was to use supplies on hand.
It is much easier to cut these denim squares with a rotary cutter but scissors will do. My husband was recruited for some of the cutting because his hands are stronger than mine.
Once the squares are cut, making sure to watch for the grain of the fabric to be in the same direction, they are laid out on a flat surface and arranged till you like how they look. With all the shading that happens with denim the possibilities are endless. Sew them together in rows then sew the rows together to form the top of the blanket. Iron each seam towards one side. It doesn’t matter if you choose to iron the seams to the left or right but it has to be consistent throughout the blanket for the seams to lay flat.
Take the top and pin it to the bottom, right sides facing. Sew these layers together leaving a space to turn it right sides out. After turning right sides out use a whipstitch to sew up the hole.
If desired this blanket could be made into a quilt by adding a layer of quilt batting and quilting along all the seams on the top or by using the tying method where the layers are tied together by using a piece of wool drawn up through the centre of each square and knotted on top. I didn’t do this because I wanted it easy to wash and we find them warm enough without the batting.
My daughter and I have a system for these projects to go smoothly. She hates sewing and doesn’t mind ironing and I am completely opposite so we make a good pair. I sew, she irons, and the project goes quickly. Not only do we have a great time sewing them together, our whole family enjoys them out on the field. We have found that food wrapped in them stays very warm even though they aren’t stuffed. The prickly stubble in the field won’t poke through at all plus they are easy to wash. All they cost me is time so if one of the guys drops a jug of tractor fluids on them or gets greasy hands on them I really don’t care. I am very surprised at how well they wash up, actually. The one we are using in the house right now is about four years old and is as good as new.
With spring-cleaning season on the way maybe your mending pile will find a new life too.
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Not only do we have a great time sewing them together, our whole family enjoys them out on the field.