The Importance of Play -- DIY Play Mat Inspiration

Kids learn when they play. Play time and learning time are one in the same, not separate.

I love making things that my kids can play and imagine with. It brings me so much joy!

For Christmas, I bought my one year old niece some super cute wooden cars, and I wanted something to roll the cars on. At first I thought about simple strips of felt. I did that for my kids, but they get frustrated with those, because they slide around so much on the floor. So, I just resolved to sew them to a larger square of felt.

Well... flat is boring right?

So, I added some dimension and sort of lost myself in the fun of free form sewing. This is what I ended up with:

Then, on the other side I made an ocean scene... perfect for a whale softy I made : )

Knowing my kids dislike the road strips they currently have, I decided they needed a road mat too.

Now, I am NOT a sewer. I do my best, but I don't really care that much, especially for a project like this, about perfectly straight lines. I LOVED the free form nature of this project.

So, these are not exact instructions with measurements and patterns, but I hope it might give you some inspiration to do your own. It is SUCH FUN for all of us (me included). I just have to give up control when my almost three year old wants to put his tiger in my sheep pasture.

Start with a large piece of felt. I love felt for many reasons, but mostly because it doesn't fray; no hemming needed! With some chalk, map out the road path.

Using cloth or felt (again, felt is easier because of the no fray edges) cut out the negative spaces... those shapes that surround the road. I tacked them down with fabric glue first before sewing them down to the felt. I used cloth. So, to prevent fraying edges, I zig-zag stitched the edges. I love the way the zig-zag stitch looks.

Now, it's time to be creative and have fun adding elements and texture!

My number one recommendation is to both glue AND sew your three dimensional elements to the mat. I was so excited to let the kids start playing with the mat that I let them play when the elements were only glued down. A whole bunch of them came off. Kids can be rough! It took some time, but nothing has come off since I stitched them all on as well.

I am hoping that someday, I will add some edging. But, for real... the fact that I completed it this far is a minor miracle.

If you are looking for more AMAZING inspiration look HERE.


  1. This is really cute! I'm not a sewing person either

  2. These are so cute and unique!

  3. This is SUCH a cute idea!! I need to show my SIL!

  4. My youngest would love this so much!!! I think I'm going to have to give sewing a chance...

  5. Oh, I love this!! It's such a good idea :) Thank you for sharing!