The Eternal Maker Crafts

Monday, 28 October 2013

Little House Playmat Sew Along - Week Four


wEEK 4 - CONSTRUCTION OF YOUR PLAYMAT

Welcome to week four of our little house playmat sew-along! This week we will be stitching together all the finished components, you’ve been working so hard on, to produce your house playmat.

The construction of the playmat is in itself simple but the need for accuracy is quite important. As is the need for quite a bit of patience – we don’t recommend doing these stages if you are in a rush!  You will be sewing through a lot of elements in one go and fitting a lot of components together at once, so please don’t become disheartened if the dreaded unpicker has to come out – we can assure you that we had to use ours on a couple of occasions! Remember to refer back to week one if you need clarification of the names of the different parts of the playmat.
Having said that, this should be a very satisfying week for you all – your playmat will finally look like a playmat!

So let’s begin.....
Firstly lay your central house panel sized piece of wadding onto your work surface, now lay the house panel, with it’s right side facing up, on top.  Lay the brick fabric back house panel on top of this, with the right sides of the two fabrics facing each other. In between this sandwich of fabric, you will insert your webbing pieces – this creates the hinges on the sides of the playmat. Cut 10 pieces of webbing, each 8cm long. Peel back the back house panel slightly so you can see what you are doing. Measuring down the side of the house and working from the top corner where the roof meets the straight edges, pin your webbing pieces evenly, five on each side. The main part of each of the webbing pieces needs to be laid on the house panel with one end flush to the edge of your house panel. Repeat this on the other side of your house panel. See photo 1 below.
photo 1
Fold the back house panel edges back over to completely enclose the webbing pieces. See Photo 2 below

photo 2
Now pin all the layers together, all the way around. Sew the layers together, working up one side of the house panel, up and down the sides of the roof and down the other side of the house panel – make sure you leave the bottom edge of sandwich open and free from stitching. 
Once stitched around the edges, clip any excess fabric away from the corners of your work being careful not cut through the stitching and then turn the house panel etc right side out as shown in photo 3 below.
All your webbing pieces should be secure – give them a tug to make sure (re-stitch if necessary) see photos 3 and 4 below for reference.
photo 3
photo 4
Now is the time to quilt any parts of the house panel you wish to. We firstly secure the layers together with safety pins (photos 5 and 6 below) – this stops the layers sliding around but you can also achieve this by tacking the layers together. You can use hand stitching or machine stitching and you can quilt as much or as little as you like. In the end we choose machine quilting and we followed the edges of the rooms for our quilt pattern.
photo 5
photo 6
So that’s the main part of your playmat finished for the time being - now you can start constructing your first door panel!

To begin with you are going to need to make some Velcro tabs that hold you playmat closed.
Cut three 10cm x 10cm squares of wadding from your scraps and then cut six square pieces of 10cm x 10cm from the scraps of your brick fabric. Then cut three 6cm lengths of Velcro (you need to use sew on Velcro – stick on will not be strong enough) and separate the hooked sides from the looped sides of the Velcro.
Take one of your fabric squares and sew one of the 6cm strips of the hooked side of the velcro approximately 2cm in from three of the edges. Repeat this three times over as shown on photo 7 below.
photo 7
Now take one of your wadding squares and lay it on your work surface, lay the brick fabric square with the velcro attached, on top of it, right side facing up. Then lay on top of this another brick fabric square, this time one without any Velcro attached, right side facing down, see Photo 8.
photo 8
Sew around three sides of this fabric sandwich, leaving the side furthest away from the Velcro open for turning. Again clip the excess fabric away from the corners and turn your tab right side out. Repeat these steps to make three complete Velcro tabs all with hooked Velcro attached. See photo 9 below - Save the other pieces of Velcro for later.
photo 9
Now take your right hand side outside door panel piece and lay this right side up on your work surface. Working up from the bottom of the longer edge of your front door panel, measure up approximately 10cm and place your first tab here. Space the following two tabs along the same edge with approximately 11-12cm between them each. Lay the tabs on so that half the tab is laying on the panel and half of the tab is over hanging the edge. The velcro end of the tab must be laying on top of the front door panel, see photo 10. 
photo 10
Once the tabs are pinned in place lay one of your inside front door panel pieces on top of the right hand side outside door panel, matching the edges and with right sides facing each other. Then lay a piece of wadding on top, again matching the edges of your panels. See photos 11 and 12 below.
photo 11
photo 12
Sew around the long edge of this fabric sandwich enclosing and securing the Velcro tabs, and then stitch along the roof edge. Leave the short edge and bottom edge of the sandwich unstitched and open. Clip any excess fabric from the corners of your work – minding that you don’t cut through any stitching. Turn the front door panel right side out to check your stitching and that the tabs are secure.  This will now be known as your right hand door panel sandwich.

