Portable Tea Party

This morning I surprised the girls with a tea party linen set… placemats, napkins and a tablecloth. The whole thing is reversible…

And the best part? The tablecloth gathers up into a tidy little bag to contain all those tiny cups and treats and spoons.

If you have a gal between one and four years old, you KNOW what I’m talking about. These tea parties can get wild and before you know it, you have this on your hands!

This is a FUN project for experimenting with trims and decorative stitches because you really can’t go overboard. I mean, It’s a tea set! What’s more fancy than that!?!

Click here for the DIY Porta-Party (sometimes I can’t help myself)

A few of you have emailed asking out our playfood, most of it is Melissa and Doug brand and we highly recommend it. The cake stand was from Pier 1 Imports a while back.

And remember that the “best” comment of the week will win you that adorable train fabric!

Gather yee supplies

1 yd each of 2 fabrics, washed and ironed. They can be matchy like I used, or totally different! Can you tell that we adore Heather Ross Far Far Away yet?
4 yds ribbon for drawstring
4 – 9″x9″ squares (or circles) of thick felt. This is a nice thick wool/poly blend.
Various trims and fancies
Basic Sewing Tools – Read through entire DIY before you start to make sure you have everything!


1. Measure your two fabrics against each other and start with the smaller of the two.

2. Measure the short width of the fabric, the selvage edge. It should still be close to 36″ but doesn’t have to be. For our purposes here we will assume it is 36″. Find the center.

2. Tie a chalk pencil or disappearing ink pen to the end of a string and then measure 18″ length of the string (or half the width of your fabric) and tie the other end around a pin.

3. Make one mark 18″ in from the side (center) & 18″ down from the top. Stick your pin in that point and pull the ribbon tight. Holding the pin in place, draw a large circle with the pen.

4. Use a rotary cutter (or scissors) to cut out your large circle. Set aside the extra fabric, you will use that for your napkins later.

5. Lay your circle (right side down) on top of your second fabric (right side up) and pin in place in several locations.

6. Use your top fabric as a template and cut your second fabric circle. Set aside the extra fabric for your napkins.

7. Don’t be scared, we are going to make a button hole!
Open the edge of your pinned fabrics and on the right side of your “outside” fabric, measure in 3/4″ from the edge and then another 1/2″ and make a little line between the 2 points.

8. Make a button hole the size of the line you just drew. It’s best to use your machine manual to learn to make a button hole. They are so easy to do on new machines! But if you would like to see a tutorial, let us know. We can definitely put on together. You can also use grommets if you prefer.

If you use a seam ripper to open your button hole, place a pin across the top of the hole so you don’t cut through the stitches.

9. Pin the circles back together and sew almost all the way around the circumference of your circle with 3/8″ seam allowance. Leave about 6-8″ open for turning.

10. Remove pins and turn right-side-out.

11. Iron flat, turning in the edges at the opening. I discovered that a non-greasy pizza cardboard works great for pushing out the edge of the circle for ironing. Pause while I feel like a genius.

12. Sew all the way around, 1/8″-1/4″ in from the edge. Back stitch at start and finish.

13. Now for a fun decorative stitch if you fancy. Test some out on a scrap until you find a good one!

14. Find your button hole and, starting below the button hole, sew your decorative stitch all the way around your circle. This leaves a pocket for your drawstring. Approximately 1″ wide.

15. Attach the end of your drawstring ribbon to a safety pin and run it into the button hole, all around the circle through the casing you have created, and back out of the button hole. Tie the ends together in a tight knot.

And there you have your tablecloth/drawstring bag.


1. The remaining fabric from your tablecloth should leave you with a 36″ x 8″ strip along the bottom. From this, cut 4 squares approx 8″x8″. Cut 4 squares the same size from your second fabric.

2. Fold and iron the bottom edge under 3/8″ on both pieces.

3. If you are using the pom-pom trim (which was VERY well received by the girlies) Pin it facing in approx 1/4″ from the edge.

