A cute activity mat with a hidden agenda.

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.

Car activity mat

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).

Car activity mat

Car activity mat

To add a personal touch I included some street signs associated with locations in Teesside where Henry lives.

Car activity mat

To complete the mat, I hand sewed lines on the road.

Car activity mat

The whole thing, complete with cars tucked into the pockets, can be folded up into a handy little pouch to transport around.

Car activity mat

Car activity mat

Handmade, personalised, unique, compact and minimalist, and pretty cute…I bet you can’t find anything like this in the shops!

Patchwork Memory Quilt

You may have seen the memory quilt a did last year for my friend who asked me to make a quilt out of her late father’s shirts, swim shorts and ties…

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Not only did I think this was such a lovely way to hold on to a little piece of someone you love, I received such positive comments about the quilt and, most importantly, my friend who I made it for was overwhelmed with bittersweet feelings.

I have since been asked to make another memory quilt – no less lovely but with less sorrow associated with it. I made this quilt for a little girl, Alice, from all her baby clothes – such a great way of up-cycling old baby clothes (and saving space in your attic!) without the wrench of actually having to get rid of them, and the memories!

Patchwork memory quilt

Whilst it is a simple square patchwork pattern, it was quite a lengthy project. A lot of my time was spent ironing the teeny tiny dresses, romper suits, skirts to determine which pieces of clothes were large enough to get even once patch. I made an effort to cut out patches of the fabric that featured an interesting element of the item i.e. a pocket, embroidery etc.

After calculating the size of blanket and cutting the number of patches to fit the right amount of rows and columns etc, I laid it all out to establish a nice patchwork pattern – mixing denim and pastels for contrast, and set to work with the sewing machine.

I used a really pretty print fabricfabric for the back that coordinated well with the colours on the front.

It’s difficult to imagine how these are quilts are going to turn out, especially as I have no control over the patterns or colours of the fabrics. However, as I laid it out on my son’s bed to photograph it, I think it’s fair to say it looked so good, I could have kept it (and that’s even without the sentimental value to me!). I hope Alice loves it even more!

Felt Finger Puppets

Whilst I have been getting a subscription to three magazines for the past couple of years now (two of these being craft magazines), I very rarely come across any of the projects inside that I really want to make…and then two come along at once (the first from Mollie Makes as shown in my previous ‘Little Lavender Bag’ post)!

I saw these little cuties in the additional magazine supplement that came with Making Magazine, which happened to be all about children’s toys; perfect timing as I was racking my brains for Christmas pressy ideas for my friend Sarah’s little lady, Isla.

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I made a couple of changes such as making a blue squirrel as opposed to a grey squirrel (why go with the norm eh when you can have a very rare blue squirrel!)

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Cute and something a little different.