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DIY Watercolour Placemats
April 30, 2013
I'm kind of obsessed with this next DIY as it falls under both the "I must do this!" and "why didn't I think of that?!" categories. You know the ones I'm referring to. The projects you could actually sit down with a group of friends and tackle as a team on a Sunday afternoon? These gorgeous watercolour placemats are the type that don't take a ton of skill, but result in a completely custom, totally useable product that's entirely your own.
Linen fabric (you will need 2 layers of 14.5"x19.5" of fabric for each placemat, so get enough to cover the number you'd like to make)
Ruler & pencil
Foam brushes
Woodburning tool
Thread in linen color
RIT dye in Denim Blue and Navy Blue
Small glass bowl (for dye)

instructions1. Iron your linen to remove any wrinkles or folds.

2. Use the ruler and pencil to draw out a rectangle 19.5" x 14.5", then cut it out (The placemat will end up being 19" x 14" after it is sewn). You will need two layers of linen for each placemat- continue cutting rectangles until you have enough for the number of placemats you would like to make.

3. Take one layer of linen from each pair and lay them on a plastic-covered surface. Bring water to a near-boil in a teapot or saucepan. Pour a small amount of RIT dye in a small glass bowl (about the size of a quarter- this stuff is potent), pour in hot water, and stir with a paintbrush or stick (something you don't care about dyeing). Test the color with a piece of paper towel. Continue adding dye if you like, until you achieve the color you’re after.

4. Use your paintbrushes & foambrushes to paint stripes on the linen using the dye. You can use a ruler as a loose guide, but don't try too hard to make them perfect as they’re supposed to feel organic. Vary the size of the brush and experiment with the amount of dye you use. Once deemed finish, lay them in the sun to dry.

5. Cut your leather into small strips. Choose a tip for your woodburning tool (we used one that looked like the tip of a ballpoint pen), and heat it up. When it is hot, use it to draw your monogram letter near the top of your leather strips (the bottom will get sewn into the placemat.)

6. Once dry, iron it again, and match it back up with its blank linen pair. Flip the painted side over so you're looking at its backside (it gets sewn inside out at first.) Keeping a ¼” border around the edge, pin the two pieces together. Keeping in mind that it's inside out, find the bottom right corner of your placemat. Line the bottom of the leather up with the edge of the linen. Pin that to both pieces of linen.

7. Sew the pieces together, following the line that you created with the pins (remove those as you go!) Leave an open space in the middle of one of the short sides of the placemat- about the size of your fist.

8. When you're done sewing, reach inside the open space you left and grab the corners of the opposite ends, and pull back through to inside-out the placemat. Iron again, making sure all the corners are pulled out, everything lays flat (especially the leather tab), and the placemat is shaped the way you want.

9. Back to the sewing machine! Sew along the border one more time, this time about 1/8" from the edge. This will help your placemat lay flat. Trim your threads, and you're finished! Repeat until all the placemats are done.
[dotted] Photography by: White Loft Studio