Baby Play Mat with Vintage Neil Bradburn Fabric

We got to spend all of last week at my mom’s house. Among the exciting fun with grandchildren, I got to spend some time with my mom too. We made this play mat for little E. I was lucky enough to somehow end up with this very cool strip of fabric from London that my mom bought in the late 60’s. It’s a fantastic elephant design by Neil Bradburn.

The play mat was really easy to make, because I let my mom do all the sewing. ha. (I figured it was her fabric, and I didn’t want to mess it up.) Anyway, it’s a big hit. E is really enjoying it. I also think it would be great across the foot of a bed, or even just hanging on the wall. Either way, it will be a fun thing to have around. Thanks mom!



We used some cotton batting to make the mat a bit softer. The printed fabric is face down on top, then the back panel of fabric is face up under that. And the batting is on the bottom. Then we (I mean my mom), sewed around the edges, leaving some un-sewn, so it could be turned right-side out. I also learned about the trick of cutting the corners a bit, so they turn out more square. (See photo below.)


Here is a shot of me and my camera assistant. Nice!




  1. January 25, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    That fabric is amazing. Just amazing! ~F

    1. January 25, 2012 at 9:47 pm

      Yeah, it's got a really great, sturdy texture too. I had know idea what it was, until I looked it up. I knew it was good though!

  2. Tereza
    January 25, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    The mat is amazing and the baby is also amazing especially when sitting on your lap while you are taking picture of the mat corner. Maybe little E will one day be a famous photographer of elephants, you never know with the little ones which moment is the significant moment for their future.

  3. Patricia Ágreda Ferrán
    January 25, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    Those elephants are great! They even seem they're coming out of the mat!!! And play tricky games with our eyes when looking them...

    1. Patricia Ágreda Ferrán
      January 25, 2012 at 2:11 pm

      when looking at them...

    2. January 25, 2012 at 9:49 pm

      Yeah Patricia. It really looks 3D doesn't it. Very cool!

  4. Jeanne Levy
    January 25, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    Your baby is getting big! What a sweet chunkful of girly-ness. Love the playmat.

    1. January 25, 2012 at 9:50 pm

      So true. She's definitely a sweet chunkful!

  5. January 25, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    Love the large elephant graphics on that fabulous vintage fabric! I think my little guy would love a play mat like this, I'm inspired, now I can use some of my vintage scrap pieces

    1. January 25, 2012 at 9:52 pm

      Yeah, I'm inspired now to perhaps use some smaller scraps of fabric and make some sort of patchwork quilt. These little mats or blankets are really fun. Could even be a nice lap blanket to have next to a chair.

  6. January 26, 2012 at 2:17 am

    Oh wow! We had that fabric. My Mum made it in to cushions for our beds, but ours was a smaller print. She bought it in Heals in the mid 1970's. We could only afford 1 m. The memories are rushing back!

    1. January 26, 2012 at 10:39 am

      That's so cool. Yeah, it says "Heal Fabrics of London" right on the edge of the fabric. Is the Heal store still around these days? And yeah, the screen printing and the fabric are top notch. My mom just bought this one piece too. Beautiful!

    2. January 26, 2012 at 1:10 pm

      Yes Heals is still about. It is one of the premier design stores in the UK and still stocks amazing stuff at amazing prices! It turns out my Mum still has one of our cushions after all these years and is going to give it to me next time I see her. Thanks Joel!

      1. January 26, 2012 at 2:49 pm

        Ooh that's so great that your mom still has a pillow. Cool! I'll definitely have to go to Heals next time I'm in London. (whenever that might be.)

  7. Laura
    January 26, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    It might be cool to do a patchwork quilt out of various textures - velvet, cotton, silk, etc. Perhaps fill the patches with various fillings - polyfil beads, sunchip bags for crinkly-ness, pieces of foam. It could be a very tactile toy.

    1. January 26, 2012 at 8:26 pm

      Very good idea! I explored that idea just a tiny bit when I made my zoo blanket a couple years ago. I put some faux fur, along with other fabrics to different textures. It would be really cool to have entire mat full of different textures though. you could even attach little sewn on cloth toys or something. hmmm. very fun idea Laura!

  8. January 30, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    I love the elephants! And the optical illusion of them being in 3D. In the first photo I actually thought the material was folded up along the long left side...then I got the context from the following pics! I just bought your lovely book. In Melbourne. Australia. Good to see it on the shelves here! Congratulations! New baby AND book!!

    1. February 1, 2012 at 9:01 am

      Thanks Blorgie! I'm glad you found my book in Melbourne. Cool!

  9. Lor
    February 3, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Wow, I LOVE the fabric! Lucky girl! A friend of mine made a play mat for my baby and it is great too. It is thicker and a bit larger, and you can fold it like a bag, with handles and all. Great for outside, inside, etc. I love it!

    1. February 9, 2012 at 2:26 pm

      Cool! We have an outside picnic blanket similar to that. I never thought to put handles on the play mat though. Great idea!

  10. February 8, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    So nice! You did really well on this one. The baby is darling, too! Anna

  11. Jo
    March 3, 2012 at 1:16 pm Just seen a 2m piece of this fabric for £290!

    1. March 3, 2012 at 1:43 pm

      Oh my! Perhaps I should just hang it on the wall, and let the baby enjoy it from there!

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