When you're on-the-go, eating at outdoor picnic tables or food courts, do you ever wonder where to sit or put your food? Sometimes those surfaces look a bit questionable at best. And, experiments with cold and flu germs have shown they can remain active on hard surfaces for up to 48 hours. Yikes! Our set of mini clean mats is a great way to help keep things sanitary. Not only are they cute as can be, they roll up and secure with a wrap strap so they're easy to carry. Lay them out anywhere for a clean surface: one for your meal and one to sit on. When done, simply wipe clean with a sanitizing spray.
Our mats finish at 15" x 20" and the wrap strap is sized to allow you to either roll the two mats together into a long, narrow tube; or, fold them once and roll into a shorter bundle. We used cotton laminate but oilcloth would be another good option.
If you are new to working with laminates, take a look at our helpful tutorial: Successful Sewing with Laminated Cottons, Oilcloth, and other Sticky Stuff.
Each mat uses just two layers; the binding is a self-wrap. The fabric itself a medium weight so no additional stabilization is really necessary. Plus, laminates and oilcloth have a certain amount of inherent "grippiness" so once you're sitting on the mat, it won't slide around. The finished mats are flexible and easily roll-up to stash in a glove box or bag.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing machine and standard presser foot
- Ultraglide or other Telfon®-type foot; optional, but very helpful when sewing on sticky surfaces
- For cotton laminate we recommend a size 12-14 universal needle; for oilcloth, a size 14-16 denim needle – in either case, make sure it's a new needle
Fabric and Other Supplies
Supplies shown are for TWO matching 15" x 20" mini mats, one to sit on and one to use as a placemat.
- TWO coordinating ½ yard cuts of 45"+ wide cotton laminate or oilcloth
- ⅛ yard or scrap of ⅝" - 1" sew-on Velcro®; we used 1" black
- All purpose thread to blend with fabrics, plus a color that offers some contrast for the decorative stitching; we used turquoise for both situations
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Clips to hold laminate
NOTE: For our instructions, the back of the mat is the laminate that wraps around to form the binding. So the "back" is the larger cut (the zig zag in our sample) and the "front" is the smaller cut (the circles in our sample).
- From the front fabric (the circles in our sample), cut TWO 15" high x 20" wide rectangles.
NOTE: If you are uneasy about measuring and cutting laminate with a rotary cutter, you can measure and draw in guidelines on the wrong side. Then cut along the drawn lines with scissors.
- From the back fabric (the zig zag in our sample), cut TWO 16½" high x 21½" wide rectangles.
NOTE: Another cutting option is to place the back fabric wrong side up on your cutting surface. Place a cut front rectangle on top and measure ¾" out from each of the front rectangle's raw sides. Use a clear ruler and rotary cutter for this method.
NOTE: The back rectangle measurement is sized for a ¾" wrap-around hem. Laminate is trickier to work with for narrow folds because you cannot press in place directly. If you are worried about your technique, cut these rectangles 17" x 22" to allow you to make a full 1" wrap-around hem. In the steps below, you would then fold ½" and ½" again instead of ¼" and ½".
- From either remaining fabric (we used the back fabric), cut ONE 5" x 9" wide rectangle for the strap.
- Cut the Velcro® into ONE 2" length.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Place the back laminate piece wrong side up and flat on your work surface.
- Place the front laminate piece right side up on the back piece so the two panels are wrong sides together. Center the front piece so there is ¾" of the back fabric showing all around.
- Fold over the raw edges of the back piece by ¼" all around. Clip in place. Leave the corners unfolded as shown in the photo below.
NOTE: You are folding and finger pressing because laminate cannot take the direct heat of an iron. You can cover with a pressing cloth and steam slightly to help hold the fold.
- When all four side edges are clipped in place, fold in each corner so the diagonal edge of the corner just covers the corner point of the front fabric. Clip in place.
- Fold in each side ½", bringing it over the raw edge of the front panel and creating a clean hemmed edge. As you fold in each side, you are also creating a "faux miter" in the corner where the ends of the side folds come together at a diagonal. Clip in place. In the photo below, we hadn't quite brought the ends together into their final position. You do want the ends to come close together, especially at the inside edges of the corner.
- Repeat to fold and "faux miter" the remaining three corners. In the photo below, you can better see how the corners come together.
NOTE: For more on this corner technique, see our tutorial on Narrow Hems with Clean Corners.
- If possible, attach a Teflon® type foot. We used our Janome Ultraglide foot.
NOTE: If you don't have this type of foot, you can use wax paper or parchment paper between the laminate and the foot. Simply tear it away when the seam is finished. Remember, for more about working with laminates, take a look at our handy tutorial.
- Thread your machine with a contrasting thread.
- Following the instruction manual, set up your machine for decorative stitching.
NOTE: Choose a decorative stitch that will stand out nicely against your fabric and with a wide enough back and forth swing of the needle to bridge from the hem to the surface of the mat. If you do not have a wide selection of decorative stitches, even a wide zig zag would work.
- Run a line of decorative topstitching around all four sides of the mat, using the inside folded edge of the binding as a center guideline.
Create the wrap strap
- Find the 5" x 9" rectangle.
- Fold in each 9" edge ½" and clip in place.
- Fold in half so the folded-in edges are flush. Re-clip in place along both sides.
- Switch back to a standard straight stitch.
- Using a ¼" seam allowance, topstitch along each 9" side.
- Find the Velcro®, pull it apart into two pieces.
- Place the loop side face down. Place the hook side face up.
- Overlap the loop side with one end of the laminate by ¼" - so the Velcro® is under the laminate. Stitch across through all the layers.
- On the opposite end, the hook side of the Velcro® will be on top of the laminate, overlapping it by ¼". Stitch across this end through all the layers.
- Fold the loop end over onto the strap by 1¼". Fold the hook in under the strap by 1¼".
- Stitch across each end to secure the folds, staying close to the inner edge of the Velcro®. The finished length of the strap should now be approximately 8". The width is 2".
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Kathy Andrews, What Sew Ever