We try it!

We Try It: Crafting with Chalk Cloth

I recently started working at an upscale craft store, which, as you can probably imagine, is quite dangerous.

I could easily start a column called “We Try It: Spending Your Entire Paycheck on Craft Supplies Before You Leave Work,” but my landlord might protest.

When I first started my job I noticed this funny stiff black fabric that didn’t feel like anything else we carry, which my coworkers told me is Chalk Cloth. What is that, exactly? Well, it’s a fabric that can be used as a chalkboard. Of course this sounds like something that would make for great kids’ projects, but being the super mature adult that I am, I wanted to make something for myself. So I got myself a fat quarter* and started concocting project ideas.

I settled on making coasters, because they’re easy, fun, and handy. If you’re having a party, you can write your guests’ names on them, so everyone always knows which drink is theirs. I started with my chalk cloth, some chalk, and some yarn to finish the edges.

Everything you need for chalk cloth coasters - chalk cloth, scissors, yarn, and chalk.
You’ll need scissors, chalk, and yarn to make these.

Next I cut it in half, then each of those pieces in half again, and so on until I had pieces that were roughly coaster sized. This size piece of fabric yielded 16 for me, but based on your fabric and preference for coaster size, your results may vary. You also need to prep the fabric. You can do this at any point, but I chose to do so after cutting the pieces but before making shapes. All you have to do is take a piece of chalk (on its side) and rub it all over the fabric. Then blow off the excess and repeat. The cloth should now be ready to act like a chalkboard.

Several pieces, with one prepped.
Prepping also lets out some frustration.

Now comes the fun part! It’s time to make some shapes. I opted to make each of mine different, but you can make them all the same, or rotate between a few, or whatever you want. I drew the shape on the fabric with chalk (bonus: if you mess up, it’s erasable!) then cut around it. Then I just wiped off the chalk line.

Pretty shapes traced and cut out from cloth
Seriously, draw whatever you want, then cut.

Theoretically you could stop there. This stuff holds its shape really well, so you don’t need anything else to keep it intact. But I wanted a little more flavor, so I decided to edge mine with yarn. Some I did with a whip stitch.

Cloth with pink yarn whip stitch edging
Whip it good.

I also did a running stitch on others. This was for variety, officially, but also it’s kind of tough to sew through this stuff by hand and I thought that might be easier. I chose two yarn colors, but again, you do you. They would look totally cute and uniform if you did them all the same.

Several finished coasters in different shapes.
Ta-da! Variety is the spice of chalky coaster.

Now you’re ready for a party. You can draw pictures on them, or write people’s names. It’s a great way to keep track of your drink, as I said, but you can also make them double as place cards if you’re the fancy type who assigns seats at dinner parties. And actually owns enough chairs for that to be necessary. For the purposes of this post, I decided to label mine with my fellow P-Mag editors’ names, because that just sounds like the most awesome dinner/tea/let’s be honest, wine, party ever.

Finished coasters, with names written on them, scattered on a table. A cat peeks out form under the table.
With bonus cat.
Close-up of some of the coasters and the cat
Say hi to Dolce. She would hide from an actual party.

Overall, I would call this crafting endeavor a success. This stuff is so versatile, you could really let your imagination go wild. If anyone else here has played with it, leave a comment and tell me what you did. I’d love to hear more ideas!

*Since I didn’t know this until I started my job, a fat quarter is a piece of fabric that is half a yard wide by half the width of the bolt. So on your standard 44-inch-wide bolt of fabric, it would be 18×22 inches. Wider bolts mean longer fat quarters. It’s the same amount of fabric as a quarter yard, but the different shape is easier for quilting.

By [E] Liza

PhD student. Knitter. Brooklynite. Long-distance dog mom. Reluctant cat lady. Majestic unicorn whose hair changes color with the wind.

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