A while ago, I took it upon myself to start a massive project – creating felt play mats to suit my son’s favourite things. The idea was that I would make a simple felt dinosaur play mat (Jurassic Park eat your heart out!) and then a town play mat for his cars. However, once I started, I couldn’t stop. The roll of green felt got longer and longer while I added more cool additions to the park…
In the end it became a couple of months’ worth of evenings spent sewing in front of the TV. And it was so. much. fun!
I started off by buying a very long roll of green felt. I didn’t have any idea on how big the project would be and so I pretty much winged it. I know that’s not massively helpful, so if you’re looking for step-by-step instructions and measurements and patterns, I’m afraid I’m not your gal.
BUT… I’m not an expert, I’m a mediocre sewer who knows two stitch type things (see I don’t even know what the proper terms are!) so if you’re a beginner too, let me tell you that it’s not as hard as it might seem. Practice your running stitch and blanket stitch. The blanket stitch tidies up edges, gives it a nice rustic feel and protects your hard work from unfurling and getting ruined through rough play – especially important if your little one is as boisterous as my two year old!
For the sake of full disclosure, I should mention that I inherited a huge amount of materials, tools and bits and pieces from my dear Grandmother’s craft room. It was a treasure trove – definitely the inspiration and basis for my lifelong obsession with crafts. If you haven’t got a stack of random materials, scraps and bizarre things that you just know will be useful at some point… Don’t worry, you can stock up on cheap fabric and equipment at The Works.
Felt Dinosaur Play Mat Planning
I knew the key pieces of the mat that I really wanted to achieve:
- Bobbly rocky area (for texture)
Here are some of the amazing creations from other bloggers that inspired me:
I cut out the dinosaur footprints using freezer paper – drawing in pencil on the freezer paper, ironing it onto the back of the felt and cutting it out with dressmaking scissors. Freezer paper allows you to be very precise when cutting out fiddly shapes.
The volcano was a labour of love, but I just steamed ahead with it and hoped it would turn out ok – I lined it with red satin by simply sewing the lining at the top to the black outside of the volcano. I cut out ‘lava’ using orange and red felt. And then edged the top of the volcano with folded over red ribbon.
If you’d like a template to work from, you can find one here from CDNMakezine. I made the black outside of the volcano with an irregular outline so that it could be sewn to the green mat.
I had some lengths of thick red cord which I sewed to the bottom of the inside of the volcano – this was my husband’s idea. This way, the cords could be stuffed into the volcano and pulled out in an volcanic eruption, spilling down the mountain. Pretty good fun – my son thinks it’s great and we do rescue missions to save any dinosaurs trapped near the volcano when it erupts!
One part that was totally unnecessary, but I was really keen on doing, was the rocky outcrop – using stuffing and sewing in circles to make rocks. It was way too much work but it does look great! If you’ve got the time, it makes a really nice sensory addition. They look great with the plastic rocks that came with my son’s dinosaur bucket.
Next was the pond. It was important to have the water element for the dinosaurs (of course!) but also to add a splash (!) of colour. I wanted to make it as interactive as possible with my limited engineering nous! So I made a hole in the light blue outer section and then added a dark blue shape overlapping the gap underneath, and cut a cross into the dark blue felt. I knew that this would see a lot of action, so I blanket stitched around the edges. This was created so that the dinosaurs could go for a swim in the pond. I added rushes, reeds and waves in different colours.
The caves were fun – I knew that my son would love having somewhere the dinosaurs could go and sleep. Again, a little bit of interaction until he is old enough to make up lots of lengthy stories using the dinosaurs. I used some animal print furry material as the base for the caves. Then, I cut out over-sized pieces of felt that I sewed on whilst holding up – so that they weren’t sewn flat to the green mat. I edged with some brown velvet ribbon and blanket stitched round the openings of the caves.
Extra Bits and Pieces
I added in a stream and little pond, as well as some dinosaur nests. I even made the clock from ‘Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures’ – one of my son’s favourite shows. The frondy plants/hedges couldn’t have been easier. Cut a rectangle of green felt, fold over, cut the fronds and then sew onto the mat down the middle using green thread/embroidery floss. I had some green pompoms that I sewed onto flat leaves to create more plants.
The Finished Article
It’s still not quite finished, I want to put a backing on the green mat – to cover the workings, the knots and stitches and to make it a bit more solid. Ideally I’d like the mat to be able to be rolled up between uses to save space. I’ll report back on that another time. I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing how I made the dinosaur play mat; hopefully you’ve been inspired to make your own. Do let us know if you do!
If it all seems like a bit too much work making a felt dinosaur play mat, and trust me, if you don’t enjoy sewing you’re not going to want to take on a project like this, you can always cheat and buy a ready made dinosaur felt set – it’s not quite as grand a scale as the one I made, but it’s cheap as chips and will make the kids (and some grown-ups) very happy!