diy oilcloth mats

Hey, all!  I am Hayley (aka The Tiny Twig), a stay-at-home momma who loves all things creative and adventurous.  I have two darling boys and another little guy due in just a few weeks.  I spend my days looking to make each one count.  Sometimes we go on great adventures and sometimes the great adventure is simply creating a small and beautiful memory.

My Husband and I recently moved back to our hometown in Indiana after living in Charlotte, NC for nearly 5 years.  One reason we came back to the cornfields and the flat earth was that 6 out of 8 of our children's great-grandparents live within 5 miles of each other.  We wanted our boys to benefit from their wisdom and vibrance, and we so desired to love our grandparents well in their twilight years.  My grandmother was an inner-city art teacher for decades, and her joy for life and creativity pulses through my veins and is grafted into my being.

She was the one who introduced me to the idea that craft time does not have to be an all day ordeal, expensive, or even very messy.  She embraces quick projects, makes masterpieces from toilet paper rolls, and always puts down an oilcloth mat before she begins.  These oilcloth mats were mandatory school supplies when she taught art, because they made cleanup quick and put the responsibility on the student for their workspace.  She saw her job as much to nurture creativity as to nurture respect and independence among her middle school students.  As oilcloth became more difficult to obtain and art programs were cut around the country, this quaint staple faded from the minds of educators.

Oilcloth is no longer produced in the same manner (canvas coated in linseed oil and used primarily for sailor's uniforms), but it is now available in amazing designs.  They are easy and relatively inexpensive to create, and can be wiped down with a baby wipe or a wet cloth after use.


Supplies (Creates 2 Mats 18inx29in):

1/2 yard of Oilcloth which measures 58" wide (also called laminate fabric)

2 packages of bias tape or equivalent fabric and bias tape maker



Sewing Machine

You have the choice between using premade/commercial bias tape or creating your own with a unique fabric using a bias tape maker.  At this point, make the bias tape according to package instructions if you are opting to make your own.

Press your bias tape.

Fold oilcloth in half, making it approximately 18 inches by 29 inches.  Cut off selvedges, as they will not be laminated.

Open the bias tape and insert edge of oilcloth.

Pin the bias tape shut, making sure to round the corners carefully.  Do not pin the corner until you have pinned the next side.

Fold the excess bias tape into a neat corner and pin diagonally.

Sew carefully around the bias tape, taking care with the thicker fabric at the corners (possibly backstitching for extra hold).

My boys normally paint with watercolors after breakfast in the morning, while I sit at the table and make my daily list of to-dos.  They enjoy this time together, and I enjoy the fact that I can plan my day in relative and creative quiet.  They know that after they take their bowls to the sink that they can fetch their art materials, and their mats are the first things they gather.  The best part is that when we are finished creating, they can grab a baby wipe, swipe the fabric clean, and put it away along with the rest of their supplies.  They get time to be messy and creative, and also learn to respect their materials and their space.  My grandmother tamed many an unruly inner-city adolescent boy for 45 minutes a day in her time.  I think I can manage to teach these sweet boys of mine.


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