Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Picnic Quilt

 One of my earliest recollections of a handmade quilt was a picnic quilt that my family used when I was a child.  I can't remember a single thing about it except the stitching (hand quilted not machine).  

I also had a picnic quilt after I got married and later had a baby.  It was an old faded quilt that my mother-in-law thought would be a great picnic quilt when we took our new born baby to the park.

I had assumed that quilts used for picnics were old worn quilts that were recycled by our mothers and grandmothers before going to the rag man.  I was wrong.

Turns out that during the first half of the 20th century, quilts were made specifically for the purpose of picnics.


Numerous articles talk about women making picnic quilts and I loved this description of them at an event:  "An estimated 500 cars were banked at the pageant parking area by 5 p.m.  Spectators already dotted the hillside, most of them with blankets and picnic quilts which made bright flags of color."

Why picnic quilts?  Well for one thing, people didn't have that many clothes and it protected one's garments from grass stains.  Another article shared another reason, that an event, "were family groups who brought the picnic quilt and hardy defiers of chiggers who sat on the ground."  Chiggers--YUCK!

Nancy Page even offered a specific pattern in 1939 that one could use:

Last week you heard me lament about a gifted baby quilt being used in a dog bed and some of you had similar tales.  Maybe we should consider making picnic quilts for gifts and include a nice picnic basket for newlyweds or even children (imagine a small picnic set up for kids!).  I'm thinking I may use up my box of 5 inch squares to make a few to keep on hand.

If you are interested in a more elaborate pattern, you could use this zig-zag picnic quilt pattern offered for free on the sulky thread website.

Have a safe and wonderful day!


  1. Years ago a pattern developed in our family. Every time I would give a picnic basket to one of my three sons or their current girlfriend, they would break up. So a code developed among my two daughters and myself. If the boys were dating someone we didn't care for, it was "Give her a picnic basket, Mom."

  2. Great idea, a simple quilt out of fabrics one has fallen out of love for, so we are not mentally crushed when it gets abused. That's my take, and new goal, because I now know the quilt abusers.