Friday, 9 September 2011

Making a Playmat, a step by step guide, part eleven: Putting it together

So now you’ve got your squares, all nine of them, it’s time to put them together!

For this you’ll need:

Nine squares from the other parts
Backing fabric 24” by 24”
Square of wadding (just a bit smaller than the backing fabric)
Bias binding (approx 2.5 metres)
Small scissors
Fabric scissors

First trim any loose threads from each square.
Next you need to decide definitively what order your squares are going in, lay them out and have a play…
trimming loose threads positioning the squares
Next take the three squares from one of the rows, I started with the bottom row and pin the three squares together, using the sewing lines you made in part one:
pinning squares together pinning a row

Sew the three squares together and repeat with each row.

Next you need to sew the three rows to each other to make a big square. Put the bottom row and the middle row wrong sides together and pin along the lines. Do the same with the top row and the middle row and sew together on the machine. Then you should have the top part of your play mat.
pinning the rows together squares sewn together

So now you can layer this up with the wadding. Put the backing fabric, right side down, place the wadding on top of this, then the top part of the playmat on top of this, right side facing up.

 layering the mat up

Next because we’re going to do a bit of quilting, you need to pin the layers together really well. Start off from the centre, putting pins around the centre square at the corners. Then working outwards place pins across the meeting lines of each of the squares. Make sure the fabric is as taut as possible.

pinning the layers 1 pinning the layers 2

Next take to the machine to sew in the ditches of the stitch lines created by sewing the front part together – your basically sewing four long lines – like a noughts and crosses grid, like so:

quilting1 quilting

Next you’ll want to neat up those outside edges – pin them together, again making sure the fabric is quite taut. Then sew around the edges, about ½” in from the edge. Trim the edges, as shown below:

sew the edges together trim the edge

Next it’s time to put the bias binding on. Now I didn’t put this on the proper way, mainly because I was running out of time, but also I thought it would probably be more secure, as often when you put bias binding on an item you can fail to catch the back of it with the stitching and you have to go back and do it again.

Anyway to see how to put the binding on with no viable stitching see ‘the pocket square’

But this is how I did it. Cut the end of your binding into a point and fold over. Crease your binding in half (length ways) and fold over the edge of your mat, pin into place all the way around the edge. When you get to where the ends meet, tuck one end under the folded end that you started with.

Next take to the machine and sew on, I did two stitch lines to make sure it was on really securely.
bias step 1 bias step 2 bias step 3

Trim any loose threads, making sure all the stitching is secure.

finished playmat

And there you have it, your baby’s playmat!

Back to part ten

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Making a Playmat, a step by step guide, part ten: The Teething Ring Square

I thought I would be a good idea to put a teething ring on the play-mat, something the baby can get his mouth around and it can be wiped clean afterwards. I found this ring at a car boot sale, no marks on it at all, and I disinfected it when I got home. I have no problem with using second hand baby stuff, the boot sales are always full of it and most of it looks hardly used. I digress. I chose a satin fabric for this square to add another texture to the mat, and the ribbon is left over from making my niece a bag, I love the cute little paw prints on it!
Here’s how to make the teething ring square:

For this square you will need:
The last of your fabric squares prepared in part one.
A babies teething ring
A piece of ribbon
A small piece of felt, mine was approx 1.5" by 3" (optional depending on how flimsy your fabric is)


First seal the ends of your ribbon so that they don’t fray – if the ribbon is synthetic then this is easy, you can melt the ends. I simply cut the ends of mine diagonally and held the end for a few seconds on the hot plate of the aga. You can use a candle flame too, but don’t hold the ribbon too much into the flame, you don’t want to set it on fire! If the ribbon is made of natural materials then you can fold the end over twice (to seal the edge) and stitch it down.
Next work out the positioning of your ribbon around the ring. I did mine so that the ribbon was diagonal across the square and so that the teething ring would dangle into the centre of it. Pin into place:

positioning pinned on front view

I put a small piece of felt on the wrong side of the square to re inforce the ribbon and the fabric. This was because the ring is heavy and also the fabric of my square is satin, so more flimsy than the stronger cottons, I didn’t want the ring to tug at it too much.

back view of pinning with felt

Next sew on the ribbon, using the machine in a couple of places (see picture below). I left the ends of my ribbon loose s that it’s another texture for the baby to play with. Babies always love the labels on things and the ribbon is a similar feeling to that.

teething ring square

And there you are your final square, next time I’ll be going through how to put all nine squares together.

