DIY Baby Play Mat Sewing Tutorial

Hey friends! Hope you all had a great weekend. I won't bore you with all of the details, but we had quite the interesting weekend with another trip to the hospital with false labor. Who would have thunk that intense contractions five minutes apart or less at 39 weeks did not indicate labor?! Oy! Needless to say, little miss is still happily residing in my belly. But, thankfully, doctors are saying that she is incredibly healthy which is all we can really ask for!

Today I'm excited to share a little sewing project I created for Little Lady June. I'm not sure I have broken out the sewing machine since I finished up HDawg's DIY black out curtains! Which was, like, two years ago. Crazy. So it was kind of refreshing to pull out the ol' sewing machine.

There's a little back story behind this project. We had this Fisher-Price play mat for HDawg when he was an infant and absolutely loved it. Unfortunately, the play mat didn't make it through our two moves last year and was completely ruined. Luckily, the arms and electronic parts of the play gym still worked great. So, of course, instead of purchasing a new mat for LLJ, I decided to make her a new one!

I went back and forth as to what shape to make the mat. The original mat was a circle with loops around the circular edge to capture each "arm" of the gym. I could have created another circle mat, but was a little apprehensive about sewing a circle since this was my first project back at the sewing machine in a long time. Momma needs straight lines, people. So, I decided to go with a square and figure out a way to capture the gym arms another way!

Step one. Cut your fabric.

I purchased 1.5 yards of two different kinds of fabric and cut each into a square. I bought a heavy weight cotton/polyester blend red fabric for the bottom of the mat and a soft turquoise blue "minky" fabric for the top of the mat. After posting a photo on Instagram, I learned from many of you that minky fabric is notoriously difficult to work with. Oops! Didn't know that from the beginning, although I quickly found that to be the case.

I cut the minky fabric about one inch less on every side than the red fabric so that it would create a border of red around the mat once I sewed it together. Unfortunately, this didn't end up working as I describe below, but that was the game plan.

Step two. Pin your fabrics together.

I pinned the two fabrics together inside out, with the front faces of the fabric facing inward towards each other. The reasoning behind this approach is to sew the edges together, with the exception of about six inches on one side, inside out and then turn the piece inside out again... or right side up.

Step three. Sew the two pieces together.

I decided to use a hot pink contrast stitch and simply sewed a straight stitch down the edge of the two inside out pieces. The crazy minky fabric decided to sort of stretch itself out as I ran it through my machine, effectively closing the gap with the border I had created by cutting the blue fabric one inch shorter than the red. Basically, the two pieces ended up being sewed directly on top of each other if that makes sense. I probably should have basted the blue fabric on the red before I sewed it or at least had the knowledge that the fabric would stretch so bad so that I had a game plan to avoid the stretching. Oh well, you live and you learn!

Step four. Add batting.

Once I finished sewing the two pieces together inside out, I cut a piece of square cotton batting to match the fabric sizes. I loosely (like, only a few pins!) pinned the cotton batting onto the fabric and then turned the entire thing right side up. I then sewed around the edge of the entire piece, attaching both pieces of fabric and the batting together. I simply reached in the six inch gap I left to pull out the few batting pins as I sewed down the line. 

Once you stitch around the entire edge and close up the six inch gap, your basic play mat is complete!

Step five. Add the loops.

Now that the actual mat is finished, it's time to add the loops that will hold the play gym arms safely over your baby. My first thought was to create some sort of button-hole type fixture within the play mat to hold the feet, but then I decided that I'd like to be able to use this mat without the play gym. So instead of cutting through the fabric, I simply hand-stitched ribbon onto the mat to hold the legs. That way I can pull out the ribbons once we're done with the gym as LLJ grows.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the project. You can see that the sides of the blanket sort of pucker up where the stretched out minky fabric pulls on the red cotton fabric, but I think that will work itself out with use.

I'm a big creep and wanted a model for my new play mat so instead of attempting to capture a rambunctious HDawg lying still under the mat, I used his baby doll. I'm weird, I know.

B-T-dubs, the majority of the photos I took looked like this. Hello, belly.

I'm pretty happy with the project! I spent about $20 on the fabric and batting, which is a lot better than the $60 to buy a new play gym. Plus, I've got a universal play mat that we can use with or without the gym for Little Lady June. I like it!

Leave me a comment if you have any questions about the process or sewing tutorial!

Check out more of sewing projects and info about what kind of sewing machine I use right here!


  1. You are way more crafty than I am so I would not even attempt this one, but it's super cute. I just wanted to say I hope the little lady decides to come for real soon! I can only imagine the frustration of TWO visits to the hospital with false labor. Ugh.

  2. I love that minky fabric! It's my go-to fabric when I make quilts for baby showers :)

  3. Love it! Such a cute idea and way less crazy colors as the original I'm sure. You could always leave the ribbon tabs and hang some toys from them... and babies love tags anyway!

  4. That's awesome! I love how you were able to make another mat to go with the working parts. :)

  5. Very cute, and smart to re-create the playmate instead of buying a whole new one. I'm sure you will get a lot of use out of it with or without the topper!

  6. Looks great MIchelle! Always good to repurpose.

  7. That is such a clever idea to make a new mat! It looks great! That blue fabric is so fun!

  8. it looks great!!!!!


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