Sunday, July 8, 2012

Blocking Mats

Blocking mats are important, but don't have to break the bank.  Just a few materials and you're ready to go.

You'll need:
Floor exercise mats:  You can get these at WalMart (or Target, Academy, etc.)
Checkered cotton:  I could only find 1" squares, but 1/2" would be better for smaller projects and lace.
Spray Adhesive:  Got mine at Hobby Lobby, but I'll bet other craft stores carry similar products.
Lint Roller:  These are priceless.  Mine is enormous and I use it constantly.
Scissors:  I used ones I wasn't afraid of getting messy, just in case.

If you haven't prewashed and ironed your fabric, stop and go do that.  Trust me.  Always prewash, unless you are using a fabric that is dryclean only.  You aren't for this, we're using cotton.  On purpose. I'm sure this adhesive would melt some of the synthetics and, as this will be something you want to stick pins in, you probably don't want to use anything expensive.

Once you have washed and ironed your fabric, measure your mats.  Mine were textured on one side so I used the back of the mats.  Rather than get out the ruler/measuring tape, I just threw the fabric over the top, pinned it at the corner and cut.  I did cut the selvedges off first and I followed the line of my squares.  I cut out all four pieces at once then lay the other three over the back of a chair so they wouldn't be in the way.  I didn't have enough fabric (hindsight!) to cover all four squares so I improvised and cut some skinny pieces to fill out the last one.

After the cutting comes the adhesive and the reason for lint rollers.  When you want something, say a fabric on a plastic mat, to lie flat, it is best to make sure there isn't anything on the mats.  Roll each one just before you are going to apply the adhesive, but after shaking the can.  This will minimize the dust on the mat and maximize the amount of the mat that adheres to the fabric.  Follow the adhesive's instructions, and one recommendation: put down newspaper before you spray.  I don't have a good place outside, so I sprayed on my ironing board in the living room with the windows open so the smell couldn't get me, but the adhesive got my ironing board.  And the scissors- they're both still tacky . . .

My adhesive said to wait two minutes before applying fabric.  While you are waiting, here's another tip: roll the fabric.  I lay the first one flat and rolled the rest and can really tell the difference.  The rolled mats are straighter and have less bubbles.  They were also much less trouble to put on the mats.  Line up your corners and press as you go- I used my hands, but using a flat edge ruler would work as well.  Once you have the fabric on, set the mat aside and let it cure for about a day, just to be safe.

I recommend something less precarious.
Prep for this takes about twice the time of actually making the mats, but once you are finished you can reuse them over and over.  Mine take up very little space in my craft closet and I can easily fit them around other things.  The size is great for sitting on top of a dryer too.

Here's the one I had to "improvise" on:

Not too noticeable. . .


I hope you enjoy your new blocking mats!
Thanks again to Ms. Nancy Aldredge for teaching me this great trick.  If you are ever in town, please make sure to visit her store, The Hook and Needle.

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