DIY Quilted Play Mat Part II: Finishing the Mat

A simple DIY quilted play mat tutorial! Transform a quilt pattern into a toddler play mat for cars. suzyquilts.com #quilt #kidsewing

A significant part of every day in my life with a toddler revolves around cars⁠—from pointing at school busses on our walks, to waiting for the mail truck, and excitedly exclaiming "vroom" at every car that passes our house. And, of course, playing with toy cars! I knew my daughter needed the cutest play mat ever for her growing car collection, and the Fishing Net quilt pattern was perfect. So I'm excited to bring you Part II of my DIY quilted play mat tutorial so you can make one too!

In Part I of the DIY quilted play mat tutorial series, you'll find:

  • templates to make all your wool felt appliqué shapes;
  • instructions for how to make appliqué houses, cars, trees, a school, and a school bus; 
  • tips for fabric selection and the importance of using 100% wool; 
  • helpful information about doing the appliqué on the top or the finished quilt. 

In Part II, you'll learn how to do a beautiful blanket stitch and finish the mat! Buckle up and let's get this show on the road!

A simple DIY quilted play mat tutorial! Transform a quilt pattern into a toddler play mat for cars. suzyquilts.com #quilt #kidsewing

DIY Quilted Play Mat Part 2 of 3: Finishing the Mat

In this three-part tutorial, you'll learn everything you need to know to make a DIY quilted play mat.

  • Part I - make the quilted base of your play mat using the Fishing Net pattern and make the wool appliqué pieces.
  • Part II - attach your wool appliqué to your quilt and finish your play mat.
  • Part III - make a cute pouch that coordinates with the play mat to store some of your toddler's favorite toy cars on the go.

For a list of materials needed to make a Fishing Net wool appliqué play mat, head to Part I of this tutorial series. There will be links in the instructions of this post to some materials and supplies as well. 

Appliqué can be such a calming, tranquil, and relaxing way to sew, especially when making a thoughtful gift for a special kid. After reading this blog post, you'll become a blanket stitch master and your wool appliqué will be done before you know it!

A simple DIY quilted play mat tutorial! Transform a quilt pattern into a toddler play mat for cars. suzyquilts.com #quilt #kidsewing
A simple DIY quilted play mat tutorial! Transform a quilt pattern into a toddler play mat for cars. suzyquilts.com #quilt #kidsewing

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A simple DIY quilted play mat tutorial! Transform a quilt pattern into a toddler play mat for cars. suzyquilts.com #quilt #kidsewing
A simple DIY quilted play mat tutorial! Transform a quilt pattern into a toddler play mat for cars. suzyquilts.com #quilt #kidsewing

Step 1: Arrange the Wool Appliqué Layout

This can be the most fun part of making this DIY quilted play mat⁠—besides watching a toddler or kid play with it! 

The Fishing Net pattern is perfect as a play mat because the long, intersecting lines make great roads. For my play mat, I chose to park my appliqué cars next to houses, like they were in a driveway, instead of having them in the road where a kid would have to maneuver a toy car around the appliqué. However, there are many car play mats that put car designs on the road. There are no rules for how to layout the appliqué shapes!

As you can see above, did make some specific decisions about how to lay my appliqué shapes out on the quilt. First, I clustered all of my trees in the four central squares to form a park.

A simple DIY quilted play mat tutorial! Transform a quilt pattern into a toddler play mat for cars. suzyquilts.com #quilt #kidsewing

Next, I matched up cars and houses for the eight largest horizontal rectangles. I chose fun color combinations and alternated the placement of houses and cars for more visual interest.

Last, I made sure that the mat would look right side up on more than one side by having half of the houses and cars face one way, and the other half face the opposite direction.

If you want to add stop or yield signs, you can cut shapes from red and yellow felt. I personally didn't like the look of adding even more to the play mat (or the extra time it would take!) so I bought this set of wood traffic signs. They have the added benefit of being able to move around the play mat, making it different at every playtime! 

A simple DIY quilted play mat tutorial! Transform a quilt pattern into a toddler play mat for cars. suzyquilts.com #quilt #kidsewing

Step 2: Prepare the Appliqué

In Part I of the DIY quilted play mat tutorial, you made wool appliqué houses, cars, trees, and a school and school bus. A whip stitch was used to secure layers of felt together. Now that we're attaching those shapes to the quilt, we'll do a few things a little differently.

If you haven't ordered your 100% Bellwether wool felt from Benzie Design yet, remember to use code SUZYQUILTS2021 at checkout for 10% off your entire purchase through the end of 2021! You can also use the coupon code to get a coordinating set of DMC embroidery floss.

