Monday, March 10, 2014

Wee Wander D.I.Y. Blog Tour - Play Mat

Play Mat Tutorial

I am obsessed with Sarah Jane's whimsical fabrics. When I first sighted her Wee Wander collection, I knew I must have it -- all of it! With its bunnies, children, fireflies, deer, and horses; the cuteness is irresistible! 

The colors, a perfect balance of modern and cheerful, are fantastic too. Since I have both a boy and a girl, I can appreciate the coordinating collections perfect for both genders.



Summer Ride Melon - fat eight or 1/4 yard
Summer Ride Seafoam - fat eight or 1/4 yard
Tree Lights Twilight - 1/2 yard
Tree Lights Rose - fat eight or 1/4 yard
Glow Friends Sea - fat eight or 1/4 yard
Glow Friends Pink - fat eight or 1/4 yard
Nature Walk Grass - 3/4 yard
Nature Walk Turquoise - fat eight or 1/4 yard
Nature Walk Twilight - fat eight or 1/4 yard
Nature Walk Coral - fat eight or 1/4 yard
Nature Walk Magenta - fat eight or 1/4 yard
Nature Walk Pink - fat eight or 1/4 yard
With the Birds Pink or Sea - 1 1/2 yards
Summer Night Lights Twilight or Magenta - 1 1/2 yards for backing
Binding - 1/3 yard
Kona Snow or White - 1/3 yard

Other Supplies:

Free Play Mat Templates
Bird Pattern
Fusible (I prefer Steam-A-Seam II Lite.)
Tear-Away Stabilizer
Inexpensive Acrylic Paint Such as FolkArt (Can be Found at a Craft Store)
Fabric Medium for Acrylic Paints
Faux Fur Fabric for Rabbit - 1/8 yard
Pink Felt for Rabbit Ears
Bleached Muslin or White Solid Cotton
Green Ribbon
Cream Ribbon
Clear Vinyl - 1/3 yard
Buttons, Beads, or Black Fabric Marker for Eyes
Embroidery Floss
Chenille Needle
Sew-On Velcro
Dry Erase or Wet Erase Marker
Masking Tape
Ultra-Thin Permanent Marker
Sewing Machine
Hand Sewing Needle
Masking Tape
Rotary Cutter
Seam Ripper
Marking Pen (Such as Frixion)
Ultra Fine Tip Permanent Marker
12 1/2" Acrylic Rotary Cutting Ruler
24" Rectangular Acrylic Rotary Cutting Ruler
Small Caribener or Baby Links
Crinkle Material

Freezer Paper (Can be found at Grocery Stores)
Polyfil (Pillow and Stuffed Animal Stuffing)
1/4" Bias Tape to Outline the Bug Jar
Multi-Colored Yarn that coordinates with the Wee Wander fabrics
Tan Yarn (With a Nest-Like Appearance)

Pieced Blocks:

Sarah's beautiful prints lend themselves to some fussy cutting, though you can't help getting cuteness in every piece regardless. I wanted to showcase her delightful steeds, so I employed a technique that helps me visualize what will be showing in the finished blocks. I use masking tape to mark the cutting size, keeping in mind the outer 1/4" will be hidden in the seam allowance. For this block, I laid the edge of the tape along the 8 1/2" marks. Then, I moved my ruler until the pony was in a great position for showing off. I cut the two sides, flipped my ruler around, and cut the final two sides.

I repeated this process with the two Summer Ride, Glow Friends, and Tree Lights fabrics.

Cut two 2 7/8" strips of Meandering. From these strips cut 24 2 7/8 strips. Cut the remaining portions of the strips into 2 1/2" strips. From these, cut two 4 1/2" x 2 1/2" rectangles.

Cut 24 2 1/2" x 2 1/2" squares of MeanderingBegin by cutting two 2 1/2" by width of fabric strips. Stack all three strips on top of each other. Cut off the selvage. If you have a 24" ruler, place it at 15" and cut. Without moving the fabric, slide the ruler over to 12 1/2" and cut again. Continue leaving the fabric in place and cutting at 10", 7 1/2", 5" and 2 1/2". You should have 24 squares. From the remaining portions of the strips, cut four 4 1/2" x 2 1/2" rectangles.

Cut 2 2 1/2" strips of Meandering. Crosscut these strips into 18 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" rectangles.

