Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Some Placemats of One's Own

Normally, I don't make placemats for myself, because cloth placemats need to be washed and ironed, and who has the time?  So I have a collection of plastic placemats that I like pretty well.

But since Sew to Speak started stocking chalkboard fabric, I've had an idea for some kid-friendly placemats that I wanted to try.  The fact that April's Fabric by Fabric One-Yard Wonders sew along project includes placemats gave me the perfect nudge in the right direction.

I used oil cloth (I don't know the designer on the yellow check material) to border the chalkboard material, which I think makes for a rather festive canvas.  The backing is laminated cotton from Anna Maria Horner's Loulouthi collection.  I would have used the Loulouthi as a border, but decided that the print was too big and the design might not be as lovely if I cut it in 4" strips.  Also, because I was planning to use them on the white counter (in addition to the table), I decided that I might not love having fabric with a white background against the white counter.

The kids are really happy about the placemats.  They have always loved making personalized namecards when setting the table for dinner, and these mats would be perfect for writing the names of guests.  

Now for some general instructions:
Materials needed for 4  14"x18" placemats:
  • 4 pieces of chalkboard fabric measuring 8"x12"
  • 8 pieces of border fabric (oilcloth or laminated cotton) measuring 4"x8"
  • 8 pieces of border fabric (oilcloth or laminated cotton) measuring 4"x18"
  • 4 pieces of backing fabric (oilcloth or laminated cotton) measuring 14"x18"

  • Right sides together, sew pieces of the 4"x8" oilcloth to the short ends of the chalkboard fabric.
  • Right sides together, sew pieces of the 4"x18" oilcloth to the long sides of the chalkboard fabric.
  • Topsitch around outside of the chalkboard fabric, about 1/8" away from the seams.  This should go through the seam allowances, hopefully holding everything together nicely (see below).

  • Right sides together, sew the backing fabric to the assembled front piece, leaving a rather large space (about 8") for turning.
  • Clip corners and turn.
  • Topsitch around outside edge of placemat, making sure to completely seal raw edges of the hole that you used for turning.

A few notes:
I used oilcloth and laminated cotton, but for next time, I would recommend using only one or the other for both the border and backing - the different weights of the fabrics made it a little tricky to assemble (though not  that difficult, it's just more of a challenge).
Even though one of my reasons for not wanting cloth placemats was not being willing to press them, oilcloth is tricky to work with, specifically because you can't press them.  I would have loved to be able to iron the seam allowances, but couldn't.  This is why the topstitching  to hold seam allowances in place is so important.

My Joanna, using the new placemats, eating much too big a bite of a burrito.

Eventually, I want to make similar placemats, but with scalloped edges.  I'll have to think some more about it -  this would make the topstitching and turning much more complex.

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