What can I reuse or recycle to make placemats/table mats?

We’ve been using our dining table more recently – regular use stops it becoming a dumping ground for everything we own but can’t be bothered putting away properly. But because we’re newcomers to the idea of actually dining at a dining table (as opposed to using it as an office desk, which we’ve done until recently), we don’t have any placemats or anything like that.

Now I know I could just find some pretty fabric and whip up some mats on a sewing machine, maybe with a bit of batting/couple of extra layers of fabric in the middle to make them more heat resistant – but where’s the fun in that?

Have you made placemats by reusing/upcycling anything fun? I’d imagine old clothes are rip for upcycling since they’re just shaped fabric (for example, placemats from old t-shirts or from old jeans with cutlery pockets; I imagine felted jumpers would work too). Does anyone have any other ideas clothes recycling ideas?

And what about other ideas? John has been enjoying the patterns on logs recently – if we could take a thin slice from the ends of some pretty logs and varnish them, that might work. I’ve also got another half idea of weaving some mats using old packaging materials – some colourful card (although it would have to be at least wipe-clean), some plastic from bottles or drinks cans… Anyone done anything similar?

Would love to hear any and all ideas!

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9 Responses to “What can I reuse or recycle to make placemats/table mats?”

  1. carol says:

    Most of your ideas are right on, I was going to suggest jeans because of how strong they are. I have re purposed plastic table clothes that had a felt backing with good success but my most successful placemats came from some large fabric samples that was a duckcloth. Nice, sturdy, washes well and I saved a whole folder of it from a land fill.

  2. Bobbie says:

    I get lots of plasticized bags from dog food, cat food, and chicken feed. I think they would make perfect place mats and would wipe clean too. The chicken feed ones especially would be cool. While you are at it you could make a nice matching apron out of the same.

  3. anna says:

    I think you could improve those made with any fabric by adding a waterproof layer to them: use an old, cleaned shower curtain under them as a surface to face the table. I’ve got a new dining table too so I’m kind of worried about getting any liquids or anything else on it that might stain it!

  4. Linda says:

    -Any children’s artwork that the daycare laminates (despite protests about the environmental problems of laminating!!)
    -Nylan/Linoleum flooring samples are perfect as both wipe clean and heat resistant.
    -spare old serving trays are great for children as they are large, flat based and catch rolling peas and spilled drinks!!
    -Tea-towels can dual-role -first placemat and if no spills then dry the dishes. Easy care! Double over if heat resistance needed.
    -What about a tablecloth instead? Many older relatives use a heavy tablecloth permanently on with a light easy-wash one on top and only wash the base one if there is a big spill that soaks through -permanent heat and scratch resistance (although you never actually see the lovely table unless there has been a big spill).

  5. Omyn says:

    Old jigsaws..
    chopsticks glued together..
    sheet music laminated..
    old wool jumpers cut and felted..
    sheets of plywood with felt on the bottom, varnished, painted, maybe even decoupaged with old cards etc..
    old floor boards cut down and glued together and varnished..
    I’m also wondering if one can slice up plastic shopping bags and knit them in large placemat shaped squares with big needles or something like that..
    Or knit a square out of thin jewelry wire and thread beads on it..
    (all of a sudden im wishing I could knit)
    you might even be able to criss cross weave a mat out of heavier paper or plastic bags

  6. Medeea says:

    In restaurants is fancy to simply use a sheet of paper.
    So I suggest using pages from some old, glossy (or not) magazines.

    What clothes could you use for the same purpose? Shirts. Double them with some old t-shirts.

    Or an old table cloth and divide it into rectangles.

    Now that I think about it, why not some old cds?

  7. Medeea says:

    also curtain swatches

  8. Claire says:

    Slate floor tiles from B & Q with felt or cork pads stuck on the bottom to prevent scratches on the table.
    You can also chalk names and menus on these..

  9. Lomax says:

    I use old carry sewing many together as per my comfort and design.

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