Cut one 5 1/4" square of each of the Nature Walk fabrics.

Draw a diagonal line from corner to corner on the wrong (non-printed) side of each of the 2 7/8" Meandering rectangles.

We will be making the 2 7/8" squares of Meandering and the six 5 1/4" Nature Walk squares into four of each color of flying geese using the No Waste Method. Align the edges of two 2 7/8" squares with the upper left and lower right edges of the 5 1/4" square as shown. Right sides should be together with the larger square right-side-up and the smaller squares right-side-down. The pencil line should go from corner to corner, and the smaller squares should overlap slightly.

Stitch 1/4" on either side of the marked line. First, do one side of each of the six blocks--chaining them together by not cutting the thread and putting one square in after the other. Then, turn the entire string of squares around. Sew 1/4" on the other side of the marked line, leaving the squares connected to each other by thread. You will have twelve 2 7/8" squares remaining at this point.

Leaving the blocks connected, press the smaller squares so you can see the right side of the fabric. 

Do one side. Then, flip the string of squares around and press the other side. Clip the threads connecting each square to the others. Cut along the marked line, from corner to corner, with the smaller squares laid flat.

Place one of the remaining twelve 2 7/8" squares, right-side-down on each of the units you have created, as shown.

Stitch 1/4" on each side of the marked line, first doing one side of each unit, and then the other side of each unit. Chain the units together as you did before. 

Leave the string of units connected by thread as you press on side, and then the other. After pressing, clip the threads connecting each unit. 

Cut along the marked line to separate each unit into two flying geese units. 

Clip the dog ears (tiny triangles protruding from the rectangles that compose your flying geese.

You should now have four flying geese of each color. Separate your flying geese into two piles with two of each color in each pile. 

Sew a 2 1/2" square to a 2 1/2" side of one pile of flying geese using a 1/4" seam allowance. Sew a 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" rectangle to a 2 1/2" side of the remaining flying geese, right-sides together, using a 1/4" seam allowance. 

Chain your pieces together to save time. (Children figures on 2 1/2" squares should go sideways to be orientated correctly in the finished block. Children on rectangles should be upright when fed into the machine.)

Press toward the non-flying geese pieces with the units still attached to each other.

Cut apart following pressing. Now attach the remaining 2 1/2" squares to the opposite side of the flying geese that already have a 2 1/2" squares attached. Add the remaining 2 1/2" x 
4 1/2" rectangles to the opposite side of the flying geese that have 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" rectangles already attached. As you chain the units through the machine, right-sides-together.

Leave the units chained together with thread as you press away from the center flying geese units.

Cut the thread connecting each unit following pressing. Attach 8 1/2" x 2 1/2" flying geese units of the same color to the right and left sides of the 8 1/2" blocks of Summer Ride, Glow Friends, and Tree Lights. The geese should be pointing inward when being attached, and outward, once pressed. I recommend doing one flying geese unit on each square and chaining the pieces through, then turing the string of connected units around, and adding the flying geese units to the other side.

Press toward the center square. Attach the 12 1/2" x 2 1/2" flying geese units to the top and bottom of the Summer Ride, Glow Friends, and Tree Lights units, keeping the colors consistent. The geese should be pointing inward when being attached, and outward, once pressed.

Press toward the center.

Pressing should look like this on the back.


Let's make the rabbit block. Fold the fuzzy fabric in half so you can cut two of each template at once -- one shown and one mirror image. Draw each ear on the fabric with a permanent marker. Cut out each ear inside the marker line, with the fabric remaining folded. Cut out one of each inside ear shape. Place each inside ear part on the non-reversed ear parts. Use a short zig-zag to stitch the pink inner portion to the ear. The sides that run along the edge of the ear don't need stitched down.

Place the ear pieces right sides together with their aligning shape. Stitch 1/4" from the edge of each ear, leaving the bottom portion open for turning. Flip the ears right-sides out.

Cut out one rabbit body piece using the template. Appliqué the rabbit to a 13" square of With the Birds. Use a short zig-zag stitch and leave the top of the head open. Julie Cefalu has a tutorial, as does Annamarie, if you are new to machine appliqué. Tuck the ears under the head, and finish appliquéing around the bunny. Cut the block to 12 1/2" after appliquéing. The ears should stick off the block. Hand stitch a button eye and pom pom tail onto the rabbit.

