Cleanup’s-a-Cinch Sack

Playtime is in the bag when you have the Cleanup’s-a-Cinch sack. If you’re tired of stepping on Legos or train tracks, this combination play mat and toy tote is for you.


You’ll need about a yard and a half of felt. We’re using felt because it won’t fray, and because it provides a flatter surface for playing on than fleece.

You’ll also need some clear vinyl. This is typically used for tablecloths and is sold off a big roll at Wal-Mart and other fabric stores.

Pick up some rope as well. Choose a polyester rope rather than one with natural fibers, because this kind won’t fray once you burn the ends. You can buy this from the hardware department of most stores.

You’ll need a couple of cord stop toggles. It doesn’t really matter which kind you choose, as long as your rope will fit through the holes.

Check out the Bedside Book Caddy tutorial for more organization inspiration!

How to:

You need to start with a square of fabric. If your felt is not square, trim off the excess so that it’s a square.

Fold the felt in fourths. Leaving the inner corner intact, sketch a quarter-circle  with chalk between the two opposite corners. Then cut out along your chalk line. When you unfold your fabric, you should have a circle.

Now we’ll make a casing for our rope. Make sure that the rope will fit through the casing, but don’t make the casing so wide that the cord stop will slide through it.

Mark the point where you began sewing with a pin, so you’ll remember to stop sewing before you reach it. Continue sewing, leaving a two-inch gap for threading the rope.

Use a safety pin or bodkin to feed the rope through the casing. Remove the safety pin and burn the end of the rope if it’s frayed at all. Add a cord stop toggle.

Then smooth out the casing so that it isn’t gathered at all. It may be helpful to spread it flat on the floor. Trim off the other end of the rope and burn the end. Add the other cord stop toggle.

Now we’ll add the vinyl window so that it’s easy to see what’s in the bag. Cut a rectangle of vinyl, and then cut a piece of tissue paper the same size. Vinyl can be sticky to sew through, and the tissue paper will help your needle glide through it easily. You could also use tear-away stabilizer. Pin the vinyl and tissue paper several inches below the casing, on the inside of the sack.

Sew the vinyl in place using a zig-zag stitch. Then rip off the tissue paper. If there are bits of tissue paper left behind and that bothers you, you can wet a washcloth and scrub gently at the stitches until the tissue paper dissolves.

Flip the sack over to the right side. Pinch the felt in the middle of the sewn rectangle, being sure that you are only grasping the fabric and not the vinyl beneath it. Snip out a hole in the center, then carefully trim around the rectangle, leaving about a quarter inch border by the seams.

Now you can fill the sack with toys, and uncinch it when it’s playtime. Tell your child to stay on the mat, and cleanup is easy! Just tighten and tie.

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