Back to part nine.
On to part eleven 

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

National Wool Week

I wish I could knit... well I mean I can just about knit one, pearl one, but a reasonable scarf is about all I can achieve, although thinking about it I vaguely remember knitting a mini jumper for Ed the Duck as a child - wow Ed the Duck, hadn't thought about his existence for years : )
Anyway yes I wish I could knit, or had the time to learn, I joined a knitting website ravelry in the hopes that putting patterns on a list ready to learn how to do them would get me started. Ravelry is great site btw if you are into knitting or crocheting, you can share your work, compare methods and outcomes from the same patterns, get free patterns, talk over knitting stuff, it's all good.

I think wool is a great natural material, at one time it was this county's biggest industry, it would be great if it made a come back. Anyway if you want to find out more about national wool week, look here

In honour of national wool week I thought I'd share some of my favourite knitwear... check out Kydel's page on facebook, I especially  love her Kimono slippers! And check out this gorgeous ruffled cardigan on etsy - just beautiful!
Maybe I might pick up the knitting needles again, after all it is national wool week ; )

Making a Playmat, a step by step guide, part nine: The Bird Square

I had some really cute yellow canvas fabric with lots of birds printed on it and I decided to cut one of the birds out to use as a motif for this square. The squeaker was an after thought and so there may be a better way to attach it… but this is how I went about it.

So for this square you will need:
A fabric square prepared in part one.
A large fabric animal/bird of your choice cut out  – you could also make an animal up using pieces of felt or other fabric.
A toy squeaker
Thread to match the animal design
A piece of fabric for the squeaker pouch (long and rectangular, depending on the size of squeaker you have)

First cut out your animal picture and pin on to your square.

Bird motif pinned on

Using zig-zag stitch and a thread that goes with your creature, stitch the animal on to the square, making sure you go around all the fiddley bits. Use a tight stitch to prevent fraying. Pull off any loose threads.
Bird square

Putting a squeaker in this square was an after-thought, so I had to do it the way I’ve described, however I think it works well, as the animal doesn’t bulge out and get distorted as it might have by having the squeaker sewn directly under the bird.

So I took my squeaker and placed it on a rectangle of fabric, that could comfortably fold over and have seam allowance.

squeeker making the pouch

Next I used the overlocker/serger to sew it together around the three sides (the forth being folded didn’t need sewing) You could do this on the sewing machine also.

sewn pouch

Next I positioned the pouch on the wrong side of the square, trying to make sure all the corners were under the red part of the bird as I figured the stitching would be less likely to be seen on the red.

pouch pinned to back of bird square

Then carefully hand stitch each corner on, being careful to keep your thread only on the area that matches it. I used red thread, so I had to avoid the green areas.

sew ing back view sewing on the squeeker pouch
Stitch the pouch on good and tight and knot well on the back – the pouch is only attatched at the corners so you'll want that stitching to be good and secure.

knots securing the pouch

Now your creature should squeak when pushed! And that is the bird square. Next time is the last square before we get on to putting the mat together.

Back to part eight

Monday, 5 September 2011

Making a Playmat, a step by step guide, part eight: The Flower Square

After the ‘Rattle square’ this one will seem easy! I didn’t know what to call this square, I wanted to put something on the mat that a baby could fiddle with, it could have been ribbon or wool, but I went with some ¼” blue cord. I wanted to make it into small loops, which could be fiddled with without hands getting stuck in them, and the shape I ended up with looks a little like a clover or flower - hence he 'flower square'. Anyway here’s how I did it:

For this square you will need:

One of your fabric squares prepared in step one
A length of cord
Thread that matches the cord and a needle.

