Back to School ~ Sweet Dreams Nap Mat

on July 31 | in Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 63 Comments

Maybe you cringe when you see new school supplies filling up the aisles. (Summer can’t be over!) Maybe you can’t wait for the school year to begin. (Yippee for new beginnings!) Either way we hope you enjoy the great line up of projects we have for you in the weeks ahead. We think our Back to School fun will help you greet the new year in style; we hope it gives you a little head start to make sure the students in your life make the school year transition with handmade love in the mix! Check out our weekly giveaways below, and keep a look out for more surprises in the days ahead…

Today we’re starting with the younger set, with a Sweet Dreams Nap Mat tutorial from Maddie at Domestic Anarchy. Learn more about Maddie in her introduction, and check out everything Maddie’s up to at Domestic Anarchy!

To sleep, per-chance to dream.

While my kids are way past their nap mat days my larger life is full of little people who could use a soft and cozy place to settle down for a rest, whether it’s at preschool or on a nap time visit to grandma’s house. This project uses a typical padded vinyl nap mat as its base, since it is water proof and easy to clean. A cozy quilted cover gives it style and substance enough to make any little person feel your love. I have chosen to make the pictured version from vintage sheets but any quilting cotton or light weight cotton duck fabric would be perfect for this mat cover.

You will need:

  • 19×45 inch vinyl nap mat
  • Fabric of choice-– if using yard goods you will need 4 yards of fabric-– pre wash your fabric!
  • Fusi-Boo (fusible quilt batting)– small pack 60×60 is more than enough
  • 1 package bias trim to go with fabric of choice
  • ΒΌ yard of 2 inch thick Nu-Foam if making optional pillow*
  • 1 package 1.5 inch thick elastic to make optional security band*
  • Walking foot for your machine if you have it

To begin you will cut two pieces of fabric 21×56 and one piece of Fusi-boo 21×56. Layer these together, with the fabrics right side out and the batting on the inside, and fuse together using the instructions on the batting package.

After fusing take the fabric-batting-fabric sandwich to your sewing machine and quilt the surface in any style you wish. I have used an allover meandering pattern but feel free to channel quilt it or do a large cross hatch. Here are some quilting resources.

After quilting, square up the entire piece to 20×55; quilting will often distort the fabric and this step gets you back on track.

On one short end of your now quilted panel you will want to finish it with bias tape. You can use commercial tape or feel free to make your own.

Cut another piece of fabric, 20 x 46 (this will be for the back of the mat). Lay the right side of this piece of fabric against the right side of the quilted fabric matching them up at the BOTTOM. The quilted fabric will be longer and will be the end with the bias finish. Pin the layers together working your way up about Β½ way and then…

Ready for the tricky bit? Pull the single layer of fabric back for the moment and then fold the quilted piece over on itself so that it now can rest under the single layer of fabric that you have face down. Pull the single layer of fabric back up and pin up the rest of the sides.

Now it is time to sew up the sides of the mat. This is also a great time to use a walking foot if you have it or to serge the sides for a very tidy finish. Sew down one side, across the bottom and then up the other side. DO NOT sew across the top. If you have ever made an envelope-backed pillow cover you get what we have done. By sewing the quilted flap in the mat it will flip over and encase the mat when we turn everything right side out!

After sewing, turn the mat cover right-side out but leave the flap as it is. Slide the mat inside the cover and NOW flip the quilted panel to the back of the mat thereby encasing the mat in its new cover!

*Please note that the rest of the project is optional and you might want to check with your daycare or preschool before taking the time to do the rest; I have been told that pillows are not allowed in most preschool nap rooms and that the ruffled band might be considered a hazard as well. But if you are making this so your little person can take it to the park or over to grandma’s house, have at and gussy your nap mat up all you want!

To make an elastic ruffle, hold your mat together and measure around the mat. Cut your elastic that measurement minus 4 inches. Cut a fabric strip 4 inches wide and two times (2x) as long as the measurement around your nap mat. Create a tube by sewing up the strip of fabric and then turn in right side out and thread the elastic through it. Sew the ends together making sure to firmly catch the elastic in the stitching. Distribute the ruffles around the elastic and hand tack in place if desired.

