My Material Life

Bountiful Beach Blankets

I finished this blanket just in time for the beach yesterday.  It’s made from two Ikea towels that I picked up last summer.  I think the towels cost about $7 each and that is really something because their quality is outstanding.  Actually, a little too good for a pool or beach towel – too large and heavy.  So I decided to go with that theme and make them even larger and heavier by combining the two towels into one beach blanket.

I cut each towel in half to create four same-size squares.  Then I cut off one finished edge (the edge I needed to seam) from each square.  Next I laid out the squares as I wanted to piece them together and found that I did not have four same-size squares at all.  Eventually, I got the sizes I needed and when I laid them out to make sure all the edges lined up, they looked like this …

I wanted a really flat seam, so I played around with a couple of ideas on some of the toweling I cut off and eventually decided to sew a regular seam with right sides together, then press it open, and stitch with something called a tricot stitch on my machine on the right side of the blanket (the more velvety side) on both sides of the seam line.  I sewed two adjacent squares together in this manner, then the other two adjacent squares, and finally the resulting two rectangular pieces to form the blanket.  Here’s what those seams look like on the right side …

And here’s what they look like on the wrong side …

I think I’ve got a seam finish that will both keep the seam allowance flat and prevent raveling.  Hope so anyway.

The thing is my friend brought along an old comforter from college days and I liked the way the sand didn’t get stuck in it like it did in my towel blanket.  Maybe next time I should bring this …

I made this one about a million years ago.  The squares are actually inexpensive napkins that I bought at Cost Plus.  This didn’t save me any time or money, mind you.  The napkins’ edges needed to be cut off and then they needed to be made square and the napkins really weren’t that inexpensive, but I was charmed by the project in a magazine from the 90s that I really loved called Handcraft Illustrated.  And I guess I really just like making blankets.

mml wonder strap beach blanket symmetrical

p.s. If you’d like to learn how to make a strap for your blanket, please click here.


    • Thank you. I wouldn’t call myself a quilter though I certainly use quilting techniques now and then. I’ve only got one post about quilts really. If you’re curious you can see it here. Thanks for writing and happy quilting!

    • Wow – how do you do that? Don’t give up yet Audie! Sewing your own things is extremely satisfying, but there are a lot of factors to making it work for you – having the right tools, the right space to work, pressing your work, etc. Is there someone more experienced who is local to you who can help you out? When something you’ve sewn works, it gives you a very powerful feeling. Hang in there and good luck!:-)

    • Thank you so much. The bag is awesome, isn’t it? I’m so glad you asked and happy to tell you that I got it at Whole Foods (of all places!) – last year though. I know it was woven in Africa, not sure if I saved any more info to help you locate it or something similar. I’ll take a look though – I’m kind of obsessive that way!

  1. Jacee Peck

    I loved the beach towel blanket so much i made one my self but i sewed a vinly table cloth on the back and no sand comes though love it! thank you so much for the idea oh and you can turn it over and use the other side for picnics!!!!!!

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  5. bounced here from Pinterest. What a great idea. We were throwing out some blankets but now I’ve looked at them with new eyes. Awesome idea esp with summer about to hit and lots of days at the pool and sea side. Thanks x

  6. Mori

    Great idea. I’ve been looking for over sized beach towels to use as a beach blanket, but this is even better. I can make it HUGE.

    One question: How did you finish off the raw edges around the outside of the blanket? Great pictures of how you did the seems, but I can’t make out the edges (think binding on a quilt.) I love the idea of using napkins as well.

    • Hi Mori,
      The beauty of it was that I didn’t need to finish the outer edges; those edges were already finished. The napkin quilt was a bit more work, but it’s a very useful blanket. One thing to consider if you make a very large towel blanket is how you’ll cart it around – they can get heavy depending on the thickness of the towels you use. Those IKEA ones were very thick and very heavy. But definitely go for it! Colleen

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  8. Vanetta Beaber

    The type of material your beach towels are made from has a direct impact on the absorbency of the towel. Thick terry is one of the best materials for beach towels as they tend to soak up the moisture the fastest. Terry is also warm, and because it is thick, it is nice to lie on at the beach. You will want to make sure that your beach towels are made of 100% cotton for the best absorbency, and to make sure that your towel performs the way you expect it to, Egyptian or Turkish cotton is the best way to go. ,

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  9. Jen

    I love this idea! You mentioned that you put a vynil table clothe on back to keep the sand out. How did you attach it to the towels?

    • Hi Jen – I’m glad you asked about that. That’s a comment that was added to my photo by a Pinterest user. My blanket has no vinyl backing and I wouldn’t suggest adding one because my thinking is 1) it would make the blanket way too heavy and 2) it won’t keep sand off the blanket. But if it’s worked for anyone else, more power to them. I do think it’s a great idea for a lighter-weight blanket that may be used on damp grass. If you want to line your blanket, I’d suggest cutting your lining the same size as your blanket, placing both sides right sides together, stitching around the perimeter, and leaving an opening for turning right sides out again that you can machine or slip stitch together. Good luck!

    • Isn’t that funny? I think it may have gotten as popular (if not more so) as the toilet paper roll knitters. Look forward to talking soon – Colleen


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  11. theyoungfamilyfive

    Such a cleaver idea!! So funny I saw this on Pinterest and realized its the Capitola beach/wharf! I run by there all the time. Small world!

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    • Well people have commented about that, but I wouldn’t try it with this particular blanket because the toweling is very heavy already, and I wouldn’t want to make it heavier. Plus it wouldn’t help with the sand and I’d be concerned about it drying well. But you could always try it and see what happens!

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