Saturday, May 17, 2014

The transforming box/play mat

For Sonia's fifth birthday present, I tried out an awesome pattern that I had won a while back through the Sew Like My Mom blog giveaway from Cozy Nest Design called the "Play and Store".  It's basically a box/tote that converts to a play mat when the corners are unzipped.  So nifty!  There's nothing I love more than a clever design, with bonus points if zippers are involved.  (I have never been particularly afraid of sewing with zippers -- a fear that I have heard expressed by some sewing bloggers and commenters -- probably because ignorance is bliss.  I probably have yet to encounter a horrific zipper experience that shakes me to my core and forever scars me.  It's probably coming at some point, though.)

Here is an overhead shot:

The lining fabric is interfaced with Pellon Craft Fuse, but there are also pieces of plastic mesh canvas in there to give the box its shape.  The pattern called for "Ultra Firm Plastic Canvas" and the mesh canvas was what the Jo-Ann's employee said was the closest thing she had.  The next closest crafty fabric store is probably Hobby Lobby, and it definitely is a haul to get there -- something not easy to do when you're trying to buy fabric in time to make it back for preschool pick-up.  The grid of the mesh is more apparent than I had hoped, but that's probably because I forgot to add interfacing to the outer fabric until after I had sewn on some zippers and was way past the point of no return.  Whoops.

Each side is different.  I know I was using a directional fabric for a project that really should have used a non-directional fabric, but the abstract faces on this print looked just as neat upside down or sideways as right side up.  I figured Sonia wouldn't mind.

Two of the side zippers are pink and two are black.  I did it to make the box a little funkier.  Well, actually, I did it because there weren't four 7-inch zippers in either color and I had to mix and match if I didn't want to haul my cookies all the way to the other side of creation to the other Jo-Ann's.  If I had remember to take some swatches of the fabric to the store then I would have chosen four different colors, but the pink was the only one I was confident would match based on my memory of the fabric.

Here is a view of it when you unzip the corners and open it up to be a play mat.  It's about 27 inches square when open.  You probably couldn't use the play mat on top of a wooden table because the zippers would scratch the heck out of it, but it would work great on carpet or an upholstered coffee table/footstool (or an old table you didn't care about, I suppose!).

You could also just flip the play mat over so that the zippers faced up (though it wouldn't be as convenient because you would have to empty the bin first).

Here is a close-up of one of the corners.  It takes a teeny bit of finesse to zip (it's a long story, but it's my fault, not the pattern's!), so Erin will probably need to help Sonia at first.  [Erin -- just pinch the zipper closed with one hand, and use the other hand to zip it up.]

I didn't follow the pattern for the handles because I had a chunk of black cotton webbing that I wanted to use.  I have nothing against the way the pattern recommended making them (by sewing them from fabric and adding a bit of ribbon for detail), but this saved a bit of time.

It was so much fun to use a large chunk of the kooky, modern lightweight home d├ęcor weight fabric given to me by Corey's Aunt Martha -- it's called "GULLVI" and is sold at Ikea.  I'm in love with the colors, and I hope Sonia will like the cartoony faces.  The print is on such a scale that this fabric wasn't always appropriate for the smaller projects I tend to do, so it was awesome that this play mat could feature it in its full, goofy glory.  (Now that I think about it, this fabric would be adorable as an apron.  Hmmm . . .)

Happy birthday, Sonia!!!


  1. Niki, I emailed you last week about your amazing job with this pattern! Love it!! I haven't heard back from you so I'm wondering if it's in your spam folder. I am hoping you might be interested in my next pattern. I will resend the email in case it is floating in cyberspace somewhere! Sarah (cozy nest design)