The first difference is how to temporarily attach the appliqué shapes to the quilt or quilt top. In Part I, I recommended a temporary glue pen. For this step, I found that I preferred using appliqué pins since the shapes are larger and thicker. But if you like the glue, stick with that! 

The other difference is the stitch used. In Part I, a whip stitch was used to attach layers of wool felt together. Now, we'll use a blanket stitch, which creates a stronger seam so little hands won't be able to rip your appliqué off the quilt!

A simple DIY quilted play mat tutorial! Transform a quilt pattern into a toddler play mat for cars. suzyquilts.com #quilt #kidsewing

Step 3: Attach Appliqué Shapes Using a Blanket Stitch

A blanket stitch adds a beautiful handmade look to wool appliqué. It takes time, but the payoff is gorgeous! If you're already familiar with this stitch, you can get started right away! However, if you're new to the blanket stitch, this step is just for you. 

For a video demonstration, check out this helpful video from Benzie Design!

DMC embroidery thread has six strands. For this step, when you cut a length of thread at approximately 20″ long, separate the thread so you are using only two strands. 

A simple DIY quilted play mat tutorial! Transform a quilt pattern into a toddler play mat for cars. suzyquilts.com #quilt #kidsewing

To make your first stitch, bring your thread up from the back of your fabric. Next, bring your needle down through the wool appliqué and fabric. Your needle should be approximately 1/8″ below the edge of the wool, as shown above.

TIP: Sew the blanket stitch over the whip stitches, as shown in these photos, where possible for a clean look!

A simple DIY quilted play mat tutorial! Transform a quilt pattern into a toddler play mat for cars. suzyquilts.com #quilt #kidsewing

Rock your needle upwards so the tip points up through the fabric towards the edge of the wool appliqué.

A simple DIY quilted play mat tutorial! Transform a quilt pattern into a toddler play mat for cars. suzyquilts.com #quilt #kidsewing

Here's the step that makes a blanket stitch so magic! Instead of taking your stitch now, as you would for a typical hand stitch, bring your thread around the top of your needle and tuck it behind the needle, as shown above.

A simple DIY quilted play mat tutorial! Transform a quilt pattern into a toddler play mat for cars. suzyquilts.com #quilt #kidsewing

Now, pull your needle through and you'll see the blanket stitch start to form! 

A simple DIY quilted play mat tutorial! Transform a quilt pattern into a toddler play mat for cars. suzyquilts.com #quilt #kidsewing

Keep pulling, making sure you see this loop.

A simple DIY quilted play mat tutorial! Transform a quilt pattern into a toddler play mat for cars. suzyquilts.com #quilt #kidsewing

Almost there! 

A simple DIY quilted play mat tutorial! Transform a quilt pattern into a toddler play mat for cars. suzyquilts.com #quilt #kidsewing

Give the thread a little tug so the blanket stitch lays flat across the top of the wool appliqué. Keep doing that until the entire wool appliqué shape is secured to your quilt! 

I chose to change my thread colors as little as possible to save time. That means I picked one color of thread for each appliqué shape, and usually used the darkest coordinating color. The only time I changed thread colors was for the black car and bus wheels. But if you enjoy the look of exactly matching thread more, feel free to change threads every time you get to a new felt color! 

A simple DIY quilted play mat tutorial! Transform a quilt pattern into a toddler play mat for cars. suzyquilts.com #quilt #kidsewing
A simple DIY quilted play mat tutorial! Transform a quilt pattern into a toddler play mat for cars. suzyquilts.com #quilt #kidsewing

Play with Your DIY Quilted Play Mat!

Once you have attached all the wool felt appliqué shapes, grab some toy cars and the nearest toddler. It's time to watch all your hard work pay off during playtime! Your DIY quilted play mat is done! 

And stay tuned for Part III of this tutorial where I'll show you how to make a cute pouch that matches this play mat so that special kid can carry their favorite cars on the go! Are you planning to make a matching pouch to go with your play mat? 

4 thoughts on “DIY Quilted Play Mat Part II: Finishing the Mat

  1. Helen says:

    I love this! I have a 4yo who is obsessed with cars. Is there something about this tutorial that makes the pattern a mat rather than just a quilt? Or can it work as a quilt?

    • Laura Hopper says:

      Hi Helen! So glad you like this! We just call it a play mat because this quilt pattern was used to make something that would lay on the floor and be played with. However, since it’s a quilt pattern, it can be used as a quilt as well!

  2. Sandra McIntyre says:

    I’m having fun making this play mat for a newborn and his 2 yo brother. As I started the wool appliqué, I saw the toy car and trailer in your photo. Where can I find this toy?

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