Do It Yourself

Derby Mom 360: Airplane Tray Sized Car Travel Mat Tutorial

Travel Car Mat Tutorial

As I prepare to fly cross-country with my 18-month old son, I am planning one of the most challenging parts of our trip… What we might do on the plane from San Diego to Boston. He’s just recently started to take an interest in cars and I thought making one of these fun car mats sized just for an airline tray table would be perfect for the trip.

There are tons of these available for sale online but I found it only took a couple hours to make and was easily made from scraps lying around the house. I bought a couple of dollar store matchbox cars and VOILA! For just a few dollars I had a great travel toy ready for my airplane arsenal of activities.

Listed below you’ll find your fabric needs. I listed the basic idea of what the fabric is for and then what kind I used in this project. Any of these could really be any fabric at all so feel free to get creative. I figured some heavier fabrics would make it a bit more durable and long lasting.

Back Fabric: Striped Colorful Canvas (17”x10”)
Top Fabric: Green Leaf-Patterned Cotton (17”x10”)
Car Slot Fabric: Turquoise Corduroy (2x 8”x10”)
Road Fabric: Gray Suiting (2x 2”x10”)
Yellow Fabric: Yellow Cotton (Very little)
Wonder Under Fusible
Additional Accents and Appliques (Optional): Orange Robots

I did some searching around on the internet and found that not all planes have the exact same tray table size but there seemed to be some conscious that 16.5”x9.5” was average so I sized everything for this play mat off of that. You could certainly make it bigger or smaller and just tweak your dimension. You’ll want about 2-3” of width for each car slot. This mat has 6 car slots.

CUT & PREPDerby Mom 360: Airplane Tray Car Travel MatDerby Mom 360: Airplane Tray Car Travel Mat
To begin, you’ll want to prep cut all your fabric for the project. I cut out the Top and Back and Car Slot fabric all to the exact sizes list above. I cut anything that will be appliqued on slightly larger than I will use and iron on my Wonder Under before cutting. I like to cut everything on a healing mat with a ruler and a rotary cutter. It is the only way I am able to get nice clean lines.

You’ll want to do all parts of the top play mat surface first which would be the car slots, roads and any top applique. We’ll start preparing the car slots. Fold the Car Slot Fabric in half lengthwise with your right sides facing out, then press so now you have a 4”x10” piece of fabric. Then you’ll divide your piece into thirds however you’ll want to allow for a ¼” seam allowance on either side. You can easily do 3.5”, 3” and then 3.5” to use nice easy measurements or be more exact with your thirds and allowance if you prefer. Press along those measurements so that you will have guides for your car slots and appliques. You’ll be doing this for both of your pieces you cut, one for each end.

After the car slot fabric was properly pressed to show the sizing for each compartment, I added an applique on each end. This step is completely optional but I felt it made it more personalized and special. I frequently use scraps of this Robot Factory fabric in my son’s projects b/c it is super cute and it a really fun color and makes it so all of his stuff is uniquely his. I roughly cut out the shape I wanted then fused my Wonder Under and then cut my more precise piece to the exact size I wanted.

Derby Mom 360: Airplane Tray Car Travel MatTIP: When using Wonder Under in projects pull up a corner of the fusible backing before you finish cutting the exact shape. It keeps you from fraying the fabric after it is cut and you need to remove the backing. So in the example shown here, I ironed on the fusible, cut three sides, then pulled off some of the backing on the bottom and then cut my final side so the edge would be nice and clean.

I finished off my Robot applique by pressing it on keeping the ¼” seam allowance in mind when aligning it (so it was slightly more inward than center) and then finished the edge with a zigzag stitch.

Derby Mom 360: Airplane Tray Car Travel MatYou can now pin the Car Slots into place with your raw (unfolded edge) lined up with the end of the Top Fabric (mine is the green leaf print). Then you’ll want to sew along your two creases you made as marks for you car slots. Backstitching several times at the folded end since that is the part that will get the most wear. I also did a stich on the outer edge that was just less than 1/8” allowance so it would be inside the finished seam allowance.

