Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Presents! Custom Car Mats
I'm going to go ahead and post about my other favorite homemade presents for the little ones in my life - keep a little log for myself if no one else, and perhaps inspire some others who may be interested.
I am lucky to have an adorable nephew (Matty, almost 2) and niece (Brooke, just turned 1). They are two of the sweetest, best-natured kids I've ever been around, and both make me think I may have done something wrong to produce kids who cry so much. Anyway, I saw this custom car mat and wanted my special little kiddos to have something similar, but there is NO WAY I can pull of that kind of sewing project.
I can, however, design something like that in Adobe Illustrator. After an entire of naptime of googling, I found Spoonflower, a company that will print custom designs onto fabric. Google also led me to a variety of free vectors that made the designing of an entire town much easier. I was able to find some logos (The Hartford where Brooke's dad works, for example) in vector form and the ones I couldn't find I used Illustrator's Live Trace tool to make a quick rendition of on my own. I found a collection of free houses and buildings to use, and drew others - like Target, Stop n Shop, and Dunkin Donuts.
Of course, I had to include places that I knew were special to each kid (ok, who are we kidding, the kids are too little to care...special to their parents) - like vacation spots, a favorite local bakery, their churches, and grandparents' houses. And, of course, I included the highway to Ohio with a picture of their cousins waiting for them to visit.
For my New Yorker nephew, I drew the Verrazano bridge that he has to cross to get to Amachi's house, the NYC skyline, and the Statue of Liberty.
There is nothing accurate about the maps. Grandma in Philadelphia is around the corner from Connecticut Grandma... but all street names, house numbers, and other details are true to life (which means I have to blur them in the pictures so scary people and don't go looking for these cute babies).
Spoonflower fabric is 42" wide (printable), so I designed each mat to be 42" wide by about 50 or so inches long. I ordered 2 yards, and centered each design on the 2 yards. (Spoonflower gives you all the options you need to do this, and their customer service people were very quick to help when I had a question.)
Once I received the fabric, I sat and sat as it hit me that I needed to back it with something, and I don't really sew. I found some cute printed canvas at Hobby Lobby and sewed the two sides together. Miraculously, the only mishap was melting my carpet with my iron.
The kids are too young to really appreciate it now, but I hope that as they grow the mats will be special to them. My kids are begging me to make them one too.