Fold a piece of Coral Nature Walk in half. Use a pencil or Frixion pen to trace around the carrot stencil once for each carrot you want to make. 

Take one carrot half. Stitch a piece of Velcro to the right side of the fabric. Make sure you use the same side of the Velcro on every carrot you create. Take the other carrot half. Add the green top by folding short pieces of green ribbon in half and aligning the short, cut ends with the top of the right side. Stitch these down using a 1/8" seam allowance. Trace the inside of each carrot on crinkle material with an ultra thin permanent marker. Cut around each shape.

Lay carrot halves right sides together, shorten your stitch length to about 1.5, and stitch around the edge with a 1/4" seam. Leave a 1" gap in the side for turning, and avoid the ribbon. 

Turn right side out. Slide the crinkle fabric into each carrot. 

Top stitch 1/8" from the edge or hand stitch the opening closed.

Attach the remaining side of the Velcro to wherever desired on the rabbit block.


Inspired by the teeny footprints hidden on Sarah Jane's Meandering print, I made footprints of my daughter. 

Mix even amounts of acrylic paint and fabric medium on the waxy side of a piece of Freezer paper. Stamp one of your child's feet into the paint or apply it with a foam brush. Do only one foot at a time to make it easier to keep paint where it is desired. Stamp your child's foot onto the Kona cotton, pressing down gently on their toes. Make several prints. Wash off that foot and repeat the process with the other foot. Allow the paint on the Kona to dry. Cut a rectangle around your favorite right and left feet. Apply fusible to the back of the footprints. Cut around the feet as shown. Peel off the paper backing and fuse to the right side of a piece of Nature Walk fabric in the color of your choice, and large enough to fit the footprints with 1/2" surrounding them on all sides. 

Apply fusible to the back side of the Nature Walk fabric. Cut around the footprints leaving 1/4" of the Nature Walk fabric surround the footprints on all sides. With tear-away stabilizer on the wrong side of the block, machine appliqué to a 13" block of With the Birds. I used white thread around the prints and green thread around the Nature Walk fabric. I used a short zig-zag stitch. I also used an alphabetic decorative stitch to add my daughter's name. Cut the block to 12 1/2" after appliquéing.


It's time for the flower block. Trace two of each template onto the non-waxy side of freezer paper. Cut out the templates and iron them onto Nature Walk fabric in a color of your choosing, folded over with right sides together. Trace each shape using a pencil or fabric marking pen. Stitch on the line without leaving a gap. Use a shortened stitch length, such as 1.5. Cut around each shape leaving a 1/4" seam allowance. Notch curves. Cut a slit large enough to turn each shape right sides out in one fabric, being careful not to slice through both layers of fabric. Turn the shapes right sides out and press. Insert a squeaker in the hole in the flower center. Trace the flower template onto crinkle paper using a permanent marker. Cut out the shape and insert into the opening of the fabric flower, pressing the crinkle material into one petal at a time. Repeat the process to create a second flower.

With the open slits facing downward, hand stitch or machine appliqué around the edge of the center circles of the flower onto a 12 1/2" square of With the Birds, leaving the petal portion loose.


To create the yarn feather, wrap yarn around your hand. Cut at the top and bottom. Use a fabric marking pen to mark when you want the spine of your feather to lay on a 12 1/2" square of With the Birds, backed with stabilizer. Stitch down pieces of yarn laying side by side. Using a colorful thread, follow this line of stitching with a tight zig-zag stitch that gradually goes from a tiny width to the largest width your machine allows as it goes from the tip of the feather to the base of the feather. Cut the yarn into a tapered shape that is larger at the bottom of the feather.

Bug Jar

We're going to make the bug jar. Get two pieces of freezer paper larger enough to trace all the bug pieces onto. Lay one on your ironing surface with the waxy side down. Lay the other on top of it with the waxy side down. Iron them to each other to preshrink the freezer paper and allow for a thicker material. Trace each bug template onto the non-waxy side of your prepared freezer paper. Cut out the shapes and use them as pattern templates. Cut out one of each head part and one belly part for the bug. Cut out two of the back template. Cut two wings from a fabric folded in half, or cut one and one reverse from two pieces of fabric laying on top of each other with right sides together. This should result in four wing pieces, two of which are the reverse image of the other. If you desire, add legs to the belly part using a chenille needle and embroidery floss. Pull the floss through the fabric. Tie a knot once it has been pulled through to the wrong side. Then, pull it back through to the right side of the fabric. Tie knots at the end of each leg to prevent unraveling.

