Whether it’s the economy that’s got you staying in for the holidays, you’re celebrating with friends, or making that trip out of the city, why not make some elegant place settings with handmade placemats and napkins. You can make them flamboyantly holiday-themed or a little more classic for extended use.
Materials + Tools Needed:
1. fabric, 2 yrds (1 for top, 1 for bottom) yields 6 napkins, $7 -- $14/yrd
2. 1 yrd of fusible fleece or Insul-Bright if you’ll need insulation from cold or
heat (optional) $ 3/yrd
3. thread & needle
4. Stitch Witchery (a fabric adhesive) $2.75 or sewing pins $3
5. fabric chalk or regular chalk…preferably white $3.50/box
6. sewing machine…or do it by hand for an extra rustic & (dare I say it?)
7. tape measure
9. clothes iron
10. small damp towel (preferably white so that no color from the towel transfers to
OPTIONAL: cute trimming!
Makin’ It Happen:
1. Choose a fabric. You want one that isn’t too stretchy. This bright patterned
Teflon was my choice. It has a nice smooth surface for easy cleaning. I
purchased it from the friendly staff of Fabric Barn on Grand St.
582 Grand St (between Leonard St & Lorimer St)
Brooklyn, NY 11211
2. Make a template for your place matt out of cardboard, poster board, or for
those of us who have 1/8” ply board lying around, that’ll do just fine too.
I did the 16.5”x 11.5” template. So, that’s what we’ll be going on.
3. Press your fabric with your iron before starting. Then using your template,
place your fabric print side down with your template on top. Using fabric chalk
(or regular white chalk), mark about 1/2” to 1” bigger than your template on
all 4 sides of your fabric. Draw 6 placemat outlines on each 1 yrd of
If you have a small household like many of us Brooklynites do, you can use
just 1 yrd of fabric to make 3 placemats. In either case, measure at least 2
pieces of fabric (1 piece for the top, 1 piece for the bottom) 17.5” x 12.5” sq.
4. Optional: Using the same template, cut 6 pieces of fusible fleece or
Insul-Bright to fit inside the placemats.
5. Optional: Use Stitch Witchery or fabric pins to hold fabric (and the fusible
fleece or Insul-Bright) in place for sewing seam. I opted for pins…visually
made more sense.
If using pins:
- place the 2 pieces of fabric right sides facing each other. The wrong side (or non-patterned side) will be on your table top surface.
- Use your chalk to outline your template
- Remove template & place pins through both fabrics ¼” away from the fabric’s edge.
- Cut your corners (literally!) diagonally to get rid of excess fabric.
6. Now you’re ready to sew! Either use a machine if you have access to one, or
you can hand stitch. In either case, sew along the chalk
7. Sew almost all the way around the matt. Leave a 5” opening so that you can
turn the matt inside out.
8. Use the blunt end of a crocheting or knitting needle to poke the corners out.
9. Close the 5” whole by hand.
10. Aaaannndd you’re done!
TIP: You can add some fabulous trimming to your placemats to make them even more noticeable.