4. Baste stitch (the longest straight stitch, usually a 5) close to the inside edge of the “ribbon”. Remove pins.

5. Put your 2 squares together (fronts facing) and pin all around.

6. Sew the three sides leaving the bottom open (the side with the folds). When you sew the “Pom-Pom” side, be sure to sew on the basting line or even just inside it.

7. Snip the corners being careful not to cut the stitching.

8. Turn right-side-out and iron flat.

9. Sew all the way around the outside 1/8″ from edge.

And there you have your reversible napkin!

Placemats (or Plates, as Clare calls them)

1. Use a plate as a template and trace a circle onto the felt. I used 4 – 9″ circles.
You can also make them square but (1) Circles look good with the round tablecloth and (2) if you decide to do the scallop stitch like I did, the corners are annoying. Cut out your circles.

Note: if you would like to make these reversible/2-tone, cut a duplicate set of circles and pin them together.

2. Use a decorative stitch 1/2″-3/4″ in from the edge all the way around. I love the scallop but anything will work.

3. Pull all the threads through to the back side, trim, and add a dab of clear glue to secure.

And now you can be done but you can also trim a fancy edge outside your decorative stitching. It would look something like this. Very cute! but is it worth the work? I couldn’t decide so I left mine alone.

And there you have it! This would make an awesome handmade gift for any little girl. Throw in a cute tea set and some of these and you are golden!

Tea time!
Search Amazon.com for melissa and doug




I can't believe this is today's tutorial! It's a whole lot like the first project I did when I got a sewing machine a year ago. The napkins were not reversible, and I didn't think of making place mats… Wish I'd had your instructions back then! It would have saved me so much of the time I spent scratching my head and wondering what step should come next 🙂
(Photos added to the Flickr pool.)


P.S. I LOVE this blog. You and Jamie are fantastic! I've been bookmarking cute projects here for about a year and a half and filing them away, "for someday". I'm due with my first in just under two weeks, so if this little one turns out to be a girl, you might start hearing a lot more from me 🙂

brandi mincey

Can I ask where you got your food set? It looks so well made and very cute! We have a cheap plastic set that makes me cringe every time the kids play with it!


I LOVE this and anything else to help keep the toys from taking over my house! I am running to my sewing room now. I am thinking of making a version for my 3 year old boy's train collection too. And the Legos. And maybe a large one just to keep the kids themselves in. My house will be filled with fancy pouches by the end of the week which is much better than looking at (and stepping on) plastic toys. Thanks!


How cute! I think I may try one with a race track on it for my 2 year old boy. Probably won't control the cars everywhere, but he'll love it! Thanks for the tutorial. I wish I'd seen it a few years ago when I attempted my first button hole. I didn't know the pin trick and didn't realize how sharp a seam ripper was-I went right through my stitches. I haven't tried one since, but now I think I will.


Brandi- most of it is Melissa and Doug brand and we highly recommend it. The cake stand was from Pier 1 Imports a while back. See the links I added up in the post.

Danielle- A lego or train version is genius! You could even add roads and tracks by sewing felt on the cloth before sewing them together! I love it! Make one and send pics!


Brilliant! This is going on my Christmas gift list, thank you!! And I just noticed Jacinda's comment about sewing on roads, now AT LEAST 2 of these are going on my list!

secret cake

SO CLEVER!! Love this. My girls would think this was awesome…as would my neices.

We have the M&D; birthday cake set and the pizza set. They have been well-loved. (My only complaint is that my girls use the little pepperoni/mushroom/jellybeen disks as coins and I find them EVERYWHERE…including in my purse and shoes…sigh.

Thanks so much for sharing this dose of inspiration…will add to the "must make" list.

Take care!


Ok, so, you're totally adding toooo many things to my 'to do' list. So, just calm down a little with the cuteness/handiness/adorableness/I-need-this-ness. thanks.


What an amazing and generous tutorial! I recently found this blog and I'm in love! Everything you make is so cool, stylish and practical. I have 3 girls, 4 year old twins and a 2 year old girl. I am ordering the fabric for this TONIGHT! Thanks so much…

Julie Anita

I'm looking at your last photo of the girls before the instructions and laughing. I love that "MOOOOM, she's RUINING IT!!!" pout your older gal's got going on there! Classic. At least she can pack up her tea party set easily and transport it to another room (and felt items can easily be crawled over without breaking) 😉


Funny that you posted this because I've been thinking about making something similar for my friend's daughter for Christmas! Thank you so much, this is adorable!


