Sunday, April 21, 2024
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Marketplace: Cloth Placemats, Which Do You Prefer?

placemats with cat artwork
Darling Clementine cloth placemats.

I’ve been playing around with my fabric transfers again. I already have laminated placemats, but I’ve always liked fabric placemats, and, of course, I’ve always seen my artwork on them. Now, with the commercial quality fabric transfers I’ve been using, I can make my own. And, like the accessory bags, they are printed on reclaimed fabrics from tablecloths, curtains, and any other clean, sturdy solid-colored fabric that won’t melt in the heat press.

My transfers are 11 x 17, so the placemats are too. That seems like a good size, and why waste any transfer material?

The question is this: which style? Fringed or hemmed? and using opaque transfers or light fabric transfers? I like and don’t like things about each. Typically, I resolve this before I offer things, deciding by cost and complexity of production and just how much I like something, and I sometimes run it past others too.

But this time, I just don’t know, so let me show and tell, and any feedback you have would be much appreciated! The choice of transfer is first, then the choice of fringe, since I can hem or fringe either one. Whatever we decide here will apply to all the cloth placemats I make in the future.

Opaque Fabric Transfer Placemats

Darling Clementine placemat made with opaque fabric transfer.
Darling Clementine placemat made with opaque fabric transfer.

The opaque fabric transfers are intended to use to transfer a design onto dark fabrics. The transfer is like a thin sheet of white plastic with the design printed on the surface. When in the heat press the plastic melts onto the fabric, and if the fabric has a woven pattern that will show through.


  • Clear and bright design
  • Plastic-like surface can be wiped off


  • Not easily washed in the washer, and transfer will begin to peel in time
  • Surface does not feel like cloth, feels like plastic
  • Transfer holds onto folds which are difficult to flatten out
Opaque transfer holds a fold
Opaque transfer holds a fold

Above, I had this lightly lapped in half, not creased, and overnight it held this much of that fold. I worked to flatten it without much success.


Light Fabric Transfer Placemats

Darling Clementine placemat made with light fabric transfer.
Darling Clementine placemat made with light fabric transfer.

The light fabric transfers are intended to use to transfer a design onto light fabrics so they have just a slight base that absorbs the ink and makes the design waterproof, so the fabric shows through in light areas and the fabric weave is apparent all over. Yes, this placemat is printed backward! I always forget at the beginning that I need to print the light fabric transfers in reverse. Without text it doesn’t really matter unless you know the artwork, but of course it mattered with this design.

While this transfer isn’t as clear and bright as the opaque one, it’s still acceptable to me in that I feel it represents my art.


  • Feels like printed fabric
  • Can be easily washed


  • Design is not as bright and detailed, but overall clear
  • Slight coating from transfer gives it body

Here’s a detail of the printed area so you can see the quality of the design.

detail of light fabric transfer print
Detail of light fabric transfer print

Fringe or Hem

This is a matter of preference, no pros or cons. I have to sew either way because I run a stitch around the outside of the print if I use fringe, and of course I sew around the edge when I hem it.

Mr. Sunshine works it out

Mr. Sunshine was kind enough to take the time to test these placemats out, though he may have different standards than we do.

So please post in the comments below or email me at bernadette at bernadette-k dot com. I look forward to your feedback!


Darling Clementine placemat made with opaque fabric transfer. Mariposa checks the placemat.

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Weekly schedule of features:

Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life

Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters

Tuesday: Rescue Stories

Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork

Thursday: New Merchandise

Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy

Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats

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From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, factual articles and fictional stories, "The Creative Cat" offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

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