So how about making a little pillow? By using Nu-Foam as the pillow stuffing it will be easy to wash and quick to dry as opposed to using pillow stuffing.

To make the pillow cut your piece of Nu-Foam to 9 x11 and two panels of fabric 11×13. If you want to add a ruffle cut a strip of fabric 3 inches wide by about 60 inches long.

Take the ruffle strip, fold it in half and iron flat. Then hand pleat it around three sides on the RIGHT side of the pillow panel, holding each pleat in place with a pin. Cover with second panel and then sew together on the three ruffled sides. Insert the Nu-Foam and slip stitch shut the bottom seam.

To hold the pillow in place use small snaps hand sewn to the pillow and to the mat. Make sure that the male-end of the snap is on the pillow and the female end in on the mat so if the mat is used without the pillow it will still be comfortable.

This tutorial is for the exclusive use of Sew,Mama,Sew! with rights granted by Maddie Kertay and the Domestic Anarchy studio and blog.

Comment on any post this week to win a $25 Gift Certificate to Sew,Mama,Sew! or an iPad Folding Case from Sew Spoiled!

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63 Responses to Back to School ~ Sweet Dreams Nap Mat

  1. Maddie says:

    Ladies… thank you so very much I am just thrilled that you like my little project… it is one of my favorites!

    I have some of the sheet left and will be featuring another project with it soon… I am sad to use it all up but love getting to work with it!


  2. Very thankful am I because I’ve found this useful content. I’ll check this out and see if it will work on my blog too.

  3. Sandryte says:

    Very nice fabric and idea, thanks so much!

  4. Henria O. says:

    Really love the fabric choice for this!

  5. Heidi Anderson says:

    Love this pattern! It will be a great project with many uses! My daughter loves to curl up outside in the sunshine with her animal friends, now maybe I can manage a nap out there too!

  6. Rebecca says:

    Love that you made it with a vintage sheet!

  7. Marcia W. says:

    So cute for nap time – maybe make it larger for me???

  8. Melissa says:

    This is a great idea. My kids are too old for nap time at school, but this would be fabulous for sleepovers.

  9. Charissa says:

    What a cute project!

  10. Beth T says:

    I really like this because it starts with the available mat and then makes it personal and cozy. It’s nice when we can get a jump start (buying the mat) on a project that will be a big hit. Yay, Maddie!

  11. Angela says:

    Oh how great these would have been when my lil monsters were in K!! Much better than those plastic things I bought them >.> lol

  12. Helena says:

    What a wonderful idea, I love anything that repurposes! Perfect for nap time!

  13. amorette says:

    what a genius project- this is much better than a yucky sticky vinyl nap mat.

  14. Steph says:

    This is so stinkin cute!!!

  15. Sivje says:

    Oh how darling. Nice tute. My little one would love this!

  16. Jacque says:

    Sew sweet in the vintage sheets! Love this project!

  17. Yvonne says:

    What a great idea. I love the ruffle on the front.

  18. This mat is so cute! And the fabric is beautiful. Wish I’d seen this tutorial when my little ones were still in the napping phase. πŸ™‚

  19. Crunchy Con Mommy says:

    What a cute idea! I always hated how cold and plasticky those things felt as a kid!

  20. Hilary says:

    i’ll have to bookmark this for preschool down the line.

  21. GloriaW says:

    Great tutorial and cool idea..

  22. Lizzie says:

    I think I might make this in adult-size! I’m in my first trimester, so naps are my new best friend. I’ll be bookmarking this for my future kiddos!

  23. Mama Lusco says:

    Perfect for preschool! Thank you.

  24. Lorri says:

    This is very sweet! Maybe a special nap mat would help my little one nap! πŸ™‚

  25. Ginger says:

    What a great idea!

  26. Denise says:

    So cute. I wish I had one when my last child needed to bring a nap rug to school. Now I will make one for a grandbaby! Thanks for the idea!!!!

  27. Joanne says:

    My niece is going to love taking this to daycare.

