Tablecloth Diaper Changing Mat Tutorial

February 18, 2011

I recently brought home a pretty spectacular vinyl table cloth for $1.  I bought it with the intention of making a changing mat, but I almost loved it too much to cut.  I tried to think if I was ever going to use it as a table cloth.  The answer was no, so I decided to stick with my original plan.  Now that I have finished this project, I'm glad I took the plunge and used this fabric.   I have a tendency to hoard fabric, but I'm trying to be bold and just use the things that I love.  You would think it would be easier with thrifted or re-purposed fabric since I usually buy it for almost nothing, but sometimes it's harder cutting into something when I know I might never find fabric like it again.

One of my two boys is still in diapers, and I feel like he always needs to be changed at the most inconvenient moments.  Often he needs a clean diaper when we are somewhere without a handy changing table.  The changing mat that used to live in my purse was really cute, but only big enough for a newborn baby, or to go under a bigger baby's bottom.  When I'm changing my son in the dirty bathroom at Salvation Army, I need something big enough to cover his bottom and his head.  I'm not as worried about their bathroom as I am about my kid laying on that dirty floor!

As I've been thinking about making a new changing mat, my main criteria was to find a fabric that wouldn't crack after being folded, but was still wipeable.  I have tried using clear vinyl from the fabric store, both the kind that you iron onto fabric, and the type that you just layer on top, and it always cracks.  When I saw this tablecloth I knew I found the perfect fabric.  It had been folded for years in its original packaging, and there were no signs of cracking!

Diaper Changing Mat Tutorial
Folded Size: 5 1/4" x 7 1/4" (similar to a size 3 diaper)
Open Size: 20.75" x  14.75"
To make your own awesome changing mat, you will need:

  • 1/2 yard of wipeable fabric (thrifted table cloth, oil cloth, or something similar)  
  • Your choice of fastener.  I have a snap press, so I use snaps whenever I can, but you could use the type of snaps that you hammer in (found in the notions section of the fabric store) or 1" square of velcro
  • Thread 
  • Straight pins
  • Painter's tape (masking tape)
  • Sewing machine and needle
  • Optional: Small scrap of coordinating fabric
Step 1 - Cut out your main pieces

Cut out two pieces that each measure 15.5" x 21.5".  Round the corners by tracing around a cd, bowl, or whatever you have handy.  Cut along your drawn lines.

Step 2 - Make the Tab

Cut out your tab.  Cut out one piece that each measure 2.5"x 3" from your main fabric.  You also want to round the corners on one side only (like in the picture).  As you can see, I cut out one piece floral table cloth, and then placed it right side down on top of a small scrap of green linen.  I often do this when I am sewing together two small pieces.  This way I don't have to be too concerned about getting them to line up precisely.  I sew first, and then trim them after to make them the same size.  This saves me a lot of frustration!

Pin your two pieces of fabric together inside of your seam allowance(I used my presser foot since that is the easiest, and that works out to a little more than 1/4").  Pins will leave holes in this type of fabric that don't go away, so be careful to pin only very close to the edge.

Sew your tab, using the edge of your presser foot as a guide.  After you are finished sewing your two pieces together, trim off the extra fabric using scissors or pinking shears.

Turn the tab inside out, and edge stitch all the way around.


Set your snap stud or sew on the hook side of your velcro to the rounded end of your tab.  The stud or the velcro should be sewn to the side of your tab with the coordinating fabric if you are using two different fabrics like I did.

Step 3 - Attaching your Fastener to the Mat

I designed this changing mat to fold into thirds, and then into thirds again.  To figure out where your snap socket or velcro loop tape needs to go, fold one of your two 21.5"x15.5" pieces in half and measure in 5" from one edge.  Mark this spot with a water soluble marker.

Now that you have marked the spot where you need to place your fastener, either sew your velcro, or place your snap socket over your mark.  If you are using snaps I would recommend sewing a small square of fabric (finished size: 1.5"x1") onto your vinyl first.  This will keep the snaps from pulling through your fabric.  
Sew the square over your mark.  My three year old is very helpful as you can see!
Now put in your snap socket in the center of your square.

Step 4 - Assemble Your Mat

Take the piece of fabric that does not have either a snap or velcro, and fold it in half the same way you did before.  Make a mark at the halfway point.  With the right sides of your fabric facing inwards, carefully pin all the way around your fabric.  Again, you want to be careful not to make any holes in your fabric.   You will need to leave a space to turn the mat inside out, so leave a gap around your mark like shown in the picture below.  I like to mark the start and finish point with two pins so I remember to stop sewing.
Starting and ending with your double pins, sew around the perimeter, using your presser foot as your guide.  Remember to back stitch when you start and finish sewing.

Step 5 - Sewing on the Tab

Turn your mat so that the right sides are facing out.   Fold your mat into thirds so that you have a long skinny rectangle and the hole that you used to turn your fabric right side out if at the top.  It should be near the snap (or velcro) we sewed on earlier.  Grab your tab and snap it onto the mat.  Now adjust how far it comes out of the gap, until things line up nicely.

Hold together carefully (or use a paperclip) because you don't want to make holes.  Sew your gap closed by edge stitching around the entire mat.

Step 6 - Mark Your Folding Lines

To help you remember how to fold things up, the next step is to sew two lines on top of the mat.  To do this, fold your mat in thirds like shown below.  Mark your stitch lines with painters tape.

Sew along the edge of the tape, remembering to back stitch when you start and stop sewing.

Step 7 - Finishing Touches

All that you have left to do is to pull off the painters tape and trim your threads.  Fold up your mat and it's ready to be used.

Congratulations, you are finished.  Now sit back and admire your new changing mat!  Now if only it was for something more fun than changing diapers...


Roslyn@Sew Delicious said...

That is a great tutorial, thanks!

Mama Campbell said...

would PUL work instead of oilcloth?

Valerie Conrad said...

Found this on Pinterest today. I am so excited to make this changing mat. Thank you for the tutorial!

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