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It’s a reversible placemat. No, it’s a party activity. Wait… you’re both right! Our party placemats feature fun and festive fabric from Patty Young’s new Playdate collection on one side, and Über cool chalk cloth on the other. Similar to oilcloth, chalk cloth is heavy yet pliable and waterproof. You can write on it with regular or liquid chalk and then wipe it clean with a damp cloth or baby wipe. We gave each party guest his/her own box of chalk to play with, keeping little hands busy while we set up for more fun and games.

Click to Enlarge

It’s a reversible placemat. No, it’s a party activity. Wait… you’re both right! Our party placemats feature fun and festive fabric from Patty Young’s new Playdate collection on one side, and Über cool chalk cloth on the other. Similar to oilcloth, chalk cloth is heavy yet pliable and waterproof. You can write on it with regular or liquid chalk and then wipe it clean with a damp cloth or baby wipe. We gave each party guest his/her own box of chalk to play with, keeping little hands busy while we set up for more fun and games.

For best results with your writing, most companies suggest prepping the chalk cloth first. To do this, rub a piece of chalk side to side across the entire surface to be written on. Wipe it clean. Then, rub the chalk up and down across the entire surface and wipe it clean again. Now you’re good to go.

Our thanks to our birthday pals at Michael Miller Fabrics for providing all of Michael Miller blog.

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Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Supplies listed are for a party set of FOUR MATCHING placemats. If you’d like to mix and match your fabric as we did, you can use smaller chunks of fabric, possibly scraps. For each placemat, you need enough fabric to cut a 21″ x 16″ piece of the patterned fabric and a 19″ x 14″ piece of chalk cloth.

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  • 1 yard of 44-45″ fabric for the back of the four placemats
    NOTE: As mentioned above, we mixed and matched our fabrics, using four designs from Patty Young’s Playdate from Michael Miller Fabrics: Purple Chinese Lanterns, Chocolate Gumdrops, Teal Goldfish and Orange Lollipop Dreams
  • 1 yard of 47-48″ wide chalk cloth for the front of the four placemats
  • All-purpose sewing thread in colors to match fabric(s)
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • See-through ruler
  • Seam guage
  • T-square, optional but helpful for 90˚ corners
  • Straight pins
  • Iron and ironing board
  • One set of Liquid Chalk markers or boxes of regular colored chalk

Getting Started

  1. The key to success with this project is in the cutting. First, fussy cut your patterned fabric so the design on the back of the placemat is straight and pretty. This is important for reversibility… I don’t think that’s really a word, maybe, but you catch my drift. It should look as good on the back as on the front. Second, make sure all your cuts are square! Because you are wrapping a narrow hem around the sides of the chalk cloth, if either piece is crooked, you’ll be struggling to get the chalk cloth to lay flat and/or the patterned fabric’s hem to stay even. Take the extra time to really measure accurately and ensure all four corners are 90˚. It takes more time upfront, but you’ll be much happier in the long run.
  2. From the patterned fabric(s), cut ONE 21″ wide x 16″ high rectangle for each placemat.
  3. From the chalk cloth, cut ONE 19″ wide x 14″ high rectangle.
    NOTE: You can’t iron chalk cloth without a pressing cloth.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. To achieve our simple squared-off corners, you need to work in a specific order: top, bottom, left side, right side. Everything we do will follow this pattern.
  2. Fold and press the top 3/8″. Repeat to fold and press the bottom, then the left side, then the right side.
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  3. Fold and press an additional ½” in the same pattern: top, bottom, left side, right side.
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  4. Carefully unfold all the sides so you can see the creases. Slip the chalk cloth into place so it aligns with the first crease line on all sides.
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  5. Refold the top and bottom (not the sides yet), pinning in place horizontally. The sides should remain unfolded so you can pin the top and bottom all the way to each outer edge.
  6. Turn the placemat over and make sure your fabric is still straight and flat. If not, adjust and re-pin.
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  7. Make a small diagonal clip at each corner. This helps keep your corners clean.
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  8. Fold in and pin the sides, following the same steps as for the top and bottom. As above, take the time to turn the placemat over and make sure the fabric is smooth and flat on the back. If not, adjust and re-pin.
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  9. Stitch both sides, again following the same steps as above. Be extra careful to keep your corners neat. The hems should match and the stitching should align.
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    NOTES: Two things to keep in mind: 1) as mentioned above, you can’t iron chalk cloth without a pressing cloth. So with your finished placemats, do NOT try to iron the hems from the front. Turn the placemat over and iron from the back. Use a low setting and keep the iron moving. Also, 2) do NOT fold chalk cloth always roll it. Folding can leave permanent marks.
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Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas 
Sample Creation and Instructions: Liz Johnson

Other machines suitable for this project include the Elna 5200 and the Baby Lock Symphony.

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