Derby Mom 360: Airplane Tray Car Travel MatDerby Mom 360: Airplane Tray Car Travel MatNext for the road, I do all the same Wonder Under techniques and laid out a road pattern that looked pleasing to me before I did any ironing or stitching.  I cut one strip of the road in half and made it so the cars would come out of their “garage” and onto the road. Get creative here. You could do as many or few roads as you like. Rotary, traffic lights, stop signs, whatever your kid is into or sounds rad to you!  So the steps are attach fusible, cut to size, lay out all roads (Gray Suiting Fabric), iron into place and lastly follow it up with a zigzag stitch to keep it secure through future washings.

Derby Mom 360: Airplane Tray Car Travel MatDerby Mom 360: Airplane Tray Car Travel MatThe yellow dashes were much more labor intensive and I’m honestly not sure if I would do them again. Again, attaching Wonder under on the back, then using the rotary cutter to make the little lines.  I used tweezers to work with the tiny pieces and put them in place, ironing them on one at a time. I put a tight zigzag stitch down the middle of each one. I found that I wasn’t doing great with the backstitching/knotting/any technique I tried for these tiny bits so I went ahead and just ironed on some one-sided fusible over the back to make sure that my poor backstitches seams wouldn’t come loose with wear.

Derby Mom 360: Airplane Tray Car Travel MatThis is when my son got up from his nap and came in to “help” out a bit.

This is now the time to make your strap. You could do one long piece that goes all the way around. You could do two shorter pieces of fabric or ribbon that meet in the middle. You could hand tie it, snap it, Velcro it, whatever is pleasing to you.

Derby Mom 360: Airplane Tray Car Travel MatIDerby Mom 360: Airplane Tray Car Travel Mat only had a couple of small scraps left of my green fabric so I went with two straps that wrapped around with a Velcro closure. This is also where I chose to add a custom label. I don’t do anything fancy, just an iron-on on a piece of ribbon but as my kids get older it will show them they were handmade, one-of-a-kind, just for them as opposed to a store-bought toy.

I folded and pressed my piece of fabric in half and then half again so there wouldn’t be any raw edges and then sewed all the way around to make a nice clean strap. Then I secured zelcros on either side.

You will secure the raw end (or ends) of your strap(s) down with the raw edge facing the same side as the top fabric raw edge so when you sew the top to bottom it will be sandwiched in between. I chose to put my straps right in the middle so when I folded up my loaded car mat it would be right in the middle. You can baste it right near the edge (smaller than ¼” seam allowance) so they stay in place for the next step.

Derby Mom 360: Airplane Tray Car Travel MatOnce you have completed your straps you’ll make your layer sandwich so your right sides are both facing in of the Back Fabric and your Top Fabric with all its appliques and pockets and straps and whatnot. You’ll want to leave a couple inches gap that is unsewn so you can turn it right side out.

TIP: A pin facing perpendicular to your normal direction at the open and close of the slot will help keep you from accidentally closing it up. In my early projects, I frequently had to seam rip a gap back in to turn the project. Doh!

Then turn the project right side out and top stich all the way around. I played around with it and found it worked out best for me to fold the car slots over first on each side and then roll it into thirds. Secure your strap and TA DA! Yer done! Add a couple of cars and you have made a beautiful handmade toy for your young child to enjoy on a plane or a travel location of their choice!

BON VOYAGE!Derby Mom 360: Airplane Tray Car Travel MatDerby Mom 360: Airplane Tray Car Travel MatDerby Mom 360: Airplane Tray Car Travel MatDerby Mom 360: Airplane Tray Car Travel Mat



Mario Kart Party: Racing Flags

Here’s what you’ll need:Derby Mom 360: Mario Kart Checkered Flags
Hole Punch
String/Jute/Ribbon of your choice
Print Derby Mom 360: Mario Kart Checkered Flags on Cardstock

This is a quick and simple way to make any party look more festive! This printable has two pages. The first page is just a traditional black and white checkered pennant. The second page has the golden mushroom that is also featured on the award ribbons. You could do a whole row of either flag or alternate between each. You could use only the first page for any party or even for the background of a photo shoot.

Derby Mom 360: Mario Kart Checkered FlagsI used two flags on the front door to set the mood for our guests. I put a string of eight just over the television to make the racing more festive.


Please share your homemade creations on the Flickr Group. I can’t wait to see them.

