Month of Makeovers Day 5: When life gives you placemats

What do you do with three undersized vintage placemats? Two’s company, three’s just odd.


One even has a factory flaw.


I can’t bring myself to cut up vintage linens that aren’t full of holes or stained beyond repair. Part of me just dies to see good tablecloths chopped to bits. But this oddball placemat will make a great little zipper top bag. Time to shop my fabric stash! I’ve got some red and white polka dotted vinyl that I bought to remake chair seats, then changed my mind and didn’t use. I also dig out a matching red zipper that’s waaaay too long.


I’m following a well-written tutorial that I found here at Skip to My Lou. (Why reinvent the wheel?) First I cut the placemat in half and then cut two pieces of vinyl that are exactly the same size as the fabric.


I do have a small problem. The vinyl is creased because I folded it instead of rolling it on a tube for storage. It can be saved with some careful ironing. The trick is to use a press cloth between the iron and the vinyl, otherwise the plastic would melt and fuse to my iron. Not a good idea. I turn the iron’s dial to “synthetic” and increase the heat bit by bit until it’s just hot enough to remove the creases.


My next hack is to shorten the zipper to the same length as the fabric.


Then I pop it in my sewing machine, using the zigzag function to stitch a new stopper. Easy peasy.


I follow Cindy’s great directions and decide to add the optional topstitching along the zipper. First I press the seams back (makes for a nicer finish when you’re stitching) and put white thread in the bobbin, red thread on top. Guess what, Mom? I didn’t cut all the pieces perfectly and the edges aren’t aligned “just so”. BUT I’M NOT RIPPING IT OUT AND REDOING IT! This is good enough.


I stitch the side seams. Vinyl is stiff and a bit unforgiving, so it’s important to trim the finished corners and seams closely. Goodbye uneven edges! They get trimmed right off. Then I turn the pouch right side out and hand stitch the final seam.

A few hints: It helps to use a pencil with the lead broken off or another pointy but blunt object to poke the finished corners out neatly. My mom uses a large flat head screwdriver. The topstitching makes sewing across the zipper a bit more challenging, so leave it off if you’re a novice. And if you haven’t worked with vinyl before this project probably isn’t the best way to start. Use another fabric for your lining instead.

All in all I’m pretty pleased with the results. Quick and cute! Where’s my red lipstick? It’s a perfect little makeup bag.


See the entire list of projects for our Month of Makeovers HERE.

2 Comments on “Month of Makeovers Day 5: When life gives you placemats”

  1. dishsister2 says:

    Add a funky zipper pull, honey! Bead & tassel? Cracker Jack charm? Find something!