29 April 2010

Ryan and I were playing with Hazel this morning, trying to prop her up so she could look (and bat at) her toys. It was then that we realized a play mat would come in pretty handy at this stage, but that the play mat we had borrowed to use for Oliver had been returned to it's original owner and we were completely sans play mat.

But, necessity is the mother of invention, right?

I already have a lovely quilt that I made for Hazel this fall (thanks to a LOT of helpful suggestions from y'all!), so I thought that I could add to it's usefulness by making it also a play mat. Clever, eh?

I sewed long strips of fabric (and stuck a few loops in the seams for attaching toys) together and used them to cover two pipe insulators I bought at Home Depot a while back. (These suckers cost less than a dollar each!)


I even attached the arches long-ways so that Oliver or one of us can have room to join Hazel under there.


So far, so good.

Enter, Mouse-with-beans-in-belly (as we affectionately call him at our house).


As soon as I hang him on a loop (or any other toy, for that matter), everything flops.


And this, my friends, is where we sit.

Back at necessity.

Time for another invention.

And so, I'm calling on y'all, my incredibly creative and helpful readers for ideas! What should I do? I need something like boning in there to keep the arches standing strong, but boning is too weak. I'm thinking Home Depot is my best bet for an engineering miracle, but what do they have that would work? I need help thinking outside of the box!

Ideas???

42 comments:

Be the change you want to see in the world... said...

You need to make the arches into an X so they cross each other and support one another. Super cute!

Beth said...

I was going to suggest that too!

Sidnie said...

You could use PVC pipe, but that would be more square. It would work, & it'd be really stable! :)

I *just* erased a link for a play tent made using hula hoops as the "poles"... I'll see if I can find that again, and maybe it will help.

Mr. and Mrs. B said...

I was thinking either a hoola hoop cut apart or something similar to a tent pole that could be slid through your foam tube??? I'm not sure...but it's such a cute idea, and I love that you used the baby quilt that doesn't get much use otherwise!!!

Carrie said...

The center of your tubing is hollow right? Get a sturdy THICK wire to put in there and bend, you will probably then have to put some type of thick heavy weighted cilinder at the bottom of the poles so they stand up - think coaster or tile -

Liz said...

Mine crosses in the middle to make an X. They fall over if they aren't overlapping one another, so that should work. Good luck! :)

rachel e. said...

maybe you could cut a hula hoop in half and feed it through the current tube you're using?

mel @ the larson lingo said...

Okay, first of all, that is SOOO cute & creative! I am super impressed!
Secondly, I was also going to suggest having them make an "x" formation.

Becky said...

I'm so totally jealous of your creativity! If only I had a sewing machine...or knew how to use one...Anyway, my first thought was bamboo rods...I think if you soak them, they are bendable...but now that I'm reading the other comments, maybe a hula hoop would work?? And I think criss-crossing them will help...good luck!

Jana Green said...

The play mat I have x-es as well...just like everyone else has said.

Man, thought I was a genius.... :)

Tricia said...

I was coming on to suggest criss- crossing the arches but it looks like a lot of others had the same idea! The play mats I have seen that are comparable to the one you made have the arches making an "x" in the center and going corner to corner!

It is so cute, by the way! Let us know how it works!

Allison said...

definitely an x would be more stable. and I like the hula-hoop idea. but also plumbing piping might work. they have new flexible piping. it might be expensive though...

Christine said...

Looking good! Carrie's idea of wire is what I was going to suggest--super thick wire. But the x's idea is great, too! You DO have helpful readers!

Sandy said...

the x idea is better than the other, but honestly, if you have enough structure in there, it should be good. Is it attached well to the mat? also, I'm not sure how thick the pipe insulator hole is, but at any home improvement store, they have metal banding that holds pallets together. You can cut that down to size and thread through the hole- that stuff it totally hard core, though. :) But free.

Tracy said...

I would suggest going with the "x" formation. If that doesn't work, then go for some kind of wiring to thread through the holes.

Mrs H said...

That is SO SO SO CUTE! That pipe insulator is for going over all different kinds of plumbing pipe, I'll be that home depot has some that is plastic plumming pipe that would bend and flex and it would probably be just the right size. Or if you have an old garden hose that is the right diameter, that might even be strong enough. I think that making the tubes cross would also help.

Heagon83 said...

Is the "mouse-with-beans-in-belly" too heavy? I think you should change the configuration to resemble an X, and if the mouse still weighs it down too much you may have to opt for lighter toys to hang. Let us know how it goes.

KK said...

I can't help, but it's gorgeous!

Rachel E. said...

Thread some thick wire through the tubes.

Susan Graham said...

mine has a hard, barely bendable plastic rod down the middle. about the size of my pinkie. Good luck!

Amy said...

Putting them in an X is a good suggestion. But you may also need to attach a snap where the X crosses to actually hold the pieces together so they don't fall. Hope that helps.