  28. Rachel L says:

    I think that is such a great idea (love the fabric too), and the ruffle makes it look so pretty.

  29. Beth says:

    Ever it’s time to learn, very adorable!

  30. Aileen says:

    What a great tutorial! I really appreciate the detailed instructions. I might make a yoga mat cover. No little ones to make this for.

  31. Kristy says:


  32. Misha says:

    I love this! My daughter would love something special like this for preschool.

  33. kathyh says:

    The ruffled elastic is a cute detail.

  34. Stacy says:

    So sweet πŸ™‚ I’ll have to keep this in mind, it’s a great gift idea.

  35. Jess says:

    Ooh, super cute!! I might have to make one of these without the ruffle for my son!!

  36. Lorena says:

    This is perfect timing! Thanks so much. I was just thinking I needed to figure out a way to do something similar πŸ™‚

  37. Kristin H says:

    So cute! I’m going to have to bookmark this tutorial for when I need a quick present for my friends with kids.

  38. Kimberly L. says:

    This nap mat is adorable. I love the ruffle on the pillow and the repurposed fabric. Very fun!

  39. Liz says:

    I don’t have a reason to make this nap pad, but I love it. Plus, you used my all time favorite vintage sheet pattern!

  40. Nicole says:

    What a sweet idea! I will have to whip a boy version up for my son…maybe from some Cars fabric πŸ™‚

  41. Alethea says:

    That is so cute! I really need to start hitting some thrift stores or something and picking up vintage sheets to work with!

  42. Jennifer says:

    cute! I like the vintage feel of this fabric.

  43. Jennyroo says:

    Perfect for the little napper in my life!

  44. This is very interesting. *furrowed brow*

  45. Amy G. says:

    This is a great project, thanks for sharing!

  46. Cassie G says:

    What a very charming nap mat! So sweet!
    I am looking forward to the new beginnings of back to school time, and I cannot wait to see the projects in store!

  47. Michelle says:

    I liked this project so much I’m now following her blog.

  48. Jan says:

    What a great project! I love the vintage print sheet.

  49. Nina says:

    Such a great idea, my little ones have been wanting sleeping bags at grandparents house, but this is so cute, may have to do it instead!

  50. Heidi says:

    Just what I was looking for! This will be my next project….right after I finish the summer pillowcase nightgown!

  51. jen says:

    I love that fabric and that you put a ruffle on a nap mat! so much more fun than the plain ones.

  52. Christina G. says:

    Love this. Got a kiddo starting kindergarten in a couple of weeks, this will be perfect.

  53. Steph says:

    So cute–love the vintage sheet!

  54. helene Brousseau says:

    Beautiful use of vintage fabric. Makes me want to be small and take naps again!

  55. Sarah K says:

    Great idea. I see so many people using vintage sheets in sewing projects nowadays.

  56. Beth says:

    So much sweeter than plain old red and blue! Thank for the tutorial.

  57. Kris says:

    This looks like a great project for a little one!

  58. KatieBeth says:

    Super cute! This almost makes me wish I didn’t homeschool my girls so they would have a fabulous mat to lay on while at school. May have to make it anyway as a gift for friends.

  59. Caroline says:

    The vintage sheets lend such a soft beauty to this project… very nice! What a terrific upgrade from the pads as they are sold in stores!

  60. patricia says:

    This is wonderful..I love the versatitily…Great directions..Maddie, I love the ruffle, adds a nice little touch. Your tutorial is great and you have an awesome blog…THANKS….
    My granddaughter goes to a day care that provides scholarships for several of the struggling families. I was so impressed by this last year. I am always looking for a little project that might be of help to them. There are 7 children in Ms. Callie’s room this year..I think Mema (me) might be making nap mats for all the children..I try to make something for everyone so that no one is “the wiser”. Thanks again, this was a great addition to my TO Do list… Sewn on everyone….

  61. Lynne in NC says:

    Cool idea and a great tutorial.
    Thanks for sharing.

  62. Kristin says:

    very cute!

  63. Alli says:

    How cute! I’ll remember this when my kids are old enough for schooltime naps. πŸ™‚

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