Ali asked me to play with her the other day.

I agreed, as I was feeling a moment of Mommy Guilt over the fact that I am not the best playing-Mommy that ever was (actually I’m terrible at just sitting down and playing with my kids – I much prefer cuddling or reading or hiking or exploring.) So I vowed to play whatever she wanted.

She ran off to get set up, and when I entered the room, she announced that we would be playing crafts.

Crafts I can do. How did I know playing could be a potentially therapeutic type of activity? I expected us to be battling through another epically soul-sucking game of Chutes and Ladders. I should play more often!


Ali is overrun with craft supplies in need of using, as she discovered a few weeks ago that one of the art galleries I have Picture Birmingham products in, Naked Art Gallery, has a bin of “free art supplies” for the taking. She and Noah have since become that bin’s biggest customers. We had dropped by the day before and they had picked out a load of fabric scraps and other miscellaneous items, such as the ziploc bag full of beer bottle caps and wine corks that I didn’t know they’d snagged until after they had thoroughly handled and sorted each one without washing them first.

(Although now that I’m pondering it, I suppose beer bottle caps aren’t that germy.)

(Except for the ones opened with the consumer’s teeth.)



We started out making a mosaic – I cut the fabric into random chunks, then she glued them onto a piece of paper.

IMG_1564 copy

But then – I realized. We could really take this craft up a notch.

Because we do love a good geography game in our house.

One of our favorite things to do at Mexican restaurants is create the United States out of tortilla chips (did you know that tortilla chips almost always break in the shape of one of the fifty states? It’s a true fact), so why couldn’t we do it with fabric swatches?


But then I remembered that I had a fantastic pad of blank United States maps (one of the most useful homeschooling extras I’ve ever bought), and realized they’d make a perfect template for my cutting – in case creating random swatches of fabric isn’t quite as serendipitous as breaking tortilla chips.


And so I began butchering the nation, one region at a time, and using each state as a pattern to then cut it out of the fabric I had been given.


I cut,


and Ali glued.


It was perfect for both of us – I find cutting out detailed patterns highly therapeutic, and what kid doesn’t find glue just as pleasurable? Plus, planning out the pattern to not let the same color touch each other too often as well as changing up the direction of the fabric was quite enjoyable for both of us.

We started at Florida, worked our way west, then headed to the midwest, and saved the worst for last – the northeast.


WHY do you guys have to have such ridiculously tiny states??


But, after two sessions of cutting and gluing and covering my living room floor with shards of fabric that will be present for at least nine days, we finished our precious map.


Ali wanted to make Alabama look special, so it was the only state we did in the floral print. Unfortunately, it looks a bit bloody. But it’ll do.


Later, because every craft is just an excuse to use Mod Podge, I brushed over it to give it a nice sheen, and to make sure no states escaped (although New Jersey made a valiant effort.)

United States Map Fabric Craft

So. If you need a fun craft to discuss geography while getting some therapy in the form of cutting or gluing, this project is for you. And it is five stays in hell less painful than a game of Chutes and Ladders.

16 thoughts on “The Fabric of America.

  1. I love this! Also, I have a feeling that the person who would take off a beer cap with their teeth is not the same person who would save and donate said beer caps for art.

  2. What a cool craft idea! And now I’m thinking about other types of fabric mosaics–for my miles-long craft to-do list.

  3. I don’t think I would have started with Florida. I doubt there’s a good reason, but for some reason it bugs me that you started there. Those maps are really neat but there’s no reviews! How am I supposed to make and informed decision without a bunch of stranger’s advice? Also, apparently I cannot spell decisions without help.

    Crafts with my kids are beyond my patience level to deal with, so I try to sign them up for arts at their school or something, but this year, all the other moms like me got there first and the art class was full. I’m doomed!

    I have, however, started playing Don’t Starve Together ( with my 7 yr old. It is a fun exercise in patience when he is learning how to play it properly. He is currently reading this over my shoulder, and told me to say that we die a lot. So at least I managed to teach him to read:)

    1. Florida seems completely logical of a place to start to me. It’s the most extreme state in any direction, so you need to make sure that when you DO get to Florida, it’s not going to fall off the bottom of the map. Duh.

      I’ll check out the game – sounds fun! I like dying a lot.

    1. And because I realize that sounds really bad I should clarify…I will read to my kids for hours, take them for walks/bike rides/roller blading and play card or board games with them, but I never play Barbies or Legos or kitchen or house or the million other made up games they love to play.

  4. L LOVE this craft, as well as the results!! ( Brilliant, brilliant!!) ( ……just pointing pout, tho , that WISCONSIN was glued in backwards!! ( The ” thumb ” extends into Lake Michigan !!)

  5. Great job.

    May I suggest next time you create a map of Canada. Other than our 3 Maritime provinces, the rest of them are huge.. and there are only 10 provinces and 3 territories to cut out. :o)


  6. Oh my gosh, you totally described me in your first paragraph. I’m definitely not the best “playing mommy”. That’s definitely dad’s job around here. But the kids know they come to me for crafts,snuggles and books. :) Love this craft, such a great idea. As a quilter I’ve always got plenty of fabric around, maybe I should have my kids try this on a larger scale so THEY can do the cutting.

  7. I am with ya on playing with the kids. Although, I admit I don’t mind board games and card games. They at least have an end. I have a really hard time with pretend though. Any kind of pretend. Dolls, pets, house. Which is weird because I played pretend endlessly as a kid. Maybe I wore myself out.

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