Preschool Mat Dilemma Solved

Photo By Amanda

As my son came traipsing out of his preschool class for the last time a couple of weeks ago, he held under his arm the mat and pillow he had slept on for one and a half years of preschool.

I was reminded of the weekend I spent coming up with a solution to his preschool mat dilemma. It all started when I found out the preschool had an opening in the three year old class in the middle of the school year. My husband and I decided to go ahead get him started at the preschool so he would be guaranteed a spot the following year in the popular four year old class.

On a Thursday in February, I had spoken to the preschool director, and my son was to start school the following Tuesday. The problem was he needed a covered mat for nap-time.

Well, first of all, I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to find a school mat in February, but they aren’t as readily available in stores at that time of year as they are at the beginning of the school year.

Since I had already called around to a few local stores, I knew it was not an option to buy a pre-covered mat. I wasn’t paying $40 or more for a mat with a fabric covering. My mom didn’t teach me how to sew for nothing.

Thankfully, I was able to find a basic vinyl sleep mat at a school supply store in a nearby town. I then made my way over to Wal-Mart, picked out this cute sports fabric, which was on clearance, and grabbed a package of iron-on velcro.

The Plan:

I cut the mat fabric a little larger than the mat, so I would have enough room for sewing the seams together. I sewed it into a pillow case shape and prayed real hard that it was going to fit right when I inserted the mat. It fit like a glove. Thank goodness it fit because I didn’t have a lot of time for re-dos.

On the open end, I used iron-on velcro so the mat would not slip out easily, but it still needed to come off when necessary for washing. A zipper would have been a great idea, but since I’d never sewn in a zipper before, I didn’t think it would be wise to experiment on this project.


After completing the mat, I had some fabric left over, so I thought a pillow would be a nice addition. I didn’t have any pillow filling, but I did have an old full-size pillow that was about ready to be chunked. The insides had started to clump together and it was going flat in spots.

The solution I came up with was to simply cut the large pillow down to about a third of the original size, re-sew around the edges to form a smaller pillow, fluff the old stuffing a little and re-stuff the small pillow. Voila! – a great little pillow.

I created a little pillow case for the pillow just like I had done for the sleep mat. The open end had velcro attached in the same manner as the mat.

To finish the project off, I sewed a little strap out of the remaining fabric to wrap around the mat and pillow to make it easier to keep them together. Again, I ironed on a couple of velcro pieces to attach the ends of the strap.


My son was extremely happy with the final results and so was I. It cost less than $15 and I had the opportunity to practice my sewing skills. Now, if all my sewing projects would just come out this good…

Have you ever been in a time-crunch for something and ended up having to come up with a creative homemade solution?

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Posted on June 10th, 2009 in Kids and Family | 2 Comments
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