Mario Kart Party: Mario & Goomba Construction Paper Decor

Here’s what you’ll need:Derby Mom 360: Mario Cut Out
Goomba- Black, Dark Brown, Light Brown and White Construction Paper
Mario – Black, Dark Brown, Skin Tone, Red, Blue and White Construction Paper

Hosting a Mario Kart party can’t be complete without some decor to properly set the mood! I found this Goomba printable on Pinterest and was totally inspired to make one or two for the party.

How can you have a Mario party without the “Guest of Honor” represented? So I decided, based on the Goomba, I would make my own Mario. I found this great image that is a cutout mask from Games Radar and used it as a base for the project.

Derby Mom 360: Mario Cut OutHere’s the printable template for your cut-outs.  The PDF includes all the instructions you’ll need to assemble your Mario:  Derby Mom 360: Mario Cut Out


Hope you make some super cute Mario party decor. Please share your homemade creations on the Flickr Group. I can’t wait to see them.

Mario Kart Party: 12-Person Single Elimination Tournament with Consolation

I had 12 people RSVP to my party and half were men and half Derby Mom 360: Maro Kart Bracketwere women so we went with seeding in the order that they RSVP-ed and did a male and female side of the bracket. That is totally random and arbitrary. You could have time trials to seed. Or ask people their level of experience. Whatever works for you.

For me, I just went Player 1 – Player 12 in the order that they said they would be attending. Since our party was all couples it would make it so someone would only player their spouse if they made it to the Consolations or Finals. Seemed like a fun way to do it and kind of erased the fact that most of the men at the party were much better than women at this video game.

We did our tournament on Mario Kart Wii. Each game was in the “VS” mode and the Wii randomly picks 4 courses that you’ll run. Those 4 courses take about 10 mins total. At the end of the races, one will be the winner by points and move on. The other is knocked out. Then we moved onto the next game of the tourney. The entire event took about 2 ½ hours. We coupled it with an Italian themed potluck dinner party so guests drank, eat and chit chatted in between turns and heckling those who were playing.

Here is a printable bracket that you can use for a 12-person single elimination tournament with a consolation round.

Derby Mom 360: Mario Kart Tourney Brackets

Good luck with your home tournament! I hope it is tons of fun. I’d love to see how your party turned out so please share comments below and pictures in the Flickr Group.

Derby Mom 360: Mario Kart Award Ribbons

Mario Kart Party: Award Ribbons with Printables

Here’s what you’ll need:Derby Mom 360: Mario Kart Award Ribbons
Construction Paper: Blue, Red and Yellow (2 strips of 2.5”x12” each color)
Cardstock (3 strips of 2” x 11”)
Ribbon (1” x 24”)
Hot Glue Gun
Printable Centers (see below) or homemade inserts of your choosing

To begin, cut two pieces of construction paper that are 2.5” wide x the longest length. My paper was 12” but whatever you have is fine. I wanted pretty large awards. If you’d like yours to be smaller, cut the width of these two strips narrower. I cut out two strips of all three colors.

Derby Mom 360: Mario Kart Award RibbonsNext you’ll want to cut out some strips of cardstock. I liked the look of the brown more natural sheets but you could use anything. I cut these 2” wide. Again, just cut them the length of your paper. My paper was 11.5”. You’ll just need one strip for each ribbon, so three total for this project.

Then you’ll start crimping your construction paper, meaning that you’ll want to fan fold it back and forth. There’s no exact size here. I found that I liked the look of a little tighter fold but you can do whatever you’d like here. Once you start folding one color, you’ll try to keep the size of your folds the same size each time for both strips.

Derby Mom 360: Mario Kart Award RibbonsDerby Mom 360: Mario Kart Award RibbonsOnce you’ve fan folded it all, you’ll want to glue the two ends together on each side for you get a fully connected cylinder. You could use any glue or tape here but I find a glue gun easiest for the rest of the project so I used that.

The next bit is probably the trickiest portion of this award project. You’ll want to bring on edge of the cylinder all together and lay it flat. The other edge will fan out and become the outside of the ribbon. It took both hands at first to keep it held in that position. Then once you have it properly gathered, you’ll grab your glue gun and put a good blob of hot glue in the center. You’ll need to keep holding the starburst in place while the glue dries. I just held it and blew on it for a about two minutes. After my first award, I realized I could wedge heavier objects on a couple sides to keep it from moving while it dried. Whatever works, you just want the glue to be hard before you release it.

