DIY Interactive Thanksgiving Placemat

written and crafted by Lindsay McNamara

Is it really a holiday without a dedicated and themed craft project? I would argue no. So, here is a Thanksgiving Craft that has multiple uses. Not only are these adorable felt placemats quick, inexpensive, and great for catching those gravy spills; but they are also a fun little activity for your kiddos to enjoy when it's time to sit still and wait for dinner.

What you will need:
Approximately 1/2 yard of felt per placemat, two colors
Newspaper or plastic sheeting to protect your workspace
Fabric shears
Spray adhesive
Hole punch
Paper for template drawing
Leather Cording

Step 1 - Begin by drawing a large leaf outline on your template paper. Keep in mind this is a placemat so you will want your leaf to be roughly 14” across if not larger. The actual end product will be a bit bigger so expect a few inches of expansion by completion. The beauty of this project is that every leaf is unique and no leaf is perfectly symmetrical so being exact isn't necessary, play with it until you like the look and then cut it out. I chose to use a sycamore leaf as the inspiration for this one.


Step 2 - After your template is to your liking pick two coordinating colors of felt for a single placemat. You will be creating a peekaboo effect so you will want two separate colors. The colors you choose can be layered however you wish. The beauty of felt is that it likes to stick to itself so you shouldn’t need any pins to keep things together. You will need to use your chalk to outline the template before cutting. I suggest cutting both layers together and making a wide cut around the leaf and then go in for the detail cuts.


Step 3 - Decide which color you want on top. This color will need a few slashes to mimic leaf veins. You don’t want to overdo this part or your felt will stretch too much and be a drastically different size than the base. This will be an issue when you go to glue them together so keep that in mind.


3a - Once your top piece is looking sufficiently leaf-like you will want to lay it against the base. Make sure you like how it looks. If you need to enhance any of the cutaways do that now.

Step 4 - Grab your hole punch and start only on the top layer. The punch might not completely cut away the hole so you may need to clean it up with your shears. This is the most time-consuming portion of the project. Be aware that your holes need to be at least ½ an inch away from the edge and at least one inch apart in order to not compromise the integrity of the felt later.


Step 5 - When you are happy with the finished look, flip your piece over so the top is facing down and then open the two pieces like a book, exposing the inside. This will make it handy to know which way to turn things when you go to press the glue together. Make sure your workspace is well covered because this adhesive is heavy duty. This might seem counterintuitive but you are going to spray the back of the top piece, not the base. You want to coat it evenly but without saturating. It should look lightly dusted.


5b - Fold your book closed to join your pieces. Move very slowly! Try to get it right the first time because this adhesive isn't the most forgiving. Gently smooth it down and try to even out your edges a bit. Let this dry for about 30 minutes while you clean up your workspace. That adhesive gets everywhere and if you aren’t careful your sheers could be stuck to the newspaper. Don’t do this, folks.


Step 6 - Now you need to create the holes along the second layer so your kids can “sew” it with the leather cord. Or you can, it’s fun, no shame! To do this, I chose to use the shears. I liked the layered look on each hole with a touch of the bottom color peeking through. You can also use an awl, or try to line up your hole punch again, just be sure not to puncture yourself.
I bought pre cut leather cord but if you buy a spool and cut it yourself you will want to cut approximately three yards for each mat.

And there you have it! They’re pretty. They’re functional. They’re entertaining!