Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Kindergarten Dreamer: Make a Nap Mat

I told Joe that the only way I can handle transitions as my children grow is to craft my way through them! Making a nap mat to send with Mary Ashley to kindergarten was a useful project, and I relished the idea of tucking her in at nap time each day with a soft hug from Mommy.

The day before school started, Mary Ashley and I did some shopping for cozy sleepy-time fabrics.

I estimated that we would need 1/2 yard of fabric for the pillow, 1 yard for the blanket, and 1 1/2 yards for the mat. Mary Ashley loved the plush pink fabric we discovered at Hobby Lobby, and I thought it would work well for the pillow. I wanted to use fleece for the blanket, and Mary Ashley snuggled right up to the bolt when she found her perfect choice at Hancock Fabrics: pink with pastel butterflies. (I realized afterward that attaching a pre-made blanket would have been the quicker option.) A soft yellow flannel with pastel polka dots, also found and Hancock's, was a perfect coordinate for the other fabrics. A spool of pink grosgrain ribbon would tie everything together, and a crib-size package of batting and a square of 1" thick washable polyurethane foam would add softness without too much bulk.

I didn't have a pattern, but I could picture what I wanted: a narrow mat with attached blanket and pillow that could be rolled up and carried like a satchel. I started by spreading the flannel on the floor. Then I folded the batting into thirds lengthwise and placed it on top of flannel. I folded the flannel in half over the batting. With the batting tucked inside, I cut the flannel down, allowing for seam allowances for the top, bottom and right side of the mat.

Before stitching the mat together, though, I needed to attach the fleece blanket. Originally I had planned to attach the blanket to the bottom of the mat so she could pull it up over her, but Mary Ashley preferred the blanket attached to the side so she could pull it across her. So I cut the fleece down to suit the length of the mat and pinned it to one long side of the flannel. (I left the full width at this point, so I could adjust that dimension later.) I wanted the blanket to lay across the mat right-side-out, so I pinned the wrong side of the fleece to the right side of the flannel. Then I used a straight stitch to sew the fleece to the flannel.

Next, I rolled up the fleece so I would avoid catching it in the seams as I sewed the mat. I folded the flannel in half, right sides together, and pinned the bottom and right side. Then I sewed these two pinned sides of the mat, careful to stitch inside the seam securing the blanket to the mat. I turned the mat right side out and pressed it smooth. Then I tucked the batting inside. The project was starting to take shape!

It was time to make the pillow, so I cut a rectangle of foam and cut a strip of our fuzzy pink fabric to wrap around it. Then I folded this in half, right sides together, and sewed the two short sides together. I turned the resulting pillowcase right side out and slipped the foam inside.

To attach the pillow to the mat, I first folded the raw edges of the open edge of the mat to the inside. Then I slipped the open edge of the pillow into the mat opening and pinned it in place. A straight stitch across the top of the mat finished the mat and attached the pillow as well. The pillow could rest on the mat or be flipped up to give extra length.

To finish the fleece blanket, I spread it across the mat and had Mary Ashley lie down so I could estimate how much width I needed to leave. I then cut away excess fabric and finished the edges by cutting a fringe and tying the strips together.

With the mat itself completed, I folded the blanket to the inside and rolled up the mat. I then pinned ribbon to the outside of the mat to get the right length for handles. With this adjusted, I sewed the length of ribbon end to end to make a ring. Then I pinned the ring to the mat and sewed it into place, leaving the handles loose. Sewing the ribbon through both layers of flannel and the batting keeps the ribbon in place, but it also serves to keep the batting from shifting.

I finished this project so late the night before school started, I did not have time to add a monogram. But that would be cute to add as a finishing touch to the blanket or to the outside of the mat.

Mary Ashley was so pleased to awake to a new nap mat! Above, left, Mary Ashley shows how easy it is to carry. And above, right, from the side you can see how it folds open.

If you want to make a nap mat for a little dreamer in your life -- whether for school, daycare or a trip to Grandma's -- I will try to answer any questions about this project in the comments section.


Elise said...

Hi Melissa.

Adorable in every way and it looks so cosy. I agree, crafting your way through transitions makes change all that much easier.

Mary Ashley is sure to enjoy blissful nap times on her new mat that was so lovingly created by you.

Love Being a Nonny said...

I love this post and will save it until E.C. goes to kindergarten! Thanks!

Jennifer said...

What a wonderful idea! I am just learning to sew though I've always been 'crafty':) You are an inspiration! Your children will cherish these precious handmade items.

Jennifer said...

Wow...that's a very pretty napmat and looks very cozy. All my girls were allowed to take for naptime kindergarten was a TOWEL. I was so not happy about that. I did get it monogrammed and paid for the softest one I could find, but I still hated the idea of them laying on the floor with nothing but a towel (and no cover or pillow to boot)....

Rach said...

How cute! At nap time, I bet all the other kids were jealous!

Jan's Blog said...

You are amazing and this is absolutely darling. I can't wait to try this for my Darien. Thanks so much for sharing.

Anonymous said...

What a lucky little girl she is. She will be anxious to take her nap at school for sure.

I still wonder when you have time for all the things you do. I think my nickname for you will be "Wonder Woman". Your truly are amazing to me.

Can't wait to see what you have up your sleeve next. Debbi

Mrs. in NYC said...

Ok, I am not a child but would love to sign up right away to be one of yours!

I just hope the teacher will be able to wake your sweet daughter after nap time so cozy!

You are are truly an awesome mother and homemaker!

God Bless you and all of your family!

Becky said...

Way cute! What a neat idea...and the fact she got to pick the material makes it all the more fun! I like to craft my way through life changes too!

Robin Taylor Holley said...

Oh I love it!! MA is sooo cute! I am the same way about crafting for them when they are "gone"!! It consumes my mind...what can I make or what can I cook. They just have no idea how much we really love them...

Jennifer Driver said...

So cute Melissa! I couldn't really picture it when you told me about it. That is precious though!

Mary Beth said...

I have started back to school myself, but I will be asking questions this weekend when I can look at this a bit closer I'm sure. What a neat gift idea for the babysitter for the three children that she has during the day (including my own) for nap time.
These are precious photos of Mary Ashley. What a perfect daughter for a perfect mother! This is such a sweet project.

Personalized Sketches and Sentiments said...

What a wonderful and perfect mat to have in kindergarten!

Oh my! when I was little...nap time wasn't my favorite (too excited and antsy!) but with a nap mat like that-I wonder (like Mrs. in NYC) if waking up would be hard to do :o)

You are very creative! I love that your daughter was able to pick out the fabric. She looks so sweet and ready for school and nap time :o)

Workin' MAMA! said...

The simple technique makes me drool = knowing that I can totally do this for my son - with red/blue and white primary colors ---

thanks for sharing the simplicity of something that looks so 'department store' bought! LOL!


Barbarann said...

Will you be my mom?!?! LOVE all your ideas, celebrations, crafts and monograms!!!! Last year in Kdg, we started a tradition of a homemade "school bus cake" for the 1st day of school--then school bus cake and ice cream for dinner to celebrate the new school year!!! But I just LOVE this pencil idea--may order the custom pencils now and save this idea for the day of the 1st report card for 1st grade--BTW--there was a cute "pencil" snack made out of cheese sticks,in F*mily F*n Mag this month that would be adorable with this theme!!!
As always thanks for sharing!!!!

muebles en barcelona said...

I believe one and all must look at it.

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