Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Kid's Toy Car Mat- Tutorial

This is not a step-by-step picture tutorial since I didn't take pictures of the process, but still I hope I can tell you how I did this so you can make your own if you so desire.

Canvas (as large as you want- mine is about 6' by 8')
Double-wide bias tape (I used blue, but any color will do)- 3 packages or 9 yds
Tacky Glue
Fabric Paint Markers (as many colors as you'd like)
Grey Acrylic Paint
Green Acrylic Paint
Paint brush
1 Sponge
Green Flower-pot Foam (just a square)
2 pencils
Black Sharpie (not too thick)

First you want to draw out your plan on a separate piece of paper. Draw the roads first- leave enough room for many houses and buildings- you can draw your city with straight or curvy streets, I did a combination of both. You can also add a train track and river.
You will then need to decide where each building/house is going to go. Decide what you'd like on your mat- some suggestions: you house, Grandparent's houses, hospital, park, gas station, school, church, ice cream store, fire station, parking lot, police station, zoo, airport, lake, swimming pool, soccer field, etc. Add places that your child will recognize so it is more personal. Be creative and have fun!

Once you've got your design then you'll want to start drawing (with pencil) on your mat. Push your two pencils into your green foam so that they are 1 1/2-2 inches apart. You'll use this to draw your roads and keep them even. Once your roads are drawn then you can start putting in your buildings. Draw your buildings- lightly- with pencil then color them in with your paint markers. You should also color trees, flowers, and bushes, but DO NOT color in grass yet- that will be at the end. 
Once your buildings, trees, bodies of water, flowers, bushes, etc. are all drawn then you can start painting the roads. It works best to use grey acrylic paint with a paint brush instead of a paint marker. The canvas might get bumps in it, but don't worry, the cars will drive just fine on it and the bumps will disappear eventually. I liked to outline my buildings with my black sharpie so they were more defined. I also used the sharpie to label the major buildings on the mat and outline the roads.
Once all your roads and buildings are drawn and colored then add all the finishing touches- stop signs, railroad crossing signs, a footpath, animals (cows, sheep, etc.). When your mat is all drawn as you would like then it is finally time to do the grass. Use the sponge and dab it into some green paint. Make sure you test it on paper before you put it on your mat so it isn't too thick. You then sponge all over the mat and put grass on all the empty spaces. I did some fields of yellowish grass since it is very brown and yellow by where we live. The rest I did just green or a combination of green and yellow. I also sponged yellow around the lake and pond to make it look like sand.
Let you mat dry overnight then it is time to put the binding on. Put the seam of your bias tape against the edge of your mat. Glue the bottom on first with your tacky glue while folding over the corners. Once the bottom is glued on then do the same thing with the top. Cut your extra bias tape in half and you have two ties to tie up your mat with after you roll it up to store it. I rolled up my mat then glued the middle of each strand to the back of the mat so that they would be there to tie each time I rolled the mat up and I wouldn't lose them.
And now you have a wonderful, personalized car mat that your kids will play with for years and years!


  1. Oh my goodness. This is amazing! I just made a car mat myself but sewed it. I can barely draw a stick figure! Awesome work!!!

  2. I came across your post while I was googling how to make one of these for my son. Thanks for the awesome inspiration! Your mat is amazing!!

  3. This is such a great idea. I love it and I want to make one of these for my boys! Thanks! :) Where did you get the canvas?

  4. I got the canvas (I'm pretty sure it's called that) at a Joanne's Fabric Store, but any reputable fabric store should have it. I'm glad that you like it!

  5. I agree! You should do a tutorial! How creative of you. The holiday is approaching and I really want to give my year old daughter something special. Maybe I should employ you to make play mats for her. This can be a lucrative business for you. These play mats