Cutting + Layout: Rainbow Picnic Sew-Along

I hope your fabrics have arrived for your picnic blanket.  I bet that all those bright, vibrant colors are begging to become a rainbow, so let's do our cutting and arrange them in a beautiful rainbow blend!


For our rainbow layout you'll want 4 squares in each of the 20 rainbow colors, plus an additional lemon yellow square.  That's 81 squares total.  You may cut all 4 squares for a color from a 1/4 yard cut of fabric.  Or, for a more scrappy picnic blanket, mix and match a few fabrics to represent each color category. 

Be sure to press your fabrics before cutting.  I choose not to prewash quilting cottons. 

4 Squares from a Fat Quarter:  Lay fabric flat on your cutting mat so that the print is straight in comparison to cutting mat lines.  Without moving the fabric, cut it in a grid to create (4) 8" squares and some scrap fabric.  For increased accuracy and speed, cut along mat lines without shifting the fabric.  It may help to approach the cutting mat from different angles.  I often place my mat at a corner of a table for just this reason.

4-5 Squares from Yardage:  Match selvedges and place folded fabric on your cutting mat.  Align fold with a horizontal line near the bottom of your mat.  Cut an 8" width-of-fabric strip.  Move excess yardage aside.  Without moving the 8" strip, segment it into as many 8" squares as desired.


You should have 4 squares each in:  purple, cerise, dark red, red, dark pink, pink, dark orange, orange, golden yellow, low volume, lime, green, dark green, aqua, teal, light blue, blue, dark blue and gray.  And 5 squares in lemon yellow. 

Arrange squares in a 9 x 9 layout like so:

Notice that the patchwork layout is divided by slightly darker lines into nine small sections, with each section composed of a 3 x 3 grid called a 9-patch.  These sections make it a bit easier to keep track of where you are as you arrange squares.  If you like, you can arrange and even sew the patchwork one 9-patch at a time, especially if you don't have space to lay out the entire project at once.  We'll talk more about sewing next week.

My rainbow blend layout has colors out of order.  Spicing things up a bit, rather than attempting a perfectly even color transition, removes a sense of right vs. wrong.  Let's just have some fun!

As I arranged my squares in the layout, I chose low volumes that blended with surrounding colors.  So a red/purple low volume in the upper left corner and so on.  As you go don't be afraid to move squares around to make fabrics blend more pleasingly.  The color layout I'm providing is just a suggestion.

I hope you enjoy cutting and arranging your patchwork this weekend!  I'll be back on Wednesday the 12th for sewing the patchwork and backing.  Meanwhile, you can add photos of your rainbow picnic supplies and work-in-progress here: