These DIY chalkboard lap mats will entertain your kids for hours
Lap mats are a great way to keep kids occupied (and quiet) when traveling in cars or airplanes, or while waiting in restaurants. Video games may be popular these days, but I say good old-fashioned coloring and drawing tools are still the best. This lap mat has a chalkboard space with eraser, crayons, a notepad, pencil and a pocket for stickers or a little treat.
- 1/2 yard thin vinyl or washable fabric (I used waterproof PUL fabric)
- 2 felt squares for inner panels or 2 rectangles of scrap, 8 x 10 inches in size
- Chalkboard fabric square 8 x 10 inches
- Optional: small scrap of 8-inch ribbon for eraser
- Optional: trim scraps to decorate inside pockets
This project is put together in 3 panels. You can customize your panels any way you want for pencils, crayons, stickers, a notebook, little toys or whatever your child would enjoy. The cutting stage is also the time to plan which trimmings you will want to add to each pocket. I used some vintage rickrack and scraps of bias binding. Instead of measuring for certain pocket sizes, simply lay out the things you will be inserting and cut pockets to fit.
My left panel will have 2 pockets on top (1 for stickers and 1 for the chalkboard eraser) and crayon and chalk pockets on the bottom.
My middle panel will be a fabric chalkboard.
And my right panel will have a pocket for a notebook and pencil.
To cut pockets for crayons or colored pencils, remember to cut them extra long because they will be gathered up to fit the crayons. To sew, use a zipper foot, and put the crayons/pencils in the fabric while you are sewing so you know you are getting just the right fit. Hint: It can be very difficult to get pencil pockets perfectly straight. Instead of fussing over it, I chose to add a diagonal line of bias binding for an artsy effect. You can use ribbon for this as well. Just trim the bottom at an angle after sewing all the little pockets and sew ribbon or tape on top.
Another time-saving trick is to use pinking shears so you don’t have to fold pocket edges under before sewing. This also eliminates the need for seam allowance.
If you want a chalk eraser, use a small square of fur or felt and make a square with a scrap of ribbon attached. Mine was cut to fit the top pocket. If you don't want to make an eraser, you can use a small piece of sponge as an alternative.
Once all 3 panels are sewn to your liking, you can put the panels together by sewing them down to the cover piece around the edges of each panel. Instead of measuring a cover piece, simply lay all 3 panels where you want them, and sew them on to the cover piece one at a time. I started with the left and right panels, then overlapped my chalkboard fabric to cover the left and right seams. Don't forget to sew in the end of the ribbon to attach it.
After all the panels are sewn down, cut around the outer edge with pinking shears for a more finished look. Here's a close-up of the right panel. Stickers are always a fun way to decorate notes.
The chalkboard middle panel is fun for drawing, scribbling or playing games.
And the left panel stores everything away neatly.
You could even fit a little treat into the sticker pocket.
I chose not to add any type of closure since everything fits so snug into its own little pocket. But if there are things in danger of falling out, you can add a Velcro, elastic or ribbon closure before sewing the panels down.
And now you just may want to make a few more for birthday gifts. These sure are a wonderful way to keep kids busy!