Two-Sided Felt Playmat Tutorial (Jungle and Space)
For February’s “Familes, Create!” Carnival, I’d like to share a simple tutorial for the felt playmat I made Kieran for Christmas. One side of his playmat is a jungle theme, the other side is a space theme.
Kieran plays with his tutorial in a number of ways. On the space side, his “superhero,” Buzz Lightyear1 can fly around and land on planets, find aliens, etc. On the jungle side, we either play with dinosaurs or a wooden Royal Family doll set that I got for a steal right before Christmas. Often, the Royal Family will be visited by Buzz Lightyear and various toy cars, all of which fills them with wonder and awe.
At any rate, the felt playmat could have been VERY easy, but if you know me, then you know I had to complicate things.
Mainly by adding embroidered stars.
In the shapes of constellations.
That are (roughly) astronomically correct.
So if you skip the stars, you will be done with your playmat MUCH faster than I was. Also? The mountain was a gigantic pain, so I’d recommend finding a different way to create it. In fact, I’m not even going to include that as part of the tutorial, because I just fiddled with it until it vaguely resembled a mountain. And even then I had to explain to Kieran what it was.
Without further ado, here is my (very rough) tutorial. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions about one of the steps.
Step 1: Cut your felt to whatever size you want the playmat.
Using a rotary cutter, mat, and ruler, cut out the colors (at the same time) you’ll use for your backgrounds. We used forest green for the jungle and black for outer space. We decided to make the playmat a square of approximately 2 ft x 2 ft.
Step 2: Partially sew the two pieces together.
This next part is optional, I just think it makes it easier. Partially sew the two pieces together – I started about 5 inches from one corner, sewed to the corner, rounded it and sewed that whole next side, then rounded the next corner and sewed about 5 inches down. I wanted to sew my pieces on (the pond, the stars, etc.) knowing where they would be in relation to everything else on the other side. Remember, once you sew these two pieces together, flip them around before sewing anything else on (your two pieces will eventually be turned and top-stitched).
Step 3: Decide how super-anal you’d like to be. If you really want to give yourself a headache, embroider the stars.
Assuming you feel like spending more time on this playmat than is necessary, make the stars. I used this site to determine the arrangement of the constellations. I used a string to make the circle/ecliptic so that my constellations would be aligned. Looking at the constellations, I used tiny pieces of sticker to represent the stars (so they’d stay on the felt until it was time to stitch).
After the stars were stitched on, I used 2 (3?) strands of embroidery floss to complete the constellations – in other words, I made lines so that you can see the shapes of the constellations.
To be quite honest, Kieran hasn’t paid any attention to the stars. I think he likes them, but he has no clue that there is any rhyme or reason to them. I think, someday, I might figure out how to add tags to the playmat that identify the constellations. At this point, he’s just too young.
Once you are done adding any extras on to the playmat itself, sew those two pieces together inside out, leaving about a 5 inch gap on one side that is not sewn shut. Then turn it right-side out and top stitch all the way around it.
Step 4: Make the outer space extras.
I did the planets and the sun, and I added some rocks for asteroids. For the colors, I just Googled each planet and tried to make the felt coordinate as much as possible. And yes, I kept Pluto and failed to add some of the more recent planet discoveries. By the time Pluto was finished, it was 11:30pm on Christmas Eve, and I was beyond caring.
The planets are just two circles of felt (for the most part, some have felt add-ons, like Jupiter’s big red spot) stitched together and stuffed with polyfill. I used 3 strands of embroidery floss to stitch them closed.
Step 5: Make the jungle extras.
For the jungle, I created:
1) A big, ugly, lopsided mountain (2 pieces of lavender felt, each cut into two pieces, one piece of white felt for snow, stuffed haphazardly with polyfil);
2) Two orange fish (bright orange felt, cut out, sewn inside out, turned and top-stitched);
3) A cave (black felt sewn around a piece of cereal box);
4) Grass (green felt sewn around a piece of cereal box for stability, and at the top different colors of green for the grass sewn on in a strip);
5) A pond (one side is white, one side is turquoise, they are sewn, turned, and top-stitched); and
6) A tree (brown felt sewn and fitted around a toilet paper tube, the leaves are strips of green stitched together and then placed on top of the tree – it is in two different pieces so they aren’t smashed in storage).
The asteroids double as jungle rocks.
I’m pretty pleased with the way it turned out, and Kieran now has a super cool playmat to imagine with.
What scene would you put on a playmat?
February brought many heroic crafts to the Families, Create! Carnival. Check out some of the wonderful posts from last month’s participants below, and be sure to visit Code Name: Mama and Living Peacefully with Children to find out how you can participate in the next Families, Create! Carnival.
- The Artsy Mama made a personalized birthday hat for her son’s first birthday. Learn how to make a Hero’s Birthday Hat for your hero or heroine with very few sewing skills.
- Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children found inspiration in books for some I-Spy items in her post, I Spy Items – The Last Olympians and The Lost Heroes.
- Megan at Purple Dancing Dahlias found out how one random act of kindness can shower the world in kindness in the book Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed.
- It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Super Kieran! Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares the Superhero Capes she made to celebrate her son’s heroic qualities.
- At Z Everyday Things, Mama G made easy and quick Super Zs!, personalized superhero appliques on shirts, for her children. Easy and quick!
- Lauren at Hobo Mama has a son who loves to dream up stories and one heroic imaginary friend. Read her post about Space-Alien Hot-Dog Monster & Silly Guy .
- Heroes are often everyday people. Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children was inspired by the gift of a sock in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, prompting her to make Dobby’s Sock as part of her Harry Potter ornaments.
- Galit Breen at Three Little Waves used the book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes as a springboard for a sensitive discussion and a fun origami project for her whole family in her post Families Create: Heroes and Heroines.
- Need a creative gift idea for a toddler or preschooler? Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares a simple Tutorial for a Two-Sided Felt Playmat (one side is outer space, one side is a jungle scene).
- Literature and adventure inspired Mandy @ Living Peacefully with Children to make these Treasure Bags for Imbolc.
Visit Code Name: Mama and Living Peacefully with Children to find out how you can participate in the next Families, Create! Carnival. Our March theme is “Animals” – what animals are your favorites and why? Get creative and share with us how animals are a part of your and your children’s lives.
- Don’t ask me how or why he loves Buzz so much, since we can’t even make it through Toy Story for all of the violence. ↩
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"Two-Sided Felt Playmat Tutorial (Jungle and Space)"
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