Facebook Twitter Sew4Home RSS Feed Follow Me on Pinterest Instagram


Nicey Jane Super Soft Play Mat

Printer-friendly versionPDF version

Click to Enlarge

Lay it down for a clean, soft play area. Roll it up to tote to your next destination. Our quick and easy plat mat is perfect for the baby on the go. We combine the snugly texture of chenille with the beautiful retro-inspired cotton of Heather Bailey's Nicey Jane collection from Free Spirit Fabrics. 

Our appealing combination of cotton and chenille is a good example of design in action. For more hints about how to put together your own look, read our article, Mixing & Matching Colors, Patterns & Textures. Heather's wonderful Nicey Jane collection came out last year, but due to its enduring popularity, it's still available at many retail and online outlets, including: Heather Bailey Online, Quilt Home, and other boutique fabric shops as well as various Etsy stores.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Click to Enlarge

  • For the front: 1½ yards of 44-45" wide fabric: we used Heather Bailey's Nicey Jane in Tangerine Hop Dot from Free Spirit Fabrics
  • For the back: 1¼ yards of 54-56" wide chenille or similar soft fabric: we used Cotton Chenille Wavy Stripe in White; our friends at Minky Delight carry several colors of Wavy Chenille
  • For the binding and optional tie: 1 yard of 44-45" wide fabric: we used Heather Bailey's Nicey Jane in Tangerine Pocketbook from Free Spirit Fabrics
  • 1½ yards of lightweight natural batting: we used Warm & Natural Needled Cotton Batting
  • All purpose thread to match the binding
  • Contrasting thread for topstitching: we used a natural white
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Straight pins
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pencil or marking pen or chalk
  • Hand sewing needle
  • Iron and ironing board

Getting Started

  1. Cut one 42" x 42" square of the front fabric (Tangerine Hop Dot in our sample).
  2. Cut one 42"x 42" square of the back fabric (White Chenille Wavy Stripe in our sample).
  3. Cut one 42" x 42" square of batting.
  4. Cut four 44" (width of fabric) x 8" strips of the binding fabric (Tangerine Pocketbook in our sample). It's easiest to fold your fabric lengthwise and cut.
    Click to Enlarge
  5. Cut one 42" x 3" strip from the binding fabric for the optional tie (Tangerine Pocketbook in our sample ).

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Create the mat

  1. Sandwich the front fabric, the batting, and the back fabric. To make a sandwich, first lay your back fabric flat on your work surface, wrong side facing up. Next lay down your batting. Finally, lay down your front fabric right side facing up. You have a three-layer sandwich with the right sides of both front and back fabrics facing out and the batting in the middle.
  2. Make sure everything is nice and smooth, then pin in place through all the layers. If you choose directional prints or textures like we did, also make sure everything is running straight and true on both sides. I don't stress too much at this point if my raw edges are an exact match; I concentrate on getting everything square. I can trim all the edges to match later before I bind.
    Click to Enlarge
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch all three layers together around all four sides.
    Click to Enlarge
    Click to Enlarge
  4. If necessary, trim your raw edges to insure all layers are neat and flush.


  1. Measure 13" from the top of the playmat and mark with a pin or make a small dot with a fabric pencil or pen. Do this multiple times across the quilt. Connect the pins or dots to create a guide line for your topstitching.
    Click to Enlarge
  2. Repeat to create a second guide line at 29" from the top. and mark with pins or a fabric pencil multiple times across the quilt.
  3. These two lines of stitching will quilt your layers together so they don't shift, and create two fold lines to fold and roll the play mat into a handy shape for transport.
    NOTE: If you chose a wavy chenille like we used, be mindful that the wave should run vertical, not horizontal. In other words, the quilt lines should run the same direction as the waves in the chenille.
  4. Thread your machine with the thread you've chosen as your topstitching color.
  5. Topstitch straight across the quilt at your 13" and 29" guidelines.
    Click to Enlarge

