Sunday, June 13, 2010

Thomas The Train Quilted Travel Play Mat - Tutorial

(Visit my Homemaking Dreams Etsy Shop for hand made items, including this playmat.)

Time spent on an afternoon project was a joy... seeing my grandson play with the project... priceless!

My inspiration for making my grandson this neat Thomas the Train Quilted Travel Play Mat came from some tutorials I have seen that used fabric featuring cars, trucks and streets. Since my grandson loves Thomas the Train and this Thomas the Train fabric is the only one my local fabric store carries that would work, I decided to switch from cars to trains. And since I am a quilter at heart, I put a quilty twist on it. It has pockets for the trains and folds up to fit into his Mom's purse.

Here's how I made it.

I bought 1/2 yard of the Thomas the Train fabric. I trimmed off the selvage and evened up the edges. I then cut the fabric into two pieces on the fold so that there were two rectangles 18 inches by 22 inches. I had plenty of scraps and other fabric in my stash to make the pockets and binding, as well as lots of leftover quilt batting scraps. This is just like making a mini quilt. The play mat I made has the same fabric on both sides and the child can use either side for pretending to drive his trains.

I taped down the edges of one piece of the fabric, face down, before layering the mini quilt sandwich.

On top of the taped down rectangle, I layered the quilt batting and the other rectangle face up and then pin basted it.

Then I free motion quilted the quilt sandwich in a meander design.

This is what it looked like after being quilted:

For making the pockets for the trains, I used two pieces of coordinating fabric 18 inches wide and 10 inches long. I folded both pieces in half lengthwise which made the pockets a double thickness and about 5 inches deep. I pressed it well and pinned the raw edges on one end of the quilt. When the binding was sewn on the quilt the edges of this fabric were sewn down right along with the binding.

I then sewed on the binding. For instructions on this, see my quilt binding tutorial HERE.

After the binding was finished, it was time to sew the seams to create the pockets. I laid the toy trains on top of the fabric to see what size I needed. The little trains I bought to go with the mat are about the size of a matchbox car, maybe just a little bigger, and the pockets needed to be about 3 inches wide.

The finished play mat front:


After placing the trains in the pockets, I folded the play mat up from the bottom in 4 inch or so sections and added two small velcro squares to help secure the play mat. Then I folded that in half. I think if I make another one I will omit the velcro, since the play mat folded up and stored in my daughter's purse just fine without it.

This would work for lots of different ideas for kids. I'm thinking of a princess theme for a little girl with pockets for her small dolls. Also an army theme for a boy with pockets for the toy soldiers and tanks. How about a farm theme one with pockets for the tractors?

Another good thing about this project is that the child can take the small quilt to bed with them and use it as a cuddle quilt, without the toys.


Denise said...

I bet that he gets many hours of enjoyment from that little mat with Thomas and his friends that any expensive gift he could receive. Especially since is was make with love from his grandmother. I know that my three boys played for hours with thier mats and cars, heck I still have a huge tote of cars and when they see it they can still identify which ones belonged to them! Oh the simple things in life....

Terri said...

What a neat idea, Debbie! It turned out beautiful.

Yolanda said...

What a wonderful idea! Thank you for sharing this tutorial.

Anonymous said...

Hi Debbie,
What a neat ideal. I have a little quilt I am working on for Miss Candi.

thea said...

Wow! really cute!

Anna said...

omg how cute..very good idea

Yolanda said...

Thank you SO much for this! I found some of the fabric on eBay and am going to make one for my grandson's birthday.

Yolanda said...

I just want to let you know that I made one of these for my grandson (7) for his birthday. He was thrilled!

Louise Hustace said...

I stumbled on to your blog. Thanks so much for sharing this Thomas project. I have the exact fabric in my stash and never thought to make a play mat. I'm
going to try it. My grandson is 3 and LOVES Thomas and friends. I can't wait to check out the rest of your blog.

helen.jhlee said...

I love it! My son's gonna surly love it!
Thank you for the great idea and super easy tutorial!
BTY, Where did you buy the fabric?

susan J smith said...

hi Debbie- As a Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher - I just wanted to tell you NOT ONLY is the project wonderful the tutorial is Fantastic- each step is fully explained and the visuals are very easy to understand--- wonderful project for any child that loves trains-- Great project ! Will definitely visit your site again for other projects!

Beeje said...

I am just finishing up my first quilting project, a completely self-learned wall hanging. It's far from perfect but you can kind of tell it's supposed to be a quilt! My great-nephew turns 2 in a few weeks and adores all things Thomas, so it looks like this beautiful project will be my next attempt. Good thing I was keeping a "lessons learned" journal! Having a hard time finding that fabric but have a lead that hopefully will come through. THANK YOU for sharing your creativity and wish me luck!

Unknown said...

Debbie, I love your Thomas the train play mat. My grandson adores trains, especially Thomas so it was perfect. I made two additions, I put a magnetic snap on the long sides and two small handles. So when you put the trains in sleeves fold it over twice then fold in half snap the snap, grab the handles and the child can carry his trains and mat anywhere he wants to go. I also used this design to make a carrier for my granddaughters infinity games characters. She has 17 and frequently takes them to friends house (who have the game but not as many characters) to play. I just added more rows of pockets. Thanks so much.

Unknown said...

I love your train May and so does my grandson. Thank you so much. I do have a problem, I want to make another for a friend but can't find the Thomas train with tracks fabric anywhere and wondered if you knew of someone who carried it. I got mine from Etsy, but they no longer have it. Please help.
Martha Bunch, nanabunchkids at Etsy.

kate readio said...

I love this and found a yard of the fabric on ebay. I'll make two, one for a gift and one for 1 1/2 year old grandson.

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