Saturday, March 10, 2012

Playmat Remix: A Car Playmat Tutorial (sort of)

For Barley's birthday, I also made a playmat for his matchbox cars. He loves cars! I looked around online and saw some cute playmats with little town layouts and roads for the cars to drive on. My absolute favorite was found here: (, on the blog Homemade by Jill. I love her projects! I liked the look of that, but wanted it to be portable, so I combined that with a toy holder I saw that closes like a drawstring bag. The cars can be stored right in the playmat and the whole thing can be tossed into my bag when we're heading out the door. I didn't take detailed photos, but I thought I could write how I did it, in case it's helpful. I started out by drawing a detailed picture of how I wanted the whole playmat to look. It had to be round, since I was going to add a drawstring at the end. Here's my original "blueprint" hehe:
I put in a gas station, our house, our church, and the fire station, as well as train tracks (all of which are noteworthy parts of our neighborhood). I had this whole elaborate plan to create an overpass where the train tracks cross over the road on a little bridge. I decided to add the bridge in later, and just sewed in velcro so that I can make a bridge and stick it on there another time! Hopefully I can add that later in another post. I didn't take any pictures of the next step, which was an insane amount of tracing, sticking, and cutting (tracing the shapes backwards onto fusible web, sticking it to felt, and cutting all the pieces! The pieces need to be cut out backwards so that when you're ironing them onto the backing they are then facing the right way. Does that make any sense?) Once I had all my pieces ready, it was just a matter of ironing it all down. I did it in stages. Stage One:
Stage Two. (I should probably mention here that my sewing space is our front closet, which also houses shoes and coats among other things...hence, the shoe rack in the background!)
Stage Three. Here I decided I wanted to add a few cartoonish aspects, like the water drops coming out the of car wash, the sunshine over the church (so cheesy, right? Hehe), and the red symbols representing the siren blaring from the fire station.
Stage Four. Completing the road and train tracks:
Stage Five. This is when I headed to my sewing machine and top-stitched over most of the pieces. If you are making a playmat for an older or more gentle child than you can probably skip this step. But my little man loves crashing the cars together and really going at it, so I knew I should sew the pieces down too, just to be share it stays in one piece! When sewing the roofs I did it in a few lines to look more like shingles. I also sewed curvy lines on the driveway to look textured, like stones. I didn't have the patience to do the letters though-that's a little too precise for me!
I also sewed the end of a shoelace onto the gas pump as a little hose.
Here I completely forgot to take pictures. I cut out 8 strips of store-bought quilt binding that were about 4 inches long each. I folded these in half lengthwise and ironed them (these became the loops to hold my drawstrings). Then I took my backing fabric and cut it to the same shape as my playmat. I lay the playmat face up, then pinned the binding loops around the edge, spaced out evenly, and with raw edges aligned. Then I put the backing fabric on top, face down, and pinned around the edges to keep it from shifting. I sewed all the way around, leaving a space for turning. Then I cut little notches around the outside (without clipping through any seams!), turned it right side out, pressed it flat, and topstitched all the way around the edge, enclosing the opening I left for turning. Finally, I took two long lengths of store-bought bias tape, threaded them through my loops around the perimeter, and tied them off. Here is how it turned out! From the front:
From the back:
All cinched up and ready to go!


  1. So cute! I love how it cinches up - very clever.

  2. Hi! I love your version of the car playmat! We included your idea in a round up of similar do-it-yourself toy car ideas on our blog and linked back here.

    Thank you for sharing your ideas!