Want to up your tablescaping game? Add a personal touch to your next dinner party by making your own placemats with this expert guide.
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Most social media trends are fleeting things, disappearing as quickly as they arrived with a smattering of likes in their wake. But one Instagram interiors trend that shows no signs of waning is tablescaping – the act of setting your table for dinner in the most elaborate style possible with colour schemes and accessories.
Pioneered by artists and designers such as Matilda Goad, Anna + Nina and Luke Edward Hall, people have turned to the trend over lockdown to spruce up their overused and tired dining tables, while over 21 million of us have watched tablescaping videos on TikTok.
Along with colourful napkins, table runners and beautiful candles and vases, a fundamental part of creating an expertly-scaped table are stylish placemats to set your crockery and cutlery on. This is something Sidsel Bockhahn-Tylecote understands well. In January, she founded her business, Fay&Mamie, which specialised in DIY tableware and table decoration kits, including elegant placemats.
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“I’ve always thought food tastes better when it’s served on a gorgeous table and in lovely company,” says Sidsel, whose passion for arts and crafts is inspired by her grandmothers, who would forage leaves and moss to create beautiful centrepieces for their dining tables.
“I started to think about founding the business two years ago when I wanted to set my table nicely but couldn’t find anything in my price range,” says Sidsel. “The kits we make are small, affordable things that will help you set a beautiful table and add a personal touch to your meal.”
Here, Sidsel explains how to make a beautiful ruffle-edged placemat you can show off at your next dinner party.
What you’ll need to make your own ruffled placemats
- Two sheets of fabric for the body (45cm x 35cm)
- Two sheets of fabric for the ruffles (5cm x 70cm)
- Sewing thread in a matching colour
- Sewing machine (hand stitching is possible, but will take longer)
How to make ruffled placemats
1. Start by creating the ruffles. To give the ruffles lovely rugged edges, tear the fabric into the two sheets you’ll need rather than cutting it with scissors.
2. Set the sewing machine to the largest length straight stitches.
3. Sew stitch along both lengths 4cm in, leaving 1cm on the remaining side.
4. Pull one string from the stitch to scrunch up the fabric until the entire length of each ruffle is down to half its original length (approximately 33 cm).
5. Next, attach the ruffles. Take one of your large fabric sheets and attach the ruffles with pins to the two shorter ends of the placemat on the front side of the sheet. Make sure the edges of the ruffles and ends of the placemat are aligned.
6. Make sure to leave 1.5cm at both ends. Then, sew the ruffles onto the placemat roughly along the existing stitch on the ruffles.
7. Now attach the second sheet of fabric. Place the second sheet on top of the sheet with ruffles with the front side down. Pin the two sheets together.
8. Sew all layers together leaving a 1cm edge. Make sure to leave a 6cm gap in between the stitches at the bottom edge.
9. Finalise your placemat by removing all the pins and cut off the four corners leaving 2 to 3mm between the cut and stitch.
10. Turn the right side out of the placemat by pulling all the fabric through the gap along the bottom edge.
Sidsel’s expert advice for making quality placemats
Choose the right fabric
As your placemat will have to withstand piping hot plates and food spillages, it’s worth carefully considering what type of fabric you use to make it.
“Choose something that’s not too lightweight or delicate,” says Sidsel. “If you put a hot plate on lighter fabrics they will crease and you want to pick something that won’t stain easily.”
Consider upcycling old fabrics
Using old fabrics you already have at home to make your placemats is not only more sustainable, but it will also make your placemats more personal and unique.
“Placemats only need a little square of fabric, so it’s really easy to make them from things you already own like an old skirt you’re not using anymore or some old curtains,” says Sidsel. “I’ve made placemats out of an old bedsheet that had a lovely candy-stripe pattern on it.”
“It’s very sustainable because you don’t actually have to go out and buy much to make it.”
Don’t be afraid to experiment
“You can make your placemats really unique by mix and matching fabrics,” says Sidsel. “You could make the ruffles from a different fabric, or use ribbon or lace.”
“You can really go wild with your designs. I’m working on a design right now that uses metal studs that you’d usually find on denim outfits.”
Be careful when you cut your fabric
Taking time to cut your fabric properly will make your placemats look a lot more professional.
“Go slowly when you cut your fabric,” says Sidsel. “Keep an eye out for wonky edges and make sure your corners are all at 90 degrees. It’s an obvious point, but it will really improve the quality of your finished design.”
Make a plan
Before diving into making your placemat, it’s worth planning out your design to avoid making any mistakes.
“I would start by making a paper template for your design, so you’ve always got something to refer back to,” says Sidsel. “It’s worth taking a piece of A4 paper and laying your dinnerware on top of it, to make sure there’s room for all your knives, forks and dishes. This will help you when it comes to measuring out your fabric.”
Test your sewing machine before you start
Different fabrics will react differently to sewing machines, so it’s worth testing this out before you begin.
“The lighter the fabric, the tighter the stitches will be, so you may need to shorten or lengthen your stitches,” says Sidsel. “Before you start sewing onto the placemat, it’s worth testing out your stitches on another smaller scrap of your fabric just to see how it works.”
Sidsel Bockhahn-Tylecote, founder of Fay&Mamie
Sidsel is a former corporate marketer and management consultant with a big passion for arts and crafts. She founded Fay&Mamie in January this year, specialising in DIY tableware kits that are both stylish and affordable.