Customizable Felt Play Car Mat

by Tiffany
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About six months ago I got the crazy brilliant idea to make a car mat for the kids for Christmas.

Hey y’all, Tiffany here.

As you can tell, this post is a little later than Christmas.  That’s because it took me this long to get it done.  I finished it for Jared’s 2nd birthday at the end of March, and barely got it done in time for that!

You could totally make this without any sewing at all (using a hot glue gun or fabric glue), but I wanted to make sure it lasted.  If I was going to spend six months of Sundays working on it, it needs to hold together!

To be fair, I am not a very crafty person.  I stink at homemaking skills, like cooking, sewing, and cleaning.  This is only the second time I have ever used a sewing machine since I had six weeks of Home Ec in the 7th grade.

I had to have a friend come help me thread the sewing machine.  I then had to have her come back the next day when the bobbin ran out of thread and I couldn’t get it back in.

I even had to put out a call for help in a Facebook group.

I’m sure it will not surprise you to know that this took me a very, very long time.

BUT…. I finished it!  And our kids LOVE it!

Now, because I am not a seamstress, or a creative person, I kind of just made this up as I went along.  There were things I wanted on this rug that wouldn’t be on other people’s rugs (like Grammy’s house with roses out front), so I couldn’t just purchase one.

How did I do this with virtually no skill?  Very, very slowly.  And if you don’t have a sewing machine, you can do it with hot glue or fabric glue!

I am certain that many of you could do these steps in better, quicker ways than I did.  But for those of you that are homemaking-impaired like I am, you could be able to do this!

Make Your Design

The first thing I did was make a list of all of the different things I wanted on our car mat.  I asked my kids what things they like to go do, as well.  They thought of several things to put on there that I wouldn’t have thought up!

Next, I cut paper into 9×9 squares and sketched out what I wanted each of these items to look like.  I spent a lot of time on Pinterest looking at ideas (because I am not creative at all).  I am also not very artistic, so these were done as a representation and were not meant to be a pattern.

(At this point, I’d show you a picture, but I’m pretty sure I threw them away already.)

After doing this, I laid them out on the floor so that I could see how big I needed to make my car mat.  I ended up being much larger than I anticipated, but it has been fun to play with!

Buy Your Supplies

I purchased four large 3×3′ squares of dark green felt from Michael’s to use as the base.  I also purchased multi-colored packs of felt, as well as some extra individual sheets of green and red.

Note: I bought way more felt than I actually ended up needing.

I also purchased embroidery thread (I stitched each house/tree/whatever by hand) in black and white.

For the roads, I used 2 1/4″ black ribbon from Walmart (it doesn’t sell in that size at Michael’s for some reason).  I used over 36 feet of the ribbon (4 spools that were 12 feet each).

Sew Your Designs

Now that you have your supplies, go ahead and start creating each design!  Since you picked your own home, stores, locations, etc., this is going to be very different for each of you.  Here are some photos of what we chose:

I prefer to hand-stitch with embroidery thread.  Each “strand” has six individual strands, but I split those into two sets of three.  I first used dabs of fabric glue to hold them into place, and then hand-stitched.

Be sure to put the glue in places that you will not be stitching (it’s difficult to sew through).

Set Up & Sew the Layout

Now it’s time to decide where you want to put each piece on your car mat!  Lay out all four squares in a large 2×2 square.  You’ll eventually sew these all together (with “main roads” to cover the seams), so make sure to leave about 3 inches of space on each square where it touches another square.

Lay out each building and side road (the ribbon) where you want them to be.  Pin them into place.  You are going to want to use a lot of pins, because you will be moving around a lot as you sew.

Sew on each piece and side roads.  I also sewed three sides of full sheet of felt onto one corner so that there is a “pocket” of sorts to hold the cars.  You can add a zipper if you want, but that was a bit beyond my expertise level.

Finish Up

You’re almost done!  This is the easy part.  Put two of the large squares together (faces in), and sew the side that you want them attached.  Do the same thing with the second pair, so that you have two long rectangles, which you will sew together in the same way.

Now pin down the main road along one of the seams and sew it down.  Do the same thing along the second seam.

To finish up, sew a seam around the edges.  This will help keep down any fraying from the edges of the ribbon.

And voila!  You’ve got your own felt play car mat that is customized to your family!

An earlier version of this post was written by Tiffany on The Crazy Shopping Cart.

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