Welcome new arrivals into your life, or the lives of your friends and family, with this super sweet and simple sewing project. We’ll show you how to make a DIY play mat, step by step, then stitch a sweet baby book for tiny tots to play with while they’re rolling around on their new party mat!
You can easily switch up the finished look of this project by tweaking the fabric choices to complement a nursery colour scheme. Ditch baby blues and pinks for a pop of colour like we’ve done, go classic with pastel tones or bold and bright with jungle fabrics. There are so many beautiful baby fabrics out there this is a joy to personalise.
Practicality is key when you’re making for little ones so opt for more durable, medium-weight fabrics (Manda has used Ikea fabrics for her play mat backing and baby book cover – as let’s face it these will need to be able to withstand chewing or spills. This is also a great excuse to practise your appliqué – layer up fabrics for sweet appliqué motifs with our free downlodable baby appliqué templates,
Manda McGrory writes popular lifestyle blog www.treefalldesign.typepad.com, and designs utterly gorgeous children’s clothing and accessories. This project was first featured in Love Patchwork & Quilting magazine.
For the play mat
- Five (5) fat quarters of fabric
- One (1) fat eighth of fabric for appliqué (optional)
- Ribbon (5in)
- Backing fabric: 1½yds – we’ve used medium weight cottons from Ikea
- Heavy-weight quilt wadding 1½yds
- Solid border fabric 1yd
- Sewing machine – see our best sewing machines for quilting
For the DIY baby book
- Striped medium weight fabric (for outside cover) 6½in x 14in – we’ve used medium weight cottons from Ikea
- Spotty cotton fabric (for inside cover) 6½in x 14in
- Two (2) pieces white cotton (for pages), 6in x 12in each
- Wool batting 12½in x 14in
- Fusible web
- Ribbon, 8in long
- Sew on Velcro
- Assorted fabric scraps, for appliqué
- Play mat – 38in square
- DIY baby book – 6in x 7in approx (closed book)
Seam allowances are ¼in, unless otherwise stated.
Free new baby appliqué templates
Download Manda’s Free baby shapes appliqué templates (PDF)
How to make a baby play mat and DIY baby book
You Will Need
- Fabric (See materials needed)
- Sewing machine
- Scissors (Or a rotary cutter and cutting mat)
Plus, for the baby book
- Wool wadding
- Sew-on velcro
- Fusible web
Assemble the play mat top
From four of the fat quarters cut two (2) 10in squares. From the remaining fat quarter cut one (1) 10in square for the playmat centre.
From the border fabric cut two (2) 5in x 29in and two (2) 5in x 38in strips.
Position the central square right side up. Fold your ribbon in half and place on top – this will be the loop that your fabric book attaches to once complete. Position with the raw edges in line with the left edge of the fabric and the loop toward the centre of the block (Fig a). Baste in place.
Add the appliqué pieces to your squares using the star and circle template. See the Raw Edge Appliqué tip box at the bottom of this tutorial for more information.
Arrange all nine (9) squares as desired. With right sides facing, sew together into three rows of three (Fig b). Sew the rows together to complete to DIY play mat top.
Sew the two shorter border strips to the top and bottom edge of the play mat. Add the longer strips to the sides (Fig c).
Finishing the play mat
Lay the quilt batting on a flat surface, then (after pressing if necessary) lay the play mat backing face up on top of the batting. Place the pieced play mat on top of the quilt backing, right sides facing. Pin.
Using a ¼in seam allowance, start stitching, making sure you sew a few stitches backwards and forwards. Then stitch around all four sides of the playmat, leaving an 8in gap, again making sure you tie off the stitches at the end (Fig d).
Turn right side out and using matching thread, slip stitch the turning gap closed by hand.
Making the DIY baby book cover
Cut your batting into one (1) 6½in x 14in and one (1) 6in x 12in piece.
Place the striped fabric right side up. Take the piece of ribbon and fold in half, then match the folded edge of ribbon to the top edge of the fabric, in the centre. Baste in place (Fig e).
Place the striped fabric and the spotty fabric right sides together. Place the 14in piece of batting on top.
Starting with a backstitch, stitch around all four sides, leaving a 2in gap for turning the right way out, making sure you backstitch at the end too.
Turn right side out and press gently with an iron, turning in the raw edges of the gap.
Top stitch around all four edges, close to the edge and making sure you catch the gap, to close it.
Fold each piece of white cotton in half and press so that you can see the two separate ‘pages’.
Create your animals for each page using fabric scraps and fusible web. Apply to your fabric pages. See the tip box on Raw Edge Appliqué for more information.
Add hand stitched eyes to finish the animals.
Place the first page face up on a flat surface, with the remaining page on top, right sides together. Then place the wool batting on top.
Using a ¼in seam allowance, stitch around all four sides, leaving a 2in gap for turning.
Turn the right way out and carefully topstitch around all four sides, close to the edge, making sure to close the turning gap in the process
To join the book cover and pages together, place the cover with the spotty side up, on a flat surface. Place the pages on top, with the hot dog facing up, in the centre of the cover.
Stitch along the fold in the centre of the book, to create a spine. Stitch a further two lines, close to either side of the centre line.
To finish the ribbon, fold the ends of the ribbon, wrong sides together and press gently.
Cut a 1in piece of sew on Velcro to the width of the ribbon and sew on, covering the folded ribbon end. Repeat on the other end of the ribbon.
Tips for raw edge appliqué
- Trace the template onto the paper side of the fusible web and roughly cut out.
- Iron the fusible web onto your fabric, leaving the paper in place. Cut out along your drawn line.
- Peel the paper off your shape and arrange on the background fabric. When you are happy with the position, press in place. Repeat these steps to add several layers of fabric, like we did on the dog, and elephant. For the fox you may want to position a few pieces at a time to get the right alignment.
- Secure the edges of the fabric with stitching. We used a zigzag stitch around our large playmat pieces. For the book we used a straight stitch in a dark thread, to look like pencil lines.