This play mat has been one of my all time favourite makes so I thought I‘d write a post all about the process and meaning of it!
My aim was to create a space for the baby even though we weren’t creating a nursery until we move into our own home. I decided on creating a play mat and play gym that could be moved anywhere and create this ‘space’ for the baby.
Initially, I didn’t have a specific theme in mind, but I kept thinking about the time of year the baby would be born. I thought about the types of flowers, the colours, the birds, the bumblebees, blue skies, and the sun shining. It was the depths of winter when I began this project so I needed the hope of spring.
Considerations for the design:
Neutral but colourful and playful.
Work with fabrics and wadding already in my stash and my scrap bag.
Create sewn and felted toys that are relatively simple in design
Places for the toys to be held (POCKETS)
I thought I’d make it a circular shape but I went for a rectangle instead to avoid unnecessary waste and have more space for the pockets
The pockets would have loops inside each so that the toys could be attached and detached for easier cleaning or changing for different baby stages and interests.
The elements to hang from the play gym would be cohesive in colours but didn’t need to be of the same theme. (Will eventually do another post about the play gym)
I began looking at play mats on Pinterest and Instagram and was drawn towards quilted, appliqué, and patchwork mats. I liked the various textures of various materials and natural colour pallets. I collected all my fabrics and cut 4” swatches of each. I wanted a good balance between calm and colourful. So the off-whites and beiges took up the most space allowing the main colours to stand out.
This took quite a bit of playing around with layout and I continuously pulled out certain patterns or colours that weren’t quite working.Tilly also kept deciding it was already her blanket and messed with the pattern multiple times. Maybe she just knew it wasn’t quite right yet.
Once determined, I began sewing all the squares together, adding pockets to semi random squares. Once finished, I stretched the quilt top with the wadding and backing fabric and quilted. I had wanted to hand quilt it because I had never tried before, but after my initial attempt I decided to take it to the machine (saving hand quilting for a smaller project). However, I did finish the binding by hand on the back and might have been the most proud of that nearly unnoticeable detail.
What I got out of this project:
With all good projects, there is something to have been gained from the process and this one affected me more than most. For one, it was one of the first projects that I was able to dive into after dealing with pretty intense morning sickness and some other messy life things. It gave me the excitement and motivation to make something for my baby and move past those nasty feelings.
It was also a peaceful, slow project that felt like a meditation. While working on it, I found myself able to process all these life changes and think about new ideas and themes that I am still playing with. I spent time thinking about what it means to try and create an object you hope becomes an heirloom while knowing that you can’t decide if it will or not. Nonetheless, I hold onto a hope that it gets used by all my eventual kids and passed down.
To sum up:
I knew that it’d be impossible to create these to be sold as it was so personal and a long long process, and that honestly felt like a bit of a relief. However, It was a project that reinvigorated my approach to creating the objects I make to sell. ( Valuing a slow process and spending more time and thought spent on design. Really investigating who it is for and why it is important to this person. Playing with various materials, colours, and textures that can be brought together to create something distinct.)
In the end, I came away with an object(s) that make me happy and excited for what is to come.