I found this on Pinterest about a month ago. It's a simple way for a child to carry their matchbox cars with them. I started thinking about this and remembered that my grandson had a play mat type of rug when he was little. He loved driving his cars all around it. I've seen some of these since I did this one but they are a little more complicated than what I've done. I like simple with little or no sewing. So here is mine.
This was made with a solid colored man's handkerchief, a little bit of sewing (straight lines),and a black sharpie.
I folded the handkerchief over 1/3 of the way. Sew the folded 1/3 on the sides and then sew straight lines about 2 1/2" wide down the folded section making pockets. You can make 8 pockets at this size or you can make fewer bigger pockets. Both will work.
Use a pencil to free hand draw some lines for roads. Make them wide enough for a matchbox car to fit on. After you free hand your roads and have them how you want, then go over them with a black sharpie. The sharpie is permanent and will not wash off even after a lot of washings. The lake or pond in the middle is optional. I used some blue acrylic paint but fabric paint will work just as well, maybe better. I just dabbed the paint on the handkerchief and let it dry for a while.
You can sew a piece of rick rack, yarn, ribbon, or fabric on one edge for wrapping and closing the play mat. To close, fold it in thirds and tie with the yarn around it like you see in the second picture. On the blue one below, I numbered the pockets to help with number recognition and counting. The majority of the world has numbers that look the same no matter what language they speak.
As you can see, I tried using different designs of handkerchiefs. They have a large variety at Hobby Lobby for 99 cents to $1.29. I think I like the solid ones better but that is just personal opinion.
You can also add trees, buildings, etc on to the play mat, depending on your artistic ability.
When they are rolled up and tied, they will easily fit in a shoebox with 3 or 4 cars in them.
I've added a bit to the play mat (3/15/15). I used Memento Ink, Tuxedo Black and stamped a few animals on the mat.
I used stamps from SU! Zoo Review (#122197) and Every Little Bit (#120558). I recently ordered Zoo Babies (#130456) that I think will be really cute on here also. I used the brush end of a Pacific Point blue marker to make the lines on the pond.