Thursday, 5 July 2012

Child's picnic quilt and wrap, with hood

My children love to picnic at the beach and and play in the sea until they come out looking faintly blue with cold.   Inspired by hooded towels made out of washcloths, I made this - it's a children's picnic quilt and wrap combo.  I wanted to make something that could be a child's very own - quickly slung in a bag to take to the beach, good to sit on while you have your picnic  - which they could wrap themselves up in at the end of the day. The quilt is small, backed with soft toweling or fleece, and comes with a hood and toggle fastening.

General points: the quilt can be square but a rectangular one has more "wrapability", especially if you were to make one for a bigger child. You can piece a top, or use one piece of cloth.  The quilt has a "top edge" - ie consider the direction of your prints.   Seam allowance is unimportant - just be consistent. 

First, measure your child from the shoulders to just above the ankles.   Or get someone else to do it!

This measurement is the length of the side of a square quilt, or the short side of a rectangular quilt.  For a rectangular quilt, next ask your child to stand with arms extended sideways and measure from fingertip to fingertip, plus six inches - this will be the length of the top edge.  (This gives a good size for wrapping.  You can make the quilt bigger than this, just be aware that you will not want it too big if your child will walk around in it!)  Make a quilt top - pieced or not according to preference.  Remember to consider the direction of any pattern - the quilt has a top edge.   As Beth suggested novelty fabrics as a theme for the blog hop, I used a combination of fishy prints by Hoodie, and some Pezzy.

You will also need a toggle, and a hairband, one piece of toweling or fleece the same size as your top and one rectangle of toweling or fleece 10 inches x 21 inches.  Note: my toweling had different sides - I used the less "loopy" side as it seemed less likely to snag in use. 

First, lay out your small rectangle. We are going to make the hood.  (NB for variations on the hood, including making a lined hood, please see the notes at the bottom of the tutorial.)

Fold in half from left to right.  You are going to stitch along the top edge.

I used a quarter inch seam for neatness and so that the wearer won't feel it. I also zigzagged along the edge to avoid fraying:

 After stitching, open it out:

Now turn right side out - you have made a hood shape.  You can turn and hem the front edge, or bind it:

I bound mine, using this tutorial, attaching on the front:

I zigzag-stitched the edge again in case of fraying:

and attached the back by stitching in the ditch on the front:

Here's the finished hood.  The unbound edge is the shoulder edge:

Lay out your towelling or fleece lining face up. If it is a rectangular quilt have the LONG side at the top.  Find the center and mark it with a pin. Take your finished hood, find the centre of the shoulder edge and lay it on the lining, front edge face down, centre point to centre point,  like this.

Sew the hood to the lining along the shoulder edge using a quarter inch seam.  Because of the way I cut the towelling, I was able to make use of the selvedge edge here and didn't have to worry so much about fraying.  Otherwise I would have zigzagged the edge again.

Lay your lining back down again face up, and flip up the hood:

Smooth it out well then take your quilt top and lay on top of the lining face down.  Pin round the edge with about a million pins, and then sew together using a quarter inch seam, starting just outside the hood, and finishing just before the other edge. This gap is for turning.

Now turn inside out, pull carefully into shape, and stitch the opening closed using your favourite invisible stitch (I use ladder stitch - stitching from right to left),  making sure to tuck in and catch down that hood seam as you sew. 

Now you should topstitch round the edges of the quilt again, to stop the top and lining moving. My quilt top has a narrow border, so I sewed along this. For extra stability, you can add further "quilting" - it's a matter of choice.

Finally, attach a toggle, about an inch and a half from the hood.  On the other side of the hood attach your hairband like this, by sewing backwards and forwards:

You've done it - admire your handiwork!

Admission:  A bad workman blames his tools, a bad blogger blames the weather.   I had hoped to take beautiful artistic "lifestyle" pics of this in use on the beach, but it has been so wet here that any lifestyle pics will have to follow!

This is my attempt to mock up a beach scene in my living room!:

If you make one, do let me know!

