It's been Spring Break around here, which meant we've seen a lot of folks on a lot of road trips. It reminded us how challenging it can sometimes be to travel with young kids, and so we thought this would be a good time to take a second look at a project we posted last October. This soft and sweet nap time pad, featuring its own built-in blanket, rolls up with a handle-tie strap. It's the perfect portable snooze pad to toss in the car as you head off on vacation. Having a 'staycation' instead? No problem, roll it out at home or tote it to daycare. Soft flannel and cushy batting make for sweet daytime dreams wherever you go.
The Wee Woodland flannels we chose are by Keiki for Moda Fabrics. The designs are so cute. And, hey, the alphabet pattern is educational. Point out all the letters and name something that starts with that letter until you drift off to dreamland.
The amount of flannel listed below is actually enough to make two cuts from each fabric. You could use just one fabric for both the inside and outside of the pad, which would reduce the fabric needed by half. Or, double the amount of the other supplies, and make two nap blankets for two sleepy kids.
We always recommend laundering to pre-shrink your fabric, but especially stress it when working with flannel. It can shrink up quite a bit. Flannel also sheds a lot during laundering, so wash it separately.
Thanks to our friends at Fat Quarter Shop for originally providing the Wee Woodland fabric for this project. The designs are a bit harder to find now, but there are always lovely flannels available. Take a look at the latest at Fat Quarter Shop, Fabric.com and Fabric Depot.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome Memory Craft 5200)
- Even Feed or Walking foot: optional, but helpful to sew through multiple layers
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 2 yards of 44-45" wide flannel fabric for inside: we used Wee Woodland Flannels by Keiki for Moda in Turquoise ABC
- 2 yards of 44-45" wide flannel fabric for the outside: we used Wee Woodland Flannels by Keiki for Moda in Cream Toadstool Spots
- 1 yard of 54" wide thick polar fleece: we used an ivory fleece
- 2 yards of polyester high loft batting
NOTE: I wanted an especially 'cushy' pad and so layered four pieces of high loft batting, using a machine basting stitch along the outside edges to eliminate shifting. I ended up using an entire large bag of high loft batting.
- Loose polyester fiber fill for the pillow: you need just a few handfulls, so if you don't have an extra bag hanging around, buy the smallest bag available
- 2 yards of 2" cotton webbing: we used a natural
- ¼ yard of 1½" sew-in Velcro: we used a natural color to match our webbing
- One package (3 yards) of double fold quilt binding: we used warm yellow
NOTE: You will use the whole package; if you are at all worried about working with binding, I recommend getting two packages just to be on the safe side.
- All purpose thread in colors to match both your fabrics, your webbing and your binding
- See-through ruler
- Tape measure
- Seam gauge
- Fabric pencil or marking pen
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Straight pins
- Iron and ironing board
- Using the same or two different fabrics, cut ONE 21" x 51" piece for the front and ONE 21" x 51" piece for the back.
NOTE: If you decide to use a directional print, as we did with our Wee Woodlands Turquoise ABC, be careful to fussy cut so the design is straight to the cut edge.
- Cut ONE 34½" x 38" piece from the fleece.
- From the cotton webbing, cut TWO 27" lengths for the straps and ONE 16" length for the handle.
- From the Velcro, cut TWO 3" chunks.
- If you want to make your own binding, make about 110 - 112" to be sure you have enough. You can learn how with our tutorial.
NOTE: As I mentioned above in the supply list, one package of quilt binding is three yards, which should be just enough to bind the three sides of the blanket (34½ + 34½" + 38" = 107" or 2.97 yards). Fleece can be quite stretchy, so if you are new to working with binding, I would suggest getting an extra package just in case. Better to have too much than too little.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Bind the blanket
- Thread your machine with thread to match your binding in both the top and the bobbin.
- Attach the binding to three sides (both short sides and one long side) of the fleece piece.
- We attached our binding with a technique that creates what we call 'Faux Mitered Corners.' To learn more, check out our step-by-step tutorial.
- Press the binding, avoiding the fleece as best you can with the iron. Set this piece aside.
Create the straps and handle
- Find the 21" x 51" piece that will be the outside of your project (Wee Woodlands Cream Toadstool Spots in our sample).
- Fold in half lengthwise to find the center. Mark this point with your fabric marker.
- Place one webbing strap to 4½" to each side of the center point.
- Find your 16" handle webbing piece. Insert each end of the handle under each strap at a 90˚ angle 5" up from the raw edge. The handle should insert under the strap almost all the way; leave it just short of the opposite edge of the strap to conceal the handle's raw edge. The handle will bow in the middle. Pin the straps and handle securely.
