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Made by Me Monday – Plays-Mats! {tutorial}

2013 June 3

I have been wanting to try iron-on vinyl for a while, and was finally able to pick some up while I was at the Creativ Festival this April. I stopped to check out a really nice diaper bag in one of the booths and ended up talking to Brenda from Among Brenda’s Quilts. She has lots of great patterns, including the diaper bag that originally caught my eye. (And Hooray!) Brenda is giving a pattern of your choice away to a Thread Riding Hood reader! (Check out the end of this post for details on how to enter!** Update: The giveaway is now closed. Thanks for entering! Find out who won here. **

Brenda was also selling HeatnBond iron-on vinyl, so I picked up a metre and stashed it away. A while later I was in Ikea with my daughter and spotted their Tidny fabric. I thought I could use it to make placemats with and so I also picked up some Lialotta plastic covered red dots for the backing.  I’ve finally had time to make the project happen over the weekend and I am so happy with the results! I especially love that the kids’ art is part of the project. (They would make great Grandparent gifts, if they are into picnics!) I thought I could make up a little tutorial for you guys so you could make some too. Hopefully you can ignore the punny name!


Your Plays-Mat can be used for so many purposes! Take them to restaurants or on picnics so everyone has a clean surface to put their food on. (Make sure you don’t use them as a food surface though. Vinyl is not approved for use with food.) Take them to waiting rooms and appointments for a clean play surface – you could even bring a small can of Play-doh to use on the vinyl surface. And they have a great little Velcro strap so when you are finished you can roll them up and take them home again.

We are going on a little family road trip “Up North” today – just for something different to do. I’m bringing these – they’ll be perfect for our little picnic. Intrigued? These self binding mats are very simple to make and have very satisfying results! If you can’t pick up the Ikea Tidny you can easily use solid coloured quilting cotton for your drawing surface. Or, skip that step and make some with your favorite fabric.

You will need:

  • Main fabric – quilting cotton or a bit heavier (I used Ikea’s Tidny)
  • Backing fabric – ideally vinyl/plastic coated (I used Ikea’s Lialotta)
  • Iron-On Vinyl – I used HeatnBond from Among Brenda’s Quilts, She sells Matte and Lustre (Shiny) finish
  • Low Loft Quilt Batting (not in the photo)
  • Freezer Paper
  • a Place Mat (for tracing the size)
  • Fabric Markers
  • School Glue Stick
  • Paper Clips or Bobby Pins
  • Scissors, Water Soluble Marker and other sewing gear

Here we go:

Step 1: Cut your main fabric: I let the kids choose which section of the Tidny fabric they wanted to colour and traced the place mat to get the right size. Trace with the water soluble marker and cut. If you are not using Tidny – trace your solid or patterned fabric and cut it out.

Step 2: Cut/Iron your Freezer Paper: (If you are not colouring the fabric skip to step 5.(1) Cut a piece of freezer paper aprox 2″-3″ larger than your placemat on all sides.  (2) Iron your fabric. (3) Place your fabric right side down on your ironing board and centre the freezer paper over it. Make sure the freezer paper is shiny side DOWN! Otherwise the plastic coating will will stick to your iron. (4) Iron the freezer paper to your fabric. Make sure it adheres well. The fabric should not stretch or move, making colouring much easier!

Step 3: Colouring! Get out your fabric markers and let your kids colour! The extra freezer paper backing and edges protects your table. If it works, get Grandpa and Grandma on Skype to talk to during the process. The kids are happy and mostly staying in one place so they can actually be seen for longer than 2 minutes at a time!

Step 4: Heat Set the Fabric: Take your finished masterpieces and heat set them. Follow the directions on your fabric markers. I use a pressing cloth (read: random solid white fabric piece) and move around heating each part of the fabric until everything has gotten a good press. This locks in the colour so if it ever gets wet the ink will (hopefully) not run.

Step 5: Cut the Batting/Vinyl: (1) Cut a piece of your quilt batting to the same size as the main fabric. (2) Cut a piece of Iron-On Vinyl to the same size as your main fabric.

Step 6: Adhere the vinyl: Follow the manufacturers directions to iron the vinyl to the right side of your main fabric

Step 7: Making a Sandwich & Cutting the Backing: (1) Place your uncut backing fabric down on your cutting surface right side down. Place the quilt batting on the backing fabric with (roughly) 1″ of backing showing all the way around. Centre the main fabric on the quilt batting. You now have a sandwich of TOP: Main fabric, CENTRE: Quilt Batting, BOTTOM: Backing – Right Side DOWN (2) Cut the backing fabric so it is 1″ larger than the main and batting all the way around.

Step 8 – Fold the self binding: Grab your glue stick! My backing fabric is pretty thin and easy to glue down, but I did end up also using some large paperclips to hold the thicker folds at the corners. I have also seen someone use bobby pins for this. You DO NOT want to use sewing pins because they will put permanent holes in your vinyl. Follow these steps and glue/paperclip as you go. (1) Starting halfway down one long side, fold your backing/binding to meet up with the edge of the main fabric. (2) Fold the folded edge up over the main fabric. (3) When you get to the corner, fold the corner up to create a triangle (follow the photo) (4) Fold the next backing/binding edge up to meet the edge of the main fabric. (5) Fold the backing/binding up over the main. (6) Finish folding all the way around. (7) Top-stitch close to the edge of the binding all around the place mat.

