Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Oilcloth Chalk Mat {tutorial}

School's out! Woo hoo! to keep the kids busy on all those fun summer trips??? Well I've got an idea for you! It's super easy to make in just 7 quick steps and easy to pack.
Win-Win in my book!

So what are you waiting for? Grab some oilcloth and chalkcloth on your next trip to the craft store and let's get a-sewing!

Here's what you need:
Oilcloth (18" x 14" piece)
Chalkcloth (18" x 14" piece)
Coordinating oilcloth for chalk pocket (2.5" x 2.5") - you can also use the same oilcloth fabric as your main piece; if so, just get a little bit larger piece of the main one so you'll have enough
Ribbon (26" long piece; a sturdy 3/4"-1" width grosgrain works well)
Coordinating thread (we used white)
Black thread
New, SHARP needle for your sewing machine (we used size 9)
Painter's tape (or masking tape)
Fray check
Chalk (3-5 chalk sticks)

Are you ready? Here it goes!

Step 1: Cut your pieces
If like me, you have an unnatural obsession with oilcloth and buy it by the bolt, then get out your scissors and cut an 18" x 14" rectangle out of both your oilcloth and your chalkcloth. Oilcloth has such a fun vintage feel to it and it doesn't fray. I love that!

Cut the 2.5" square for your chalk pocket out of the coordinating oilcloth or out of the same oilcloth as your main piece.

Cut a piece of ribbon 26" long...or longer (sometimes you just gotta use up what you have!)

Step 2: Thread your sewing machine
My mom helped make these (surprise, surprise). When we made the first one, we used nylon thread like the oilcloth retailer had suggested but when we sewed the mat, the nylon thread pierced the oilcloth and the chalkcloth a bit much for my liking so next we tried it with regular thread and it worked just fine. You have to learn from your mistakes, right? :)

But here's a little hint that will help your finished mat look so much better. Pick a matching thread color based on your oilcloth fabric and use that in your main spool, but use black thread for the bobbin so that when you are sewing the mat, the black thread will be on the chalk side and will almost disappear onto the mat. Genius, mom! Step 3: Put painter's tape to good use
I think the "sewing with oilcloth" recommendations I read (check out Oilcloth Addict - FUN!)called for a roller foot for your sewing machine to help keep the oilcloth from puckering since it has a tendency to crawl and to not want to stay put BUT....I do not have said fancy foot so painter's tape it was. Cut out a tiny piece the same size as your regular all-purpose presser foot and tape it in place with the sticky side to the presser foot so that the smooth side of the tape will help your oilcloth "glide" happily along.

Step 4: Start sewing already!
First, sew the chalk pocket to the chalkcloth and here's how: Position the chalk pocket (polka dot fabric) in the lower right hand corner of the smooth side of the chalkcloth (black side) about 1.5" from the edge on both sides and sew it in place. That painter's tape sure comes in handy for holding the pocket in place to avoid unnecessary pinholes!

If you are sewing the mat for a leftie, then perhaps you may want to sew the chalk pocket on the lower left hand side instead. That's up to you, but it is awful nice, don't you think? :)

And here's another tidbit for you. Instead of sewing just the sides like we did in the pictures, go ahead and sew the sides AND the bottom of your chalk pocket to help keep the chalk in place when you roll your mat. Because we only did each side (live & learn) this is what it looked like when we were done: Next, gently tug at the threads from the underside of the chalkcloth (the grid side) until your white threads come through and then tie each set of threads in a knot twice and cut off the excess. Step 5: Create your oilcloth / chalkcloth sandwich
Yup, either I've been up too late or the effects of having a toddler companion are really starting to show with titles like that one!

But in essence that is what you're doing. Match up the wrong sides of the fabric together and sew both pieces with the right side of the oilcloth on top like this: That painter's tape sure comes in handy once again to hold your pieces together. And in case you're wondering...if say, you accidentally sew over the tape instead of removing it as you would normally do with straight pins holding fabric together, all is not lost. You can easily tear it off afterward by gently holding down the stitches with one finger and pulling downward and away from the stitched edge. Don't ask me how I know this *wink*.

If you're really picky about clean, finished edges, then before you start sewing around all 4 sides of your sandwich, go ahead and get out your ribbon and put it in place (see next Step) so that instead of starting to sew in one of the four corners, like this: you actually start to sew in the middle of one of your short sides to attach the ribbon at the same time as you sew the oilcloth and chalkcloth together, like this: Step 6: Attach the ribbon
Get your piece of ribbon out, fold it in half, and gently pinch it/press it/squeeze it - whatever works - to create a little crease. Go to one of the short sides of your oilcloth rectangle and line up the center of the ribbon (crease) where you want it on the oilcloth. For mine, I attached the ribbon on the right side even though these pictures make it look like it's on the left. It doesn't really matter. The side you attach the ribbon to will just determine the direction you will roll your mat when closing it. If your ribbon has a design, then be sure to tape it in place like this: NOT like this picture below! If you have a solid color ribbon with interchangeable sides, then this step won't matter.So with both the pretty side of the oilcloth and the pretty side of the ribbon staring at you, start sewing right where the ribbon is and then sew around all 4 sides of the oil-chalkcloth sandwich with about a 1/4" seam allowance. You're almost done!

