A couple months ago I did a posting on how to make fabric napkins. I mentioned that I had made matching placemats as well... so, here's how I made them.
A little disclaimer: I am not a professional sewer. Simply using practical methods, I have come up with a simple way to make placemats that suits my purpose... and I love them!
How to make a placemat:
1. Determine the size of a placemat you would like to make. A typical size is 14"x18", but you can make them any size you desire.
2. Purchase a fabric that you love. I have used your typical linen fabrics and have also had great luck with the "Printed Duck" fabrics from Hobby Lobby. A little hint: pick two different patterns for each side. Then you can flip your placemats and have totally different looks!
3. Pre-wash the fabric. Since they are placemats, they will get food on them! haha... So I am sure they will be going through several wash cycles. The last thing you want is for the placemats to shrink after the time you spent making them. Once it is washed and dried, iron the fabric flat.
4. Measure the fabric to the size you have chosen and cut out the placemat. Be sure to add an additional 1/2 in both directions to allow for the seams. I created a cardboard stencil so I only had to measure once. Be sure that your angles are 90 degrees... I learned the hard way on this one!
5. Take the "front" of the placemat and lay it face-down on the "back" of the placemat. You want the "correct" sides facing each other. The "wrong" sides will be visible.
6. Now you get to sew! With a matching thread, sew a 1/4" seam around the edge of the fabrics. Do not sew completely around... stop with about 3 inches left. You will need this space to turn the placemats right side out. Do not forget to back sew to finish off your stitches.
7. Snip the corners of the fabric off on an angle.
8. Turn the placemats right side out through the hole you left in your seam.
9. Using a pointed object (in my case, this was a paintbrush... it was within reach! haha), poke the corners out.
10. Now iron the fabric, concentrating on the seams... this will create nice, pressed edges.
11. Only one step left!! And it is optional... I have done it with and without. Now, you run one final stitch around the edge of the placemat. This will seal the hole you left open, and it creates a "pretty" edge.
Hope this helps you and encourages you to try making some! I have not done much sewing in my life, and these were very easy to make.