Attach one end of a 15" piece of string to the side of the bug with 1/8" seam allowance. Use tape to prevent the string from getting in the way of the seam during assembly.

Lay the two pieces of the back with right sides together. Sew one side of the back. Fold the top head piece in half with right sides together. Stitch along the side that is a straight line, and was a V-shape opening when the piece was laid open, using a 1/4" seam and 1.5 stitch length. This will create a cone shape. Sew the head cone to the head circle and the belly to the back with right sides together, using a 1/4" seam, and leaving a gap for turning. 

With right sides together and edges aligned, sewing around the long side of the wings, leaving the smallest side open. 

Turn the wings right side out and pin to the the right side of the body piece. The side of the wings you want to show least should be touching the body. Sew the wings onto the body with an 1/8" seam allowance. Pin the wings out of the way of the outside edge of the back.

Sew the head cone to the head circle and the belly to the back using a 1/4" seam and leaving a gap for turning. Flip each shape right side out.

Fill each shape with Polyfill. Add a jingle ball or mini rattle to the bug's abdomen. 

Hand stitch the head into the body. 

Add eyes and antennae if you so desire.

Cut out two pieces of fabric using the lid template. Sew along the edge with both pieces right-sides-together. Use a 1/4" seam and leave a 1" gap between your starting and stopping place. Notch the corners to make turning easier, being careful not to cut through your line of stitching. 

Turn the lid piece right-side-out, press, and top stitch 1/8" from the edge all the way around the piece.

Use a permanent marker to trace the jar onto clear vinyl and cut out. Sew black bias binding tape onto the edge of the curved portion of the shape. Cut even with the top of the jar. Fold one edge of bias tape under. Align this edge with one side of the top of the jar. Stitch until you come close to the edge of the jar. Cut 1/2" longer than the top of the jar, fold 1/2" under, and complete sewing. Cut a piece of With the Birds 12 1/2" square. Stitch the jar lid onto the quilt by sewing a tight zig-zag across the length of the top of the jar lid. It should be centered on the block 1 1/2" down from the top.  Position the vinyl jar 1" below the top of the lid. Pin in the bottom of the jar in place through the bias binding. It should be centered on the block. Pleat the top of the jar 1/2" and pin the sides in place through the bias binding so you don't poke holes in the vinyl. The top should pooch open. Tuck the loose thread on the bug into the jar and under the bias tape on the bottom of the jar. Stitch the jar in place using thread that matches the binding tape, securing the string attached to the firefly, and leaving the top open.


Trace three egg shapes onto paper-backed fusible. Apply the fusible to the wrong side of three different colors of Nature Walk fabrics. Cut out the eggs on the line, remove the paper, and fuse in the center of a 13" square of With the Birds backed with stabilizer. Machine appliqué the eggs onto the background. I used a tight zig-sag stitch and thread that matched the color of the eggs. Cut 3" of cream ribbon. Fold it in half with raw edges aligned. Stitch the raw edges onto the block near the eggs with the loop facing away from the eggs. Fold the loop toward the eggs and restitch to cover over the raw edges. Lay out the yarn for a next in a circle that keeps overlapping until desired fullness is reached. Secure by using a large zig-zag and thread that matches the yarn. Cross from the inside to the outside of the next as you move around the nest.

Create a bird using the bird pattern. Before stitching the pieces together, sew a loop of ribbon with the raw edges sticking into the seam and the loop touching the right side of the fabric and extending toward the center of the piece. Add a mini rattle or jingle ball to the inside of the belly while stitching the pieces together. It won't fit through the tail, I promise.

Quilt Top Assembly

Square up all blocks to 12 1/2". Arrange your blocks in three rows of four blocks, alternating pieced blocks with play blocks. Be careful to orient directional fabrics correctly. Sew together in this setting. 

