tutorial {mini buckle mat}

One of my biggest sellers this year has been my preschool/toddler buckle mats. I’ve lost count on how many I’ve made, but it was all started via a request from a friend. Truly, people coming to me with their custom orders is why I love doing what I do.

Buckle matAt the zoo

While these larger mats are made to order, at one point I decided to make a smaller version to sell at markets. These are much quicker to put together and a great beginner project for learning how to make a great quiet activity for a child.

buckle tutorial cover

One of my goals in the next year is to start writing more tutorials and patterns…so here goes! A tutorial for making your own pint size buckle mat and I spy toy.


Mini buckle Mat tutorial

cotton fabric for the top
stiff felt for the middle (regular felt can also be used for softer mat or a thin cotton batting)
regular craft felt for the back
cotton scrap fabric for the straps
small piece of vinyl
1/8 cup of poly pellets (which I just discovered you can buy a small bag of at JoAnns)
small jewels, buttons and/or beads for the I Spy game
2 side release parachute buckles
a 4 inch circle template

Cutting directions

Mini buckle Mat tutorial
Cut your cotton fabric, stiff felt and felt back into 6 1/2 by 6 1/2 inch squares.

For the straps, cut two of each coordinating fabric into 5 1/2 long by 4 inch wide strips.

Making the straps

Mini buckle Mat tutorial
Take your strap pieces and lay them wrong side up on your ironing board.

Mini buckle Mat tutorial
Fold them in half, wrong sides facing and press.

Mini buckle Mat tutorial
Open them back up again, and fold each long end towards the middle and press.

Mini buckle Mat tutorial
Fold in half again and press and repeat with the remaining straps.

Mini buckle Mat tutorial
Take them to your machine and using a 1/4 inch seam, stitch down the long end of the strap.

Mini buckle Mat tutorial
Flip it over and repeat on the other side. Then repeat with the remaining 3.

Attaching the straps

Mini buckle Mat tutorialMini buckle Mat tutorial

Pin the straps in place onto the cotton piece and baste these to the sides of your square.

Making the I Spy Mat

Take your 4 inch circle template and cut out a piece of vinyl for the back. Just a hint…don’t put a pin through the pattern or the vinyl because it will put a hole in your vinyl. Just hold the pattern and do your best to cut around it.

Mini buckle Mat tutorial
Go to your machine and stitch around the circle with a 1/4 inch seam, being careful not to pull too tightly on the felt as you go around the circle.

Mini buckle Mat tutorial
Make sure to leave a roughly 2 inch opening to fill!!

Mini buckle Mat tutorial
Now you are ready to fill with your poly pellets, charms, beads, sequins, buttons etc.

Mini buckle Mat tutorial
Go back to your machine and starting at the opening, stitch the opening closed and stitch a second time around the circle on top of your original seam. I like to do this for aesthetics and also because it gives an extra line of stitching for safety.

Mini buckle Mat tutorial
Now you want to baste your felt piece to the piece of stiff felt. If you are using batting or regular felt, I still suggest basting this piece, but it’s not as necessary.

Putting the square together

Mini buckle Mat tutorial
Now you are ready to sew your squares together. Make a sandwich using the basted I spy mat and the cotton piece with wrong sides together. You want your I Spy mat and your straps facing out.

Mini buckle Mat tutorialMini buckle Mat tutorial

Sew a roughly 1/2 inch seam around the sides two times. Again, I like this extra line of stitching for looks, but also to give an extra measure of strength for the straps.

Mini buckle Mat tutorial
Because my squares never come out just perfect due to pulling etc, I take my rotary cutter and cut about 1/4 inch off on the sides to even them all out and straighten them up.

Adding the buckles

Mini buckle Mat tutorial
Now you are ready to add the buckles. Make sure they are put together and slide the ends of the straps through the ends of the buckles. Pull the straps to make sure that the buckles are even in the center of your mat.

Mini buckle Mat tutorialMini buckle Mat tutorial

Fold the ends of the straps under and pin in place.

Mini buckle Mat tutorial
Open the buckles up and take it to your machine and sew in the middle of the fold. Make sure to do a lock stitch (stopping and starting at the beginning and end) or tie your threads before you snip them.

You Made It!!!

Mini buckle Mat tutorial
Check to make sure all your loose threads are tied and snipped. Pass it to your nearest toddler and proclaim victory!

