Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The EVERYTHING Travel Place Mat Tutorial

Yahoo! It's my first tutorial. I was so not planning to do this. But here's what happened. My two-and-a-half-year-old? He is not into eating. So much so that I often wonder how he survives on so little food. Lately, I've started trying anything and everything to get him to sit down and eat something already. I've tried bribes. Cutting the food into cute shapes. And games. 

I found that if we play Memory through dinner, he'll at least sit there. I think the biggest issue for him is that he'd rather just keep playing. So by playing Memory, we're still playing, but it happens to be at the table in between bites. 

And of course, then there is eating out. I typically throw three or four toys in my bag, when I remember, if we're going out. If I don't? It's a constant challenge to find ways to keep him sitting in his seat and not wandering around the restaurant bothering everyone. And so I started thinking... what if there was a cute, roll-up travel placemat that had a Memory-style game included in it? With a vinyl side for easy wiping?

And then I did something new for me: I just made one up myself!

It's very easy. You can do it, too. Here's my quick tutorial! 

What you need

For the memory game, you'll need....
A scrap piece of cardboard (I used the flap from a box of Diapers)
Mod Podge
A sponge brush or other Mod Podge applicator
A small piece of fabric to cover your cardboard (I wanted mine to be the same as the fabric on the place mat. You could do something coordinating or match. Whatever works.)
12 cut out pictures from scrapbook paper. Six pairs.

 First, put a thin, even layer of Mod Podge on your cardboard.

 Then lay the fabric on it, smoothing out any wrinkles. Press and let dry for a few minutes.

Then, you can't really see it, but add another layer of Mod Podge over the top. You could do two layers if you like, letting it dry between each one.

Once it is dry, flip it over and Mod Podge the back. 

Then stick your cut out images on. I wouldn't recommend using images printed from your computer onto regular paper, because they bleed a bit. 

Let dry, then add one or two layers of Mod Podge over the top, drying between each layer. When they're dry, cut out your pieces! I am not very fussy so I didn't worry about making mine each the same size. Do whatever works for you.

At this point, I decided to add a little sealer. I used this stuff in the yellow can called Shellac. Just follow the instructions on the can and do both sides. This sealed them up nicely. I'd say this step is somewhat optional, but I feel my pieces will last longer this way.

OK, game pieces are done! Now onto the place mat. For that you will need:
Rectangle of fabric
Rectangle of vinyl tablecloth
Rectangle of felt 
Sewing machine, thread, pins, scissors, etc.
2.5 yards coordinating bias tape, either store bought or handmade.

I sized my place mat by tracing one I had onto the wrong side of my fabric. Mine is about 18.5 by 15 inches finished. For that size, just add a half inch, so 19 by 15.5. The felt rectangle is 10.5 inches by 8 inches.

First, we're going to attach the felt pocket. I centered my felt on the fabric and pinned it down. Then measured two 1.5-inch sized slots for the fork and spoon. I just marked where the lines should go with pins. You could draw the lines on with water soluable pen. Again, I just sort of eyeballed it, and sewed two lines from top to bottom one-and-a-half and three inches into my left side.

Then I sewed around the two sides and the bottom using about a one quarter inch seam allowance. Since the pocket is felt, you don't need to worry about fraying. 

Pocket is done! Next, I place my fabric and the vinyl tablecloth wrong sides together and pinned. Then I did a baste stitch all around. This is a long stitch, like a 5. This is just to hold the tablecloth together while we bind it up. 

Next is to use your double-fold bias tape to bind. I am no expert at this. I use the tutorial from Prudent Baby as my guide. I opened the bias tape and did one side first and then the other. And you know what, it's not perfect. But hey! It's for a kid to eat off of. It's good enough!  My only advice is to take it slowly. I don't pin because it seems to be more trouble than it is worth. And just practice. My binding gets better each time.

So, look! We're almost done. Now, take another piece of your bias tape, about 21 inches. Sew it together on the open side to make it into a tie. Sew up the ends as well.

Then fold up your place mat with the vinyl side out, folding the top and bottom toward the middle, sandwiching the felt pocket. Lay the game pieces flat in the pocket. (By the way, when you flip the place mat over to eat, you'll also want to flatten the game pieces out. Or set them to the side)

Fold it up, rolling from one side.  Mark on the other side where on the bias tape you'll want your tie. I just marked with a pin. Unfold, and then sew the tie onto the bias tape, going back and forth a few times so it is nice and secure.

And hey! You're done!

A neat little package to throw in your diaper bag or just keep in the car. One side is great for eating and easily wipes off. The other is cute and entertaining and functional. What's not to love right?
Hope you enjoy, and please, do let me know if you make one or have any questions! 

Running with GlitterTip Junkie handmade projectsPhotobucketParty Button


  1. That's a good idea. I'd never have thought to make my own placemat to entertain the kids. I'm adding this to my gift-giving idea list. Thanks for the tutorial!

  2. Very fun! And I bet he loves it!
    Thanks for linking up to Making It With Allie! I can't wait to see what you have for next week!

  3. I bet he will sit and stay a little longer with this one and you can sneak some food into his mouth :)

  4. Great idea to keep the little ones busy...

    Thanks for sharing this at Creative Juice! Hope to see you back at the party tonight!

  5. So cute and practical! thanks for sharing. Will be featuring this this saturday. do grab a featured button ^^)

  6. Such a great idea! Thanks for auditioning for American Crafter- good luck:)