Moira Neal combines sounds and surprises to make a quilt
the children will adore. Photography by Tony Neal.
- 2m of red fabric for apples and backing
- 40cm of dark green for grass
- 90cm of fabric for the sky
- Fat quarter of brown for the tree trunk
- 50cm of bright green fabric for the tree and leaves
- 40cm Navy fabric for binding
- 20 different pieces of fabric for the hidden treasures
- 105 x 145cm of wadding
- 25 x 51cm of Craft Vilene
- Florist’s cellophane (washed and dried)
- Fabric paint, sponge, silver gutta
- 10 round flat squeakers
- Temporary aerosol glue (505 or Spraymount)
- Spray starch
40 x 54ins (102 x 136cm)
With its rustling leaves and numbered squeaking apples
that each side hide a picture, this play mat’s a quilted activity centre. If you’re felling really
adventurous, you can add more doors and flaps to the tree trunk and flowers too.
Making the background
As you can assume that this mat will be washed a lot, check all the fabrics before
use for colourfastness and discard any that will leak colour
Using 1⁄4in seams throughout, make the
background as follows
- 14 x 35in from dark green
- 36 x 35in from sky blue
- Join the dark green and blue for sky press the seam open. Using the photo
as a guide cut out a template for the tree top and tree trunk.
- Use the spray starch to stiffen the green fabric for the tree top and then
cut it out. Do the same for the tree trunk.
- Apply spray glue to the back of each and position them both onto the
backing, allowing the green to overlap slightly. Position the trunk about 6in from
the bottom of the grass area. Place a few pins around the outlines for extra security.
Machine appliqué using blanket stitch and matching thread.
- Appliqué the rabbit and spiky grass in the same way. Use a fabric pen to
draw features on the rabbit. Press with a hot iron to set the colour following the
Make the apples
- Draw a 3in circle to make a template and use to draw 10 times onto the
red apple fabric.
- Lay in the following order, a piece of unmarked red fabric, craft Vilene,
10 squeakers, wadding and the marked red fabric. Move the squeakers about until
one is under each of the ten circles. Pin around the edge to prevent the squeakers
- Using a straight stitch and red thread, machine around each circle. Set the
machine to zig-zag, width one, length 1⁄4 and sew around each one on the stitched
line. Cut out very close to the stitching line.
- Reset the machine to zig-zag width three, length for satin stitch. Machine
around each apple once more. Sew in the threads rather than cut them off.
- The leaves are made in a similar way to the apples, drawing a large leaf
template. To make them crackly, replace the craft Vilene and squeakers with a
layer of florist’s cellophane. Add the leaf veining pattern by straight stitching up the
centre of each leaf using the stitching lines shown and a dark green thread.
Make 10 leaves.
- Select 20 interesting fabrics to use under the apples and leaves. Use a
variety of fabrics featuring animals, fruits, vehicles, etc. Swap with a fellow quilter
for a wider choice! Selection is made easier if you make a ‘window’ of paper
with the apple or leaf shape cut-out: as you move it over the fabric you will be
able to select the best position.
- Draw 10 2 1⁄2in circles onto the back of the Bondaweb. Leave a tiny gap
between each one and cut them out roughly. Iron a piece of Bondaweb onto
the back of each of ten of your chosen fabrics, positioning it centrally over the
motif. Cut out carefully on the line. Do not peel off the backing at this stage.
- Repeat with the leaf shapes ensuring each one 1⁄2in smaller than the top leaves.
- Place the leaf and apple shapes onto the tree-top and move them around
until you are satisfied. Peel the backings and iron in place. Using monofilament thread appliqué
each one in place using a close zig zag stitch.
- Pin the apples over the circular motifs and then machine stitch them about 1 1⁄2ins across the top. Repeat
with the leaves.
- Trim the top to make the edges square if required.
Border and Quilting
- Measure and cut 3ins strips of navy fabric for the border. Sew both sides
first, press towards the border and then repeat with the top and bottom. Press as before.
- Cut the backing fabric to 44 x 60in. Tape the fabric to the floor WS up
and then place the wadding on top. Smooth it out and tape it down too. Lay
the top fabric in place, smoothing it down and taping to hold it in place. Pin the quilt
at 4in intervals with quilter’s safety pins.
- Quilt the top using matching threads (red in the bobbin) and freemachine
quilting. Lower the feed dogs, and using the darning foot, make cloud shapes in the
sky, spiky shapes in the grass area, leafy shapes in the tree and knotted bark designs
on the trunk. Take care not to quilt over your peekaboo shapes.
- Sew all around the navy border 1⁄8in from the edge and then, leaving the backing fabric as it is
for the moment, cut the wadding only to leave 1⁄4in all around.
- Cut the backing to within 1in all the way around. Turn under 1⁄4in, fold it over to the front of the quilt
and then pin in place. Sew on the RS very close to the edge with red thread or slip-stitch in place.
- Number the apples 1-10, (you can draw the numbers on first using a blue, watererasable
felt pen) using the silver gutta. Practise using this first and have a piece of paper towel to hand to keep
the nozzle clean. Leave undisturbed to dry for 24 hours.
The play mat can be washed but it is a
good idea to fold it RS out and place it
in a large fabric bag to protect the apples
and leaves during washing. Wash
at 40°C, spin and then squeeze
water out of each squeaker
until the sound returns! Hang, or cool
tumble, to dry. Do not iron as this will
flatten the wadding.
If you are making this for a gift, make
sure you add a label with the washing
instructions and the advice that young
children should not be left unattended
while playing with the quilt.
To make it simpler if you are a beginner,
use a pre-printed panel in the centre and
add the peekaboo covers on top of shapes
or patterns already printed.
Round flat squeakers and silver gutta are available from
Fred Aldous. Tel 0161 236 2477
First published in Popular Patchwork Volume 11 Number 6 - July 2003