Create and attach the binding

  1. Collect all four 44" x 8" binding strips.
    Click to Enlarge
  2. Re-thread your machine with thread to match your binding fabric.
  3. Seam the strips together end to end to create one long, continuous strip.
  4. To do this, you match right sides together along the 8" sides and stitch, using a ½" seam allowance.
  5. Press all your seams open.
  6. Fold the binding in half, length wise, wrong sides together and press.
  7. Open up your strip wrong side towards you.
    Click to Enlarge
  8. Fold each side towards the center crease and press.
    Click to Enlarge
  9. Fold again along your first crease, right sides together, so your two folded edges are together. Press.
    NOTE: If you're new to creating binding, read our tutorial: Bias Tape, How to Make It and Attach It. We did not cut our binding strips on the bias for this project because we are dealing only with straight edges, however, this tutorial gives you a good, basic understanding for all types of binding construction.
  10. Starting in the middle of one side of your project, slip your binding over the the raw, edge stitched seam. Work from what will be the front of your blanket.
  11. Be very careful that your middle fold is right on edge and your binding is even on both sides.
  12. At each corner, stop, remove the project from your machine, fold a pleat in the corner to make a 45˚ angle and ‘turn' the corner. This is what we call a Faux Mitered Corner. If you're new to this technique, we have step-by-step instructions here.

Optional tie and rolling up the mat

  1. If you decide to make the optional tie for your playmat, find the 42" x 3" strip you cut out of the binding fabric.
  2. Fold it in half lengthwise, right sides together, and pin.
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch down one short side, pivot at the corner, and stitch the entire long side. Leave the opposite end open for turning.
    Click to Enlarge
  4. Turn right sides out. Push out all the corners so they are nice and sharp.
  5. Press, making sure to press in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
  6. Top stitch both ends, this will close the opening left for turning, but you want to do both ends so they match. You'll end up with a finished tie that is 41" x 2" - just right to wrap around the folded and rolled play mat and tie into a nice bow.
  7. Our Playtime Mat is meant to be toted from place to place. It folds up very nicely along the two topstitched lines. Fold in one side, then the other side, then roll up and tie to secure.
    Click to Enlarge
  8. It would also make a wonderful gift rolled and tied in this manner. No need for wrapping paper!
    Click to Enlarge
    Click to Enlarge


Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Michelle Pacheco


Comments (14)

fst said:
fst's picture

Hello. I am using cutting mat 36x36. Would you please explain if there is way to cut  42x42 square fabric  using cutting mat 36x36?


Julie D said:
Julie D's picture

Just made this for my baby Grandson, used a fleece backing as couldn't get chenille.  Really pleased and am going to be making another one for a friend's Granddaughter.  Thanks for such clear instructions.

ks430 said:
ks430's picture

I sewed one of these in coordinating gender neutral prints and plain chenille (couldn't find wavy) for our 2nd baby's impending arrival.  The finished mat is very soft and super cute - the only thing I would change if sewing another would be to insert the tie under the binding so that it would be attached to the mat and can't get lost.  

Jessums said:
Jessums's picture

I am new to sewing and am wondering whether you prewash all of your fabric before starting. Thanks!

diane h said:
diane h's picture
an old quilting edge trick = after step #3 - do a wide zig zag stitch from your stitching line to the edge. it gives a nice firm edge that doesn't curl up after repeated washings.

Jenn K. said:
Jenn K.'s picture
I can't believe my finished product looks more or less like yours! Thank you for the detailed tutorial. I'm a beginner, and I feel so accomplished having finished something that's cute enough to gift!
fern said:
fern's picture
love this! can't wait to make one for my soon to be born little niece/cousin!
michelle.granato said:
michelle.granato's picture
Cheerios! The universal placater. When my daughter was little I gave her a "fancy" cup of Cheerios to soothe her when she got fussy before meals. This is just the cutest project - I love how the vintage feel of the Nicey Jane goes so perfectly with the wavy chenille. Fantastic!
Allison E. (allycat79225) said:
Allison E. (allycat79225)'s picture
Love this project. This is exactly what I was thinking of doing. Thanks.