Like pretty much every other crafty mom on Pinterest (like one in every three people in the world), I have seen and fallen in love with this nap mat for sale (for the equivalent of $148!) on a British website and thought, "I could make that!" I have seen a bunch of different takes on it on Pinterest, but none of them had both of the qualities I was looking for: really cheap and really easy (in addition to being cute, of course!)
So I started noodling on it and came up with the following take, which cost me just about exactly $20 and an hour and twenty minutes of my time. (The cost is FIVE DOLLARS if you already have a queen sheet you're willing to part with.)
Here's how I did it.
I started with the pillows. Since this uses five standard bed pillows, you could easily spend a ton of money here. I went to Ikea and picked up five "Gosa Slan" pillows for $0.99 each. Yeah, I wouldn't want to sleep on them every night, but they're more than adequate for this project, and they're washable as well.
|99-cent pillow, all rolled up.|
I probably could have gone even cheaper with the sheet purchase if I wanted to (Ikea again maybe -- didn't even think of that, actually) but I wanted to get one that was pretty and 100% cotton. I found just what I was looking for at a great price by buying a clearance sheet from The Company Store. $14.99 for a queen. And I found a coupon code for free shipping -- score!
First I laid out my sheet and pillows, and fold it over so that it overlaps, envelope style, quite a bit (say, 2/3 the width of the pillow in each direction). I hope that makes sense. Then cut off the excess. I found it REALLY helpful to have the polka-dot pattern to work with (stripes or plaid would also be great), because you're working with such a large piece of continuous material that the challenge lies in keeping it lined up fairly straight.
Next I pressed and sewed a normal, folded-over-twice hem down the side. Because of the length, I found it easier to do this in three shorter segments instead of all at once. It is also necessary to pin so you don't lose your crease before you can stitch it down.
Then I laid the sheet back out on the floor and folded it back to the correct width. I got my husband to help me with the pinning, and if you have an extra set of hands around, I'd really recommend roping in some help.
(This is the point where we put the kiddo in front of Sesame Street because we were afraid she'd step on a pin. I was completely done by the end of Elmo's World. Seriously, this is a fast project! Even without help, I'm sure it wouldn't take more than two hours. Yippee!)
|We quickly pinned things in place, especially where there were three layers.|
|Straightened it up all the way down.|
I (we) folded the edges to the inside about 1/2 inch and pinned down. I was much less precise than I would be for a garment or something (no pressing). It just doesn't need to be that perfect.
From the ends, we made a row of pins every 20 inches. The sheet is 100 inches long, so there were a total of six lines of pins/eventual stitches -- two at the ends and four in the middle at 20-inch intervals.
Because you're working with so much fabric, you can't follow your handy stitching guidelines on your sewing machine, so you will need to stitch following your pins. So pin as if the point of your pin will be pointing at your machine's needle, and make them pretty close together so you have a nice line to follow. This will make it easy to stitch following your pins and pull them out as you go.
Roll up your fabric so it fits under the arm of your sewing machine and stitch your six lines of stitching. Make sure you get all those pins out.
Stuff your pillows in. Honestly, this may have been the hardest part, given how much overlap I put in. If I were doing this again, I would probably overlap the back flaps less.
|with one pillow folded under|
|Fold one or two of the pillows under to make a headrest, ad let your kiddo relax |
and finish up that episode of Sesame Street!
I still have the long strip of fabric from the side, and I might eventually make some kind of tie or loop so the mat can be rolled tightly and secured for travel or storage. You could, of course, add ties to the ends before you seam the ends, but I decided not to do this so I didn't have to worry about the strangulation hazard. My little one is only 1, and I have caught her trying to wrap long, skinny things around her neck before. Scary!