Labor Day is on Monday, you guys! It’s your last chance to enjoy the final moments of summer, and whether you hit the beach, your favorite park or the backyard, this geometric painted blanket (that doubles as a Twister mat) will turn your picnic into a par-tay. The Twister board is painted onto a tote bag so that you can easily haul the blanket, your picnic dinnerware, napkins, knives, food and drinks. Grab the kids (all ages), because this is the ultimate way to close out National Picnic Month!
Things You’ll Need
Poly-coated canvas dropcloth measuring at least 6 by 4 feet
4 colors of acrylic paint (preferably the colors you used to make your wooden butter knives and dinnerware)
1/2 yard of fabric in the same color palette as your paint (optional)
Fabric tape (optional)
Iron and ironing board (optional)
Twister Tote Bag
Salad plate (or any other round, 8-inch template)
Fine-tip permanent marker
Acrylic paint (same colors as used on blanket)
Quick-dry tacky glue (optional)
Open your canvas up and cut it down to 6 feet by 4 feet. I picked up a larger dropcloth than needed so that we could make more than one picnic blanket. The poly backing on the canvas is really nice because it doesn’t allow moisture to seep through (which is handy while you are painting it but also very helpful when you are trying to enjoy a picnic and the grass is a bit damp). Note that painters’ dropcloths will shrink tremendously in the washing machine. We worked on an unwashed dropcloth because it folds up so neatly when fresh out of the packaging.
I wanted a quick and easy way to measure out 24 (6 by 4) equal squares on the blanket, so I folded the blanket in half, length-wise, twice. That created four equal rows. Then, I folded the dropcloth in half (doubling over itself) and folded the remaining section into thirds, which created six roughly even sections. The original Hasbro Twister mat is made up of red, blue, yellow and green circles, but we used a triangle motif because in addition to looking cool, triangles are a lot easier for small kids to cut out in consistent sizes. Use one of the fabric pieces to cut a large triangle that fits inside a folded section of the dropcloth. Next, trace that triangular piece of fabric with Washi tape. Carefully unfold the dropcloth and continue tracing the fabric triangle in each of the six sections of the folded dropcloth. When one row of six is complete, carefully open the dropcloth up, and begin tracing the second row of triangles. When all four rows are sectioned off, pour a little bit of paint onto a paper plate and brush it into the Washi tape triangles, one row at a time. Try to stay within the tape lines, but remember that this is a kid-friendly project, and if a few drops of paint make it outside the lines, that only adds to the handmade charm.This next step is completely optional. When we painted our wooden butter knives, some of the bottles we chose were from my existing craft stash and not exactly full. I was a little concerned that we might run out of paint while completing our rows of triangles, so we selected some fabric (yes, also from my hoarder-level craft stash) in similar colors. Using that first fabric triangle as a guide, we cut out additional triangles in powder blue, navy blue, and gold.
As we continued painting, we placed the fabric triangles within their corresponding color rows to see where we might want a little dash of texture. We liked the way it looked, but an all-paint version of this blanket would be just as cute and a bit quicker to make.
When the blanket was completely unfolded and all of the triangles had been painted, we removed the fabric triangles and let the blanket dry outside overnight. We draped ours over a clothesline to prevent the blanket from blowing into itself and smudging the paint. We also removed the Washi tape that evening. Just remember to leave the tape intact on any triangles that will need fabric added later.When you are ready to add fabric, gather your fabric triangles and iron them.
Place pieces of the fabric tape around the inside of your Washi tape triangle. Remove the Washi tape guidelines, smooth the fabric onto the fabric tape, working out any creases or air bubbles, and iron it in place.
To prevent the fabric from fraying, retape your Washi tape (or duct tape as pictured here) guidelines around the fabric triangle. Then use some (not all!) of your remaining acrylic paint on edges of the fabric. This will create a nice clean line on the canvas and will stop the fabric from unraveling. It’s quick and dirty, but it works!
To finish the blanket, we folded strips of blue duct tape over the cut edges of the dropcloth. We also taped a few coins into the corners of the blanket. This prevents the edges from rolling up, and as my husband joked, it ensures that you always have money for the parking meter if your picnic runs long.
When the blanket border is outlined in duct tape, you are ready to move onto the tote bag (which is really quick to make).
Trace a salad plate (roughly 8 inches in diameter) onto your bag with a pencil.Freehand a second circle, about 1 inch, to 11/2 inches, within the first. I find that it’s much easier to draw a circle with the guidelines of the first one. Use the ruler to find the middle of your circles and mark two lines, one vertical and one horizontal, through the middle. Then, have the kids sketch hands and feet in opposite corners of the bag.
Use your pencil (and ruler, if you like) to draw three equidistant lines within each of the four sections of your circles.
Trace all of your pencil marks with a fine-tip permanent marker. You can erase any pencil marks after the ink is dry.
Use the kitchen sponge and scissors to cut four triangles that will fit within the sections you just drew.
Use your last drops of acrylic paint to sponge-paint four triangles, in each of your four colors, onto the tote bag.
Be careful to paint the small triangles in the same order as they appear on your blanket.Allow the painted triangles to dry completely. Then, cut a strip of craft foam that is long enough to extend from the middle of the circle out to all of the triangles. Snip one end of the craft foam to a point, and round the opposite end. Cut a small portion of craft wire and bend it until one end is a smashed zigzag and the other is a straight point. Push the pointy side of the wire from the inside of your tote out and through the center of your circle.Press the foam arrow onto the wire and bend the wire point over the foam to hold it in place. Give your new spinner a flick with your finger, and it should travel around the board.
You can also use your quick-dry glue to tack down a larger piece of craft foam to the inside of the spinner bag. This will help give the spinner “board” more rigidity and can offer some insulation to your bag if you glued it on both interior walls. Just be mindful not to glue the wire connection piece down, as it would not spin as freely.
And psst, if you want a more traditional spinner tutorial, there is another option here.
Now you are ready to stuff your playful picnic “basket” with your game blanket, your food, dinnerware and whatever else you want to bring to your Labor Day party.
These are not well suited for the washing machine, so spot-clean them or wash gently by hand. You may still experience some shrinkage. Always line dry.
Still, we love our colorful party picnic blanket. My 15-month old boy is obsessed with the brightly colored triangles, while the preteen girls in my family love that they can sprawl out on the blanket and not get wet from the grass.
We are already working on a second picnic blanket to keep with our camping gear because it’s such a fun way to combine practical, heavy-duty materials with family fun.
Thanks for following along with my National Picnic Month projects. Hope you’ve enjoyed and crafted along with us! We’d love to see your creations. Tweet or Instagram your projects with the #eHowPicnicCrafts hashtag to share what you’ve made!
All photos by: Megan Andersen