Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wipeable and Reversible Placemat Tutorial

I have been trying to figure this out for a while now.  I want my table to be dressed nicer, but with a toddler around, it is just not practical to have linens on the table.  I thought maybe to use oilcloth, but it tends to split fairly easily, so turning would be a problem.  Then I thought I could avoid turning by using bias tape, but then the bias tape would get dirty.  Them I came across a blog post (which I lost the link, ugghhhh!) that used dollar store foam placemats and covered them with fabric and iron-on vinyl.  I was so excited - I had never heard of iron-on vinyl before.

So, I decided to skip the foam placemat and just make mine with fabric. 

I am really happy with the result.

Here is what you'll need to make 4 of these:
  • one yard of home decor weight fabric
  • one yard of complimentary fabric, preferably home decor weight, but not necessary
  • 3 packages of iron-on vinyl (2 yds x 17" per pack) - creative couponing at Jo-Ann's worked well for me here.
  • Corresponding thread
  • Iron
Start by cutting out your fabric pieces.  Each piece should be 19.5" x 14".  be sure to pay attention to which way you want the print to go on your placemat.

Next, cut out your vinyl pieces.

Yes, I am aware this is upside down, but I'm running out of time :)
Now is your chance to iron out your fabric perfectly smooth.  Hold the steam don't want your fabric wet.

Peel off the vinyl piece from the backing.

Place it on top of the RIGHT side of your fabric.

Smooth out.

Now place the paper piece on top of the vinyl.

With your iron on medium heat and no steam, begin pressing...follow package instructions to be sure you get a good bond.

Now flip your fabric piece over and press again.

Turn it back over and peel off the paper.  Voila.  Repeat with the other 7 fabric pieces.

Now place your two different fabrics with right sides facing each other.  Do not pin as you'll puncture the vinyl.  Carefully sew around the edges leaving a large hole for turning - this is much more difficult to turn than regular fabric...leaving a large opening will help cut down on wrinkling.

Note how I sewed "into" the piece before I started sewing around the edges.  This helps keep everything more stable when you are turning. 

Cut all four corners on the diagonal.

Turn the placemat inside out.  it will be a wrinkly mess:.  Don't worry.

Go back to the ironing board.  Fold under the opening and hold it steady.  meanwhile, place the paper that you used for pressing back on top and iron the opening.  Warning:  The two sides will fuse you only get one shot here.  Now continue to press the whole placemat, both sides.  I found that using high heat here was very helpful.

Much better, right?

 Now top stitch all around.  Tip:  Use a dark colored thread, otherwise with frequent wiping, light colors will become very dingy.

So, there you are...a super easy and fun way to update your kitchen table.  I love how I can mix and match them to suit my mood/decor.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!


  1. I've been wanting to do this for awhile now, but I wasn't sure it was going to be as easy as it sounded in my head. So glad to see the step-by-step and know that it was! I'm definitely going to try this now. Thanks! :)

  2. Love love love it! Thank you for the instructions; looks fairly easy so I'll give it a go :-). I am especially appreciating the step by step photos; thanks!

  3. this is great- I'm not a little piggie but I live with one and this is going to be my Monday night project! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Love this! I found your post through Extreme Personal Measures blog. I have placemats for my daughters' small table that I keep having to replace when they get worn out. I already have some iron-on vinyl on hand and can't wait to try it out for this project! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Hello, I wanted new placemats for my new granite tabletop and they needed to be wipe able. So I followed your directions and have a great set of 5 reversible mats. I found that you could piece the vinyl for the 5th mat rather than buy another roll of vinyl. They are lovely and thank you for the great instructions.

  6. Hello! Thank you for the tutorial. I was wondering if it would be possible to sew the two pieces together first, then place the vinyl ... what do you think?

    1. That's a good question. I thought about doing it that way, but I figured the end result wouldnt be exactly what I was going for. Either there would be plastic hangover around the edges (to ensure it was sealed) or there would be exposed fabric edges, which could get quite dirty. This was my reasoning anyway. If you do decide to try it, please let me know the results! It sure would make the project much easier!!
      Thanks for reading!

  7. They didn't have the iron-on vinyl at JoAnn's and I didn't have time to go elsewhere - but I found the flannel-backed vinyl cloth and it worked great too! However - I am not sure how you used 2 yds of fabric :-) (one of each) to make 4? I wanted to make 6 so bought 3 yds of the fabric and I have about half of it leftover! Good thing it wasn't expensive and I used a 50% off coupon. now what to do w/ this fabric :-) add it to the rest of the fabric I have I guess - haha! Thanks for the directions!

  8. Have been looking for wipeable placemats I liked, but with little success. Thanks for the tip about iron on vinyl. I found that instead of using the paper I peeled off, using parchment paper over the fabric and vinyl worked better for me. I can proect my ironing
    board with a bigger paper and protect my iron from the melting vinyl as well . The parchment paper takes the heat well.

  9. This is awesome! very nice DIY idea! i've share it on my FB page because i love this kind of thing.

  10. Just found this, and the idea, tonight. Thank you for this tutorial! Just saved myself some major bucks on placemats (b/c decorating with them is my thing, lol)

  11. You guys really did a great job. Thanks for sharing these awesome ways to make childrens placemats.