Thursday, August 21, 2014

Make: Tote that Converts into a Picnic Blanket

I don't know about you, but I don't want summer to end (if only we could have rain!). For us summer means campouts and hauling lots of gear. After four campouts where we juggled picnic blankets, beach totes, camp chairs, and more as we trekked back and forth from our tent to the water or to a shaded grassy area, I decided we needed a lightweight tote into which we could tuck our beach clothes that could be spread out for us to sit on it.

DIY for making convertible yoga mat carrier or beach tote


Cricut's August Design Space Star competition's August Challenge (Fashion or Gear) gave me the perfect excuse to stop putting off this project and just do it, especially when my team, Team 12, chose Endless Summer as our theme. Coconut trees immediately popped into my head and stayed there thanks to Gates' latest favorite book, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (Chicka Chicka Book, A) (*affiliate link) .


Making Your Tote


This project is pretty easy, both in terms of the fabric collage you cut using the Cricut Explore and the construction of the tote itself. Because the picnic blanket is almost 8' by 5', you'll need a pretty sizeable area when you're working. I hadn't considered this and only had a 2'x3' space in which to work. I was able to complete the project in this space, but it required constantly double checking to ensure I wasn't accidentally sewing on multiple layers (which I did a couple of times) or catching the straps while attaching the D-rings (which I also did a few times).


For your collage, you'll need the following:

For your tote, you'll need the following:




  1. Prewash your fabrics and prepare any lightweight fabric, by applying Thermoweb Heat'n Bond Medium Weight Iron-On Fusible Interfacing-White 20"X36" (*affiliate link) as per manufacturer's instructions.
  2. Import Endless Summer Coconut Tree SVG file into Cricut Design Space.
  3. Prepare your design for cutting. Assign all coconut tree trunks and coconuts the same color so that they'll print on the leather. (You can choose to have your coconuts a different material; simply assign them a different color and have additional material ready.) Assign the coconut tree leaves the same color (different than the one you used for the coconut tree trunks and coconuts) so that they'll print on the 12x12, if you have two color leaves, assign half to each color. Assign the sun a different color. Preview your boards to ensure that the designs fit on your fabric; this is especially important if you're using scraps that don't completely fill the 12x12 space.
  4. Cut your material. Load your lightweight leather face down on the super adhesive mat. Select mirror image (fabric is not right side up). Select Custom dial, Leather Lightweight and modify settings so that it's the greatest pressure and cuts 5 times. Hit Go. Load your lightweight fabric for the coconut leaves face down on the regular adhesive mat (interfacing should be facing you or it will get stuck on the mat). Select mirror image (fabric is not right side up). Select Custom dial, Fabric, Polyester and modify settings so that it cuts 3 times. Hit Go. Load your lightweight fabric for the setting sun. Select Fabric dial. Hit Go. Close out of your cut. Reload your cut and advance until you're back on the setting sun mat. Flip your board when you load it. Hit Go. You now have all of the pieces of your collage cut.
  5. Thread your sewing machine with one thread matching your reversible fabric for the top stitch and the other thread that matches your reversible fabric on your bobbin for the bottom stitch.
  6. Sew a square of Velcro Brand Soft & Flexible Sew-On Tape 5/8"X30"-White (*affiliate link) to the front of one of your setting sun pieces.
  7. Pin two setting suns right sides facing each other. Sew together. Notch the hem. Flip fabric inside out.
  8. Sew three sides of your reversible fabric together (right sides facing each other) beginning with one of the long edges. Flip fabric inside out.
  9. Pin your setting sun to the middle of the open edge of your blanket. Fold the raw edges of the blanket in and pin.
  10. Sew edge shut and continue edge stitch around the entire blanket. Optionally, stitch a parallel edge stitch around the entire blanket with your thread colors reversed (or simply flip your blanket and stitch again).
  11. Pin collage onto your blanket. Sew in place.
  12. Attach webbing to your blanket. Pin straps to blanket at 1/3 of the width from the left long edge and 1/3 of the width from the right long edge. Attach a single D-ring to top edge of each strap and sew securely in place with a straight stitch across the webbing quadruple stitched (forward stitch, reverse stitch, forward stitch, reverse stitch). Secure each strap by sewing 9 inches of the webbing to the blanket. Affix two D-rings at 9 inches and secure in place as you did the first D-ring at the top edge of the strap. Place remaining 6 D-rings on the back of the blanket so that the straps remain in place when styled as a tote, one at the bottom of the tote, one halfway up the back, and the other at the top edge of the blanket for each strap.
  13. Sew a square of Velcro Brand Soft & Flexible Sew-On Tape 5/8"X30"-White (*affiliate link) about 7 and half inches down from the center of your blanket where your sun lies. Use the piece on the back of your sun as a guide.
  14. Sew strips of Velcro Brand Soft & Flexible Sew-On Tape 5/8"X30"-White (*affiliate link) to the both the left and right top edges of your blanket. This will keep the setting sun and coconut tree collage lying flat when your blanket is styled as a tote.


Converting Your Tote from Blanket to Tote

Because this tote converts from a tote to a picnic blanket, it's not designed to hold heavy items. The long straps give you the flexibility to style the tote as a bag for your yoga mat or a beach duffle, but don't give you support for heavy items, like a watermelon. This tote is designed to hold lightweight items such as towels, hand wipes, and sunscreen and to reduce the number of items parents are struggling with as they attempt to keep up with excited children. If you used longer straps and attached them directly your blanket, you could carry heavier items. (Lengthening the amount of webbing doesn't substantially increase the cost of the project as 6 yards cost just under a $2.00.)


Depending on how you close your tote, you either have a bag (steps shown above) sized for carrying your yoga mat, towel, and bottle of water or a beach tote (knot the two left corners together, then knot the two right corners together, make sure the knots are tight, fold the knots towards each other, and pull sunset sky fabric over the top to cover) sized for a couple of towels, swimsuits, hand wipes, sunscreen, hats, and a couple of snacks.

How will you use your bag?


More Endless Summer Projects to Try with Your Cricut Explore

To really bring Endless Summer to wherever you are, no matter what the weather, you'll want to check out these projects from my Cricut Design Space Star Contest teammates, go Team 12!:


genuinely eden

Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.

DISCLOSURE: For my participation in Cricut's Design Space Star competition, Provo Craft gave me a Cricut Explore. This post contains affiliate links, followed by (*affiliate link). I feature products that I own or that I am considering purchasing. I own all of the products included in the post. All opinions presented are my own.