I have yet to meet a little person who didn’t love to draw. Crayons, markers, paint and CHALK! I have been making crayon rolls and bags for a few years now, and they have been great at restaurants and car trips. Awesome as a birthday party gift for classmates, filled with crayons and a few doodle books or coloring books and they are sure to please even the kid who has every toy imaginable! Don’t you find it impossible to pick out gifts for school friends- you never know what they already have, are allowed to play with, or will think is “cool”. Again, every kid likes to draw!
This is where my FIRST tutorial comes in. I wanted to branch out of the crayon bags and rolls and try a portable chalk board using chalk cloth. Until now this elusive fabric has only been seen on Pinterest for me, I have never seen it in person. After a quick google search I found that Joann’s carries it and I was psyched. Chalk cloth has to be the coolest thing ever. I ran to Joann’s yesterday looking for it and waited for almost 1/2 hour while two different sales ladies searched high and low to find it for me after I insisted the website said they had it in stock…a bit annoying since I had Eleanor with me and shopping for fabric with a three year old is already pretty tought but they were so sweet and helpful and finally found it- yay! I guess normally it should be in the Utility fabric section, with the vinyl’s and reusable shopping bag fabrics. I believe they sell it for 4.99 a yard, but with a coupon on my smartphone I scored 5 yards at 50% off- woo hoo! Be very careful once they cut this for you that you do not fold it, roll it instead so that it does not crease. The fabric is also rolled up with a sheet of printed instructions behind it stating how to care for it. Basics are priming and cleaning with a damp cloth and priming again. Priming is just rubbing chalk over the entire cloth and erasing. Rub the stick of chalk on its side, not on the tip. I didn’t find all of this “priming” to be necessary…I jumped ahead and drew directly on it before priming because I was so excited to try it out and it still wrote and erased just fine. Just to be sure though, I would recommend you follow the instructions provided.
Ok, so for this tutorial I want to show you how to make a small, portable chalk mat. The perfect size to stick in a little backpack for the school bus ride, take to the doctors office, to restaurants or leave in the car. The basic idea can be easily sized up and would be great in a larger placemat size as well.
Chalk cloth (amount needed for this approx. 1/2 yard but you will have enough to make a few!)
Cotton Fabric of your choice for the back
Double fold bias tape (around 40 inches, again you can make a few with one package)
3/4 inch elastic
Optional- colored elastic or pony tail elastic
The dimensions of mine are 10x10inches. Start by cutting your chalk cloth to this size. You do not need special scissors for this, I used my normal sewing shears. Cut your cotton print (for the back) to the same dimensions.
I chose to round the corners not only because I think they look cute, but it is also easier to bind it with the bias tape- not mitered corners! To round the corners, simply trace around a glass and cut off the corners. I went ahead and traced it with my chalk since it was so easy to just wipe it off after. Repeat this on the cotton print. To be sure they are the same size you may want to trace the chalk cloth on top of the cotton print.
Once the two fabrics are cut to size you will need to cut your bias tape. I used double fold bias tape and cut it to around 40 inches to ensure it would be enough to go around, because you rounded your corners you will have a bit extra. If you are enlarging this pattern be sure you have enough bias tape by adding up all of your four sides and cutting this amount (add a bit for overlap at the end). You will also cut your elastic to hold your chalk.
This mat holds one piece of chalk with 3/4 inch elastic cut to around 1 1/2 inches. You will also cut elastic to sew at the opposite end to hold your mat together when you roll it up. You can either cut the same elastic to to 5 inches or use a simple pony tail elastic (in green shown below). I like the green elastic the best, but didn’t think of it until I was on my second mat…this is why you see it pictured both ways!
Ok, so you have your fabric and supplies ready. Now, line your fabrics up with wrong sides facing. You will not be pinning this so take your time and make sure the two fabrics line up. Fold your elastic and baste them on the chalk cloth as shown.
One will go on each side. I placed the chalk elastic facing in on the chalk cloth side, and the other elastic facing out on the printed cotton side.
Once these are basted, sandwich the bias tape around the two fabrics and sew around the entire perimeter. If you have never used bias tape before you might want to check out an online tutorial. I recommend the one at Made. I have to admit though, that I do the cheater method she mentions…not the easiest with the small tape I used. If you are a beginner (or a perfectionist) I would recommend a thicker bias tape and the traditional method. Take your time! You want to make sure both layers are sandwiched in the bias tape. I have found the “cheater” method easier using a zig zag stitch, and it also looks really cute. You may want to fold over the end of the bias tape when you overlap the edge to where you started.
Sewing is done!!! Now, if you haven’t already you can prime your chalk cloth and erase it and your are DONE!
Just know that it won’t stay clean for long, I walked away from mine to start dinner and found it looking like this just 5 minutes later. I guess it means she likes it. I wouldn’t recommend the sidewalk chalk on it though…man, do those produce some crazy dust!