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Molly's Sketchbook: Picnic Roll

From Griffith Park to Prospect Park, it’s picnic season! What could be better than packing up a basket of tasty treats for some dining al fresco? Growing up, we used to throw some sandwiches in a bag and head for the hills of Berkeley’s Tilden Park. We'd watch the hawks soaring overhead and take ride after ride on the carousel before settling down for our picnic. Now in my adopted hometown of New York City, I've discovered the fun of cosmopolitan picnicking, from evening concerts in Central Park to outdoor movies at Bryant Park!

I usually just bring along a sheet or tablecloth, but this year I decided to design something special for the task! To add some summertime cheer, I chose festive, citrus-bright colors, and to keep things simple, I geared the design toward practical convenience, easy to make, carry, use and wash!

I made my Picnic Roll out of hefty Organic Cotton Duck and crisp Essex cotton-linen. Essex comes in tons of bright saturated colors that scream summer and that are beautifully grounded by Cotton Duck's rugged neutrals. The whole thing rolls up into a neat little package thanks to orange Cotton Webbing and our sturdy new D-rings. Best of all, it’s so quick to sew that if you got started now, you could be watching fireworks on it by July 4th! --Molly


To make one 70-inch by 56-inch picnic blanket:

Pattern Note

You'll need this key to interpret the pattern's diagrams:

Cutting and Piecing the Top

Cut each of the Essex pieces into a rectangle 36-inches by 29-inches.

Sew the Ivory piece to the Orange piece along their long sides with a 1/2-inch seam allowance.

Sew the Carrot piece to the Sunshine piece along their long sides with a 1/2-inch seam allowance.

Then sew the first two pieces to the second two pieces, right sides together with a 1/2-inch seam allowance. Match up the center seams to create a neat cross in the center. This is your blanket top.

Sewing the Blanket Together

Tear off a few inches from the cotton duck piece from selvage to selvage to create a 90-degree angle with the selvage at one corner as shown above.

Iron the piece of cotton duck and lay it down on a clean flat surface with the 90-degree corner at the top right. Make sure it's nice and flat. 

Lay the blanket top on top of the cotton duck piece, right sides together, lining up the top right corner with the 90-degree angle of the cotton duck. The top and right sides of both pieces should line up but the left and bottom sides of the duck will be larger than the top. Pin the top into place in this orientation around all four sides.

Cut the duck to match the top piece.

Cut two 5-inch lengths of the cotton webbing. Press one of these pieces in half and place a pair of D-rings inside the fold with the horizontal section of the rings along the fold. Sew the webbing closed and thus the D-rings into place, 1-inch from the fold. Backstitch at the beginning and end of this seam. Repeat this for the second 5-inch piece of webbing. These are the D-ring webbing pieces.

Cut two 23-inch lengths of cotton webbing. Hem one raw edge of each of these two pieces with a doubled 1/2-inch fold. These are the long webbing pieces.

Flip the pinned pieces over so the wrong side of the duck section is facing up. Temporarily unpin the middle of the right side of the blanket. Place the first D-ring webbing piece 6-inches above the middle Essex seam, with the raw edges of the webbing and the Essex matching. Place a long webbing piece directly on top of this D-ring piece, matching up the raw edges. 

Repeat this placement for the second set of webbing pieces, with the long piece on top of the D-ring piece, 6-inches below the middle seam. 

Pin the webbing pieces in place and re-pin the blanket closed, thus uncasing the webbing pieces inside of the blanket pieces.

Sew the back to the top piece with a 1/2-inch seam allowance around all four sides, leaving a 10-inch gap at the bottom edge. Backstitch at the beginning and end of this seam. You'll be sewing in the webbing pieces along this seam but make sure you're only sewing them along the raw edges and not catching the length of them.

Snip off the corners and turn the blanket right sides out making sure to poke the corners out.

Make sure the webbing pieces are sticking out perpendicular to the edge of the blanket and aren't tangled.


Press the blanket flat and pin along all four edges, thus pinning the gap closed. Top stitch around the entire blanket a scant 1/2-inch from the edge, backstitching at the beginning and end of the seam. Sew over the webbing sections again 1/8-inch from the edge to secure them.

Rolling it up!

Now you're ready to roll up the blanket.


Lay it down flat with the duck side facing down and the webbing pieces facing towards the right. Fold the top third downwards.

Then fold the bottom third upwards. Starting at the left roll the folded blanket on itself until you reach the webbing edge. Pull the long webbing pieces around the roll and weave them into the D-rings, securing the roll. Now you're ready to picnic! 

Reader Comments (10)

lovely! i've just been craving a sturdier & better version of the same ones seen at Target. Looking forward to putting together some colors for my very own.

great basket too -- any idea where one might find that as well?
July 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermaria
this is gorgeous but the fabric choices would only work for somewhere with long hot summers- like New York, I guess. Here in Scotland a picnic day would almost certainly follow a rainy day and cotton would get soaked through pretty quick, even if the grass felt dry when you first sat on it! I think if you switched the cotton duck for oil cloth this would work a treat though! I have friends getting married soon and I will adapt the pattern for a more local variant! Thanks :o)
July 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterhelen
Where is that amazing basket from?
July 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEmily
What a great idea! I love the colors and the cotton duck on the underside.

(You wrote: "Lay the blanket top on top of the cotton duck piece, wrong sides together." I think you meant right sides together -- the illustration looks correct.)
July 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEm
Hi All. Isn't that basket great?!? I love it too. I just found out that it is from Trader Joe's. It was purchased a while back though, maybe 10 or 15 years ago. -Laura
July 2, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Em... You are totally right! Great catch. I will correct this now! Thanks so much. -Laura
July 2, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
putting this on my list of summer projects! so fun and useful. thanks for sharing your talent :)
xo . rae
July 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrae
Hi there,

I love this idea. Cannot wait to try it. I also love the picinic basket. could you please tell me where you got it from? Thank you

June 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAshley
Hi! I'm so excited to make this beautiful blanket. What size seam allowance do you use in the first steps when you are putting together the four pieces? Thanks!
May 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnna Maria
Hi Anna Maria-

Thanks for pointing this out! It's 1/2-inch allowance. I've updated the pattern as well.


May 12, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee

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