Sewing with Chalk Cloth
June 1, 2012
There are some weird fabrics out in the market and there are some really neat and interesting fabrics as well; Chalk cloth is a delightful blending of the two. Who would have thought that there would be a cloth that would mimic a chalk board? One that would be easy to use, have endless applications and fun to play with. It is amazing and a great idea and I am so glad Fabric.com carries it! My idea was for chair slipcovers; they would be great for dinner parties or assigning kids seating as well as craft centers for rainy days. But then I decided that chalk cloth would be better for tote bags or lunch boxes where you could write the contents contained inside on the outside or a 'To-do' list on the tote bag for errands. Then, I decided on a kid's placemat with pockets for chalk and stencils to take to restaurants. Finally I decided that I would start with something simple and small to determine how best to sew the chalk cloth and how well it works and then decide which projects it would be best for. So I choose to do an appliqué.
Here are the basics I learned working with chalk cloth.
1) Chalk cloth is very similar to oilcloth and laminated cotton in that you do not want to pin it because the holes will be visible and can ruin the fabric. If you are using large pieces and are seaming then try using office clips to secure raw edges together. If you are working with small pieces to be applied like appliqués and handles, use a glue stick for a temporary hold. I DO NOT recommend tape (as seen in picture). It just doesn't hold well.
2) Use a heavier needle but if you are using a secondary fabric, let that determine the exact size. Choose between a size 14 or 16 needle since chalk cloth is a heavy weight fabric but if you are applying it to a light weight fabric like quilting cotton-first interface the cotton with a medium interfacing so it can stand up to the weight of the chalk cloth- and then use the size 14 needle. If you are combining the chalk cloth with a medium weight fabric, like linen, use a lighter weight interfacing to add to its stability and then practice with the 14 and the 16 to determine which needle works better since medium can vary widely. If pairing the chalk cloth with heavy weight fabric, like Home Décor, no interfacing is needed and use the size 16.
3) If you are adding the chalk cloth to a t-shirt or other knit fabric, add a stabilizer to the back of the knit fabric (it can be temporary or not). This will prevent the knit fabric from puckering under the heavier chalk cloth.
4) The chalk cloth does wipe off with a dry cloth but wet is better.
I found a butterfly shape by doing a Google search for butterfly coloring pages and printed it in 2 different sizes (the smaller by 20%). Then I cut both out and traced the shapes on the backside of the chalk cloth (the backside is a loose woven mesh of cotton fibers that are easy to trace on to with pen or markers, neither will show up on the other side). Then I cut out both shapes and decided where on each shirt (one momma shirt and one toddler shirt) I wanted the pattern using a water soluble marker, marked the placement. Then I applied a light coat of glue stick on the backside of each appliqué and placed them within the placement markings. Then using a size 14 or 16 needle I zig-zagged around the perimeter of each appliqué to secure using black thread.
It is best to write on the appliqué first if you will be wearing it (then carefully put it on so as not to smear) or have someone else write on it while you are wearing the applied piece, otherwise you will be writing on yourself upside-down and backwards. If the applied piece is for a kid, I suggest a small pocket to store chalk and a cloth. My little one spent half a day carrying a piece of chalk and wet wash cloth so she could scribble on herself and then wash it off. Her butterfly loves to be covered in flowers, different butterfly decorations or her age. My butterfly will display how many months along I am for maternity belly pictures and family gatherings (one less pregnancy question to answer).
For this project I recovered a Fabric.com box to keep all my snacks and juice boxes in my car. They were floating all over and sliding around; I could never find something when I needed it. My snack box features one side of chalkcloth (to announce the goodies stored inside), laminated cotton on the inside (so spills can be cleaned easily) and canvas on the remaining exterior. The bottom is a piece of Rainbow Felt to keep my box from sliding about in the trunk. To make your own, find a box that is a good size for you and your car, cut off the flaps and measure each side and the bottom. Cut fabric to these measurements and sew together first the exterior and then the interior sides. A great tip is to use a walking foot for your chalk cloth or laminated cotton but if you don't have one then when sewing the chalk cloth to the canvas, place the chalk cloth on top and the canvas on the bottom. This will prevent the creeping of cloth that can happen when one fabric is looser than the other. Once all your exterior and interior pieces are sewn together, place the interior inside the exterior with RS facing and stitch around the top. Turn RS out and finger press seams open and then topstitch around the top. Now sew the bottom onto the lining, RS facing. Turn everything rightside out and place it in your box. With a glue gun, secure the bottom of the exterior to the bottom of the box and then apply your felt overlapping by 1/2 in. to 1 in. of the exterior with the glue gun.
Enjoy your snack box, or use it as a toy box, hair bow box, sewing or knitting box or any other kind of storage where you might need some chalk cloth to help your identify the contents. I am planning more for my nursery and 3 yr old's room as toy boxes as well as bibs, towels, blankets and socks!
Check out more project on Pinterest.
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