Sunday, January 10, 2016

DIY Busy Mat - Upcycle Jeans into a Busy Mat!


We don't do Time Outs in our house since so much research has come out showing that children's brains are still developing and they need an adult to help them process what has happened and how to correct it. So instead, we do Time Ins. We sit with our Threenager and refocus him before correcting the behavior when he is in a calmer state to receive the information. We refocus him with puzzles, books and this busy mat that I made out of felt and old pants.

Remember, I don't use clothes that are wrinkle-free, no-iron or treated with antibacterials/Microban/antimicrobials. To see the reasons why and where else these chemicals can be found, click above to read my earlier posts on the subject.

I used a large piece of felt that I had leftover from the no-sew ocean playmats I had made as the party favor for my child's birthday.

I then cut up an old pair of my husband's jeans and used a scrap of my old cotton pajamas that I had saved (the drawstring in the bottom middle part of the busy mat).

Here is what I did, section by section:

1.) To make the Hungry Monster, I cut out food from scraps of felt I had leftover from other projects, and eyes and a nose and a heart, and the gray face. I sewed the face down and drew eyeballs on with a Sharpie Stained fabric pen.

I then cut out the fly of the jeans to look like lips and a chin and sewed it down to the mat.

So kids can unzip his mouth and feed him like so:

2.) Next up was a Marble Maze. I would not use a marble if my kid was at an age where he or she could possibly choke on it.

I cut a back pocket out of the jeans. I sewed two hearts, one at either end of the maze, and then sewed my maze lines into the pocket. Before I closed it up, I sewed the marble into one end. So my child can push the marble inside the pocket from one heart to another.

And with that, my top row was complete.

3.) Next up was the washing machine. I cut out a side pocket in a circular shape, and cut a square of gray felt. I sewed along the border of the pocket, sewing it to the gray square and then sewed that square down to the blue felt mat. I wrote some laundry controls down on the "machine" with a black Sharpie Fabric Pen.

4.) Next I cut out socks, a shirt and pants out of felt. Using felt I made grass, a tree and a clothesline. And I found an old friendship bracelet from my childhood in my fabric scraps and sewed the two outer knots down to the clothes line. I bought small clothespins from a craft store (I wouldn't use tiny clothespins with kids who could choke on them) and clipped them to the line. Then I cut the other back pocket out, cut it in half, and sewed that down in the grass to be a laundry basket.

So my middle row was complete and my child could wash the clothes and hang them to dry.

5.) For the bottom row, I cut the button portion of the jeans out and sewed it down for my son to practice using a button with.

6.) I sewed the bit of my cotton pajama drawstring down for the middle of the bottom row to practice tying knots.

7.) And finally, I sewed down part of the belt loop section of the jeans and used a scrap of off-white fabric that I sewed down on one end to work on stringing or looping a belt.

All that was left was to cut off the extra blue felt on the mat and it was done!

The mat was so much fun to make and because half the components were already sewed, it didn't take as much time as if I had made everything from scratch. This is a great way to repurpose an old pair of jeans in a constructive way for my kids.

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  1. very creative and has a positive impact on developing mind to see the beautiful truth to correct the wrong by time in and not out. How practical and positive with long lasting effect to create something beautiful out of imagination. This can be taken one step further to create something beautiful out of every day items. I am for time in and not time out. Congratulations.