While that is drying, you can prep your inserts. I made mine kind of funny and full of inside jokes for my group of friends. I have a more generic one here that is more likely to meet your needs. Just cut these out and they will serve as your center inserts. I chose to print them on cardstock so the paper would be stiffer to hold up to the hot glue.

Derby Mom 360: Mario Kart Award Ribbons

Next you’ll want to hot glue the insert to the appropriately colored construction paper starburst. I did First (Grand Champion sounded more regal) in blue, Second in red and Third in Yellow. I flipped my starburst over and found the side without the glue glob to be more flat and easier to affix the center circle nice and flat. I hot glued in the center of the circle and then much more thinly near the perimeter so it would be on snuggly but not show any lumps of glue.

Derby Mom 360: Mario Kart Award RibbonsDerby Mom 360: Mario Kart Award RibbonsMaro-Kart-Awards-5Then the last part is to prep and affix the lower ribbon portion. I folded my cardstock at an angle to look like ribbon. Then I cut two strips of ribbon, slightly longer than each piece and glued them into place and let them hang over the end. Once that glue dried, I cut out a triangle on the bottom to give them a nice finished look. I used about 2 feet of white 1” wide ribbon but you could really use any scraps you have lying around.

Derby Mom 360: Mario Kart Award RibbonsLastly, I laid down a good portion of glue at the folded end and affixed the back of my starburst to it. I head it in place for a bit until the glue started to set. That’s it! You have one beautiful homemade ribbon. I made one first to get the hang of it and then assembly lined the rest of them doing each step at the same time.

I found some cute Mario Kart trinkets at Ross and affixed each award to the prize as a “trophy” for the tournament top finishers. I have a very competitive group of friend and I felt like the awards made it so there was more on the line. There are prizes and titles to be won or lost! Makes the stakes higher.

I’d love to see how yours turned out. Post to the Flickr Group to share your creations.

Derby Mom 360: Mario Kart Party

Mario Kart Tournament

Looking around the internet I couldn’t find much guidance as to how to throw a home Mario Kart Derby Mom 360: Mario Kart TournamentTournament so it seemed like a good topic to share here.

I hosted this event as an adult dinner party. We did a fully Italian themed potluck complete with dinner, drinks, Mario Kart Wii and a lot of heckling. You could easily substitute out the cocktails and have this party for kids instead. Also, you could skip the tournament play entirely and just use some of these fun elements as an accent to your next Mario themed birthday party.

Derby Mom 360: Mario Kart TournamentThis entry is linked to all the different parts which include tutorials, links and downloads on the following:
Award Ribbons
Single Elimination 12-person Tournament Brackets
Mario & Goomba Construction Paper Decorations
Checkered Pennant Racing Flag Decorations

Enjoy! Hope you have a great party!

P.S. I’d love to see how yours turned out. Post to the Flickr Group to share your creations.

Derby Mom 360: Baby Cupid Wings

Baby Wings

I saw a handful of gorgeous photos on Pinterest of babies in feather wings that totally inspired me to do an adorable Valentine photo shoot.  When I looked for some online, I had trouble finding a decent option that I could get quickly which led me to making me own.  It was actually very cheap and only took about an hour to make after a trip to Joann’s.



For me, these wings for my 9 month old son and I wanted them to look full sized on him, so I made this design at about 11″ x 8.5″.  That way it fit on a standard letter sized piece of paper.   You can download a print out of the outline here:

Printable: Baby Wings Pattern

You can trace it onto a piece of thin cardboard, heavier cardstock or anything that can hold up to a decent amount of hot glue. For me, my cardstock was not white, so I had to spray paint it.  If you don’t, you risk seeing the color through the feathers.  The white background makes it look more full from afar.Derby Mom 360: Baby Cupid WingsDerby Mom 360: Baby Cupid Wings

Once your wing pattern is white, you’ll have to poke/punch 4 holes for the arm straps.  I used a couple feet of basic braided 1/4″ elastic and threaded it through so there would be two arm straps and just tied off the ends in a knot.  I put the knot near the holes on the backside of the wings so you wouldn’t see them on his shoulders when he wore them.  If you have access to clear or flesh colored elastic, even better!  For me, I just went with some white elastic I had around the house already.

