Not long after we moved to WA, a sweet friend from TX told me she was getting rid of her boy's Schliech animal collection. They had accumulated them over birthdays and holidays when the boys were younger, but they no longer played with them and she needed the extra room for other toy storage. She was purging some of their toys (and trying to make a little cash for storage containers) so she was selling 20+ animals for $10! Anyone who has bought them for their kids knows that many of the animals are more than $10 a piece so I knew that was a steal! I told her I would be happy to take them off her hands, as long as she let me pay her $20 instead. We only had about 5 animals at that time, and they were my boys FAVORITE toys. It was like Christmas morning when we received them and unpacked each cherished one! I don't know about you, but my 3 little boys are obsessed with animals and dinosaurs. Each day brings a new treasured tag-along from our animal drawer. Well, when I called my mom to let the boys share their excitemt about our new animals with their Gigee, she informed me that she was ready to get rid of her big collection of Schleich animals as well because the other older cousins had outgrown them and she too wanted to gain back some storage space at her house. And of course she wouldn't let me pay her (she is awesome and stubborn like that), so in the span of a month we went from 5 animals to around 100 for only $20! We had so much fun separating them by groups and using fabrics and blocks to create worlds for our animals and dinosaurs to play in!
But after a few months of dragging fabrics out and putting them away, I got the idea to buy a play mat for the boys to play with their animals on. But when looking online, I was really disappointed in what online shopping had to offer. There were beautiful felt mats, but I knew my ruff-and-tumble boys would tear those expensive felt art play mats to shreds in 5 seconds and there was no way they'd last. And the carpet play mats were big and bulky and ugly and didn't meet my easy-to-stowaway criteria. Even the fabric play mats fell short because all them were a contradiction of 2D/3D/skewed perspective that made my inner perfectionist twitch. So when my mom came for her visit in the Spring, we set to work creating our very own quilted play mat for my boys. I drew up the design, we went shopping at my local fabric store, and over the next few days we cut and shaped the fabrics into an aerial view wonderland for our toys.
My mom did all the sewing on this one (since I was still scared of my fancy shmancy new Pfaff my awesome husband bought me at the time), and I cannot praise her flawless stitching enough. This quilt is gorgeous!
Because we live in the Puget Sound area, we of course have a collection of tiny driftwood pieces and beach rocks that make such great additions to our play and add a whole new tactile/sensory level that contrasts the softness of the quilt and makes our pretend play feel even more real.
Shown below are some inexpensive aquarium plants I bought at the pet store to use in our play as well and the boys LOVE them. Most of them were $1 or $2 a piece, and they have held up well. (I wouldn't recommend them for kids under 3 or children who still mouth toys, because some plant parts can detach and possibly present a choking hazard.)
I'm so extremely happy with how the quilted play mat came out, and I am very grateful to my mother for helping make my idea a reality. And now that I'm starting to make quilted play mats on my own for friends and family (and in the process conquering my fear of overly-complicated sewing machines), I truly appreciate all the love she poured into every stitch. And even though I'd always rather have my mom by my side while I'm sewing instead of a million miles away back in TX, I am so very grateful for these quilted treasures that remind of us her every time we play. Love you Mommy!
Thanks for stopping by! If you get inspired to make your own quilted play mat, I'd love to see! Happy crafting!