Cut five 2 1/2" x width of fabric (42" - 44") strips of Nature Walk Grass for the border. Sew of these end to end. Measure the height of your quilt along the right, middle, and left. Average these measurements and cut two strips of Nature Walk Grass to this measurement. It should be about 36 1/2".

Cut five 1" by width of fabric (42" - 44") strips of Tree Lights Twilight for a flange. Sew them end-to-end right-sides-together with a 1/4" seam. You should have a very long 1" strip. Press the seams open. Cut two pieces of flange the length of your pre-cut borders. Sew each flange to a long side of each pre-cut border with it folded and using a 1/4" seam, matching up the raw edges. 

Press the borders open. Sew two of the remaining strips of Nature Walk Grass end to end and press the seams open. Measure the width of your quilt along the top, middle, and bottom. Average these measurements and cut a strip of Nature Walk Grass to this measurement. Attach the removed portion to the remaining Nature Walk Grass strip, press the seam open, and cut to the same measurement of the border you just cut. 

Take your flange strip. Fold the end over 1/4" and press. Take the measurement of your green top and bottom borders and subtract 4 1/4". Cut two strips of the flange strip to this length. Press the short end that has not been pressed over 1/4" toward the wrong side. Take each border and sew the skinny strip to the edge with it folded and using a 1/4" seam, matching up the raw edges, and beginning 2 1/4" down from the end. The flange should end 2 1/4" from the opposite end.

Cut backing 4" longer than the width of your quilt. Attach one side of a piece of Velcro to the right side of the backing near the top of the trees, 9" in from the side of the quilt. Use a stabilizer on the back side for extra strength. 

Cut two rectangles of Glow Friends 4 1/4" x 11 1/2". For each, fold the 4 1/4" side over 1/4" onto the wrong side and press. Press in half to make the rectangle 2 1/8" x 11 1/4" with the right sides touching. Stitch 1/4 from the raw edges that are not folded over. 

Flip right side out. Top stitch 1/8" from the edge all the way around. For one of the rectangles, attach the remaining side of the Velcro piece to one end of this rectangle. Attach the end without the Velcro to the right side of the quilt back at the bottom of the grass and 9" in from the side of the quilt. The loose end should extend toward the outside of the quilt. Attach the right and left sides of the other rectangle for use as a handle. Position the handle 2" below the Velcro piece and pleat 1/2" in the middle. Both ends should extend an equal distance beyond the Velcro.

Cut batting the same size as your backing. Press your top, batting, and batting. Lay out your backing on a large table, right-side-down. Smooth. Apply basting spray. Roll your batting. Unroll onto your quilt top. Push upward and outward, constantly smoothing and making sure no pleats are created.

Spray the batting with basting spray. Roll your quilt top with the right side inside. Apply the top to the batting using the same method as you used to place the batting on the backing. Smooth out any wrinkles.

Use the spare clear vinyl and a wet or dry erase marker to test out possible quilting patterns.

Quilt as you would like and bind. If you are new to free-motion quilting, I recommend Elizabeth Hartman, Christina Cameli, and Christa's tutorials. Be careful to avoid the straps when quilting.

You can sew your binding on completely by machine, or partially by machine and partially by hand so you do not see stitching on the binding. Sew 4 Home covers this in their full tutorialAllison Harris has a great tutorial for machine binding. I recommend Rachael's hand-sewn binding tutorial.

If you make a play mat or other item inspired by this tutorial, please add it to the Quilting Mod Flickr group. Please feel free to provide feedback or ask any questions you may have in the Comments below.

Thank you Sarah Jane for allowing me the pleasure of working with your dreamy, whimsical fabric.

I'm linking up with:

Sew Cute Tuesday


  1. Wow you put a lot of time and thought into this quilt! It turned out so cute, I'm sorry I didn't get to see it in person. I love the nest and the footprints and the fireflies! So cute!

  2. Wow what a fantastic tutorial and quilt!nThanks for sharing.
    Freemotion by the River Linky Party Tuesday

  3. So fun, Afton! What a great project for littles : ) I've been playing with Wee Wander this week and am excited to be just about finished piecing two quilts - it's such a cheerful collection to work with!

  4. Incredible! Such a unique idea! I love the three dimensional elements you used in this design. Looks like both of your little ones approve! Great tutorial, too, Thanks so much for sharing!

  5. Wonderful quilt and really thorough tutorial - well done! Kids are just darling!