There’s nothing quite like a child’s imaginative play, and this DIY Farm Play Mat takes it to a whole new level! This pattern and tutorial make it an easy project for any DIYer. And since it uses Wonder Under iron-on adhesive, it requires minimal sewing and less time — good news if you are busy and not a natural with a needle or sewing machine (like me).
When my daughter turned two, I wanted to bring new life to the Melissa and Doug Wooden Fold and Go Barn, Ertl John Deere Tractor, and Schleich farm animal collection that were passed down from her older brother [insert pity for second child here]. A new handmade farm play mat was perfect and fit in with the E-I-E-I-O farm party theme I had in mind for a small family birthday celebration. And it is a simple enough DIY that I could accomplish it with an almost two and four year old at home. And as a mom of two, I love that if folds or rolls up nicely while the animals and tractor can be stored in the barn.
Let me zoom up so you can see how much use this has gotten over the past four years of play — yet it’s still holding strong. You can also see it isn’t perfect — but I promise you my two year old did not care. In fact, we just packed it up and shipped it to our one-year-old niece to enjoy, which I think makes its on its way to becoming a family heirloom!
Like with any project, I scoured Pinterest for visual eye candy and tutorials on how to make a play mat. I pinned this post by Moments by Melissa Miller which is full of swoon-worthy ideas for this as well as many other creative, fun ideas. (Besides the large play mat, I adore the mini play mats for the little party guests to take home).
I created my own pattern which you can download via the button above. The mat is square, 36 inches x 36 inches, to fit perfectly on our square living room coffee table so my daughter could walk around it.
You can print the pattern at full size from an office supply store like Staples for under $8. At Staples.com, under printing you can select a “Black and White Blueprint.” Make sure you print it on 36 inch x 48 ich paper at 100% (and not “fit to page”). You can also print it at home using the “poster” setting on your printer which will print them in multiple pieces on 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper that you can tape together.
Notice that the PDF is a mirror image of the finished project shown in the photographs. This is because each piece will be traced on the Wonder Under adhesive and ironed onto the *back* of each piece.
Want a different size? You can print the PDF at a reduced size, say 75%, which will make it 27 inches square, etc. Keep in mind the 36 inch square mat is sized perfectly for the dimensions of the Melissa and Doug Wooden Fold and Go Barn, Ertl John Deere Tractor, and Schleich farm animals. If you print at another scale, you may need to adjust the size of the dirt area where the barn sits, or the width of the dirt road.
Want to make your own pattern? Grab a large piece of paper or poster board and go for it! If you want to re-use a barn and toys you already have, feel free to create your very own farm!
- Pellon 725 Heavy Duty Wonder Under (paper backed fusible web)
- Grass – 3/4 yd (for full 59″ wide fabric or 1 yd if smaller)
- Mud – 1/4 yd
- Rocks – 1/8 yd
- Crops – 1/8 yd
- Bridge – 1/8 yd
- Road – 1/8 yd
- Water – 1/2 yd
- Dirt – 1 1/8 yds
- Backing/Cow print – 1 1/2 yds
- Coordinating thread for each fabric (except water and dirt since they are layered under other fabric)
- Fabric scissors
- Sewing gauge (for mitered edge border)
- Printed pattern
First, with your pattern in hand, head to the fabric store and pick out fun, textured fabric for each area of the mat. (This is my favorite part!) If the fabric store isn’t open in your area, try to use what you have on hand then look for quilting fabric online.
Note: the backing fabric (cow print shown) will be at least two inches longer on each size in order to make the border so start with at least a 42 inch square piece to be safe.
Pre-wash the fabric, but no need to iron since it will be pressed as you adhere the Wonder Under.
Step 1: Cut the backing fabric (cow print) to 42 inches square or larger. You will cut this down to size later in step 15.
Step 2: Cut the “dirt” fabric to be 36 inches by 36 inches square. This will become the base that all layers adhere to.
Step 3: Trace each area (grass, water, crops, etc.) separately onto the paper backing side of the Wonder Under (A) and cut out with a bit of excess in each direction. You do not need to do this for the dirt or backing fabric yet. You will cut each piece more precisely in step 6. This ensures you will have clean edges in the final mat to avoid any fraying.
