Picnic Placemats with Utensil Pockets

By Kate Riley June 12, 2012

While recently hunting through a local fabric store, I came across a few rolls of laminated cotton and became obsessed with the idea of creating something out of this very cool material.  I didn’t buy that day but the idea was wedged in my brain for a few months.  Laminated cottons like these are great for lining makeup or tote bags or even making tablecloths, but I had something slightly different in mind. 

With all the weekend picnicking we like to do with the kids, I got to thinking I could combine this reversible placemat idea with this makeup brush holder idea and I came up with picnic placemats with pockets for utensils for all of our summer outings.  



In a patriotic spirit, I chose red and white fabrics and I love how the touch of red check is a throwback to the traditional tablecloth in the same classic pattern.  

picnic at the lake


Here’s the step by step on how to make these charming picnic placemats!

A yard of 54” wide fabric yields four placemats but it doesn’t allow for extra fabric for the pockets or ties, so if you’re making four, it’s best to get a minimum of 1 ½ yards for four.   If you want to make them with two different fabrics, then get the extra yardage in the second fabric of choice.  Here are the basic pieces you’ll need for each placemat.

fabric for placemat


The first step is to form the pockets for the utensils.  To do so, fold over 6” x 10” pocket piece so the folded part forms the top.  Fold under the raw edges of both sides and secure to front left corner with either a decorative or straight stitch.  

decorative stitch edge


Create pockets for the utensils that include a space for knife, fork, spoon, and napkin.

create utensil pockets


Sew ties by folding over ends and stitching either straight down the middle or up and down both sides.  

sew ties


To make the placemat, turn the fabric inside out and be sure to use pins to secure your fabric together.  Laminated cotton is prone to puckering, so continue to constantly smooth it down during the entire process. 

pin and stitch


Leave a small opening on one side to turn the fabric inside out and also secure the ties to the side.

turn inside out

attach ties


As a final step, sew together the leftover opening and carefully stitch all around the perimeter of the placemat to make sure it lays flat and smooth. 

sew over top


When you’re done, you’ll have a charming picnic placemat with pockets to hold utensils and a napkin for your next outdoor luncheon. 

picnic pocket placemat on blanket cg


And everyone loves a picnic!   

bite of watermelon


Another nice feature is they all roll up and tuck away into your picnic basket or backpack. 


roll up placemats cg


The laminated cotton wipes down easily so there are no worries with most spills.  Yet another reason to kick back and relax!

picnic by lake

Sources Fabric: Michael Miller Gingham; Sugar & Spice Trellis RedTassel blanket from West Elm, vintage picnic basket.

Is there a better way to spend a lazy summer afternoon? 

I’m not sure there is.  :)




  1. What a great idea. I have seen this type fabric and think I must make these. Thanks for the tutorial. Perfect as always.

  2. Kate these are awesome!!! I would love to be in your head for one day to see how you work and of course grab some of your awesome ideas. Thanks for sharing the tutorial. :)

  3. This is absolutely adorable! What a cute AND functional idea! I only wish I knew how to run a sewing machine, ha!

  4. Kate, what will you think of next?! They’re as pretty as they are functional! Great gift, too! Now you have my head spinning, wouldn’t it be fun to add a monogram and include in a picnic basket as a wedding gift? :)

  5. Kate, this is AMAZING! What a perfect idea for a gift, or an easy way to organize a picnic for your own family and friends. This is definitely getting pinned and made….soon!

    Thanks for the inspiration :)


  6. this is such a phenomenal idea! I could use this for father’s day picnic this weekend :)

  7. Any special considerations for the machine because of the fabric? Can you just use the regular needle and settings or does it require something more heavy-duty to work with this fabric?

    • Hi Crhistiana, I used a regular needle but if there’s a different setting or needle that works better, I’m not sure, but mine worked fine!

  8. What an awesome idea!?! We haven’t had a picnic in a while, but my boys would love it. Looks like is time to get the ole’ sewing machine out!

  9. I made one of these as my first sewing project in 4-H many, many years ago. The pocket is made from a face cloth stitched to a hand towel and the whole thing roles into a packet secured with a shoe lace. I still use it for my lunch utensils at work, and at the end of the week it goes in the wash and comes out good as new.

  10. This is so apropos! I just pinned your DIY make-up brush holder with this exact use in mind. Thanks for taking the measuring guess work out of the equation for me!

  11. Hi,

    What a great idea, and a good way to keep your utensils so they don’t fall all over the place. Congradulation on your H and G articles, Centsational Style…terrific…


  12. Very cute! I think I’ll modify mine so that there is a large pocket to hold the plate, that way I can just hand out an entire place setting to each person.

  13. Kate, now that you have used your sewing machine for awhile, I am curious how you like it?

  14. This is a great idea! I try to take my boys to have a picnic lunch with my husband near his work once a week so these are going on my {mile long} to-do list, thank you!

  15. Great idea! And a fabulous gift as well. I think I would keep one in my bag too as I really don’t like using plastic cutlery even when out and about.

  16. this is an adorable idea! very easy to even roll them up and go with the utensils already inside them.

  17. Cute idea – A friend of mine used this type fabric on her dining room chairs (having several grandchildren helped with that decision). The fabrics comes in such beautiful patterns.

    Love your blog

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