Step 7: Seal the ribbon ends and trim
Pull out your trusty Fray Check...or something similar. And dab a bit on the ends of the ribbon to keep it from unraveling. Take a good look at your chalk mat and see if any sides need a bit of trimming. The wonderful thing about oilcloth and chalkcloth is that it won't fray. You can even out any sides that moved a bit during sewing to make your mat look really good from both sides.

Add a few chalk sticks and you are done!
Your chalk mat is ready for little ones to enjoy!
Aren't they cute all lined up in a row? They make really cute gifts too! I'm making these for party favors for Hudson's birthday next month using the cute red polka dot oilcloth and turquoise ribbon to go with the Dr. Seuss theme. Fun Fun! Kids love these fun little mats! The little pumpkin sure enjoyed hers during our flight to Minnesota! So watcha waiting for?
Sew yours today!

Oilcloth Chalk Mat is featured at Tip Junkie and linked up to parties at these fun sites: Sew Much Ado, Sugar & Spice and Everything Nice-733, Creations by Kara, Blue Cricket Design, Fireflies & Jellybeans, Night Owl Crafting, Somewhat Simple, House of Hepworths, and Fingerprints on the Fridge, and I heart Naptime.


Lindsey said...

Well isn't that cute!? I love it. I am just NOT a talented seamstress.

Jessica said...

Neither am I, Lindsey!!! It's super easy. If I can make it, you can make it :)

Angel said...

Love it Jessica! Great tutorial. These will be big hits as party favors. Thank you for ours!

Where did you find the chalk cloth? I've been to 2 quilt shops lately which both carried a TON of oilcloth and laminates, but no chalk cloth. :(

Em said...

This is so cute! I LOVE the oilcloth you used on the back. And with our flights always being so looonnnngg this is a great idea!
I did find some chalk cloth on etsy (and most sellers have really reasonable shipping).
Wonder if I can squeeze in one more project this summer....

Jessica said...

You're welcome, Angel! I'm glad the kiddos liked them :) I bought mine in Canton and I think I paid $8/yard. I'll look and see if I can locate the business card of the vendor because he said they had an online store too. I just did a quick search and and amazon both carry it for around $10/yd.

Em~ Grace had a lot of fun with hers and *gasp* asked to play with the chalk mat OVER watching the Curious George dvd on one of the flights :O Have fun making some for your girls!

Colleen/And Baby Makes Five said...

What an ingenious (and adorable) little project! I truly need to develop a closer relationship with my sewing machine.

I have to tell you that I enjoy this heartwarming space you've created here in blog land. It's cheerful, creative, and just so sweet. So glad to have found you through Angel's blog.

Spears said...

i'm thinking this would be perfect for our family trip to Disney this winter! Let's see if I can make it happen :) thanks for the step by step directions!

Jessica said...

I'm glad you guys like this fun little project! It's super easy and I love that!

Colleen~ you just made my day! Your sweet comment is just what I needed after a long day of hearing very depressing child abuse cases at my job. I like to think of little reminders God sends us as "God winks" and so THANK YOU for being my God wink for the day! ;)

malia said...

Great tute! I have a obsession with chalkboard material ( - :

Kim @ seven thirty three said...

I have just recently heard about chalkcloth and am dying for a project to use it with... hmmm, this might just be the one.

Thanks for linking up with Sugar & Spice.

Fawnda said...

Very fun idea! i love it!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I've never heard of chalk cloth. What a great idea!

Leslie said...

What a great idea! Thanks for a fantastic tutorial and for linking up to Hoo's got talent!

Karen said...

Did you get the oilcloth /chalkboard cloth at the place in Canton that is in the big wooden building and bathrooms (older section)? There is a vendor there that sells upholstery type fabrics and oil cloth. It is near the Cookin' Cajun. Canton will be this coming weekend and I would like to get some. If that is not where you got it, do you know the location? Thanks. These are so cute and I am teaching myself to sew now that I am retired and a grandmother to 7.

Jessica said...

Hi, Karen,
YES! I got it in the older Canton building that you described. In the booth, there are 2 ladies cutting fabric and an older gentleman that runs the register. Super Nice! If you go, will you get their card and post their name and website here? I have a friend who wanted that info but I can't find the card I got when I bought mine. Thanks!

Karen said...

I'm sorry that I did not get this info right back to you. I simply forgot. The web site for the shop at Canton is: and the email address is:
Note that there is a "s" at the end of fabric in the web address, but not in the email. The owners are Sharon and Marvin Camp and their shop is in Pavilion III at Canton's First Monday.
I told them about your tutorial and they would like for you to email them so they can "thank you" for your promotion! I bought supplies there in June, but haven't had a chance to cut into them as yet. First Monday will run this month from Thursday, July 1 thru Monday, July 5, (although most vendors are gone by Monday). My favorite day is Friday before the crowds of shoppers arrive for the weekend.

pink and green mama MaryLea said...

So cute! We're flying next week and might just need to make a couple this weekend.


Jessica said...

Thank you Karen!!!

Mary Lea~ I hope you were able to make some...and I hope you had a FABULOUS trip! :)

Jenny said...

I just happened on your wonderful tutorial in perfect time for my daughter's second birthday party! In the midst of making 15 for party favors and they're coming together so quick and easy. Thanks again for sharing this wonderful project!

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