Two-Sided Felt Playmat Tutorial (Jungle and Space)

February 20th, 2011 by Dionna | 7 Comments
Posted in Adults, Carnival and Special Series, Children, Eclectic Learning, Families, Create!, Just for Fun/Miscellaneous, Preschoolers, Toddlers

  • Email This Post
2010-12-25 02

Our 'hero' playing with his playmat.

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.

Playmat 1

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.

Playmat 2

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).

Playmat 3

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.

Space Playmat

The finished outer space side.

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.

Jungle Playmat

The finished jungle side.

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.

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.

  1. 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.

7 Responses to:
"Two-Sided Felt Playmat Tutorial (Jungle and Space)"

  1. Kate

    This looks adorable! It looks like it would be great for travel too.

    I would totally have done the same thing with the constellations :) My current similar thing is that I’m decorating what will be my son’s “big boy” room in an African Safari theme. Instead of just getting some random wines that looked vaguely right I spent hours on the internet find vine and flowers that I could combine to look as close as possible to a vine that actual grows in Africa.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Kate, how about I make you an intricate playmat, and you come over and paint our playroom ;)

  2. Kate

    Un, that would be Vines, not wines.

  3. When we do felt boards I just let each kid pick out a felt colour and then I stand by with the scissors to cut out whatever shapes they ask for, like jaguar, octopus, cat, baby cat, another baby cat, another baby cat. It’s pretty fun but sometimes I get yelled at for cutting something out wrong.

  4. Vidya Sury   vidyasury

    I’d like to do a farm scene. I’ve made a lot of these – but didn’t bother with the trouble of making the add-ons – instead, I painted them on – much easier and saved tremendous time. We also did a lot of “cut-out” characters for specific episodes of popular Indian epics like the “Mahabharata” and “Ramayana” – used to be great fun! :-) Still have some of them!

    I love this tutorial. Really enjoy making stuff – and I’ll make it as a gift for someone. Thanks, Dionna. It is a pleasure being here.

  5. What a neat idea! I love having it be double sided.

  6. I’m still impressed with the time you took to make the constellations.

  • Grab my new badge!

    Visit Code Name: Mama

  • Visit Natural Parents Network
  • Display & participate!

    Visit Code Name: Mama

  • Carnival of Weaning

    Carnival of Weaning