First manipulate the cord into whatever shape you’d like, making sure the ends are tucked away, I put mine into the centre of the flower, behind the criss-crossing cord. Then pin on to the centre of your square. For some reason I didn’t get a photo of this stage, but it’s fairly self-explanatory from the next picture.
Next sew the piece on, just going over the centre of the shape, making sure you’re sewing those ends down, and going back and forth a couple of times on the machine to make certain it’s on tight.

centre of flower sewn on

As you can see the loops are then free from the backing fabric.

Next I decided it would be safer not to leave the loops completely free as tiny hands might get caught in them. So at the top of each petal I hand stitched the peak of it down, just going over the same place a few times and knotting it at the back, see below:

sewing on the petals

As you can see, this can still be grabbed and fiddled with, but shoudn’t get hands trapped in it.

petals sewn down


And there you have it, the finished square. Only two more to go now, the bird square is up next : )

Back to step seven

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Making a Playmat, a step by step guide, part seven: The Rattle Square

This square is one of the more tricky ones to make, I loved the idea of having some cute buttons and beads incorporated into the mat, but wanted to do so safely. Putting them behind something clear allowed me to do this, whilst the movement of the buttons and beads add another point of interest for the baby.
For this square you will need:

A square of fabric prepared in part one.
A pencil and ruler
A selection of buttons and beads
A 3” by 3” square of clear pvc
A 3” by 3” square of coloured felt

To start off find the centre of your 9 by 9 square, you could do this by folding it in half diagonally one way, then the other, where the crease lines cross should be the centre.

Draw through these diagonal lines lightly with a pencil, about 1 and 3/4 “ either side of the centre point, so that the crossed lines are 3.5” in length in total. Join the lines up to give yourself a 2.5” square.
Make an incision with small/embroidery scissors at the centre point and cut along the diagonal lines. So you’re left with four triangular flaps. See below:


Fold these back to the lines of the square and temporarily pin into place.


Next take your piece of felt and put your buttons and beads as much in the centre of this as possible. Then lay your clear pvc on top.


Pin the pvc to the felt. This can be tricky with the bulkiness from the buttons, but persevere, the pvc will end up with a couple of creases in it at the corners when you sew it together, and will edge in a little from the felt as it has to stretch over the contents. This doesn't matter.


Sew together being careful to avoid the buttons and beads with the needle, I felt it was important to sew this together twice, as you’ll see below. Two rows of stitching are less likely to come undone, I didn’t want any accidents with little bits escaping and making their way into the baby’s mouth.


Lay the rattle piece face down in the fabric square, so that it will poke through the square hole. Pin the square in place over the flaps, you can ease out the pins that are already there holding the flaps back and use them to pin the felt down.


Flip over the square to the right side. Then re adjust the pinning so it’s on the front side, you can also fiddle with the square, if any of the flaps aren’t held back tight enough, or the stitching from the felt/pvc square is showing. Make sure you’re happy with how this looks before taking it to the machine.


Using zig zag stitch sew around the edges of your square, pulling through the threads to the back when you’re finished and tying them off. As you sew you can carefully push the buttons etc out of the way of the needle, readjusting where they are each time you sew a new side.


And there you have it – the rattle square. Next time it’ll be the ‘flower’ square.

Back to part six
On to part eight

Friday, 26 August 2011

Making a Playmat, a step by step guide, part six: The Boat Square

This is one of the easiest squares to make. Using felt gives yet another texture, and you could use different felt shapes to create any number of pictures.