**please respect that this is my design and share only with a link to this original tutorial and please give credit where credit is due. Also remember that this is a toy with tiny parts and while even the best sewers will tie up all their loose ends, children who are at the age of putting things in their mouths do not need to play with this unattended.** Thanks!!! ~ aimee

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stepping out

Today was a lesson in stepping out, bravery, humility and ignoring the voices of doubt.
I’ve participated in group sales a few times previously, but this weekend was the first time I had participated in a large event. Like a bring your own tent, set it up and make it look nice and then watch people come in and look over your stuff.


For the past couple of weeks I’ve been furiously building up stock, figuring out what to sell and how much to price things. I’ve been figuring out things like sales tax and what to say to people when the ask about certain things and how to “sell” yourself. But nothing, nothing preps you for how to handle the barrage of people who might walk into your booth, glance at your stuff and then walk out.

Today was a lesson in being free and courageous. My personality loves etsy. I have time to respond to people’s requests. I will more than likely never have to see the person that I might have rolled my eyes at. And I don’t have to sell myself with my personality…I just have to do it with photos and the words I write.

So, today was successful in an emotional way (sadly not a monetary way). It forced me to see something through. To keep climbing this crazy trying to start a business learning curve that never stops. It forced me to step waaaay out of my comfort zone and to stop listening to the voices of doubt. Because my worth is not in how many people bought (or didn’t) stuff. Whether I’m “doing the right thing” with this path I’m on isn’t dictated by how many people walked into my booth.

I’m proud of what I’m doing. I’m convinced that I’m doing what our gracious God would have me do and I’m thankful. I’m thankful for opportunities to stretch myself, but also beyond thankful for the security of my home.

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learning to sew

children's embroidery kit: primary colors

Once upon a time I had a vision of these great little embroidery kit’s for kids. I would use my felt scraps and my sewing machine to create a eco-friendly, washable and reusable set of  sewing “cards”. They were pretty good sellers and as  whole I got some good feedback on them. But they were crazy labor intensive, I wasn’t too excited about the felt bag and I knew that I could make them a little easier for me to put together and a lot more fun.


I’m excited to finally share my new children’s learn to sew/embroider kits!


They still come in two different versions: a girly pink and an anything goes blue. But now they come with a little tote style bag with these amazing hand drawn instructions that are sewn into the bag with a ribbon…so you will always have them with you. A huge thanks goes to my friend Caryn for her amazing drawing (and she has a super awesome blog that you need to check out!)


Each starter kit comes with a tote bag with instructions, yarn, a blunt tip needle and a set of shape sewing cards.


children's embroidery kit

Each felt “card” is pre-basted and pre-punched for your child (or you!) to sew up through the holes and practice following a pattern and get the rhythm of up and down. The biggest hurdle for anyone learning to sew is merely achieving the up from the bottom and down through the top motion. These cards provide that practice in a fun and easy way.


In addition to the starter kits, there are two other add-on kits that can be ordered: a set of animals and a set of holiday themed cards.




For now, these sets will only be available locally at the farmer’s market in Knoxville and the art market in Maryville. They will be available on etsy during my grand “reopening” at the end of July.

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grow a rainbow

Last week at story time the librarian read this book and reminded me what a treasure it is for preschoolers. I checked it out and we read it a few times and this week we did a little mommy and chick project with the book.

How to Grow a Rainbow

1. Read a book and make a list (I will brag and say that yes, she wrote most of those letters after me calling them out!)

2. Head to your local garden center (in our case Walmart) and pick out the colors you need.

3. Bring them all home and plant them up (and make sure you have enough dirt…sadly we didn’t)

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To Market, To Market


This morning was my first attempt, experience, whatever at being a craft vendor. Kudos to all those who do this every week! Wow! It was a great experience, I made some good contacts (I hope) and made a little money (always good!) and got a little bit of sewing done too. I think I had some good, positive feedback and hopefully will be invited back again, although I think it might be next spring when the market opens again.


All that was left (minus some custom stuff) is making it’s way to the boutique in town. My inventory has been SO long there so this Farmer’s Market has been great incentive to build up my supply. Until next market time, I am so happy to have this off my to-do list and so very happy to get working on some new dresses for my little chick and some other “fun” stuff.


Stay tuned for some new projects hopefully coming in the next couple of weeks!

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