Monday, 23 March 2015

Washable Playmat

I wanted a nice soft playmat for the visiting babies, which would be washable and easy to store. So I came up with a very easy to make mat. Tutorial below!

It's square, and has a long strap attached so it can be rolled up for storage. The baby gym  we made can stand on it, or it's big enough for the older ones to sit on with their toys (and a place of refuge for them to come back to after they have toddled off). It would also double as a spare quilt or blanket when one of them needs a rest.

This was very quick to make, a couple of hours in total. It was made from double-sided ready quilted fabric, plain white on one side, bright turquoise the other with little red, yellow and purple aeroplanes.  Here's one of the other fabrics I bought at the same time to make a second one.

I'm trying to decide which colour tape to edge this one with, the lemon or the pink. I love the cupcake design! 

 Fabricland had several other quilted fabrics I may try in future. I nearly bought as well the 'red tartan on one side and plain dark green on the other' version, and another with blue teddy bears, or the strawberries or army camouflage, or the denim and blue sateen - but I know my fabric hoard keeps getting ever bigger, so I refrained this time.

Tutorial: to make a washable playmat, you need:

  • A square of double-sided ready quilted fabric (roughly a metre square, but whatever size you like - mine was slightly bigger) - plus a strip for the storage strap if you want one
  • 25 mm / 1" Double-fold bias binding tape, enough to go round the mat including corners, plus some extra if you want the storage strap  - I had  c. 5m (about 5.5 yards).
  • Suitable coloured sewing thread
  • About 8cm / 3" of Velcro for the strap, both sides (i.e fluffy and scratchy)
My material was 112 cm wide, so I bought a length of about 130cm. I then took a corner across to make a diagonal fold. That enabled me to cut off the excess to make an exact square. In fact I was also able to use the quilting pattern as a guide to cut the non-selvedge sides straight. Then I opened it out again. So I had a piece left that was the width of the fabric by about 18 cm (7").

First I opened out one side of the double sided tape and pinned it folds side down on the right side of the fabric (the patterned side which I wanted to be on top), with the opened out edge to the fabric edge . Then I sewed down the opened out fold line.

I figured out how to do the mitred corners thanks to this very helpful post on mitring corners with bias binding tape. (Thank you to Laura Marsh.) Basically you sew the seam on each side up to where you want to turn the corner, then double back the tape to form a right angle. And press it - that's important. That's what I've done in the picture below. Then you sew the next side and so on.

After the tape has been attached to one side, press it all up away from the seam, and then turn it on the fold over the edge of the fabric and itself and pin close to the first sewn line. Then sew through all the thicknesses of tape and the material.

 Below, you can see it partway done, with the corner threads yet to be cut off. The corner showing was my last corner, where you have to join the start and end of the tape, and to be honest I didn't do it perfectly. But I'm not trying to sell it, and if any babies object to my not quite perfect corner, they'll get their toys taken away!

I could have stopped there, and said, there you go, playmat done. But I had this odd strip of material left, and a small piece of left over tape. So that's where the idea came from of making a strap to go round it, so it could be rolled up when not in use.

I didn't use the full length of the piece left. I decided about 72cm (28") was plenty. I only had enough bias tape left to tape each short end, so I went down the long sides folding down about 1/4", and put the machine on to zig zag. I used the remaining bit of the bias tape to finish the two short ends.

Then I sewed two bits of fluffy Velcro on the right side of the strap about 25cm (10") from one end, about 2.5 cm (1") in from each long side; and the scratchy bits on the wrong side of the fabric, at the other end of the strap, right next to the tape. Then the strap could be wrapped around the rolled up mat and round itself, and fastened with the Velcro.

Again, I could have stopped there. However, I thought - I can see that loose strap getting lost. So I decided to attach it. 

You'll see that I attached it, not in the middle, but about a quarter of the way along the side. 


This was because I found the best way to roll up the mat is first to fold it in half .....  

....... then almost into quarters, before rolling up from the bottom towards the strap.

The reason I fold it not quite up to the top when folding in 'quarters' is because when you roll it, there's a tendency for the top layer to push forward.

Then finally you wrap the strap around and do up the Velcro.

Easy to store, and easy to make! Hooray!

Look out for my post on how to make a baby gym.

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