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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Free Placemat Expanding File Tutorial!

How To Make an Expanding File From Placemats.

I save magazine patterns. I guess I could scan them, but then I'd have to print them again and that would be a waste of paper. So I save them in an expanding file, but it's plastic, and ugly. So, I made one I like better! This project is extremely quick. Reading the directions will probably take longer than sewing it up!

1) Supplies
4 placemats with a bit of heft to them, 1 yard of 1" wide reversible trim.

2) Make and Attach the 1st Fabric Folder
Fold one placemat in half, right side out and short sides together. Pin along the edge to mark the fold. Unfold and lay flat on the table, right side up.

Overlap the 1st (pinned) placemat with a 2nd placemat, both right side up. Bring the edge of the 2nd placemat even with the pins in the center of the 1st placemat. Pin the 2nd placemat to the 1st. Topstitch along the edge of the 2nd placemat, leaving about 1/2" unstitched at the top and bottom.

Refold the 1st placemat (the one that was pinned on the fold earlier), insides in, and sew the short sides together, topstitching close to the edge, leaving about 1/2" unstitched at the top only. There should be space to sew all the way down to the bottom, since we also left 1/2" when attaching the 2 placemats.

You should have what looks like a fabric folder attached to one inside short side edge of a placemat. Here it is standing on end with the help of Sadie's Cooperation Jar. You can see the short sides of the 1st placemat are sewn together.

3) Make and Attach the 2nd and 3rd Fabric Folders
Lay the flat placemat right side down on the table with the fabric folder to the right and laying away from the placemat. Fold the 3rd placemat in half, insides together, and place the fold 1" away from the fabric folder fold. Pin along the fold. This will be the sewing line, so don't skimp on pins. Also, it's helpful to pin with the heads facing toward you, since you will be removing the pins as you sew and you don't want to stab yourself. Add a couple pins to the bottom layer to stabilize.

Unfold the 3rd placemat and sew along the pin line, reaching under the first layer and pulling out the pins as you get to them. This takes a little coordination (but not as much as it takes to keep from sewing the cats paw into the project!). Remember to leave 1/2" unsewn at the top and bottom. Refold and sew the short sides closed, topstitching near the edge, leaving about 1/2" unstitched at the top only.

Meet Cotton, my daughter's kitten :)

Do the same for the 4th placemat, folding in half right side out, placing the fold 1" away from the 2nd fabric folder, pinning the fold, stabilizing the layers, sewing along the pin line, leaving about 1/2" unstitched at the top and bottom, and sewing up the short sides, leaving about 1/2" unstitched at the top only.

Here's what you'll have now - 3 fabric folders setting on top of a placemat.

4) Sew the Fabric Folders Together
Here's the tricky part (anyone thinking of a Fig Newton?), sew the inner folder sides together to connect all 3 folders. Remember we stopped 1/2" short from the top when stitching up the sides? That's so we have a smidgen of room to stitch the tops of the folders together. Pinch the edges away from the edges being sewn. Stuff that edge under your presser foot and do the best you can to topstitch near the edge. Sew all the way across to the other edge and finish.

5) This could be finished
Just flip the placemat over the fabric folders.

6) Or we can add the trim.
The trim acts as a magazine stash in the inside back, and fastener in the front.

Cut a piece of trim double the width of the placemat plus 3 1/2" inches. This will allow a 1/2" seam overlap and 3" for your file to grow and still fasten. Form a loop out of the trim, overlap the edges 1/2" and zigzag. Decide where your fastener will look best on the front of your file, remembering to allow room for the flap to shorten as the file fills.

Unfold the flap and place the trim where you have determined it looks best from the front. Line up the zigzagged seam on one side and sew across the zigzag a few times to anchor. Anchor the trim to the other side of the back, smoothing away gaps. The fit allowance should only be in the front of the file.

7) All done!
Fold the fabric folders back over the anchored trim, slipping the folders inside the trim loop. Fold the top over the fabric folders, tuck the front inside the trim, and you're all set!


Sue Bleiweiss said...


Rachel@oneprettything.com said...

Oh that is so clever! I've never seen anything like this before, so creative! Thanks tons for sharing, I'll be linking.

Anonymous said...

That's so innovative, Joy!! I think I'll make a rag rug version (kidding!). I'll definitely link from Dollar Store Crafts!

Anonymous said...

I love this! I'm linking this to sarchix.com because it combines my obsession with office supplies and sewing!

Question - if you add extra place mats, can you add folders to this?

Spool {} said...

Sure, although each folder would take up an inch of space and your flap would shorten. You might need to add another (or half) a place mat to the flap.

Staci said...

This is a great project! I'll need one for the office, one for the kitchen and several for the craft room!

sharon winters said...

Your documentation is excellent! Very innovative!