A few years ago I was given a sewing machine for Christmas by my lovely mother in law. By now I had expected to be making all my own clothes with a beautifully decorated home full of my handmade curtains, blinds and throw cushions.
Well it’s been three years and I did manage to make some curtains for our living room (which still need to be hemmed) and a few cushions to match, but the sewing machine has been looking a bit sad in the spare room collecting dust!
That was until recently when I brought it back to life for a labour of love.
I recognised a gap in the market for toys for the visually impaired when I was looking for a gift for Lennie, one of my gorgeous baby friends. So I took it upon myself to make my very own:
Baby Sensory Play Mat…
I started to make this a few months back, but you can imagine having a very inquisitive one year old, its taken some time. But yesterday I finally finished it and here is the result!
I started out by sketching a few ideas for noisy toys and came up with an animal themed play mat. Given my skills in computers, I drew this all up on CAD to give me a printable and scaleable image…
From my computer image I was able to print templates for all my animals and pieces.
The main body of the mat itself was made by sewing together two large panels of soft blue washable (always helpful with toddlers) fleece. Before sewing together I also machine sewed the grass fabric along the bottom of the panel that would be the front. I then machine sewed three sides of the fleece together leaving an opening at the bottom for the same size square of wadding. I then secured it all shut by folding in the ends and doing a double machine stitch along the bottom.
Most of the characters have a small Velcro baking so they can be removed and played with as individual toys.
The birds and squirrel were constructed by hand sewing together two identical cut pieces of fabric using the templates. Before sewing they were each stuffed with washable wadding and a toy squeaker. The detailing included some buttoned eyes, feathers and some furry pipe wired, all bought from a craft shop.
The caterpillar was made using two pairs of brightly coloured tights sewn around some bunched up wadding with crinkly plastic inside each ball (its been eating a lot of crunchy leaves), apart from the head which contained a rattle ball. Again this was given some matching button eyes.
The Sun is made by two pieces of yellow felt with a circular piece of wadding with ribbons attached, inside. On the outside I hand stitched some clear pvc to make it feel nice and shiny.
The rest of the pieces are not removable.
The flowers were made using the type of method found here. However the largest flower had a rattle in the centre instead of a button. I also suggested to my friend that she spray the flowers from time to time with her own perfume that the baby might recognise. I then stitched the bottom run of the flowers securely to the mat using my sewing machine, allowing most of the flower to be loose for rattling and pulling.
The clouds were the easiest part as these were made from car shining pads which I sewed directly by hand to the mat.
The tree was made by again hand stitching two pieces of fabric together with wadding inside. This time the front piece of fabric was smaller for a nice layering effect. The bark of the tree was made using a rolled up brown toweling fabric which at the ends I cut into branch shapes and hand sewed onto my green fabric. I then very securely sewed bells for apples onto the tree. Be very sure you make these extra secure as these are perfect size for a baby to choke on. I had my little girl road test it a few times to make sure!
To finish I made a small handle with a button close so that the mat was easily folded away and moved around where needed.
And there you have it. Ready to be played with!