Toy Bag and Play Mat in One




Introduction: Toy Bag and Play Mat in One

About: Wife of one, mother of three & now a grandmother too! I enjoy making things and cooking edible things and eating them. aka on IRC as AstroMom

A simple but effective toy bag that opens out into a play mat.  A water resistant backing means that damp ground doesn't have to mean damp clothes and the drawstring makes picking up the toys easy when it is time to stop playing.

Step 1: What You Need

1 1/2 yards of 54" wide patterned fabric
1 1/2 yards of 54" water resistant fabric

[wider fabric is fine - the size of your playmat is limited by the smaller of your pieces of fabric]

16 eyelets (mine were 5mm [a smidgeon bigger than 3/16"] )
 5 yards of cord (must fit through your eyelets, my cord was 4mm)

tape measure
iron & ironing board
sewing machine
marking pen/pencil
eyelet setting tool, often included with the eyelets and hammer

Step 2: Cutting the Circles

Your playmat will be made from two pieces of fabric - a patterned piece and a plain water resistant piece, used as a lining.

My patterned fabric is lightweight curtain fabric and the water resistant lining is a coated nylon similar to that used for foldaway waterproof jackets.

The diameter of the patterned piece will need to be 5" larger than that of the lining, mine ended up at 54" & 49".

Cut each piece of fabric into a square and then fold into quarters.  Keeping the centre of the fabric as the pointy end fold in half two times more so that you have a long skinny triangle.  The centre of the fabric MUST be at the pointy end so that when you cut it you get a circle(ish) shape.

Place your tape measure so that the zero end is at the point and mark your radius as shown (radius = half of diameter, so my radii were 24.5" & 27").  Rotate your tape measure along the arc and make more marks as shown.  Then join your marks into a smooth curve and cut along the line through all the layers.   Depending on the thickness of your fabric you may need to cut the layers a few at a time.  In this case place a weight on your folded fabric to help keep it together, a can of soup is good for this.

Open out your fabric and hey presto! you have 2 circles, one about 5" bigger than the other (2.5" bigger all round)

Step 3: Hem the Edge

Working on the wrong (back) side of your patterned piece mark a line 1" in from the cut edge, all the way around your big circle.   Fold the raw edge in to meet this line and press with an iron set to the correct temperature for your fabric.  Ease in the surplus fabric as you go and mind you fingers with the iron - turn off your steam to avoid scalded fingertips.

Now stitch the fold down, about 1/4" in from the fold.

Now mark another line 4" in from your fold and again fold your fabric in to meet this, and again press, giving a 2" hem.  This time there will be more excess fabric to take care of, I pleated mine as I went around. 

Fold your whole circle into eighths and press the folds firmly.  Now unfold it all again.

Step 4: Insert the Lining

Lay your big hemmed circle right side down on the floor (or a bed, or wherever is big enough!) and insert your lining into it so the pressed hem folds over the whole edge of the lining.  Make sure that the "outside" surface of the lining is on top.  For my fabric the coated side was the underside against the patterned fabric.  If you use oilcloth, the coated (prettiest) side should be on top.

Pin the 2" hem down all the way around and stitch all the way around twice.  Your first line of stitching will be approximately on top of the stitching from step 3, your second will be about 1/4" to 1/2" in from the fold.  These two lines of stitching hold the lining in place.

Step 5: Eyelets

Using the pressed fold lines as a guide make 8 marks for eyelets, and then make another 8 marks evenly in between them, giving 16 in all.

Follow the instructions for your eyelet tool for making holes through all the layers at each marked point.  My set had a hole punch for this, to be used with a hammer.

Then set in the 16 eyelets following the instructions for fixing the eyelets either using a hammer or a setting tool.  I used dies A & 1 on my cropadile tool.

Step 6: Insert the Cord

Thread the cord though the eyelets.  My polyester cord frayed as I tried to thread it so I melted the working end with a flame to seal it.  If you are using cotton cord you may need to bind the end with tape to stop it fraying.

Ensure that the mat will lie flat BEFORE you cut the cord to length and make and extra few inches allowance for the knot.  Thread both ends of the cord through the spring toggle and then tie the knot.  Remember to heat seal the newly cut end if necessary.

Step 7: Play!

Simply spread the mat out to play on it - here it is complete with Lego.  When your child (or you) have finished playing simply draw up the cord, slide the spring toggle up to hold the bag shut, tuck the excess cord inside the bag and hang the whole caboodle on the back of the bedroom door.

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    13 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Yay! I had a set of the denim Lego bags growing up. And my Mom made a set for the Grandkids a few years back. I love the instructable and this is an easy project for anyone to make. (even if you can't sew)

    Her design is much more simplistic but it's the same premise:

    Large Canvas (any color)
    Fold edges in about 2 inches and sew
    Punch out 8 holes and add grommets
    Add string and tada Lego Bag.

    Here is some photos:

    We actually don't use them anymore because the amount of Legos we have exceed what the bag will hold.  So we use it as a play mat instead.  It folds up nicely and stores real easy in the Rubbermaid. 

    Great Work!!!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Having been a LEGO enthusiast as a child, I could really have done with one of these.  My only point of concern (as a practical sort of child) would have been the patterned fabric- very easy to lose those tiny pieces on a patterned surface, so perhaps a plain one for better visibility of "things with small parts" would be appropriate.  It probably all depends on the age and toy inclinations of the kids, though.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I chose this fabric - pirates and islands as a fantasy location to play lego on/with. It is a smooth woven fabric, so easy to sweep a hand over to find something. In reality the bricks and small parts are quite visible - the lighting on the day I took the photo complete with lego did not give much contrast.

    If you really need a plain surface, you can turn it over and have the pattern underneath and then outside when the strings are drawn up.  So plain or patterned are BOTH viable options.



    9 years ago on Introduction

    Hey I had the same idea a few years back when my sisters kids were toddlers. Nice instructable, ma'am!


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you. My boys are really a bit too old for a play mat, but not too old for Lego so they may use it. If not I shall give it to my impending grandchild.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you!

    My grandson arrived safely, if rather earlier than expected on 3rd August!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    My mom made one of these when I was a kid for our legos. It's awesome. I still have it! (I'm in my mid 30s now)


    9 years ago on Introduction

    . Great idea. I don't know enough about sewing to make an evaluation of the Ible, but it sure looks good. ;)