Thursday, 19 April 2012

Playmat bag tutorial

Here is the promised tutorial.  Warning - it is long!  This is not a bag for a beginner either.  Having said all the negatives, I hope it will be one which you would like to use.  As ever, if you use it to make items to sell for profit, I would really appreciate it if you would consider making a donation to support the work of The Sure Foundation in feeding starving children in Kenya.

First, draw up your pattern.
Pattern for the main denim segments:
Draw a line 15" long.  Use your quilting ruler to draw a line 45 degrees to this line, and also 15" long.  Join the ends of these two lines up.  This is piece A.
Contrast strip:
Draw parallel lines 14" long and 2" wide.  This is piece B.
Top strip (the loops will be attached to this):
Draw two parallel lines 17" long and 3" apart.  This is piece C.
The rest of the pieces will be cut witha  rotary cutter and ruler.

Cut 8 each from denim of piece A and piece C.  (I found that the backs of jeans were best for piece A.  From one pair of large men's jeans I managed to cut four segments, but from most jeans I only managed two, one from each leg.  I put the rest aside for other projects.  Piece C I cut from the front legs.)
Cut 8 of piece B from your contrast fabric.  I "fussy cut" this, using a repeating longways pattern.
Also cut one long strip 2" wide from contrast for the loops, anotehr 2" wide for the binding and one long piece 6" wide for the handle.  Keep most of the fabric for the lining - you will need a large piece.  I waited to cut the strips until I had cut my lining piece, so that I could see what i had left.

Prepare your loops.  Press in half lengthwise, then open out.  Press the edges in to the middle.  Press in half again and sew a line of stitching a scant 1/4" from the edge.

Find the centre point of the long edges of the contrast strips, and the centre point of the short edges of your segment pieces. Matching these points, sew the contrast strips to the segments.

Fold your Piece C in half widthways and in half again.  Put a pin at the points 1/4 of the way in from each end.  Pin the loops in position here.

Stitch these pieces to the top edge of your wedge, backstitching over the loops to secure them.

Place your ruler in line with the long denim edge and use this to continue your diagonal all the way up through the two strips you have added.
Pin and stitch the segments together in  pairs and press.  Line up and "lock" the seams of your contrast pieces.

Pin each pair of segments to another pair and stitch them.  You will have two pieces with four segments in each.

Pin these two segments together and stitch.  Sew very carefully over the centre as this gets very bulky.

Use this piece as your pattern for your lining, cutting the lining about 1" larger all the way round.  Put the lining and main body wrong sides facing. Pin (use lots of pins!) and stitch them together.  I stitched "in the ditch" on all seams and 1/8" around the outside. If you use cotton fabric for both the outside and the lining you may wish to add wadding between your layers.  I decided I could do without the extra bulk!

Add your magnetic clasps to the lining.  Place them at opposite sides of the bag; I put mine centrally on opposite segments.

Now you have your two pieces securely attached, trim your lining to match your main body.  Bind the mat around the outside by placing the binding face down on the outer fabric and stitching all the way round, pivoting at each corner.  Then slipstitch the binding to the lining of your mat.

Make the handle by pressing your long 6" wide strip in half lengthwise.  Open, press the sides to the middle and then press in half again.  Sew 1/4 " in down each side of the strip.

Feed the strip through your loops.  Cut to the right length - you want your mat to lie flat, but you don't want any extra length in the handle.  Fold each end of the handle under about 1/2", one up and one down.  Place these ends together with the raw ends sandwiched in the middle.  Stitch securely - I did several seams round the outside and several X seams across the handle.

Your mat is ready to use.  I found it so helpful to have a space to place my not-yet-mobile babies - it was useful to have a "marked out" space.

 When it is time to leave, take your baby off the mat (!) and fasten the macnetic snap. Pull the handles tight through the loops:
  And you and your bag are ready to leave.  Don't forget the baby!
I did think that you could line this with a fleece fabric for a baby, or with a waterproof fabric for use as a changing mat - all the nappies etc would fit comfortably inside.  That may be a plan for another day, however!
Do let me know if you make one of these.

I am sharing this post at:
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Things I've done Thursday
Tutorial Tuesday
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Hookin' Up with HoH
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Clothes Upcycling Projects


  1. This is an AWESOME playmat bag!!! Great going lining up all of the triangle points!!! I find this so hard to do. The bag looks great and the possibilities are endless... Lego playmat, car track, animal farm... depending on what's carried in the bag and the fabric used. Easy to understand tutorial, as always!!!

  2. What a fabulous bag. I can't believe that you could make that - that is so impressive. THanks so much for sharing at our party this week.

  3. Pinned! LOL'd at the "take your baby off the mat" and "don't forget the baby" ... ROTFL!!

  4. What a lovely pattern, a great way to use those old jeans we've all got lying around, and a worthwhile cause too.

  5. Featured today :) Keep up the great work Caroline.

  6. Hi Caroline, I've featured your playmat bag today...