How to Make Sisal Placemats

Sisal rugs have gained in popularity recently, adding gorgeous texture and a natural touch to any room. Rather than keep them relegated to the floor, why not co-opt the look to make some placemats for an autumn table?

Sisal Style

A handmade sisal placemat or charger brings natural texture to a table setting. Paired with clean white dishware, the look becomes modern, but these would be equally comfortable with traditional or rustic pieces.

Gather Your Materials

Most hardware stores carry both sisal and manila rope. Choose whichever appeals most to you, but look for 3/8-inch diameter. T-pins are stronger than regular pins and work best for this project.

Coil the Rope

Taking one end, begin to coil the rope tightly around itself. Keep the end of the sisal or manila as neat as possible, so that the finished mat will lie flat on the table. Once the first coil is wrapped, secure with a pin. (Tip: Sisal and manila are both fairly rough, so a pair of light duty gloves can save delicate hands from rope burn and chapping.)

Pin the Rope

Continue coiling around, pulling as tightly as possible. As you coil the rope around, secure every few inches with a pin.

Sew in Place

At this point, begin sewing to secure the coil. Use embroidery thread and an embroidery needle. (We used red for demonstration purposes.)

Secure the Center

Tie the end of the thread around the center of the coil to secure.

Connect the Coils

Sew the coils together to secure by threading up through the loop of rope at the very center, and then threading down through the next loop so that you sew the adjacent coils together. Make your next stitch a half inch or so further, working your way outward around the coil. On the front side, you’ll see more vertical stiches between the coils.

Connect the Coils (Back View)

On the back side, you’ll see that the stiches are more diagonal.

Complete the Circle

After sewing all the way to the last pin, wrap a few more coils, pin and then sew around. Continue this cycle until you circle all the way around.

Scale to Your Plate Size

To make a full sized placemat, coil and pin until the mat is just slightly larger in circumference than your dinner plates.

Tip: Start Small

Starting out with a smaller test version is a good way to get used to the technique and get the feel of the rope.