Notes and variations:
  • As an optional extra, you could sew a lined hood to match your quilt top.  Follow the instructions above to make two hoods, one in each fabric.  If you like a bound front edge place one hood inside the other, wrong sides together, and use binding to fix together, before joining to the quilt.  Alternatively, place one inside the other, right sides together, sew along the front edge and turn right side out before joining to the quilt.  
  • Tuck wet swimming shorts or beachcombing finds into the hood before rolling up to bring home from the beach.
  • Be sure to shake any sand out of the hood before wrapping a very small child!
  • Why not make a fleece lined quilt-wrap for camping trips? -it makes an extra blanket to throw over your sleeping bag, and you can wear it to wrap up in round the camp fire!   [Update: like this one which was lined with cosy red fleece, and has a lined hood made with two layers of fleece for extra warmth.  After sewing quilt and lining together, I sewed all the way round, about half an inch from the edge.  This one doesn't have a toggle fastening. ]

  • This tutorial was originally written for the Let's Get Acquainted Blog Hop, hosted by Plum and June


  1. I'm totally in love with it - but for myself and for reading during cold snowy winternights ... I rememeber I loved those "hooded" towels when I was a kid - there was a huge argument when my mom told me I would have to give them away because they were now too small for me and my cousins needed them. Ahh memeories ... or I could just stick to the purpose and go to the lake more often, it does get cold in the evenings so wrapping up after swimming should be nice - I even have a largely oversized towle that would work ... Thanks for the idea and the tutorial!!

  2. Great idea and great tutorial. I liked the hands pointing things out in the photos, and your models were very professional! Obviously modelling has taken preference over clothes moths assassination!

  3. Cute! and your tutorial was fabulous! So nice to read your lovely post!

  4. My boys love their hooded towels, but they'll be out of them soon, and I love the idea of making them custom-sized ones. Thanks! :)

  5. Oh, what a fabulous idea! My daughters love the water but they can never seem to keep a towel properly wrapped around them once they get out. I will l most definitely be making them some of these :-)

  6. What a great idea! I love it. You're tutorial is very clear and easy to follow. I wish I had time to whip up one of these right now!

  7. Such a great idea and a great tutorial!

  8. This is such an amazing idea! Great tutorial too, thanks!

  9. I love the indoor beach! This is such a cute tutorial :-)

  10. What a great idea! I have made hooded towels but never thought to add the fancy back. Great job!

  11. Great idea! I'd never have thought of doing that with a quilt top! Love it!

  12. Such a great idea! It would be good for keeping warm after swimming lessons too.

  13. Fantastic idea!! This would really come in handy at my house! :)

  14. This is great Catherine - I think it would be a perfect gift for my niece and nephews who go to their local pool for swimming lessons - how wonderful to be wrapped up in a hooded towel when you get out of the pool!!

  15. Very clever! All children will love one of these!
    Di x

  16. This is a great tutorial Catherine! It also has the added bonus of making young children look like little Ewoks! Both my girls would love one of these - I will add it to my list...

  17. This is a great idea for little ones. May you have many wonderful days at the beach with pictures and treasured memories to follow.

  18. Oh my gosh this is brilliant!! So perfect for camping and anything involving being outside on a cool night. Thank you for putting this together :)

  19. This is such a cute and fun idea! Thanks for the tut!

  20. Love this and if I lived by the sea I would definitely make one!

  21. Oh no, my little ones are all grown so I'll have to find someone else's little one to make this, 'must have' for. I think it's amazing, thanks for sharing :)

  22. Love this tutorial and great pictures! Some of them are very Harry Potter esque! Lovely to meet you and I hope the weather cheers up soon. It's been non stop rain here all day too (in Jersey) and very disappointing as it was my daughter's 3rd birthday party! I hope you get to put your towel quilts to good use soon xx

  23. I love this! And your pictures are great :)

  24. This is fab! Although I may never get my kids out of them - quilts and hoods are two of their favourite things!

  25. What a great idea! I want one!!!!

  26. This is great. My girls would love this.

  27. Oh, I just discovered this old post of yours and I absolutely love this idea. Love love love love. Must make three of them before my kids get too big!!!

  28. Just come across your blog and this post. What an amazing thing!! Obviously I'm a little too late for summer this year, seeing as how cold it's got very quickly, but I could see it being used at some campfires when it starts getting colder. x


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