Gingham Picnic Cooler Tutorial for Tailgating

Adorable upcycled cooler! How to make a Gingham Picnic Cooler for tailgating and camping.  | Tutorial at I Gotta Create!


'Tis the perfect season for
picnics, camping and tailgating!

We had a beat-up cooler
that I decided to upcycle,
and what is more picnic-y than
GINGHAM?

Isn't she cute?!!

So today I'm sharing

How to make a Gingham Tailgate Picnic Cooler


otherwise known as the


Gingham Picnic Cooler Upcycle Tutorial.


Let's take this step by step:


Adorable upcycled cooler! How to make a Gingham Picnic Cooler for tailgating and camping.  | Tutorial at I Gotta Create!

First, if you have a beat up old cooler
around the house, don't junk it.

The secret to transforming the cooler 
is to give it a good wash up. 
Then scuff it with some sandpaper
or brillo pad. Now at the very least you 
can paint the outside any solid color you want!

But, if you want to get fancy
and make a Gingham Picnic Cooler, here's how:

Adorable upcycled cooler! How to make a Gingham Picnic Cooler for tailgating and camping.  | Tutorial at I Gotta Create!


1. First, give the whole outside of the cooler
a fresh coat of white paint.
I painted my lid solid red for a perky contrast.


2. Now, tape off the areas you want to 
leave white, like the handle.

Our first task is to paint the red vertical stripes of the gingham.

Find the center of the front of the cooler 
and run a strip of painter's masking tape 
straight down the front,
being sure to bend it over the top lip and
under the bottom curve of the cooler.
This is your Center Tape and it will stay in place.

Now, run two more strips of masking tape directly to the right of and parallel with the original Center Tape. You should have 3 strips of masking tape 
in a solid column now.

The middle piece of masking tape in this 
column is your "Spacer Tape." 
You are going to move this one around 
so that you don't have to measure out 
all those stripes and checks.

Lift that strip of "Spacer" masking tape off,
and put it to the left of your Center strip of tape.
Adhere a new strip of masking tape 
to the left of the spacer tape.

Lift the Spacer Tape off, and work back and forth like this from the right to the left until you get the front of your cooler taped up in stripes like in the photo.  

Then continue on around the cooler, just going in one direction so that you finish a side and the back. Now if you have any fudging to do, you can do it on the final side and it won't be noticeable.
Mine just happened to come out perfectly!

You can now throw away the Spacer Tape.
Be sure to smooth over the tape strips on the cooler once more, firming them down and making sure they are well adhered.


3. Now use some spray paint made for 
fusing to plastic. Start with a light coat 
and follow the directions on the spray paint.  

You do not need this paint to be too dark and you do not need it to be perfect-- 
in fact, it is better if it is not! 

Think about how gingham has those 
lighter stripes of color. It only gets darker 
where the vertical and horizontal color stripes 
intersect, creating a checkered effect.

Adorable upcycled cooler! How to make a Gingham Picnic Cooler for tailgating and camping.  | Tutorial at I Gotta Create!


4. Once the paint is dry, remove the strips 
of painter's tape and your red 
painted stripes are revealed!


5. Now we will be masking the horizontal stripes.

Because my lid is red, I'd like my first stripe 
to be white, so I will mask that all away around the cooler.

Run a shorter horizontal strip of tape the length of the front of the cooler right below that. Do the same on each side and then on the back. These are going to become your Spacer Tapes. They are easier to manage in 4 parts.

Now run another strip of tape right below the Spacer tapes, all the way around the cooler.

Remove the spacer tapes and place them below the second strip of horizontal tape. Continue in this manner until you have made your way down the cooler.  Then throw away your Spacer Tapes.


It's time to spray a light coat of paint on the cooler, following the directions. Do not get your coats too heavy -- you want to create a gingham effect.

Now, remove all the tape and...

Adorable upcycled cooler! How to make a Gingham Picnic Cooler for tailgating and camping.  | Tutorial at I Gotta Create!

you've just created the cutest little picnic cooler ever!!

It's fun to take on road trips, camping, or for tailgating.

You just saved junking up our landfills and you created something unique and awesome in the process. You saved money, too, because a can of spray paint and some tape are cheaper than a cooler!

Adorable upcycled cooler! How to make a Gingham Picnic Cooler for tailgating and camping.  | Tutorial at I Gotta Create!

Enjoy your
Gingham Picnic Cooler!

Fill your cooler with these adorable, portable peach crisp desserts baked in mason jars:



Adorable upcycled cooler! How to make a Gingham Picnic Cooler for tailgating and camping.  | Tutorial at I Gotta Create!

You might also want to check out these tutorials here at I Gotta Create!


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