Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Chalkboard Placemat Tutorial

The girls think these are a lot of fun and I think they are great for passing time at restaurants or the doctor's office.  I've made these quite a few times now trying to find the best way to construct them.  I've made them without pockets for chalk and an eraser, but I like everything to have its place so it's mobile for a diaper bag.  A lot of kids have been getting my prototypes for their birthday as I figure them out.  This is actually an upcoming birthday present for a 2 yr old.

Materials Needed:
  • 13"x19" piece and 4"x11" piece of laminated cotton
  • 11"x17" cut of chalk board fabric
  • 36" of ribbon
  • chalk and sponge
  • optional - fabric glue, sewing needle for thicker fabric (90/14), walking foot, Wonder Clips
Use spray fabric adhesive to attach the wrong side of the chalk board fabric to the wrong side of the larger laminated cotton piece in its center (you'll have a 1" border around the chalk fabric).  I don't have adhesive so I didn't use it, but it would have made the project less stressful.  The fabric moves a little and creates ripples while sewing if you're not using a walking foot or haven't clipped well enough.  You can use regular cotton fabric but I like that the laminated cotton easy to clean.

Important!  I forgot to take a picture of this step - hem one long side of the smaller laminated cotton.  It is going to be attached as a pocket for chalk and the eraser (sponge).  It's easiest to do it before it is clipped to the chalk fabric and sewn on.  The placemat can be made without this pocket or sewn on later.

So begin clipping the fabric down for sewing.  Do not use pins, the holes will be permanent!  Paper clips will work, but I'm loving these Wonder Clips I just bought.  Turn down one corner first to form a triangle.  I had already began one side when I took pictures, but the method is the same for all corners.
Then roll down the laminated cotton edge to meet the chalkboard fabric edge.

Then roll down the edge again and begin clipping, and clipping, and clipping.  You're basically just framing the chalk board fabric.

I didn't take a picture of another step, but you can see it below.  Make sure the small strip of laminated cotton is placed right side up, but under the framing and clipping.  Also make sure the hemmed portion faces out. 

  Ready for sewing!  Sew all along about 1/4" from edge.

So I decided to use my walking foot for the first time.  I think I installed it wrong or something because it made a lot of noise.  But it worked really well so I just went with it because I was too tired to figure it out.  (update: figured it out, didn't put the arm on the needle screw)  You can use a regular foot, but you'll have to gently pull the fabric behind the needle while feeding the fabric so that it doesn't get stuck.
Ignore my less than straight lines!  Now to work the pocket.  Insert the chalk you will be adding into the pocket to estimate how big the slot will need to be.  I usually can fit four slots for chalk, spaced 1 1/4" apart.  I didn't take pictures of the progress unfortunately.  The remaining space will be for the sponge eraser.  All that is needed is four straight lines sewn from the frame to the pocket opening.  Remember to backstitch in the beginning and end of each line.
A view of the finished pockets side.  My pockets for the chalk aren't all the same size since I decided to just guess this time.  You can add more chalk pockets and downsize the eraser pocket.  Just cut the sponge to the size needed.

Fold the ribbon in half and attach it to the opposite side of the pocket so the mat can be rolled and tied up.  I've attached it to the pocket side before on accident and it didn't look as nice.  And don't forget to seal off the cut ribbon edges with a lighter so it doesn't fray.

Prime the mat by rubbing an edge of the chalk horizontally and vertically and then erase.

And you're done!

C'est fini!

Also linked at:
Go to Sew - Oh yes, I sew!


  1. Okay, this is hilarious. The first thing I said when E opened this up was - this would be awesome for the diaper bag! Unbelievably adorable, too; love it!! This should be your first Etsy shop product. Do iiiiiit... :)

  2. I'm obviously behind the 8-ball on this one, but this is SUCH a great idea.

    Where, though, does one find chalk-board fabric? I've never even heard of it.

    1. Thanks! - I got the fabric at Joann Fabrics in the Utility section. It's also carried online.