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Posted by Maxine Cleminson - - 0 comments

Mealtimes with three young boys are a messy affair!  I am forever wiping hands, faces, tables, chairs, floor and even walls on occasion!  It really is feeding time at the zoo!  The boys themselves are washable, so I don't mind too much, but protecting the furniture is another matter.  I've tried normal cotton tablecloths, but can't be bothered with the washing & ironing.  I've also tried vinyl tablecloths, but these tend to slip and don't stand up to vigorous wiping, plus there's also the issue of nasty toxins in vinyl.  So when I saw a whole range of beautiful laminated cottons on the www.fabric.com website I was intrigued.  Unlike vinyl or most oilcloth, laminated cotton doesn't contain phthalates, so it's great for kids' projects.  It's also softer to the touch and so drapes/folds a bit better.  The difficulty I had was that the cotton I liked only came in a 44" width... not wide enough for a tablecloth for my table.  Therefore, I decided to make small easily wipe-clean placemats... and reversible to boot!  I made them as simple as possible with no bound edges to catch dirt or fancy pockets for cutlery (yet more nooks and crannies for gunk to collect) and with a thin layer of batting in the middle to make them feel a little more substantial.

To make 6 placemats, you will need...

  • 1 yard of laminated cotton (44" wide)
  • 1 yard of laminated cotton in a contrasting or complementary pattern/color (also 44" wide)
  • 1 yard of low loft batting (also at least 44" wide)
  • Clothes pegs or sticky tape.
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine with a presser foot (alternatively, you could use baking parchment)
  • Coordinating thread

Firstly you need to cut out 18 rectangles, all 12" x 18" - six from your first laminated cotton, six from the other laminated cotton, and six from the batting.  If your laminated fabric is wrinkled from being folded, you can iron (on low) on the REVERSE.  To be extra sure you don't melt the laminate, it may be a good idea to use a pillowcase over the top!

Place the two rectangles of different laminated fabric together, shiny sides touching.  Then lay a rectangle of batting on top.  Hold the 3 layers together with clothes pegs ... don't use pins as these will permanently mark the fabric.  Alternatively, you could use sticky tape, but this is a bit difficult to remove from the batting!

Sew the 3 layers together on your sewing machine with a 1/2" seam allowance, leaving a 6 inch opening on one of the long sides of the rectangle.

Trim the batting close to the seam, and cut notches in the laminated  fabric in a fan shape around the corners.

Turn the layers inside out using the opening left in the seam, so that the two laminated fabrics are outside and the batting is inside.

Squash it flat as best you can.  Then, starting at the opening in the seam, simply sew a border 1/8" from the edge all the way around.  Because laminated cottons are 'sticky', this can be difficult without a special foot on your sewing machine (a presser foot, or one designed for this sort of thing is best).  However, there are other solutions.  You could tape a strip of baking parchment in place, sew over the top and then simply tear it off.  Low tack masking tape (or the blue decorater's stuff) would work equally well!

This then provides a defined and flat edge without the use of bias binding (which in my experience traps all the muck when you try to clean the mats, defeating the object of having wipe clean surface in the first place!).

Initially the mats may be a little 'puffy' due to the batting inside, but you can squeeze out any excess air and over time they will flatten out.  To care for these placemats, simply wipe clean with a damp soft cloth and soapy water or a multi-surface spray.  If they become heavily soiled, you can soak them in mild laundry detergent & rinse, or toss them in the washing machine on a handwash setting.  However, let them air dry as they may not survive the tumble drier!  Once sewn together with shiny sides facing outwards you can't iron them... obviously!

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