Lay it down for a clean, soft play area. Roll it up to tote to your next destination. Our quick and easy play mat is perfect for the baby or toddler on the go. We combine the snuggly texture of chenille with two pretty quilting cottons. Although the Heather Bailey Nicey Jane fabrics we originally used are no longer readily available, there are always delightful new quilting cotton collections coming out each season.
Not only is a play mat handy to create a clean surface on which your child can eat or play, it works to create some “real estate boundaries.” Rather than spreading out across an entire room when visiting someone’s home or workspace, laying down a mat helps define the space to contain snacks and toys. No… we can’t guarantee everything will stay within that perimeter, there’s not a force field, but it does help!
Although we used a classic white, chenille comes in a variety of fun colors that can be paired with pretty cotton prints for the front of the blanket and the binding. We suggest a smaller, repetitive print for the main blanket with a bolder coordinating motif for the binding.
Lightweight batting softens the blanket and two vertical quilting lines hold all three layers together. These seams also provide guide lines so it’s quick and easy to fold and roll the blanket when it’s time to go.
There are steps below to create a matching tie or you could use a belt or even a large rubber band.
This would be a super baby shower gift idea. Roll it up and tie it and there’s not really any need for wrapping paper. You could tuck in a toy or book behind the tie so there’s something to play with on the play mat.
Our instructions below are designed to be super quick and easy and so we specify a standard blanket style binding with faux mitered corners. If you’d rather create a more traditional two-step binding, check out our two tutorials: A Complete Step-by-Step For Binding Quilts & Throws and Bias Binding Tutorial: Figuring Yardage, Cutting, Making, Attaching.
Our Play Mat Blanket finishes at approximately 42″ x 42″.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine
- Walking or Even Feed foot; optional but helpful for the thick layers generated by the pleating; you can also choose our option of engaging you machine’s built-in fabric feeding system; we love the AcuFeed™ Flex system on many of our Janome models
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 1¼ yards of 44″+ wide quilting weight cotton for the front
- 1¼ yards of 44″+ wide chenille or similar soft fabric for the back
- 1 yard of 44″+ wide fabric for the binding and optional tie
- 1½ yards of 44″+ wide of lightweight batting
- All purpose thread to match the binding fabric
- Contrasting thread for topstitching: we used a natural white – so it contrasted with the front but matched the chenille
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pencil or marking pen or chalk
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Hand sewing needle
- Straight pins
- From the fabric for the front, cut one 42″ x 42″ square.
- From the fabric for the back, cut one 42″x 42″ square.
- From the batting, cut one 42″ x 42″ square.
- From the binding fabric, cut four 44″ (width of fabric – WOF) x 8″ strips. It’s easiest to fold your fabric lengthwise and cut.
- In addition, if you choose, cut one 42″ x 3″ strip from the binding fabric for the optional tie.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Create the mat
- Sandwich the front fabric, the batting, and the back fabric. To do this, 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.
- 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. Don’t stress too much at this point if your raw edges are an exact match; concentrate instead on getting everything square. You can trim all the edges flush prior to binding.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, machine baste all three layers together around all four sides.
- If necessary, now is the time to trim your raw edges to insure all layers are neat and flush. This is easiest done with a rotary cutter and straight edge.
- Measure 13″ from the top of the play mat 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 line of quilting all the way across the mat.
- Repeat to create a second guide line at 29″ from the top.
- These two lines of stitching will quilt your layers together so they don’t shift. They also create two guide 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 quilt lines should run the same direction as the waves in the chenille.
- Thread your machine with the thread you’ve chosen as your topstitching color.
- Stitch straight across the quilt at your 13″ and 29″ guidelines.
NOTE: We used a standard presser foot, but if you are worried about your accuracy with the multiple layers, use a Walking or Even Feed foot or engaging you machine’s built-in fabric feeding system
Create and attach the binding
- Collect all four 44″ x 8″ binding strips.
- If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to match the binding fabric in the top and bobbin.
- Seam the four strips together end-to-end to create one long, continuous strip. To do this, match right sides together along the 8″ sides and stitch, using a ½” seam allowance.
- Press all the seam allowances open.
- Fold the binding in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press.
- Open the strip wrong side up.
- Fold in each raw side edge to align with the center crease and press.
- Fold again along the original crease, right sides together, so the two folded edges are flush and all the raw edges are concealed. Press well.
- Starting in the middle of one side of the mat, slip the binding over the the raw, edge stitched seam. Work from what will be the front of your blanket.
- Be very careful that the middle fold of the binding is sitting right up against the raw edges of the sandwiched layers and that the binding is even front to back.
- Topstitch through all the layers close to the folded edge. Make sure you are going slowly and carefully in order to catch both the front and the back in this one seam.
- At each corner, stop, remove the project from your machine, fold a pleat in the corner to make a 45˚ angle, turn the corner, and start stitching again.
NOTE: 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
- If you decide to make the optional tie for the play mat, find the 42″ x 3″ strip cut from the binding fabric.
- Fold it in half lengthwise, right sides together, and pin.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch down one short side, pivot at the corner, and stitch along the entire long side. Leave the opposite end open for turning.
- Turn right side out through the open end. Push out all the corners so they are nice and sharp. A long, blunt tool works well for this, such as a chopstick, knitting needle or point turner.
- Press, making sure to press in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
- Topstitch across both ends. This will close the opening left for turning on the one end, 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.
- Our Play Mat is meant to be toted from place to place. It folds up nicely along the two quilting lines. Fold in one side, then the other side, fold in half, then roll up and tie to secure.
- It would also make a wonderful gift rolled and tied in this manner. No need for wrapping paper!
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Michelle Pacheco