Because it was a true labor of love I didn't take pictures along every step of the way, I did however take a lot of pictures, and I think you'll be able to navigate you way through how I made it. I free handed all of my buildings, trees, and the layout of the whole thing.
The great thing about this project is that you can put whatever you want on yours, and tailor it to your child's interests. If I were making one for Ella (which I will in the future) I'd do more female centered places, like the nail salon, and a cupcake shop. But for the birthday boy I stuck to police station and grocery store. :)
The basic idea is that it is a car play mat. Just so you get a feel for how big it is it's about 2ft by 2ft, just small enough to fold up and stick inside the diaper bag for a easy all-in-one toy on the go. It is complete with roads, stop signs, yield signs, a pond, grocery store, car wash, gas station, park (with slide and swings), a car lot, trees, flowers, grass, sand, and a neighborhood of houses.
The front is cotton, while the buildings and such are made of felt, and the back is soft flannel. The finished project was edged in coordinating seam binding. Everything was sewing down to ensure that it stays nice and secure, and will help to keep it around and in good condition to play with for a very long time.
Here are some photos of the process:
All of the completed buildings above, no roads.
The neighborhood houses, and the beginnings of the park. The yellow piece is the slide, and two blue rectangles will be the swing set.
The pond. This is my FAVORITE part of the project, and the part that I feel really makes it uniquely my design. I made the pond a zippered pocket so that you can stash matchbox cars in there. Now you'll never be without a car, and you wont lose them when you're done playing. GENIUS!!! :)
This is a close up of the grocery store, mail box, stoplight, and the flags for the car lot.
Here is a view of the whole mat with the roads added. I used black felt for the roads, and hand embroidered the yellow dashed line. The white road markings are zigzag stitches done on my sewing machine. You can also see here that I used quilt batting (warm and natural I think?) in between the top and the back. You can also see here that the flannel I used on the back was a blue car print with various road signs.
A close up of the grocery store, pond, car lot, a neighborhood house, and the park. There is also a stop sign and a yield sign in there as well.
The neighborhood. Two houses and the park.
At the top of this photo you'll see the gas station (complete with a shoe lace as the gas hose), the police station, and the car wash. I used clear buttons as bubbles, and cut strips that move for the car wash scrubbers.
Silly me, I didn't take a picture of the complete finished project so you could see it backed and with the light blue binding. Oh, well, I think you get the feel.
Overall the project took me approx. 15-18 hours to complete. Yes, it was quite an investment of time for a 1st birthday present, but the quality is good and the birthday boy is sure to get years and years of enjoyment from it (I hope). I also hope that he keeps it as a keepsake. Handmade things like this always get me nostalgic.
I can't wait to start another one of these. Now that I have one under my belt I think the next few I do will be less trial and error, and less time consuming. Nevertheless, it was worth every hour I put into it. I'd love to make a few up to put in the shop, but I'm not sure that the time it takes would justify a reasonable price. What do you think? Maybe I'll put one up and see how it does? Oh, and if anyone has questions about the project or the process ask away! I'd be more than happy to answer them.