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Laminated Cotton Mini Clean Mats

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When you're eating on-the-go at outdoor 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 (already everywhere this time of year) have shown they can remain active on hard surfaces for up to 48 hours. Yikes! Our set of mini laminated mats is the answer to helping 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 for your meal... and yourself or your kids. 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 to stash in your car's glove box. Today's cotton laminates are soft and supple so these mats are easy to manipulate.

We used two bright and happy laminates by Brandon Mably for Rowan Fabrics, but that's just the first page in the laminate library. There are dozens and dozens... and then dozens more patterns to choose from. It is the most popular substrate next to standard cotton with a myriad of designers adding laminate options to their new collections.  

If you are new to working with laminates, take a look at our helpful tutorial: Successful Sewing with Laminated Cottons (and other sticky stuff).

Sewing Tools You Need

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 54-56" wide cotton laminate; we used 54" wide Zig Zag in Multi and Jolly in Colbalt both by Brandon Mably for Rowan Fabrics 
  • ⅛ yard or scrap of ⅝" - 1" sew-on Velcro®; we used 1" black
  • All purpose thread to blend with fabrics, but a color that offers some contrast for the decorative stitching; we used turquoise 
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Clips to hold laminate

Getting Started

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 Jolly in our sample).

  1. From the front fabric (Jolly 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.
  2. From the back fabric (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 fold ½" and then ½" again instead of ¼" and ½". 
  3. Also from the back fabric, cut ONE 5" high x 9" wide rectangle for the strap.
  4. Cut the Velcro® into ONE 2" length.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Place the back laminate piece wrong side up and flat on your work surface.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 
  4. When all four side edges are clipped in place, fold in each corner so the diagonal edge of the corner just covers the point of the front fabric. Clip in place.
  5. Fold in each side ½", bringing it around to the front 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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. For more about working with laminates, take a look at our handy tutorial.  
  8. Thread your machine with a contrasting thread.
  9. 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. If you are new to decorative stitching, we have a helpful article on the topic.
  10. 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

  1. Find the 5" x 9" rectangle. 
  2. Fold in each 9" edge ½" and clip in place.
  3. Fold in half so the folded-in edges are flush. Re-clip in place along both sides.
  4. Switch back to a standard straight stitch.
  5. Using a ¼" seam allowance, topstitch along each 9" side.
  6. Find the Velcro®, pull it apart into two pieces.
  7. Place the loop side face down. Place the hook side face up. 
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Fold the loop end over onto the strap by 1¼". Fold the hook in under the strap by 1¼".
  11. 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


Comments (7)

RbnRbn said:
RbnRbn's picture

So you didn't sew anything in between to give it more weight?  Doesn't it slide around the table?

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ RbnRbn - Just two layers of the laminate, which is a medium weight. Plus, the laminate itself has a certain amount of "grippiness" so, no, once you're sitting on it, it doesn't really slide around. We wanted something that could easily roll up and be easy to stash in a glove box or bag.

MrsTea said:
MrsTea's picture

What a fabulous idea!  My husband and I enjoy picnicking -- sometimes on the spur of the moment -- and these would be great to keep in the car to use on roadside picnic tables.  Thank you for the inspiration!

Rosemary Rivas(nellieduclos@yahoo.com) said:
Rosemary Rivas(nellieduclos@yahoo.com)'s picture

This project reminds me of "Sit-upons" that we made in Girl Scouts.  They were used for sitting outside anywhere and they protected you from moisture, dirt, etc.  We made them with squares of vinyl that the leaders punched holes on four sides with a leather punch.  They were stuffed with newspapers and laced with plastic lanyard lacing.  I know I still have my daughter's around the house someplace. They came in handy.

Jane Coombs said:
Jane Coombs's picture

Terrific. I don't have a teflon foot, but I have a roller foot, as well as several feet with different flat surfaces. Would they work?

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Jane Coombs - take a look at the Article linked to above about Sewing with Laminated Cottons. The roller foot is an alternative we recommend; and we show the other options for layering to allow you to use a standard foot.

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