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