Step 4: Iron each Wonder Under pattern piece onto the appropriate fabric per the Wonder Under instructions (B). It must be a dry (no steam) hot iron that you hold in place for up to 10 seconds, slide iron to next overlapping area and repeat. Tip: You can put a thin cotton rag over the paper backing so you don’t get any of the adhesive on your iron or ironing board. You can test this process by peeling back the edge of the paper backing to make sure it is sticking to the fabric, not the paper backing.
Step 5: Cut each piece down to size (C) and remove the paper backing.
Step 6::Place the road and water fabrics onto the dirt fabric and iron it in place (D).
Tip: You can pin it to get started with the iron, but remove pins before ironing to avoid wrinkles. You can use your original pattern to help find their locations. You will have to view it from the back of the pattern and trace the lines if the paper isn’t thin enough to see the lines clearly.
Step 7: Place the grass fabric onto the dirt fabric, ensuring it properly overlaps the asphalt and water without gaps (E). Iron it in place.
Step 8: Place the crops and bridge and iron in place (F).
Step 9: Place the mud and rocks and iron in place (G).
Step 10: Trim all edges of the mat to make all sides straight and square at about 36 inches by 36 inches.
Step 11: Sew edges of each top layer of fabric with a machine (or by hand if you are so inclined). I used an overlock stitch on a machine with a slightly lighter/darker color thread to add detail, structure and a handmade look (H). Note: The bridge can be cut in three separate overlapping pieces and layered as further described on the pattern (I).
Step 12: Cut interfacing to 36 inches square. This will have to be done in two pieces since it typically comes in narrow widths.
Step 13: Place the 36 inch interface onto the center of the wrong side of the backing (cow print) fabric with at least 3 inches of excess in all directions. Iron it into place, per instructions for the interfacing. Peel off backing paper.
Step 14: Place the layered farm mat onto the backing fabric (and interfacing) and press in place from the back side (right side/dark side of backing fabric). (If you try to press from the top side, the interfacing won’t get enough heat to fuse through all the layers of fabric.)
Creating the Double Hem Mitered Edge
You can use a different edge if you prefer, but this mitered edge was my first attempt and it wasn’t as hard as I had thought. And I liked the clean look, even if my edges aren’t perfect. I’m sure my middle school sewing teacher would agree that I’m no seamstress!
Step 15: The excess backing fabric will be folded twice to make the mitered edge. Test it to see how deep you want your border. Mine was 1 inch so I needed 2 inches of excess fabric on all sides. Use a sewing gauge to mark the length of excess fabric you desire and trim carefully (J).
Step 16: Press your desired hem (mine is 1″) folding front side of fabric to meet edge of layered mat fabric. Then fold and press another 1″ hem so all raw edges are enclosed within the hem. The backing fabric should cover the layered farm mat fabric by about 1 inch with the last fold (K). Unfold and repeat on all four sides.
Step 17: The crease lines will guide you as you trim each corner to remove excess fabric so it will fold without bulk for a clean corner. You will see 4 squares creased in each corner (L). Cut a straight line from the top left corner of the top left square to the bottom right corner of the bottom right square as shown. Repeat for each corner.
Step 18: Fold the trimmed edge toward the center of the mat at a 45 degree angle with a 1 inch hem, using the sewing gauge as a guide (M). The fold should meet the corner of the layered farm mat fabric.
Step 19: Using the original creases, fold the raw edge of the backing fabric to the 1 inch hem and pin in place (N). Repeat on all sides.
Step 20: Fold over again and pin in place (O). You will see a nice mitered edge at the corner. Repeat on all sides and carefully pin in place.
Step 21: Use a sewing machine or needle and thread, stitch a seam along the inside edge of the mitered backing.
This detailed tutorial for the mitered corner edging on Orange Betty is VERY helpful. You can also use another easier edging if you prefer, but I liked the contrasting cow print to be visible from the front. (And if I can do it, I know you can too!)
Now it’s time to play!
I’m thinking those Lincoln Logs in the closet need a new home in a wooded forest! Or maybe Peppa’s house needs a hill and muddy puddles? I’d love to see what you come up with!
TOYS IN PHOTOGRAPHS
If you are looking for any of the toys shown with the play mat, you can get them from Amazon here: