Our place-mats have consisted of various plastic and laminated things that we had also been gifted. After many years of use, they're pretty much worn-out, with the paintings of farms and spacecraft worn off of the some and the laminate peeling off of others. It was time for something new, and we needed something wipe-off-able (my children are famous for spilling something the instant I put a clean tablecloth on the table), but I wanted something both prettier and more sustainable than plastic.
So I decided to wax fabric. I looked all over the internet, but as far as I could tell, no one has made waxed place-mats (and reported it online), however, I found many tutorials for waxing fabric for other purposes and figured, what the heck, give it a try.
My mom gave me several half-yars of fabric, all in bright, cheerful colors, which is just what we need this time of year (okay, all times of year), and which complement my dishes beautifully. I cut out rectangles, sewed two together and pinked the edges, then sprinkled them with grated beeswax (destroying our cheese-grater along the way) and warmed them in the oven to melt.
The wax darkened the fabric, particularly with the lighter colors, and if/when I were to do it again, I would put the same colors back-to-back, or use a light-colored solid as a backing––for these I put mis-matched fabrics together for whimsical and reversible mats, but the darker color shows through on the lighter side, muddying the fabric a bit.
With the scraps, I made a little table-runner, eyeballing approximately 3-inch strips, making them as wide as a 1/4-yard of fabric I had for a backing and as long as a piece of flannel I used for a batting––now that it's done (almost––I still need to sew down the binding) and on the table, I wish I had taken a bit more care, rather than rushing to get it done.
They've only been on the table a couple of days, but they seem to be working well so far––water beads up on the surface and they don't appear to have that magnetic attraction to spills that plain fabric has. The proof will come after a big spaghetti dinner.