Tutorial: Create Photo Fabric Placemats

SEP 10, 2012

This week guest author Emma Jeffery from the blog Hello Beautiful is back to share a tutorial for creating personalized placemats. 



We had an old set of placemats that were tatty, faded, peeling and well used but I couldn’t bear to part with them since they were a wedding gift almost 10 years ago. Happily, our marriage has fared much better over the last decade than the mats, but still, I knew there was a way to bring the old placemats back to life, restore their former beauty and weave them back into the memory of our very special wedding day.

I decided to use a photo we had of one of the flowers in my wedding bouquet – a beautiful calla lily – which I edited in Picasa to boost the colors and brightness. I wanted the image to really stand out on the placemat. I also added a frame around the image – to give me a neat and definite cutting line when it came to cutting the fabric.


I then opened the image in Paint and measured my existing placemats. They measured 8 ¼” x 11 ¼”. I resized my image in Paint’s resize option to fit my existing placemats. I multiplied both the length and the height of the placemat by 150 to get the desired length/height of the image. I calculated my image to print at 1237.50 dpi x 1687.50 dpi and uploaded the image to my Spoonflower design library.

I set the fabric to print with a basic repeat on one yard of Spoonflower’s cotton poplin, which gives me 12 of my flower images in a grid formation.

To put the fabric image onto my old corkbacked placemats, I first removed the old peeling image by soaking the mats briefly in water. Avoid over saturating to prevent the wood from warping as it dries out. With the old image wet, it peeled away quite easily and I used a paint scrape and nail brush to remove the old paper debris.

Next, I cut my fabric images from the yardage along the gridlines, and ‘painted’ the fabric all over with fabric Mod Podge. I allowed about 24hrs for the Mod Podge to dry.

Once dry (mine was still slightly tacky to touch) I trimmed the fabric all the way around ⅛” smaller than the base of the placemat. The fabric Mod Podge prevents the fabric from fraying which is why I recommend trimming the fabric after application.

I also used a small pair of scissors to round out the corners.

Next, I applied a generous amount of regular Mod Podge to the base of the placemat with a foam brush and applied the fabric image carefully.


After allowing approx 30 mins for the Mod Podge to dry, I used a permanent black ink pad and black Sharpie with a ruler, to finish the edges of the placemat. I colored slightly on the edges of the fabric to make the edges blend in effectively with the edges of the mat.

To finish, I gave each placemat two coats of clear acrylic spray coating. I chose a brand that is moisture-resistant and non-yellowing to ensure my new mats last at least another ten years of happy marriage.


About Our Guest Blogger

Hi! I’m Emma, and as well as working on the Fiskars Design Team, I blog over at hellobeautifulblog.blogspot.com.

I’m an obsessive sewer, often leaping into projects with more enthusiasm than talent, more bravado than skill and more good luck than anything else. This technique has worked well for me so far and more often than not, I make things I love, even if they’re not absolutely perfect. And though I’m no expert, I have a passion for fabric, color and design. I know what I like and what I like makes me smile.

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  • Cheryl Schisler

    I just followed your tutorial to redo my placemats. I used fabric that already had a print I liked. Your directions were great. I was a little nervous having never worked with mod podge, but all went well.
    I was able to remove the old pattern without soaking the mats. I used a razor scraper and it was really fast and easy. I also used a foam mini roller to apply the mod podge so avoided brush marks. All I have left to do is apply the clear acrylic spray.
    Thanks for sharing. It was the only tutorial I could find on placemats. They are so expensive to replace and it is hard to find a pattern you like.