Chelsa said...

i don't have any idea's, but just wanted to brag on your creativity!

Nicole said...

Just like some other ladies said you need to put the beams in an X shape so they support each other!

Super cute and I love your creativity!

Melissa said...

I was going to say X like everyone else. But I really wanted to comment to say that quilt is stunning. I love it. You should sell those in your etsy shop. I would buy one :)

Erika Jean said...

Well, the tubes are hollow...why not put some unwound wire clothes hangers int here, as long as there is no access to them they should be fine, they'd be padded!

Jerika said...

I love this idea! I've just spent an embarrassing amount of time thinking about it. Perhaps a pool noodle (thick or solid type) would be stiffer than the pipe insulation? Also, I think the arch might just be too long, since it's already deforming in the third picture. You could try shortening the length of pipe insulation and placing the ends closer together along the short edge of the quilt. And one more thing to try, cut a short length of dowel to slip into the sides of the arch and stiffen things up, since that's where the slump-over is happening. Good luck!

Frapper said...

What about cutting a hula hoop in half and then easing the fabric tube over it? You could leave a little fabric on the ends to sew shut so you don't see the cut ends of the hula hoop. I don't know for sure if it would support the weight of a toy but you could give it a try as a hula hoop wouldn't be that expensive if it didn't work. Or take a stroll through the home improvement store and see if there's anything that catches your eye. The quilt is absolutely beautiful!

Linda said...

Hi,
Like many others here I was going to suggest the "X" shape instead of the ")(" shape and to put wire into the hollow part of those tubes. Also I guess they would need to be tied together at the very top (where the "x" actually crosses) so that it will have more stability.
Anyway. Love that you make these things instead of just buying them cause I never ever could. Totally lacking the creativity as well as the skills for that!!
You're awsome and so is your whole gorgeous family!
Linda

Damaris King said...

Raechel- I don't know how to fix the engineering problem, but I do have a playmat that we would love for someone else to use. It is not pretty like Hazel's quilt, but it is functional! Let me know if you want it. Maybe you could take out its insides and cover them?
Damaris

Single Mama said...

If you don't make the arches into x''s (part of me thinks it still might fall) you could put something hard (but semi flexible) inside each of the pipe insulators. They have holes in the middle so something sturdy enough to support them standing up with weight can be inserted no problem. Hula hoop? Or even some thinner pvc (bendable).

good luck!

Bliss said...

Raechel, I would love to see a tutorial on how you made that lovely quilt!! I have favorite baby clothing saved from my kids and would love to make a memory quilt. Gorgeous job!!

Amy and Mark said...

What cool idea! I think one more throughthe middle should support it. Good luck!

Jacksprat said...

I'm thinking stick some clear plastic tubing (like aquarium tubing) down the middle of the pipe insulators. LIghtweight, bendy, and should add some support ...

Charlene Austin said...

I have NO idea how to not make it flop but I just had to tell you that I LOVE this project. It is brilliant and gorgeous!

Anonymous said...

Love your playmat. Beautiful! I was going to suggest making them cross too but my mat also has 2 stiff pieces of plastic that slide in little pockets under the bottom of the mat. They are the length of the mat and keep it tight and flat while the "x" supports the crossbars. Good Luck!

Carey said...

The one I used was in the configuration you have here, not an X.

There was a cloth 'wrap' that connected the two pieces , that prevented them from spinning at all. I don't know if that would help keep them UP when weight was applied. If you want, I can try to describe it better. words are escaping me tonight.

The "real" ones we used... the arms were REALLY rigid. They did not WANT to bend. I'm guessing the insulation is just too flexible. If the bendy pipe is available to make it rigid, that would probably help tons.

i LOVE it. How utterly crafty and resourceful!

Me and Madeline said...

You've gotten some great suggestions, but I just wanted to say that Hazel's quilt is SO beautiful! I just want to stare at it. I think we need some more pictures of her and Oliver's room. :-)

Michelle said...

The first thing, I dont know why, was you know those poles that have the little orange flags on the top that you put on bicycles? Just take the flag off and thread it through the center, it should bend enough to get the curve you want yet strong enough that I dont think toys would weight it down. Just a thought, and good luck you are doing a great job.

p.s. I LOVE that quilt.

Dad said...

Perhaps the magic polybutylene? 5/8 or 3/4?

~RAch~ said...

the bicycle flags that michelle suggested gave me an idea... I don't remember where you live, and this time of year they'd probably be hard to find but the snow plow rods would probably work REALLY well. they're VERY hard to bend, but they are made to bend, not break if they are hit by a snow plow (most people put them at the ends of their driveway or whatever to let the plows know there are curbs or mailboxes or whatever under the snow banks.

I love the idea, and the quilt!

Keeslermom said...

My idea-cut a dowel and slide it into the middle of the foam, then shorter pieces on each side to support it. It'll look square-ish, but it'll stay up.

Melanie said...

I have not a crafty bone in my body. This is a good idea and so cute.