Every year, in the run up to Christmas, I get that same feeling that conflicts with the magic of the festive season…the dreaded expectation to buy buy buy!
Whilst we all know Christmas is more than the giving and receiving of gifts, it’s hard to avoid getting caught up in the flow of the consumerist mindset that is all around (as opposed to the much preferable ‘Love is All Around‘…notice here I went for The Troggs and not the Wet Wet Wet version even though we all know secretly that’s the version everyone prefers!).
Having said that, I do consider myself to be quite good at bracing myself against this; going for quality not quantity, often buying experiences – something that can be remembered not forgotten about or broken; but mostly (time permitting of course) I try to make a gift that is personable and unique. And perhaps a little part of me, egotistically, thinks I can make something nicer and more meaningful than what the mass markets can offer!
It was my friend’s little boy, Henry’s, birthday in December – what would a little boy of 2 year old like that would be a little different from the other toys he may get for his birthday and Christmas, that could help to inspire is imagination…and be a little less imposing that a neon piece of plastic that vomits beeps and flashing lights? Or, if he’s like my son, pretty much anything to do with cars will be a hit!
Digging through my piles of fabric, I had one (fairly decent size) piece of car-printed fabric so I decided to design a play/travel car activity mat to fit.
The design of the actual mat is quite simple so I made sure the appliqué decoration was detailed enough to make it interesting, and I added pockets for the little cars.
For the road I used grey felt, and a mixture of felt and fabric for the other landmarks – all sewn on using appliqué. The landmarks I wanted to make recognisable for a toddler so includes: a school, football pitch (also to add a bit of colour), a park and pond, playground, houses, and petrol station (complete with fuel pumps).
To add a personal touch I included some street signs associated with locations in Teesside where Henry lives.
To complete the mat, I hand sewed lines on the road.
The whole thing, complete with cars tucked into the pockets, can be folded up into a handy little pouch to transport around.
Handmade, personalised, unique, compact and minimalist, and pretty cute…I bet you can’t find anything like this in the shops!