I first stumbled upon these chalk mats at Thimble and fell in love with them straight away. It’s a specially made vinyl that allows you to write in chalk and wipe it away with a damp cloth. Genius!
Hubby’s first reaction was “you know you can buy chalk boards for that kinda thing, right?”. Umm, yeah. But has he ever tried to carry that on a plane or in your nappy bag as a fun children’s activity? This little wonder rolls up into a snug, lightweight package and means you don’t have to worry about felt pen or crayon on the restaurant walls. When I say I love it … it’s kinda an understatement!
Chalk cloth care notes:
- Chalk cloth requires priming before use. Lie a piece of chalk on its’ side and rub both vertically and horizontally over the mat. Wipe away and repeat once more.
- Use a soft damp cloth to wipe the mat clean. If it requires more than that, use a warm soapy sponge and wipe with a dry cloth.
- Avoid storing it in the direct sunlight or folding the fabric. It’ll damage the chalk cloth permanently.
- Do not iron or tumble dry.
Ok, so here’s the “How-To” (if you decide to make these to sell, please mention my blog in your sales pitch as a courtesy):
Cut chalk cloth 30cm x 42cm and use this as a template for your backing fabric. I’ve used a heavy canvas, quilting fabric and drill cotton all with good success, so anything goes really. The backing fabric is what people will see when it’s rolled up, so have fun with it.
You’ll also need a spray adhesive, ribbon, elastic and matching bias tape. Some people also spray their backing fabric with Scotch Guard to avoid it staining over time, as the chalk cloth isn’t really machine washable.
Trim the edges so they are even and attach the first side of your bias tape. Now, if like me the idea of bias tape scares you, here are links to a couple of tutorials I found super handy (sew to speak and angry chicken). If you’re still nervous about the bias tape idea, keep reading ’cause I have some bias free alternatives.
Before sewing the second side down, cut two lengths of elastic 8cm and 5cm long. In this photo I was trying a fabric chalk holder instead of elastic (top left), but found my chalk fell out of that and broke in half! I’m finding the elastic much better and less time consuming.
Also cut a 65cm length of ribbon.
Loop each length of elastic in half and roughly stitch to the chalk side of your mat (careful not to sew any bias tape. This is just to hold them in place while you continue sewing). Pins leave irreversible holes in the chalk cloth, so to hold the ribbon in place you can use bulldog clips, bobby pins or even just your fingers. The ribbon needs to sit on the opposite edge to the elastic and on the backing fabric side.
Now for some non-bias tape alternatives:
- Instead of fabric to back your mat with, try using
oilclothlaminated cotton (phthalates contained in oilcloth are suspected to be nasty for kids, but laminated cotton is free from this. Also check with your supplier about phthalates in the chalk cloth). Both this and the chalk cloth don’t fray, removing any need to edge the mat at all. Sandwich the elastic loops between the two layers and stitch it all together. Trim the edges nice and close and don’t forget to sew your ribbon onto the top layer.
- You can also buy a vinyl adhesive that can be stuck onto any fabric. This means you can coat your backing fabric, creating a wipeable surface and also stopping any fraying. Use this with your backing fabric and then use as you would the oilcloth mentioned above.
Personalise your own backing fabric by adding textile medium to standard acrylic paint. You or your children can paint a masterpiece onto plain fabric (a tight weave is best) before you attach it to the chalk cloth!
I’m also hoping to sell a number of these before Christmas, so if you like the idea but not the work, let me know.