I’ve gone and done it again. I’ve made another felt play mat. You might have seen the first my series of play mats that I’ve been making for my little son. He’s starting to make up stories of his own with his dinosaur play mat (most of which revolve around reuniting families, it’s all rather cute, if repetitive!). I’m hoping to make a whole load of these that can all interact with each other and his other toys (well known brands of building blocks, trains and more besides). I hope you are able to get some inspiration out of these.
Step 1 – Shapes
Take a roll of green felt and cut it to the length that you want to work with. Find two round objects that are the right size to draw around to make a figure of 8 race track that will allow for two cars to race around. In my case it was a dinner plate and a pen pot. Who knew these items could be so multi-functional?
Step 2 – Cut out
Trace round these in pen on freezer paper. Then iron onto the felt so that it bonds (don’t worry, it’ll easily peel off after you’ve used it). Then use very sharp scissors to cut out the 8. I use dress making scissors to get a really precise edge. The freezer paper will also help with this. If you’d like to add a tunnel (as I did) then you’ll also need to add lines to cut out one section of the track…
Step 3 – Pin and stitch
Laying out your elements before you start will really help you see where there are gaps and how much room there is to play with (literally!). When you’re happy with the layout, pin and stitch it to the mat. I tend to use the same coloured thread as the felt I’m working on, do a running stitch to start with and end with blanket stitching the edges. I know it seems a bit overkill, but my little toddler plays quite roughly, so I’d rather be safe than sorry after all this hard work.
Step 4 – People in the stadium
I created people by using embroidery floss and just made the shapes using lines of it. I made it up as I went along, to be perfectly honest.
Step 5 – Stadium
Once I’d made the people outlines, I made a roof and used ricrac, embroidery floss to embellish it with columns and edges.
Step 6 – Helicopter Landing Pad
Use white embroidery floss to mark out the “H” on a circular piece of black felt. Use yellow floss to make lights around the rim of the circle. Then blanket stitch with double black thread.
Step 7 – Extras
To fill in the gaps and add a bit of colour, I created flower beds (using flowers I already had, a bit out of scale, but did the trick) and trees using any floral/foliage scraps of material you can find. I alternated making the tree trunks with brown pipe cleaners or felt.
Step 8 – Pockets
One of the great things about play mats is making little pockets to store things when you want to take the play mat along to a grandparent’s house to play, for instance. In this case, the pockets are for keeping the star race cars in. There’s a blue race car, and, yep you guessed it, a red race car.
Step 9 – Garage
I figured there ought to be a place to house the mechanics, and a garage seemed to be the perfect option, just a rectangle of black felt, then brown felt to make a roof. Then use embroidery thread to write out the word “garage” and edge the building.
Step 10 – Tunnel
I cut the black foam to size so that it joined up the track on either side of it. Where I had cut out the track, I had a small gap into which I could place the I made very small stitches to attach the tunnel to the mat. It was tricky to make it neat, but kids don’t really notice this sort of thing, I’ve found. It’s mainly a matter of pride for yourself! There are probably easier ways of creating the tunnel, but at a push this is what I came up with, with what I had.
Step 11 – Chequered Flag
The final touch, a chequered flag. Made using little squares of black and white felt.
Embroidery floss is your friend – you can blanket stitch any fraying or ragged edges. You can separate the threads out to make it thinner or fatter. Get 30 assorted colours for £3 (or buy as part of the 4 for £10 deal on arts & crafts).
I finished the mat by sewing quilt wadding and a piece of floral material on the back.
If you have a sewing machine, this project will take far less time than it took me. Just take a look at the back of the project and you’ll see what I mean!
The small boy has found lots of creative ways to play with the mat.
Here are some supplies that will help you to create your own felt play mats (without splashing out too much cash).