From DIY home decor to handmade gifts, here are the best arts and crafts to spark your creativity

Cell Phone Pocket Place Mats

Over the last few years of my life, I've noticed and become aware of exactly how time, humanity as a total spends on their phones. 85% of world wide users can't go a day without their smartphones, and worldwide more humans have cellphones than toilets; and by 2016 the number of cellphones is expected to exceed the number of people on this earth.

Staying plugged into a high-tech network means round the clock receptiveness to ads, alerts and updates, floods of text messages that keep us zeroed in and exercising our thumbs at family dinner, and a certain compulsion to replace our chosen portable tech tool every two years like renewing a lease or rental. Theoretically speaking, your 21st century cellphone isn’t so much yours as it is a kind of societal tether that you pay to use. Whether in our pockets or on the desk, it keeps you beholden to just about everyone and everything else you’ve got going on outside the here and now.

These place mats are cost-effective and easy to make. When used they will encourage one to tuck away their phone in the pocket, and enjoy the company of those around the table.

Acquiring the Materials

The place mats shown in the photographs so far, are made from recycled TJ-Maxx shopping bags. Just recently they've promoted the tote bag phase and have come out with their own line of sustainable, vinyl, shopping bags for 99 cents each.

One Bag = Four place mats

Of course, you can always substitute the bags for a fabric of your choice, but I recommend vinyl because its easy to wipe down and clean.

Cutting the Bags

Begin by cutting off the side panels of your bags. Be sure not to cut off the bottom panel! You will need that later! Next, cut off the handle on both sides. Set the handles aside and throw away the side panels.

Your cuts don't have to be as clean as possible, just get as close to the inside seam as possible.

Ironing Out Your Bags

Open your bag and lay it flat out on an ironing board. Lay a damp cloth over the vinyl bag, and on low heat begin to iron out as much of the creases as possible. Once your happy with the results set your flattened bags aside.

*Be careful ironing! Vinyl will melt at a high enough heat, so be conscious of how your material is reacting.*

Cutting the Bags: Two

With your bag laid out flat, carefully cut off the bottom panel. You should now have the two front and back panels, and the smaller bottom panel.

From the bottom panel of the bag, cut out four 4" x 4" squares which will later be used as the pockets for your place mats. Set the pockets aside.

On the front and back panels, there is some trim you can cut off from the side, as well as the hem along the top of the bag. *See photos for where to cut*

With your front or back panels, fold them in half vertically. Then cut along the crease where you folded. Repeat for both front and back panels until you have four equally cut rectangles.

*Be sure to set aside any trimmings, including the handles you cut earlier. They can be used for trim on your place mats and pockets!*

Attaching the Pockets

Sew or hot glue the pockets to the bottom right corners of the place mats. Test to be sure your phone fits!

Now using the trimmings you can decorate the pockets and edges of your mats!

Enjoy a Family Meal

Set your next family meal with your new place mats, and encourage your family to enjoy a tech-free meal!


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