Tutorial on how to create a Play mat “bag” (aka Lego mat)

OK so this post is my first post to hopefully explain how to actually create a project. Please comment if this is useful or needs clarification anywhere!

With this project – I had a lot of difficulty finding a well explained tutorial. So even though this has minimal pictures, hopefully this will be useful for people!

This play mat is commonly called a Lego mat. This is because it’s a toy mat that pulls up into a sack, and very very useful for cleaning up all those little pieces of Lego! But it’s so much more than just a Lego sack.

Choosing how much fabric

So, step 1 – choose your fabrics. Mine was to be a gift for my friend’s one-year-old, and I saw the potential for a lot of outside use. So I chose a plasticy fabric for the underside – prefect for damp grass. The top was a print that felt really durable, almost a canvas. Both were purchased from Ikea.

The amount of fabric : I chose an extra wide fabric, and folded the fabric (thats already in folded in half width-ways with the selvages together) into half length ways, to form a large approx square. Imagine drawing a rough quarter circle on this, with your centre on one of the corners of your square. The length of one of the sides of the square will give you an idea of the radius of your circle. My wide fabric gave a radius of 76cm (30inch). That means it’s diameter is just over 1.5m, or 60inches. So I bought 1.6m of the top and bottom fabric (just to be safe).

If you want your drawstring pocket to match the top fabric, you will need to buy extra of the top fabric. Remembering back to school, your circumference is your diameter times Pi (3.14). So 1.5×3.14 = 4.7m. This means you will need 4 strips from a wide fabric (as the fabric is approx 1.5 wide, we allow for 4 strips so you have plenty of room to join them on the bias). If we allow for 3 inch strips (or 7.5cm), you will need 4×7.5=30cm of additional fabric for the drawstring  pocket.

You will also need around 5m of drawstring.

Cutting your pieces

Now, the easiest way to cut a circle is to use your folded square that we had above, and draw a quarter of a circle. Press the fabric well before you fold it into the square again. Remembering which corner will be the centre, use a tape measure to mark lots of little lines along your “arc” from corner to corner. Join these marks up into a line to make your quarter of a circle. Next, get your sharp scissors out, and cut through all four layers at once. Unfold and you have your lovely perfect circle!

An “example” of how to cut your circle (with paper, not fabric!)

Lay this out (now unfolded) on top of the other fabric (also unfolded, and well pressed), and mark well. Cut the entire circle out. You now have your two circles!!

Next, cut your four binding strips at 3 inches wide. Connect into one long strip, by joining on the bias (diagonal) to ensure the bulk is spread out. Iron the wrong sides together as you would for creating binding for a quilt. On one end, fold over to create a neat seam. Topstitch this downand iron again.

Assembling and sewing

Pin (starting from your nice seam) along the RIGHT side of your BOTTOM fabric (see pic below). Pin neatly, with the raw edge of the binding lining up with the raw edge of the bottom circle (fold into the middle of the circle).  Stop pinning around 10cm away from your other end. Create another neat seam here.

Pin your binding edge onto the RIGHT SIDE of your bottom fabric.

Trust me, triple check you are on the right side of the bottom fabric. I pinned against the wrong side, sewed all the way around, and THEN realised I was on the wrong side…. so so annoying! Once you have triple checked, sew together. I used a quarter inch seam. Press your seam.

Next, place your top fabric circle on top of the bottom circle, right sides together (see pic below). So the binding is inside the sandwich. Pin neatly around, starting at the opposite side to your opening in your drawstring binding (don’t put the drawstring in yet). Leave a gap around 20cm, to turn it right side out. Sew around carefully – I swapped to my walking foot for this next seam.

Place the fabrics right sides together for your last sew!

Good news – you are almost done! Press your seam, and pull through the hole so you are right sides out. Press the hole seam inside, to make top stitching easy. Sew that opening closed. Topstitch the whole playmat if you desire (I didn’t do this). I also saw other play mats sometimes sewed the diameter of their circle, to prevent it moving while washing. I didn’t bother doing this.

Lastly, put a big safety pin through your cord, and thread it through the binding. Knot the ends, and you are done!

 

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