After a few requests for this, I offer it now, as a community service to those who may be remotely interested...
Warning, this is a labor intensive process and not an instant gratification project, like those that I tend to prefer! I completed my four mats over the course of two days. Day one is for painting and drying. Day two is for wrestling the sewing portion of the project.
To make your own chalkboard placemats you'll need to the following materials:
Vinyl Placemat of any variety or, sheet vinyl (I found mine in the remnants section for very cheap!)
If not using a double sided placemat - then you'll want a fabric for the reverse side!
I used water based chalkboard paint and did not prime my placemat with any product. Sand off the shine, so that it allows the paint to adhere nicely. Paint your placemat using your choice of chalkboard paint (I used black) and allow the paint to dry. Follow the directions on the paint can, but I impatiently fudged a little - with no negative consequences.
Lightly sand the dry painted surface and wipe clean with a damp cloth. Paint another coat of paint and allow it to dry. Sand lightly once your paint is dry and apply any additional coats of chalkboard paint that may be required. It took 3 coats of paint for a nice finish on my placemat.
Allow your chalkboard to dry completely before using or rolling it! Once all your paint is dry, using the side of a piece of chalk, cover the entire placemat with chalk (this will condition your chalkboard for use), wipe away with a felt eraser or cloth and clean your mat with a damp cloth.
My placemats are double sided, with a pretty decorative side and the chalkboard on the reverse. After a short wrestling match, I sewed the two sides together and used a quilt binding as a decorative edging. Depending on the fabric and vinyl thickness - make sure you use an appropriate sized needle!! I attached a button and a cord, so that the mat could be rolled up. (i.e. to lend itself to easy travel and for restaruant use). This can be omitted of course, if the placemat will only be used at home.
Alternative for paint:
I found a recipe for chalkboard paint here
. I was concerned about the toxicity of this, since the premise of the chalkboard placement would imply that a wee one might actually be eating in close proximity to it. Use this at your own risk. I did mix it up and it worked perfectly -- but I chickened out and bought the non-toxic paint at a store! (Home Depot for $10.99)
Good luck..and I'd love to see your finished product if you give this a shot!