Step 9 – Make the Velcro strap: (1) Cut a piece of backing fabric that is 9″ x 3″. Cut the Velcro 1.5″ long. Note: If you made a very long place mat you may need to make the strap longer as well. (2) Fold up all the edges around the strap by 1/4″. I glued  them down to hold them. (3) Fold the strap in half lengthwise and glue. Top-stitch close to the edge all around the strap. (4) Glue a Velcro piece on one end of the strap. (5) Glue the other Velcro piece to the other end and opposite side of the strap. (6) Stitch around the Velcro.

Step 10 – Finishing the strap: (1) Paper clip the strap to the back of the place mat. Centre it on one short side as pictured. (2) Stitch over the strap, follow the binding top-stitching line. (3) Turn the place mat over and fold both straps to the outside. (4) Stitch a box with an “X” in it. Stitch inside the binding, beside the strap, to reinforce it and hold it on. This way of stitching the strap allows it to be folded behind the place mat so it stays clean.

Hooray! You are done! Check out photos after the giveaway info for how to roll it up.

** Update: The giveaway is now closed. Thanks for entering! Find out who won here.** 

And now for the giveaway! (Thanks so much Brenda!) The winner will receive a pattern of their choice from Brenda’s large collection. Lucky you! Giveaway ends June 10, 2013 at 10pm and is open to everyone. The Random Number Generator will pick a winner and I will post the results here on Tuesday am.

  1. 1st Entry: Head over to the Among Brenda’s Quilts shop, pick your favorite pattern. Comment on this post to let us know what it is.
  2. 2nd Optional Entry: Like Among Brenda’s Quilts on Facebook OR Follow her on Twitter. Comment on this post to let us know you did and include your Facebook or Twitter name.

While you are visiting Brenda, pick up some iron-on vinyl from her shop and check out her bag making supplies too! Have fun and let me know how it goes, I’d love to see your final product!

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27 Responses leave one →
  1. Lorrie permalink
    June 3, 2013

    I like the wooly wooly pattern!!

  2. Tambra permalink
    June 3, 2013

    I like the eclipse bag pattern a lot.

  3. Tambra permalink
    June 3, 2013

    Visited Brenda’s quilt shop on Facebook, & of course! I had to like it.

    Tambra Vandal

  4. Tambra permalink
    June 3, 2013

    Also following Brenda’s Quilt shop on Twitter….Tambra Vandal

  5. Tamara permalink
    June 3, 2013

    I like them all! But if I pick one it would be The Messenger Girl Bag

    • Tamara permalink
      June 3, 2013

      I am following on Facebook…Tamara Grozelle

  6. kim griffin permalink
    June 4, 2013

    Woolley, Woolley……I would pick 1st, but all of them I would love to make for family members for gifts! I am looking forward to posts from Brenda on Facebook and Twitter! @kmgriffin39

  7. Jennifer permalink
    June 5, 2013

    Favourite pattern – The Dining Out bag.

  8. Jennifer permalink
    June 5, 2013

    Liked on Facebook. (Jennifer Sra)

  9. mom permalink
    June 6, 2013

    I love the “Bowing the Strings” pattern. Looks fun to do.

  10. Pam permalink
    June 8, 2013

    I like the Bagg ett bag!

  11. Cathy permalink
    June 8, 2013

    I like the The Messenger Girl Bag. Just found your blog….it is fantastic.

  12. Cathy permalink
    June 8, 2013

    I now follow her on twitter with the name lilyrileygran

  13. Laura permalink
    June 9, 2013

    I like the Dining Out bag pattern.

  14. Laura permalink
    June 9, 2013

    Liked on Facebook (Laura Medrea Edwards).

  15. June 10, 2013 I love the sofa saddlebag pattern and it would be so useful and make the coffee table beside my chair look a lot more tidier.
    Gill recently posted… Just a quick thank you……..My Profile

    • June 10, 2013

      Great idea Gill! My coffee table gets covered in stuff – maybe if I made one of these I would actually have somewhere to set my coffee!

  16. June 10, 2013

    I am also a follower of hers on Facebook
    Gill recently posted… Update on dd quilt….My Profile

  17. Rachel permalink
    June 10, 2013

    I really like the “my monster bag”. Looks like it would hold enough stuff for a day at the beach with my 3 monsters:)

  18. June 11, 2013

    Love this idea! How fun! I see a project in our near future :)

    • June 11, 2013

      I think your daughter is just the right age for this! And you can “preserve” the artwork for a long time with the vinyl covering. I’d love to see it if you get a chance to finish one. Would be great if you could post a pic on my Facebook page if you get a chance to do the project :)

  19. August 12, 2013

    I notice you are in Ontario and I was just wondering where you get your freezer paper from? A lot of US blogger seem to use it but I’ve had a hard time finding it in Ontario!
    Melissa recently posted… The Halloween that was…My Profile

    • August 12, 2013

      Hi Melissa, I’ve had good luck finding it at Metro – is there one near you? I’m not sure why, but I can’t find it at Walmart or my local Superstore – aren’t they supposed to have everything?!

      • August 12, 2013

        Thanks so much for the reply! We do have a Metro close to us so I will have to check it out! I have tried our Walmart, Superstore, Michael’s and Fortinos with no luck! I read a while back that it doesn’t meet some kind of Canadian regulation with regards to plastic content and cooking products?! But I am always surprised that craft places don’t carry it as from US blogs it seems to be in every store!

        • August 12, 2013

          I’m glad you have one near you! I’ll have to check out the plastic content thing – weird – I suppose it doesn’t matter anyhow as I don’t use it for cooking! :) Have a great day!

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