This was such a fun craft to make and it didn’t take too long! I was inspired with this through pinterest. I saw a pin of a bag with the menu on it and held the utensils. I thought it was a cute idea but it was only a one time use. So, I thought why not make a place mat with a chalk board. Then I saw this on pinterest,
You could buy them on that site, but what fun it that!? My boyfriend and I were cooking dinner for some of our friends and we thought that would be the perfect time to unveil them!
Plastic place mats- I bought mine from the dollar tree for, what a surprise, a dollar. I made sure they were flexible and thin enough to stick a needle through easily.
Fabric Place mats- Again I bought mine from dollar tree. I made sure they were about 1/2″ bigger than the plastic mats on all sides
Sandpaper- I used a scrap piece that was, I believe, 280 grit
Seam Ripper (aka Jack)
Application sponge or paint brush
Chalkboard paint or:
non-sanded grout- Value Home center for about $12. I was price gouged on this because they were out of the cheap stuff, but I’m not too worried about it There are plenty of opportunities to use this.
Paint- any type or color will work. I used dirt resistant flat interior paint. I wanted it to look like a chalk board so I had it mixed to a charcoal color. I saw this after I mixed the paint, but there are sample quarts you can buy for about $5. Next time I will try that. You only need a little bit so don’t buy a whole gallon unless you’re mass producing place mats.
Container to mix pain in
Something to cover your work space. I used a drop cloth
How to fashion a Chalkboard place mat
1. The first thing I did was remove all the tags. This sounds like an obvious step but if you don’t do it and you sand over a label it will be a pain to get off.
2. Sand the plastic place mats. You don’t need to evenly sand every bit, just rough it up so the paint will stick. Run your hand over the place mat after you’re done sanding and if you feel any smooth spots, hit that part again. I’m not sure this is entirely necessary but I wasn’t about to start painting and have it all peel off.
3. Next, I mixed the paint. If you bought chalkboard paint skip this step, if not here’s what I did. 8oz of paint mixed with 2 tablespoons of grout. Mix it together well. It won’t look smooth, but it shouldn’t have big lumps in it either. Mine bubbled up and you can tell it has a lot of texture. I made one cup at a time. I didn’t even use a full two cups so don’t waste your paint! Make it as you go.
4. Paint a thin layer of the chalkboard paint onto the sanded side of your plastic placemats. You may not completely cover the mat but that’s okay. you want to build up coats of the paint.
5. While your first coat is drying, grab your seam ripper (I named mine Jack) and rip the seams on the cloth place mats. Now, I wasn’t thinking when I bought my mats and purchased 7 of each. As it should turn out, when you rip out the seams of the cloth place mats you get two sides! Mind-boggling right? So if you are doing say 6 mats, just buy 3 cloth mats.
6. Remove all the extra threads from the cloth mats. An easy way to do this is make a packing tape donut, slip it on your hand and let the tape pull out the threads!
7. Iron the cloth flat. I was lucky and my place mats had a stabilizer on the inside so I ironed both sides to keep the stabilizer fused. Remove all creases as best you can. When you go to sew you may move the seams around from where they originally were and you don’t want a big crease to throw you off.
8. With the fabric all ready, it’s just time to paint the plastic mats with coats and coats of paint. Mike and I painted 3 coats, then let them dry over night. The next day we did 3 more.
9. If you have perfectly shaped plastic mats, you can do this while you are waiting for the paint to dry. However, if your mats are from the dollar tree like mine and come in all kinds of sizes, wait until your paint is dry. Cut the cloth place mat 1″ larger than the plastic mat on each side. This will allow for a 1/2″ seam and 1/2″ to fold over on to the mat. I lined my mats up matching at the corner and cut 2″ extra on two sides. I originally wanted 1/4″ seams but it was just a bit too small to work with.
10. Pin and sew your 1/2″ seam on all four sides of the cloth place mat and iron. Double check the size of the plastic mat to make sure it will fit.
11. Spray a light coat of spray adhesive on the back of the plastic mat. Center the plastic mat onto the cloth mat and press.
12. Flip the mat cloth side up and smooth out the wrinkles. You can lift and readjust the mats. The spray adhesive allows a lot of movement so don’t worry if you’re off center a bit. Just pull it off and try again!
13. Fold over excess 1/2″ of the cloth place mat on to the chalkboard mat. I didn’t want to use pins because that would make my chalkboard holey, so I used paper clips and pulled them as I sewed.
14. Sew Place mats together. This will take patience as its a lot of layers to go through. I found a new needle and going slowly made a big difference. I moved my needle all the way to the left. Then I lined up the inside edge of the fold along the left edge of my presser foot. I had a few bobbin and tension issues with one mat but I just ripped some seams and sewed them again. There were no issues with any of the other mats. When I came to the corners I clipped and folded them to lie flat. My cloth fabric frayed a little so I went back and threw a few hand stitches on to keep it in check.
15. Press the back and edges of place mat
14. Try out the chalkboard! It should work great and wipe off with a damp cloth. I found a towel works best.
I was really excited about this and they came out great! It took a few nights to complete this project, and I even had some help! It’s a simple process, however. I love these for entertaining and maybe in years to come I’ll pack them to restaurants to occupy my future kids!
Some things to keep in mind…
-I tested the chalkboard after 3 coats and it worked really well. Mike tested its durability and pressed really hard on the chalk and scratched off the paint. We decided to do more coats just in case. If you aren’t the Hulk 3-4 coats will work just fine.
– When pinning the seams I found it easier to place the pins parallel to the seam then after it was to the right size I flipped the pins perpendicular.
– I was lucky with my cloth fabric. If you have some extra stabilizer lying around you may want to add some for more durability.
– clean your sponge or brush after each application, even if you are doing another coat in an hour. The sponge will get hard and the grout will chunk up and it can scratch the paint or leave lines.
– if the paint were to scratch or rub off, touch ups are very easy. This paint doesn’t really streak like on the walls. When Mike scratched our test mat it was very easy to cover and I had to look pretty hard to see where we touched up. Just be careful near the fabric if you need to add some paint eventually.
– The paint dries pretty quickly but I would give it a full day before you write on it just to be safe.
– all in all each place mat probably cost about $5 each. The paint was the most expensive thing but that’s because I didn’t shop around and the store was out of the cheap stuff. Compared to $16 each this is way better! Plus you can buy any fabric to match your decor.
Happy drawing and dining! Thank you again for stopping by!