Pop-up prep: handmade placemats

Last week I told readers I would have more news about the menu development for my supper club on 7th June, but my priorities are all shot, and instead I have been paying more attention to the table decorations.

I promise that on the night the food will come first, but for today at least, let me talk about the jazzy placemats I am making from stunning African wax printed fabrics I bought on Ebay for £3.99 a yard. The food is not going to be African (this time, at least), but if I’m going to spend hours making my own placemats I wanted them to be a reflection of what I love, and these bold prints are just that. You can make yourself a set of placemats like these very easily, here’s how…


1. African wax printed cottons sometimes have a thin coating of wax leftover from the printing process. This makes them slightly shiny and crisp to the touch. Before you start sewing with them, give the fabric a good clean in warm water with delicate soap to remove the wax and excess dye. This is good practise when working with any brightly coloured fabrics as it will help prevent the dyes from running, although you should still take care when washing, a cool hand wash is safest. Wash new fabrics in with soap a couple of times and then rinse them in cold water until the water runs clear. Dry the fabrics and press them well.

2. One yard of African wax printed fabric is enough to make the tops of four placemats. I use a large builder’s square and a quilter’s rotary cutter to cut the fabric neatly into 15×20″ rectangles. For the reverse of the placemats I cut 20 15×20″ rectangles from black Egyptian cotton. Be sure to cut away from your body and always use a large cutting mat or piece of thick card to protect the work surface.


3. When you have cut your fabric to size pin a piece of printed fabric to a piece of plain fabric with the printed side facing inwards. The fabrics I am using are quite forgiving as both sides of the fabric look equally bright, this is not the case with standard printed cottons.

4. Machine stitch along all four sides leaving a 4″ gap to turn the placemats inside out. Backstitch into the corners and on either side of the opening.

5. Snip off the corners.


6. Turn inside out, taking care when poking out the corners.

7. Press well with a hot iron, turning in the seams along the opening.

8. Close the opening by machine-stitching 1-2mm in from the edge or, if you have time, slip stitch by hand.

9. Finish your placemats by machine-stitching along all four sides, backstitch to end.

10. Press well and on to the next!

There are still some spaces available for the first ever Gannet & Parrot Pop-up at Café des Artistes, Lewes, on 7th June, for more info and to book click here.


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About Chloe King

I'm a freelance writer, designer and webby type. I live with my husband and daughter in the south of England. I like to cook and can throw a good party.

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2 comments on “Pop-up prep: handmade placemats

  1. June 6, 2013 at 8:00 am

    Dude! You’re some kind of modern Martha Stewart! Very impressed (and humbled, and slightly embarrassed to think when I last picked up a needle…)

    • June 6, 2013 at 8:41 am

      Thanks Hattie, except I have no multi-billion dollar business nor criminal past.

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