For this square you will need:

A fabric square prepared in part one.
Two or three piece of coloured felt
Thread, scissors

First cut yourself two tall triangles from the felt, one slightly bigger than the other for the sails. Then from another colour a trapezium shape for the boat part:

felt pieces for boat

Place the pieces on the square, the triangles next to each other, above the trapezium shape (see below) and pin into place.

pinned on felt pieces

Using Zig-zag stitch, sew round the edges of each shape, pulling the threads through to the back and tying them off after.

sewn on boat pieces

And there you have it, the extremely simple boat square. You could add a squeaker under the square to add interest or maybe a ribbon flag.

finished boat square

Next time I'll be going through the rattle square.
Back to part five
On to part seven

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Make do and mend

I’ve always loved 1940's fashion, actually I think there’s something about that whole era, during and post war, people over-coming adversity and being brought together in a way we probably haven’t experienced since. The war and post war years had a significant effect on fashion; the Paris fashion houses had little influence during the war although that soon returned after it was over. Rationing existed until 1952, and that included clothes and fabric, so women had to rely on clothes they already had, mending them or changing them, their rations and, for some, their uniforms. Limited resources meant full skirts were not an option. Even so the silhouette of the 1940s is feminine and graceful, even those strong shoulder lines don’t seem to sharp when teemed with that cinched in waist and figure hugging skirts.

I’ve been dabbling in making vintage inspired clothing for a while now, with my kitchen wear, and 1950’s skirts, but now I’d like to take that further. I’m starting to produce a fuller range of vintage inspired clothing (I  say vintage inspired as I to me something is only truly vintage if it actually comes from that period).
I’m starting with a 1940's day dress design, it’s not quite done yet, but I thought I’d share my progress….

1940s dress in progress

In the true spirit of make do and mend, the fabic is actually from some sheets I spotted at a car boot sale.

It still needs fastenings put in at the back, hemming and cuffs on the short sleeves, and possibly some button detail, but I’m still thinking on that.

Next up I have some cherry printed fabric that’s just crying out to be made into a classic 1950s day dress, I’ve already made the pattern, so hopefully that’ll be featuring on here soon too.

To find out more about 1940s clothing and rationing, I found this site to be very interesting, she even includes the original text for rationing books.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Making a Playmat, a step by step guide, part five: The Pocket Square

I love pockets on anything, so I had to include one on the playmat, plus I thought something could then go in this pocket, although I didn’t work out what until later. I used a soft velvety cord fabric for the pocket, adding another texture to the mat.

For this square you will need:

A fabric square prepared in part one.
A contrasting fabric for the pocket
Some bias binding
Thread matching the pocket fabric

First cut out your pocket shape, I chose to have mine curved at the bottom, with a straight top, but you could have square one or completely circular, whatever you want.

pocket shape with binding

Next take your strip of bias binding and open one of the folded edges out. Pin the binding along the top of your pocket along the fold line of the bias binding, pictured below.

pinning on the binding

Then sew along this line.

Sewing inside binding

Next fold the binding over, not quite in half, there should be slightly more on the wrong side of the pocket, pictured below, it might be necessary to trim the top of the pocket fabric a little if not enough of the binding will fold over.

folding binding over

Pin this in place on the right side of the pocket. Then ‘ditch’ stitch along the edge of the binding i.e. sew in the ditch created by sewing the first part of the binding on, or as close as possible. Use a thread that matches the fabric of the pocket.

sewing on the binding

When you’ve finished, turn the pocket over to make sure you’ve caught the back side of the binding in the stitching. If you haven’t you’ll need to redo it, perhaps folding the binding further over.

Next overlock/serge or zig zag the edge of the pocket.


Then place the pocket onto the fabric square. I put mine on at an angle, but you can put it on straight or anyway you like. Fold over the overlocked/serged edge and pin to the backing fabric:

pinning on the pocket

Carry on pinning all the way around, taking care not to pin it on too flat/tight, so you can get some fingers in – important if the pocket is to be useable.

pinned on pocket

Then sew on the pocket, using straight stitch.

finished pocket square

I didn’t find anything to go in the pocket until after I sewn the playmat together, eventually I stumbled across this cute squeaky toy in ‘Mamas and Papas’.
pocket toy

And here he is in place.

Toy in pocket

So that’s the pocket square! In step six I’ll be going through the ‘Boat’ square.

Back to part four. 
On to part six.