Now repeat this process of sandwiching up your fabric for the other door panel. Take the left hand side outside door panel and lay it right side up on your work surface. Then lay your left hand side back door panel on top with the right sides facing. Then add another door panel sized piece of wadding on top. (You won’t need to add any tabs this time.)

Again pin and stitch this sandwich together only working along the shorter vertical edge and the roof’s sloping edge. This will now be known as your left hand door panel sandwich. Again clip any excess fabric from the corners of your work. Turn your left hand door sandwich so that it’s right side out – and check your stitching.

While both your door panel sandwiches are turned right sides out this is a good chance to check if your pieces are the correct size and will meet in the middle of your playmat – lay them on top of your prepared central house panel to check the doors butt up neatly against each other in the centre. You can shuffle them in a bit if necessary. See photo 13.
photo 13
Now we're going to attach the door panels to the main central panel, it is easier to do than it is to explain so bear with me and maybe read the instructions a couple of times all the way through before you start. Maybe have a practice of your construction where you just pin your elements together and then turn them right side out to check you are indeed on the right track.

Ok here goes.....
Take your right hand side door panel sandwich and turn it wrong side out again. Separate the layers so that what was the inside door panel  lays flat on the work surface and the outside door panel and wadding are lifted slightly up and away from it making a kind of pocket. See photo 14. Also lay your completed central house panel right side facing up, alongside it so that the two shorter edges match up. Again refer to Photo 14 below.
photo 14
Now comes the slightly tricky part. You are aiming to fit the central house panel inside the door panel sandwich. Firstly temporarily fold down the roof part of the central house panel. Now, importantly, from the right hand side of the door panel start rolling up your central door panel. Roll it like a swiss roll from right to left,  enclosing the folded down roof as you go. Roll it until just the webbing on the left hand side is poking out on an edge of your swiss roll. Now continuing  with the rolling motion -  the central house panel swiss roll, rolls over its webbing edge and into the 'pocket' you made in the last step. 
Your swiss roll has now been flipped over inside the door panel pocket so that the right side of the house panel is essentially facing the right side of the inside door panel.  And the right side of the back brick fabric panel is facing the right side of the front door panel. Have a look at Diagrams 1 to 4 below for guidance.
Please take care distinguishing the turquoise and aqua colours below as they look very similar - to confirm, the higher line in this colour is turquoise, and is the outside door panel, the lower line is aqua, and refers to the inside door panel. If you're confused by this please comment and we will help you decipher!
Diagram 1,2,3,and 4
You should now have something that looks like photo 15
photo 15
Tuck the swiss roll in so it that it’s edge is about 2cm further in than the raw edge of the inside door panel. See photo 16.
photo 16
Pin this in place, and now close the pocket around the swiss roll, matching all the short edges of the sandwich together so they all lay flush.  You will now have completely enclosed the swiss roll and all you will see is a little bit of the webbing ends poking out. See photo 17.
photo 17
You are aiming to make webbing hinges of about 15mm so pin and tack all these layers together and stitch through the sandwich layers only securing the webbing as you go. You do not want to sew through any part of the central house panel. And you do not want to sew along the bottom edge of your door panel pocket either at this stage. See diagram 5 below for a cross section reference of where you should be stitching.
diagram 5
Check you have caught in all the webbing and all your layers with your stitching and turn your work right side out through the hole still left in the bottom of the door panel sandwich pocket. You should now have webbing hinges between the central house panel and the right hand door panel that looks like photo 18 below.
photo 18
If anything has gone wrong at this stage don’t be afraid to get the unpicker out and have another go – or turn your work back inside itself to adjust your stitching. These stages do require a little bit of patience I’m afraid, but preparation of the layers is the key.
To attach the left hand side door panel, work in EXACTLY the same manner as before but work in the mirror image of what you did for the right hand door panel.

Once you've completed this, your house playmat should now be fully functioning – with hinged door panels on either side. These should fold closed to show the outside of the front door panels and open to show the inside of the front door panels and the central house panel.

Phew! All that remains to do now are two simple little jobs......
 Firstly, sew on, by hand, the velcro pieces you saved earlier. Position them on the front of the right hand side front door panel, matching them to the tabs on the left hand door panel, so the Velcro sticks together when the door panels close.

Secondly, stitch up all the bottom edges of your playmat. You can either over stitch with a machine or we found it easier to take our time and hand stitch the layers together with an over stitch or ladder stitch. You will need to do this in separate stages for each panel and enclose the raw edges as you go. I found it easier to fold my raw edges in and iron a crease in them before I started stitching (you may also need to clip away some bulk of the wadding to make this easier).  Once all the bottom edges are closed your house playmat is fully formed and ready for little hands and feet!

I hope you didn't find week 4 too confusing - if you have ANY questions (and I imagine you may have!) please please just ask away in the comments section and I will do my best to answer thoroughly for you! After all that hard work, next week we’ll have fun making the felt creatures to live and play in our house!

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