With Spring right around the corner here in Atlanta, I can’t wait for days spent outside enjoying the sunshine. Last year I had attempted to make a waterproof picnic blanket using a tutorial written by a friend and vinyl material used for making table cloths. The picnic blanket lasted one outdoor concert and spin in the washing machine before the vinyl started to rip. The vinyl was also difficult to work with on the sewing machine. After that failure I decided to see if there were any other waterproof alternatives to vinyl and low and behold a google search lead me to PUL fabric. Apparently PUL is used as a utility fabric but also for baby supplies such as cloth diapers. PUL is waterproof, thinner, and much easier to sew with than vinyl. Plus, since its used for baby stuff, that means in comes in fun colors and designs. The only downside is that it can be expensive, but other comparative waterproof options (different types of vinyls) were the same price or more expensive at Joann’s when I shopped around. Basically, if you want to take on this project realize it isn’t going to be your least expensive one.
Since I knew Fall was around the corner, a couple of weeks ago I decided to give the PUL fabric a try to make a new picnic blanket. I’m sorry I don’t have any pictures of the actual process. I did this late one night and was really figuring it out while I went. I’ll try to do my best to describe the process.
* 2 1/2 yard PLU Fabric
* 2 1/2 yard coordinating or any color Duck Cotton fabric of your choice
* Queen size batting however fluffy you want it but keep in mind you will be doubling it up by folding it in half.
I picked up 2 1/2 yards of pink PUL fabric with white polka dots at Joann Fabrics. I believe the brand is Babyville and it usually has its own aisle with other baby items. I think it was 20% of 14.99 a yard, but even if it isn’t on sale, Joann’s always has a 40% off coupon on their iPhone app you can use. Next I picked up 2 1/2 yards of a vibrant green duck cloth (also on sale) and a queen size thick quilt batting.
Now it’s time for some math so bear with me. The PUL and Duck Cotton were both 54″ wide and 2 1/2 yards of each makes them both 90″ long. The queen size batting is 90″ x 108″. So if you fold the queen batting in half (making the picnic blanket even more fluffy) you get a batting that measure 54″ x 90″, matching the dimensions of the PUL and Duck Cotton.
The next step is to iron out both fabrics and the batting to make them easier to work with. Then lay the PUL and
Duck Cotton out on a large flat surface with their right sides facing one another and the wrong sides facing out. Place the batting on the top on the two fabrics and begin pinning. I used a basting technique like I would have if I was quilting to make sure there weren’t any lumps or bubbles. This was actually the hardest and most time-consuming part of the process for me. I made the mistake of trying to do this on my wood floors, but the PUL is slippery and moved around a lot. I had much better success once I moved the process over to a carpeted area.
Now it’s time for the easy part, sewing a simple stitch around the outside of the blanket leaving enough of an opening to pull it all right side out. Once you have the blanket with the right sides of the fabric facing out, close up that seam opening and you have a waterproof picnic blanket!
I had intended to sew a border stitch around the blanket to better anchor the batting inside the quilt, but the night I made this blanket I was so tired that by the time I closed the open seam I was done. I still haven’t gotten around to it yet, but eventually I will. You could also quilt the blanket if you wanted to and simply quilt lines across its length or width. I also plan on eventually sewing on straps of left over PUL to act as ties, but for the mean time, I just roll it up and tie it with unfinished PUL straps that get the job done just fine.
I tested the blanket out for the first time at the park with friends and it was perfect. The ground was slightly wet but no water seeped through, I stayed dry, had something soft to sit on and it doesn’t hurt that it’s bright and fun. It also survived the washing machine, which is more than I can say for the last picnic blanket. Plus it will be great for spring and summer too (if I can survive the heat)!
While this project was a bit time-consuming, and working with so much fabric and batting can be challenging, it really was so worth it and I highly recommend trying it yourself!