Throwback Thursday: Road Playmat


I made two of these, one for my son and one for my daughter. They are very time-consuming. I think I saw someone else who said that they take about 50 hours to make, and I don’t think that’s far off.

The base is basically a normal blanket. The backside is a flannel, the front is green cotton (to represent grass.) I used a yard of each and sewed them all the way around with a 5/8″ seam, leaving a small hole in which to flip it right side out.

The other side isn’t exactly difficult to make, but it does take quite a bit of measuring and planning. I first made the roads. I measured and cut a pattern out of butcher paper first, then cut it out of black felt. I pinned and sewed it onto the blanket, using black thread for the top and blue thread in the bobbin (so there wouldn’t be ugly black lines going across the back.) This part was somewhat difficult, the road didn’t want to stay flat and I had some issues with bunching. For the yellow lines in the road, I used yellow thread and a satin stitch. If I were to do it again, I might just use small yellow felt rectangles. The satin stitching just seems to come out easily, unless there’s some trick I just don’t know.

For the buildings, they look complicated, but they’re really just tedious. I planned out what I wanted, then I would find coloring book pages of the subject. I would trace it onto freezer paper, then iron the freezer paper to the felt (shiny side against the felt!) and then cut it out. If you haven’t tried this method when working with felt, you need to! It changes everything.

All of the garage doors and regular doors are only sewn on one side, so that they can lift up. If you have time, you can put surprises behind the doors as well. In the very center is our house. In the top left corner is the train station and railroad, a zoo, their grandparents’ house with their pool and playhouse in the backyard, and a park. In the upper right corner is a construction zone, a temple, a church building, another grandparents’ house with their dog, and a police station. In the bottom right corner is an airport, a grocery store, a gas station, and a fire station. The gas station has a little shoelace sewn in to act as the nozzle. In the bottom right corner is the beach, a library, a car wash, a pizza place, and his grandfather’s house. The car wash has orange felt that I cut into a fringe so he can drive his cars through it.

Most of the buildings were handsewn, because it’s too much of a hassle to be switching around the thread for all of those colors. Here’s what I would do: Cut out all of the pieces for a building and place them in a ziplock bag with corresponding thread, needles, and small scissors. Then I would just keep the bag handy throughout the day, and sew a few stitches here and there whenever I got a chance. Those 2-minute windows of time really add up when you take advantage of them!

I got inspiration from so many places it’s hard to name them all, but I’ll try:


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