Activity Quilt and Buildings for Kids

by Lisa Truesdell

I decided to design an activity quilt thatmy boyscan take out and use with their existing car sets, but be folded up and put away when they're done.

I'm a mama to three boys. Around here, we take playing cars seriously. We've accumulated what feels like a zillion vehicles, and lots of playsets to go with them. And while I've looked at a number of activity rugs, none of them have been a fit for our house. They're either too expensive, too cheap, or clash with our décor. I finally decided to design an activity quilt that they can take out and use with their existing car sets, but be folded up and put away when they're done.

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The construction of this quilt is really simple, but it is a bit time consuming due to the size. When I was planning it I opted to make it do double duty - one side is our 'city' complete with little plots of land surrounded by roads, and the opposite is the 'country' side with wide open grass and a little stream on one end.

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I started the quilt by piecing together the 'city' side. I cut six panels of natural canvas using my Comfort Grip Rotary trimmer and my cutting mat to 13 inches x 13 inches and pieced them into two rows of three divided by two panels of 5 inch x 13 inch gray fabric. Once I'd pieced together both rows, I joined them using a strip of 5 inch x 45.5 inch gray fabric. I then bordered the rows with 5 inch x 45.5 inch gray strips at the top and bottom, and 5 inch x 38 inch strips of fabric along either side. Sew all of your seams with a .25 inch allowance.

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When you're finished, you'll have a grid of streets perfect for driving cars. This design is simple and easy to piece together - if you have an older child who's interested in sewing, this would be a good project to let them help with!

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Our 'country' side is even simpler - it's just three strips of fabric joined together. Our blue 'stream' is made with a 7.5 inch x 38 inch strip, our 'sand' is 2.5 inches x 38 inches, and the 'grass' is 45.5 inches x 38 inches. Sew all three strips together to complete your quilt back. This side of the quilt is perfect for spreading out train tracks or a farm set.

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Now that you've pieced both the top and bottom of your quilt, you'll need to quilt it together. I used flannel instead of batting, since I figured the quilt would get a fair amount of abuse! Pin or baste your layers together, and then stitch around each of your canvas squares, using a walking foot. Once I was finished with the quilting, I squared off my layers and cut 5 strips of brown fabric 2.75 inches x 44 inches for my binding. I always peek at this article by Susan Weinroth when it comes time to bind a quilt - she does a wonderful job explaining the process! I struggle with the corners on a binding, but I think I finally got it right this time, thanks to Susan's great tips!

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Once the quilt was finished, we collected some cars and buildings and got to work playing! My youngest loved driving his cars from place to place, but I decided to supplement our buildings with a little help from my older boys. We created two buildings using boxes that were bound for the recycling bin - a pizza shop and a school.

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Our first step was to cover the boxes with butcher paper - you could also use grocery bags, or any other plain paper that you have on hand. We used squeeze punches and Ultra ShapeXpress™ templates to create doors and windows, and even made a sign for the pizza shop using our Ultra ShapeXpress Bracket and Journal template. We decorated the sign with a mini pizza made from two circles punched with Round N Round Squeeze punches and covered with 1/8in circle punched pepperoni. We used our MicroTip scissors to cut out a slice and then attached it with foam adhesive for extra dimension. We finished our pizza shop by planting some flowers out front courtesy of our small Flower Lever punch.

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Our school has a bit of a simpler design - rows of windows punched using our Large Block Party punch and two doors made using a Ultra ShapeXpress rectangle template. We finished the school by topping it with a flag - we used an XL Tag You're It punch and punched out two tags, then attached them together with the toothpick in the middle. We then cut a 'v' out of the back using our MicroTip Scissors.

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My kids really got into making these buildings - and you could make so many more! You could add houses, a high rise office building - or maybe even a strip mall made up of different boxes in a row. Ask your kids for ideas, I know mine were a great help in designing these two buildings.

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They have also loved seeing their little brother get so much enjoyment out of something that they made. I can already tell that this activity mat and buildings are going to get a lot of use - I'm so glad that we took the time to make them.

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