Placemats for the dinner table are something we can overlook when it comes to creating the perfect setting for a family dinner. Often we just go with a basic set from the store that we can place our plates on and then wipe clean. However, these mats can be decorative items that add more to the experience. This is even better when you make your own. So what is the standard size of a placemat and how inventive can we get?
Why should you make your own fabric placemats instead?
Fabric placemats are an interesting sewing project, especially for any keen sewer that also hosts a lot of dinner parties or big family dinners. These fabric options aren’t just easier to store and to clean in the washing machine. They also provide a chance to create custom pieces that say a lot about your home and family. Therefore, if you have struggled to find something you like in the basic sets in your average homeware store, why not head to the haberdashery instead to pick out a fun fabric.
What is the standard size of a placemat when sewing?
If you like this idea of making your own placemats, you need to be aware of the right dimensions for the average placemat size. Typically, your standard placemat for a dinner table is 18 inches by 14 inches. That gives you a medium-sized rectangle of fabric that is enough to cover the space where the plate will go, and then leave a little extra room at the side. After all, we all have a few moments where items spill over the plate or a pea decides to go flying.
Do all fabric placemats need to follow these dimensions?
No, while this is the most common size for a placemat for a dinner service, you are under no obligation to stand by that. Start by measuring out a piece of paper that is 18 inches by 14 inches, and then cut that out as a template. Place this piece of paper on your dining table and see how it looks in the space. You might find that it looks a bit big on a small dining table and you will end up squashed up together once you set four of these out for a family dinner.
Or, you might place this mat under your best dinnerware and find that your plates are bigger than average and you can’t see the mat. In this case, you might decide that it is better to go for something a little larger than average to show off that material.
Can you make round fabric placemats instead?
Absolutely! There are lots of people that struggle to find the ideal placemats in the average placemat size because they have a smaller round dining table and the larger rectangles look awkward or overlap on the edges. Round placemats can look a lot nicer and soften the aesthetics. All you need to do here is find the appropriate diameter. You can do this by measuring your dinner plates and deciding how much extra you would need to protect the table around the edges.
Are fabric placemats difficult to make?
It depends on how you want to make them. There are some great tutorials and patterns out there for simple one-sided mats that follow the standard 18 inches by 14 inches dimensions. These rectangular options shouldn’t be too difficult if you have some sewing experience. Just be careful with your measurements to be sure that your set of placemats matches. Otherwise, you could find that you missed the mark and it is one is a quarter-inch too far either way. This could stand out a mile when you have guests round.
Circular fabric placemats can require a little more care and skill in order to get the perfect round shape. Again, the difficulty increases when you start making sets of four or more for the whole family.
What sort of material should you use when making these fabric placemats?
Ideally, you want something that isn’t going to be too difficult to sew or get a nice straight edge on. A fabric that doesn’t move to move and that is easy to sew is fine. It also helps if the fabric is easy to clean and machine washable. They will get dirty easily and it helps to be able to throw them in the wash with no concerns.
From there you can just worry about the patterns and colors. You can take your time to source something suitable that also fits in with the décor in your dining room. If you get confident with the process, you might decide to make a few sets that you can swap out for different seasons or occasions. A nice autumnal color for Thanksgiving dinner, maybe? Or, perhaps something festive for Christmas?
Can you make fabric drink coasters to go with your placemats?
This can be a brilliant way of adding some more color and style to your dining room. If you get enough of the same material, you can use the extras for smaller square drinks coasters. This will look nicer than using plastic or other cheap hard coasters. Again, you can decide on your own measurements based on the shape and size of your placemats. Just make sure they aren’t too small for larger glasses or mugs. If you get really into the idea of making a custom dining room set, you can also make a table runner.
Start with a simple standard placemat size and go from there.
The best place to start with this project is to work on a fabric placemat with that standard size of 18 inches by 14 inches. Make a few of these with different fabrics to perfect the look and shape of the mat. You can always gift the spares to other people. From there, you can play around with more suitable dimensions and other shapes as you need to.
Once you perfect the process you could find that you end up making sets for all sorts of holidays and seasonal changes to freshen up your dining room month after month. Don’t get too hung up on the “perfect” placemat size dimensions at first and have fun with it. Don’t forget to check out our sewing thread holders guide.
I’m a stay at home mom with our two kids. I really enjoy doing crafts with my toddler however, that is typically a challenge with her limited attention span, messiness, and desire to always have clean hands. So, I’m always looking for ways to make crafting an enjoyable experience and fond memory for the both of us.