Derby Mom 360: Baby Cupid WingsDerby Mom 360: Baby Cupid WingsNow it’s time to plug in your glue gun and get ready for the fun part: FEATHERS!

You’ll want to get out your bags of feathers and start prepping the longer ones.  Usually they have a long pointy stem on them.  You’ll want to remove that so the end of that stem is very close to where the actual feathers start.  You won’t want to see any of that on your wings.

Now it is time to start actually gluing the feathers on.  You’ll want to start on the side that does not have the arm loops (what we will call the front even though it is what you will see when you look at your kid’s back).  It’s more important that the front looks full and well-laid out than the back since that’s the part you’ll see the most of.

Derby Mom 360: Baby Cupid WingsDerby Mom 360: Baby Cupid WingsI started with one really nice feather pointing down to be the end. Then two that kind of follow the curve of the wings.  Even though the wings don’t come down to a point in the pattern, the feathers can make it so the bottom has a nice point to it.  You’re going to start from there and just keep working your way up, overlapping the next tier over the top inch or two of the last one so they look full.

You want to do your best to follow the shape of the wings so that the stems of the feather work their way toward the inner middle part of the wings where the arm loops are.Derby Mom 360: Baby Cupid Wings Derby Mom 360: Baby Cupid WingsMeaning, once you get to the last tiers near the top you’ll be going almost perpendicular to the direction your first feather was placed.

Once you have layers of the bigger feathers covering all the wings, you’ll want to use the smaller downy feathers to cover up all the visible stems of the larger feathers near the top and middle.  You’ll also want to cover up any edges of cardboard you can see.  So the middle and the upper edge are all fluffy down feathers.  Then you will repeat this same process on the other wing.  You’ll want to cover up the elastic so you can’t see it but try to avoid glueing directing on top of it so it can still stretch and move some as needed.

Derby Mom 360: Baby Cupid WingsDerby Mom 360: Baby Cupid WingsYour wings are nearly completely.  The top side should be looking full and beautiful now and you’ll want to flip them over to do a light covering over the back side.  On this side, the tiers can be more spread out and the downy feathers can be much more thinly placed if needed.  The idea is just that when you see it coming up over your baby’s shoulder it looks full and feathery.  So the most important part to fill more fully on the back side is the rounded higher part since you will see it in any front facing picture of your babe.  Make sure as you are covering this side with feathers the keep the arm loops pulled away and free of glue.

Derby Mom 360: Baby Cupid WingsCUPID HAS ARRIVED!

Your gorgeous, handmade one-of-a-kind baby wings are complete!  Next step is now to photograph your handsome little cherub.  Check out the Photo Shoot link (coming soon) for tips and tricks to capture the best baby Valentine’s images.


Derby Mom 360: Valentine Heartbreaker


As Valentine’s Day was fast approaching, I hit up Pinterest looking for clever projects I could do with my little guy.  I was hoping to come up with an idea for Valentine’s cards I could send out to my family.    When I started looking around I saw tons of great cherub photo shoots and thought I would tackle the project.

In addition to the photo shoot, we had a Valentine’s Day playgroup party to attend and I wanted to make sure my son had the proper attire.  A heart tie tee seemed like the perfect way to go this type of event. Click on the images below to get started on your Valentine’s projects.

Derby Mom 360: Valentine Heartbreaker
Derby Mom 360: Valentine Heartbreaker
Derby Mom 360: Valentine Heartbreaker
Derby Mom 360: Valentine Heartbreaker

Derby Mom 360: Nautical Cake Topper Bunting

Cake Topper Bunting for Nautical Themed Party

I wanted to stick with the nautical theme for this party as best I could so I wanted to do some sort of cake topper that went with the rest of the nautical look.  A miniature bunting seemed like a great way to do that!


