Short on cash this holiday season? Afraid you can’t give nice gifts this year? Don’t worry about it! Grab a place mat, and before you know it, you’ll have a fabulous present for someone and it hardly cost a thing to make! Make a nice gift for a teen girl, a young child and others on your list. The place must be cloth, but other than that, most any place mat will do.
A teen girl will love a special journal cover you make in no time. Lay the place mat flat on a table and fold a third of the mat upward to form a pocket. Stitch or use fabric glue to secure the sides but leave the top of the pocket open. Fold the place mat in half – pocket and all – and crease it. Mark the center of the pocket by this crease. Stitch or glue the center of the pocket to form to pockets, one on each side of the fold. Stitch or glue a ribbon to each side of the folded cover so the girl can tie the journal holder shut. Place a new journal and pen inside the pockets or just gift it as-is. Any girl will love this beautiful cover that can hold a favorite book, special stationery or other items.
Make something similar for a small child to carry his or her art supplies. Lay the place mat on a table and fold the long ends towards the center. Crease well. Use fabric glue or stitching to create pockets for crayons, markers and more. The pockets will be all the way across each folded side of the place mat. The pockets will be extremely narrow – just enough to hold pencils or similar items. Each pocket will hold one crayon or marker. When you’ve filled all the pouches with markers or other art items, roll the holder from one end to the other. Stitch or glue on two pieces of ribbon: one at the end of the roll and one where the end of the roll meets the opposite side. Now the child can tie the roll shut and easily carry many markers, crayons, pencils and more.
Make an easy and cute purse for a young girl by starting with a single place mat. Lay the mat on a flat surface and turn the mat to where it is vertical. Fold the bottom third of the mat towards the middle and stitch or glue the sides shut. Fold the top portion down to create a flap for the purse. Use a velcro dot or other fastener to secure the purse. A string of beads or even a piece of roping can be stitched or glued on to form a handle or purse strap. These purses can be enhanced by stitching or sewing on pockets or other embellishments.
Use two place mats to create a pillow for any one on your list. Stitch or glue the place mats, with right sides together, then turn them right side out and stuff. Stitch or glue the pillow shut. Use four place mats to make two throw pillows or use two mats to make one special pillow. After creating the pillow use fabric paints to write a poem, a name, a memorial or something else on the pillow. Write a saying from the bible, a quote from a book or person, or just draw a nice design on the pillow with stencils. There are many different pillows you can make to suit anyone on your list.
Glue a single place mat to thick cardboard for support. Decorate it in any number of ways. Glue on felt letters to spell out a girl or boy’s name. Use embellishments like silk flowers, fake jewels, felt pieces, foam pieces and similar items to create a theme or design. Create a person’s last name on the place mat or just make a floral garden. The enhancements can be simply attached with hot glue. Use piping or cording to frame the design if you want. Poke a hole in the back, in the cardboard, or glue on a hanger of another type. Hang the design on a kid’s bedroom door, the living room wall or elsewhere. These make great “Welcome” signs for a front door or “Keep Out” signs for a teen’s room.
Make a fun play mat for babies by stitching or gluing little toys onto the corners of a place mat. Thread a piece of ribbon through an opening in the toy and stitch or glue the ribbon to the mat. Things like rattles and small toys with handles work great. Now you can just put the baby on a blanket in the floor and lay the place mat in front of him or her. The baby will have loads of fun playing with the various toys.
A place mat no longer has to be specifically for a table. There are all kinds of great gifts and other things you can make with them. Place mats that are frayed or purposely raveled on the end aren’t ideal for most of these projects.