- Thread your machine with thread to match the webbing in the top and bobbin.
- Topstitch the strap in place, following your previous stitch line.
NOTE: I moved my needle to its extreme left position in order to stitch super close to the edge.
- Stitch from the raw edge, stopping at the top of the handle, pivot, stitch across the strap, pivot again, and down the other side to the opposite raw edge.
- Return to the bottom seam line of the handle and stitch another horizontal line as well as an 'X' to reinforce the strap at the point of the handle.
- Repeat to attach the second strap. Press.
- Find your two 3" pieces of Velcro. Attach the loop side of each piece to the end of each strap, centering it on the webbing and placing the bottom edge of the Velcro 1½" from the raw edge.
- Stitch the Velco loop pieces in place. Set this outside piece aside.
Create the main nap pad
- On the 21" x 51" flannel piece that will be the inside of your project, mark vertical quilting lines a shown, starting 8½" from the bottom, continuing at 8" apart for an additional 4 vertical lines, leaving a 10½" section at the top - which will become the pillow.
- Lay the marked inside piece flat on your work surface, right side up.
- Align the raw edge of the fleece blanket piece with the left raw edge of the inside flannel piece. The bottom of the blanket piece will be approximately 2 1/2" from the bottom edge of the flannel. At the top, the bottom edge of the blanket's binding will line up with the last vertical quilt line marking. Pin in place.
- Accordion fold the blanket so it stays out of the way of the seams in the middle of the flannel piece.
- Layer the outside piece right side down onto the front, but first pin the straps up and out of the way. In the photo below, I've folded back the outside piece so you can see how I folded and pinned everything out of the way between the layers.
- Match the raw edges all around and pin the layers together.
- Re-thread your machine with thread to match your flannel fabric(s) in the top and bobbin.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch both sides and the bottom. Leave the top open. Remember to pivot at the corners. Go slowly and carefully, keeping the layers flat. If you have an Even Feed or Walking foot, this is a good time to use it.
- Clip the bottom corners and turn right side out.
- Push out the corners and press all sewn sides, pulling out the blanket along the left side seam. You now have a nice, long bag.
- Insert the batting into the bag. You'll need to push it all the way down into the bottom corners and smooth it out side to side. I found it was helpful to pin the batting in place at the bottom corners so it didn't shift while I adjusted it into the rest of the bag.
NOTE: Remember, I used four layers of high loft batting sewn together for my padding. You can use less to create a smaller pad. I wouldn't suggest using much more; this loft was about the maximum this size bag could handle.
- When you have your batting inserted to your liking, you may need to re-draw the original quilting lines to make sure they are still clearly visible.
- If necessary, re-thread your machine with thread to match the inside flannel fabric in the top and bobbin.
- Following your drawn quilting lines, stitch across through ALL the layers.
NOTE: Yep... this is really thick. Your standard foot and a good needle should serve you well. I don't suggest the Even Feed or Walking foot for this step, it's really too thick. You will probably need to 'help' the layers move through machine. Don't push or pull with abandon, simply keep your hands on either side of the needle and gently guide. Also, as it shows in the photo above, it helps to roll up the pad as you go so it better fits the bed of the machine.
- Trim back the top edge of your batting if needed. It should be about 1" from the raw edges of the flannel.
- Lightly stuff the top of the pad with polyester fiber fill to create a pillow.
- Fold under the raw edges of the flannel 1" all around. Pin together the folded edges to close the top.
- Stitch the top edges together ¼" from the folded edges, then stitch again very close to the folded edge. This top edge needs to be 'doubly secure' so none of the fiber fill gets out. An Even Feed or Walking foot is also helpful here if you have one.
Finish the straps
- You can finish the raw ends of the straps any way you'd like. I chose to use a very tight zig zag stitch to secure the raw edge, then turned the edge under just enough to conceal that edge, then straight stitched the turned edge in place.
NOTE: Make sure you turn under your strap the right way. Fold and roll up the mat and check that you are hemming correctly to create a clean finish on the outside.
- I placed the hook side of my Velcro pieces as shown. Each one is centered on the webbing with the top edge right under the hem I made to finish the edge.
- Stitch Velcro in place.
NOTE: Our nap blanket is designed to roll up tightly with no overlap of the strap past the Velcro. Again, as above, I suggest you fold and roll your finished project and double check that your measurements are similar to mine before stitching down your Velcro.
Fold and roll
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructions: Liz Johnson
Other machines suitable for this project include the Bernina 380 and the Elna 7300.