Below is a printable PDF of the bunting.  There is one set of flags that says “Baby is one” so you don’t need to do any extra work to make that topper.  There is a second set of blank flags which you can add your own letters.   I used Hagin Caps Medium font which I thought looked very cute with this theme.  You can print the flags as they are and then write the letters by hand.  You could cut out and glue letters on. Or for those of you more graphically inclined you could use any page layout program to add the letters on the computer and then print them out already to go.  Whatever method suits your still set.  Here are the files you’ll need:

Printable Cake Topper Flags
Font – Hagin Caps Medium

For me, it was easiest to just layout all the letters on the computer. I printed out all my flags on regular copy paper. Cutting these flags out is a bit tough because they are so miniature. You may find it easiest to cut these out with an Exacto knife and a ruler. It’s a great way to make very straight lines but if you don’t have a craft knife, scissors will do just fine.

Derby Mom 360: Nautical Cake Topper BuntingNow you’re ready to start attaching your bunting. I chose to hang my banner in two lines but there’s no reason why you can’t string it all in one either. It just depends on the size of your cake.

First, you’ll cut a piece of string a few inches longer than your cake.  Then layout you diamond shaped flags in the order you want to them out.  It may be helpful to start from the center of your string with the middle most flag and work your way out to evenly space them.  The flags are diamond shape so you can fold them in half over the string.  Then add a tiny dot of Elmer’s glue and press it tightly for 5-10 seconds.  Then move onto the next flag.

Once all your flags are glued on, you’ll take your straws and place them at a distance and angle you like in your cake.  Then tie off each string very gently to the straw.  I chose to use paper straws because I had some that went with my theme.  If you don’t have any, you could also use a wooden skewer, a chopstick or anything else you can dig up around the house.

Up close your topper may not look perfect, but once it’s placed in your cake it will all come together and look great.  The flags are very tiny for this project so be patient with the process and be sure to print an extra set in case the first attempt doesn’t work out.

That’s it!  Topper complete.  I grabbed a random Hanukkah candle to match my color scheme.  No need for a big fancy candle since your topper is really the star here.

Derby Mom 360: Nautical Cake Topper BuntingLET THEM EAT CAKE!

Derby Mom 360: Nautical Bunting

Bunting for Nautical Themed Party

Buntings, also known as banners or pennants, are a fun way to dress up a party, to use as an all-the-time decoration in your child’s room or even just  in the background of a photo shoot.  You could make them from paper, fabric or some other material entirely.  I chose to go the quick and easy way from this project and print them on paper.



Below is a printable PDF with twelve flags for this bunting.  Two flags have a picture (an anchor and a boat) that I used at the beginning and end of the shorter words.  The other 10 designs all have a white circle in the middle to put your letters.  I used Hagin Caps Medium font which I thought looked very cute with this theme.  You can print the flags as they are and then write the letters by hand.  You could cut out and glue letters on. Or for those of you more graphically inclined you could use any page layout program to add the letters on the computer and then print them out already to go.  Whatever method suits your still set.  Here are the files you’ll need:

Printable Nautical Bunting
Font – Hagin Caps Medium

For me, it was easiest to just layout all the letters on the computer. I printed out all my flags on regular copy paper and then used spray adhesive to attach them to card stock. Then with a ruler and rotary cutter, cut out each triangle flag. It’s a great way to make very straight lines but if you don’t have a rotary or a craft knife, scissors will do just fine. If your printer can print on card stock, you can do that and skip the spray adhesive entirely.

Derby Mom 360: Nautical BuntingNow you’re ready to start stringing your bunting. I chose to hang my banner in three lines but there’s no reason why you can’t string it all in one either.

First, get your hole punch and put two holes in every flag, one near the top right point and one near the top left point.  Then layout your flags as you’d like them to read.  Here’s how I did mine:




Figure out about how long you’ll want your jute and add 4 feet or so to that so you’ll have plenty to work with.  Start with your last flag first.  So I’d string “Boat” and push it all the way down to the end.  Then “Y” and push it all the way down to the boat with about two inches of space in between.

Through trial and error and some great help from my sister-in-law, we figured out that it was best for us not to tie a knot to hold the flags in place.

The jute keeps them from sliding around too much.  If you just string them all up with no knots, when you hang them you can still move them around a little bit, which worked out best for us.

Derby Mom 360: Nautical BuntingFINISHED!

After you’ve strung all three, space all the flags out evenly and you’re good to go!  If you hang the bunting by the jute and not the flags, the banner will remain in great condition and you can reuse it for many events to come.