Place mats that are easy to clean are a necessity if you have small children or do a lot of outdoor dining. Vinyl works well because it can be cleaned with a damp rag and doesn't stain. However, many commercial vinyl place mats are plain or downright ugly. You can have the look of pretty fabric place mats and the ease of cleanup if you make your own vinyl place mats. Vinyl is available at fabric stores. Heavier vinyl works best because it will not tear as easily as the thin stuff.
Cut two 12-by-18-inch rectangles from the clear vinyl and one rectangle of the same size from the fabric. Choose heavier fabric, such as upholstery fabric.
Sandwich the fabric between the pieces of clear vinyl. Use the paper clips to hold the three layers of material together. Avoid straight pins, which will leave holes in the vinyl.
Sew the layers together with coordinating thread 1/2 inch from all four edges.
Trim the edges to 1/4 inch with the pinking shears or with a rotary cutter fitted with a curved or pinking blade. This makes a pretty edge and keeps the fabric from fraying.
Embroider a design in the center of the place mat or place paper or fabric embellishments between the fabric and vinyl layers.
Vinyl can cause a sewing machine foot to stick. Special vinyl feet are available, or you can just sew slowly.