Personalized Picnic Blanket {party or shower activity}

Like I mentioned last week, I'm not a huge fan of shower games -- baby shower, wedding shower, any shower that doesn't actually involve water and cleansing. I know, heresy... but I'm kind of a stick-in-the-mud game-hater anyway. I'm over it :)

To me, a perfect shower activity (call it a game if you must) is one that is casual -- not too structured -- and gives you a reason to talk to the person next to you, who is likely to be a complete stranger or a very distant acquaintance.

Tying a quilt is perfect, but baby quilts are small, meaning that only three or four guests can be involved at the same time, leaving the rest of us twiddling our thumbs.

So, when I was put in charge of the activity portion of my SIL's baby shower last month, I combined the community aspect of tying a quilt with the creative aspect of the everyone-decorate-a-onesie idea... and thus was born the Personalized Picnic Blanket.
{Okay, so this isn't quite the finished version. I finished late one night and forgot to take a picture of the fully finished blanket before giving it to my SIL... sometimes I'm a doofus like that.  This is just missing the snipping-washing-fuzzing part. Sorry.}

It's both a fun activity and a fun keepsake... for any type of shower or party! Just a traditional rag-style denim blanket... personalized. And personalizing it was SO. MUCH. FUN.

Seriously. 12 adults, fully entertained, for over an hour.

So what do you do?

1. Cut out squares of denim (I used 8" squares) from old jeans or denim yardage. You could do cotton or flannel or any other woven fabric as well, but the denim is a fun touch and a nice weight for a picnic quilt. The number of squares you'll want/need will depend on the size and plan of the party -- for our small shower where this was the main activity, each guest did at least 2 squares, and some did 4 or 5.

2. Buy bunches of fabric paint at the craft store. Tip: Use a coupon and buy the big 20-pack. Every color variation known to (wo)man, including florescent and sparkly, for around $10. 20 tubes of paint was more than enough paint for the 40 squares that our guests decorated -- probably enough for at least 40 more.

3. At the shower, turn the guests loose with the fabric paint, decorating the denim squares with pictures, phrases, designs, etc -- or make the quilt a usable signing book and have the guests sign their names and write a little message. Be sure that guests leave the outside 1/2 inch along all the edges blank because fabric paint is a bugger to sew through.

4. Allow the fabric paint to dry. Thoroughly.

5. Sew the denim squares together rag-quilt style, so one side (the back) is flat and the other side (the front) has all the seam allowances showing. (If you need step-by-step instructions, here's a good tutorial. Skip the sewing the X part since your squares are decorated and just place the squares back to back.)

I interspersed my denim squares with fun cotton prints in appropriately boyish colors, but depending on the number of denim squares you have and the size you want the quilt to be, your denim-to-other ratio may be different.

6. Grab your sharp and well-oiled scissors and snip the exposed seam allowances every 1/4 to 1/2 inch and toss the blanket in the washer to properly fluff and fray the edges. Be sure you double-check that you got each and every one!

7. Gift it!

A few notes to help the activity/quilt/party be successful:

Personalizing the squares is easiest when you actually *know* the person that the shower is for, so this is an activity that will be best for a better-acquainted shower group -- think mostly close friends and family, not only coworkers, mere acquaintances, or the extended in-laws.

Because there are bound to be a few guests who either a) don't have that close familiarity with the guest of honor to be able to think of a fun design or b) don't have the creative mojo going that day, provide a few inspiration sheets: a few pages of printed generic clipart designs or related phrases -- "sugar and spice...", gender stereotypical toys like trucks or dolls, fun pattern ideas like zig zags or polka dots, etc. These can help get the creative gears a-grindin' for everyone, not just the people who are feeling stuck.

Provide pencils and paper for sketching designs, as well as some scrap fabric pieces for guests to experiment on, since the fabric paint is permanent and a little intimidating at first.

The fabric paint generally needs at least an hour to dry to the touch -- more if the paint is applied thickly (check the bottle for specific instructions). So, keep that in mind in terms of your venue -- will you have enough space and time for the paint to dry adequately before transporting? This shower was at my sister's neighborhood clubhouse, and so we ended up filling cookie sheets with still-wet fabric squares and walking them the block and a half to her house... where they took over EVERY free inch of horizontal space. Just something to think about as you plan. :)


Anonymous said...

I pretty much LOVE this. It was with some guilt and awkward (and greedy) feelings that I suggested it as a possible activity for my shower in June. (I know, I probably should have just hosted my own shower. I'm weird!) Love love love love! We're having kind of an openhouse type shower because I hate more than ANYTHING shower games, and I thought this would be perfect. Bridal shower games are bad, but baby shower games are torture.

Camaree said...

Love this idea for my sister's shower! But I've never made any kind of quilt. Hmm . . . I'll have to figure that out.

Damaris said...

I love the idea, but forget a shower. I think I'll have my kids decorate squares for our own picnic blanket!

Polly @ Helping Little Hands said...

Such a fun and useful idea!

Amy @ Increasingly Domestic said...

This idea is AMAZING! I love this! If you know that certain people are super crafty(embroidery, etc) you could send them a few squares ahead of time and then have everyone do them at the shower as well. I am adding this to my Baby Shower file:)

Gwen @ Gwenny Penny said...

This is a really fantastic idea, Lorene. A treasure for sure.

P.S. I hate shower games, too.

Brandy J. said...

I just found your blog and am your newest follower. This blanket is AMAZING! Thanks for creating such an inspiring place to visit.

Jocelyn Christensen said...

Happy Mother's Day, Lorene!

sanam arzoo said...
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