Monday, August 11, 2014

Make It Monday : Back to School Cloth Place Mats

My family typically eats our meals on place mats.  I've been told that this is "too fancy" by some people. While I like the the feeling that every meal my family has together is special, the honest truth is that cleaning up after meals is so much faster with place mats.

This year my daughter's teacher has required each child to have a cloth place mat. I think it's such a great idea that I'm sending one to school with my son, even though it wasn't requested.

My husband thinks I am absolutely crazy with desiring to reduce the amount of germs that our kiddos are exposed to, but then again it's not him taking care of them when they are sick. In my book a place mat at school is an awesome way to reduce the amount of germs they are exposed to while eating.

The following directions are designed to make a place mat that is child sized and will easily fold into a lunchbox. If you are making this for home you may want to change the size to match your other place mats and/or accommodate your dishes. Another change that I'd recommend if you are not making them for school lunches, would be using a heavier fabric versus the cotton that I used for these school place mats.

*Sewing Disclosure*
I am not very good at sewing. I enjoy sewing for my family and creating functional items, but they are not always super "pretty" with every seam sewn to perfection.

You don't have to be a sewing pro to make something for your family!

I'm sure there are those who will disagree with that statement. They are welcome to do my sewing whenever they desire. In all seriousness, for those of you who think that you can't sew I highly recommend trying sometime. You never know what you can do till you try!

Materials for ONE 13"X18" Cloth Place Mat:

  • Thread that looks good with the fabric you will use for the top of your place mat
  • Two 14"X19" pieces of Fabric
  • Pins
  • Iron
  • Scissors
  • Sewing Machine (sewing needle if you do not have a sewing machine)

Optional: Mark-B-Gone Pen & a Ruler
*I find that drawing out where I am going to stitch helps me not make as many "mistakes."  For some reason I often get distracted at my house and drawing sewing guide lines helps prevent me from closing up areas that I shouldn't. (I'm sure that none of you have any distractions at home.  Right?)

Fabric Selection - I went through my scraps and found some basic 100% cotton material that didn't wrinkly insanely easily. After selecting fabric for the top of the place mat, I found a complimentary material for the bottom. At home I would use them as a reversible place mat, but for school I specifically chose a plain material to always go down on the table- cause there will be days that I'm sure my kiddos will go to school without a "clean" place mat. 


1. Iron your fabric. (Yes, I hate ironing too, but this is important.)

2. Place the fabric on your table with the "pretty" sides together.

3. Pin the material together ("pretty" sides touching) to make sure it doesn't shift while you are sewing.

4. If you are not going to draw a guide line for your sewing you can skip to step 5 and begin sewing.

Using a Mark-B-Gone pen and your ruler draw a rectangle 1/2 inch in from the edge of your pinned fabric.  (see image below)
  *Do not draw your line from one edge to the next - instead stop 1/2 inch before reaching the end of the fabric.
  *Leave an opening of about 4" on one side. I recommend that this not be done near a corner.

5. Sew

If you drew guide lines:
    a. Sew along your line.  Begin with a back-stitch (going backwards a few stitches) then continue forwards. (see image above for starting place)
    b. When you reach a corner stop the sewing machine with your needle in the fabric and lift up the sewing machine's presser foot to allow you to pivot the fabric 90 degrees. Put the foot back down and continue along your line. (The presser foot is the part near your sewing machine needle that holds the fabric down. You can typically lift and drop it by flipping a lever behind it on the back of your machine.)
    c. As you follow your line around the place mat make sure that you leave about 4" open (in case you accidentally didn't draw your line with the opening).
    d. End with a back-stitch to secure your thread.
For those of you who did not draw lines: (you can refer to image in step 4 for guidance)
    a. Begin away from a corner with a back-stitch to secure your thread then continue forward.
    b. Sew 1/2" seam allowance around the edge of your fabric.
    c. Leave about 4 inches open.
    d. End with a back stitch.

6. Take out all of your pins (if you didn't already do this while you were sewing).

7. Without cutting through your stitches cut the corners at a diagonal.

8. Through the 4 inches that you didn't sew pull the fabric through so that the "pretty" sides are showing. Use something pointy, but not sharp, to make sure that your corners are completely pushed out. (I typically use a knitting needle, chop stick, or handle of my daughter's watercolor paintbrush to do this.)

9. Iron your place mat. In the area where you left the 4 inches open, turn the material inside the place mat 1/2" so that it looks like the rest of the border. Press this area with the iron and pin it to keep it where you want it.

10. Using your presser foot as a guide stitch around your place mat on the top (area your child will eat on).

To use your presser foot as a guide simply stitch with the side of the sewing machine's presser going along the outer edge of your material. Remember to begin/end with a back stitch and pivot the fabric at the corners like you did in step 5.

11. Cut away end thread and do the "HAPPY DANCE" you have just sewn a two sided place mat!

Disclosure:  Ramblings of Mama will always provide honest opinions, beliefs or experiences.  We will only recommend products or services that we feel are of benefit to our readers. If you have any questions, please contact Heather RamblingsOfHeather{at} gmail {dot} com

1 comment:

  1. I can't sew at all. These are cute. We use place mats daily. I don't think it's fancy, I think it protects my table.


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