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Kids Reversible Chalk Cloth Placemats: Draw Your Dinner!

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It's a reversible placemat. No, it's a party activity. Wait... you're both right! Our party placemats have festive fabric on one side and 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, then wipe it clean with a damp cloth or baby wipe. For a party, give each guest his/her own box of chalk to keep little hands busy while you set up for more fun and games. Or, make a set for mealtime magic at home. It's a great distraction for the troops while you're preparing lunch or dinner, and who knows, maybe you'll discover a tabletop Picasso.

For best results with 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.

Tired of drawing? The placemats are reversible! Flip them over for a blast of bright color in the standard rectangular shape. 

We originally used Patty Young's Playdate collection by Michael Miller Fabrics for our mix and match set. This is an older collection that is no longer readily available. Not to worry... the selection of amazing prints for kids is huge! And, come to think of it, who says these mats are only for kids?!

We found an adorable collection at Fat Quarter Shop: Monster Mash by Heather Rosas for Camelot Cottons. It's covered in cute little monsters that would be fun for birthdays and, with Halloween around the corner... how fun is this!

Click the swatch group above to go to Fat Quarter Shop to see the full Monster Mash collection. Monster Mash is also available as a fat quarter bundle.

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 even scraps. For each placemat, you need enough fabric to cut a 21" wide x 16" high 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, one yard will give you four cuts – we mixed and matched our fabrics, using ½ yard each of four different designs 
  • 1 yard of 48" wide chalk cloth for the front of the four placemats; we found options at Fabric.com as well as Jo-Ann Fabrics and Fabric Depot.
  • All-purpose sewing thread in colors to match fabric(s)
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • See-through ruler
  • Seam guage
  • Seam ripper
  • 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 for each placemat.
    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 back and press the top ⅜". 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.
  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. Remember you are pinning across the top all the way to the outer edge. 
  7. Turn the placemat over and make sure your fabric is still straight and flat. If not, adjust and re-pin.
  8. Stitch the top and bottom "borders" in place.
  9. Make a small diagonal clip at each corner. This helps keep your corners clean.
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  10. Fold, pin and stitch 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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  11. 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.
    2) Do NOT fold chalk cloth, always roll it. Folding can leave permanent marks.

Contributors

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

Section: 

Comments (3)

Kristi B said:
Kristi B's picture

These are great!  When I saw them I thought they would make awesome teacher gifts!  I can see them being used to write instructions for students at center tables!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ jamiecovac - the chalk cloth is not fragile at all - it's pretty tough, almost like an oil cloth. The manufacturer's instructions say it definitely is machine washable - use cold water, don't use bleach and if ironing is needed, us a low, cool iron and don't press directly on the chalk cloth; iron from the back and/or with a pressing cloth. 

jamiekovac said:
jamiekovac's picture

I absolutely love these and love seeing new materials I might not find on my own. I'm wondering though... the chalk cloth seems fairly fragile; you can't wash these, can you?

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