This is absolutely adorable. Is it weird to file away projects in a folder called "if I ever have a girl"? This might be my first entry. The tablecloth turned drawstring bag is awesome.


I know a very special little girl who may very well be getting one of these for Christmas. And a special little boy too! (but I don't think his will be pink, it weirds moms out)


I love it! This one is definate on my christmas goodies list. I will just have to stress to my older girls it's not ok to draw close the tablecloth with Lily still in there. lol My girls are good for the most part but even good kids have a little bit of hellion in them.


My little girl is still in utero, but this is so cute make it for her anyway. I'll blame my "nesting" tendency for wanting to make this so early. When my husband comments that he thought nesting was focused more on cleaning & organizating I'll tell him "who needs a fridge cleaned out or baseboards dusted when you could have a cute portable tea set instead?!"


This is fabulous, and I love it especially because I made a "blanket bag" last year when my daughter was teeny and we were going to mommy group all the time. It was exactly like this, but 45" in diameter with batting in the middle. (I made a couple more for friends and turns out that at 45" at least, having the ribbon come out twice, at opposite sides of the circle, was nicer as it made for shorter straps.) I could gather up all her toys and diapers and such into the bag and then lay the blanket flat for her to play on. I've been wondering what in the world I would do with it now that she is 16 months and basically unable to sit still, and now I know!

Okay, off to make some napkins and placemats!


Perfect. I have a 3 month old little girl and I have bookmarked this page for one of the MANY projects I will do for her in the near future. I AM SO EXCITED to have tea parties with her! Thank you for this tutorial!

Laura Bray

Great idea! I hate picking up after a wild & crazy tea party. In fact…maybe I should make one of these in an adult size. It would be a great way to clean-up after dinner. Snicker…


Amy! It's adorable! I totally love it with the zig-zag.
Crissie – Fancy stitches are completely unnecessary for this project. Lots of people get sucking into buying a pricey machine with 300 fancy stitches and never use them so I wanted to show some here (it's fun!) but they really don't add a ton to the project as you can see from Amy's photo! As Amy also mentioned, you could add a little embroidery (or even applique) if you like doing that but again, not necessary.


I'm not lucky enough to have any children of my own, however I do have a 2 year old god daughter who loves to "cook" on her plastic stove and hand me cup after cup of "tea". I think this, together with a little plastic tea set, will make a lovely christmas gift. I will of course have to embroider something on it, I can't help myself! Thank you very much!


I absolutely love this! I am currently working on making one for my girls and can't wait to give it to them. Love looking at this site and all your neat ideas. I will be making the felt cookies to go with my tea set (of course):)


wow that is awesome.. i want to have a tea party now! i used have tea parties for my boys all the time when they were preschooler.. and now they love to have real tea and cookies after school…
i am definitely making my niece one of these for Christmas!


This is so adorable! I can't wait to make a set for my girls! Maybe I should finish making the felt food set I'm working on before I start 😉


Awesome! I actually just found the pier one cake stand on clearance, woot! Now I cannot wait to make my Diva this delicious ensemble so she can be the "Martha Stewart" of the neighborhood tea parties.
It's a good thing! 😉


FANTASTIC! I am looking for inexpensive christmas ideas (and since my kids have WAY to many toys, I want to add to what they have.) This will be a perfect way to do both!

Jill @myheartisyoursblog

Ok so I know this comment is super late on this post, but I had to comment on it! I just made 2 of these for my nieces. I have to give myself a huge pat on the back because this is my first big project!!! And I made a button hole!!! 🙂


I love this project! I actually made it for my little cousins for Christmas this year and they adored it! I thought that the older one would like it more because she always makes me have tea parties with her. However, the almost two year old liked it more! I think the older one knew that there were more presents for her to open and the younger one got distracted by this one and didn't really know what was going on. It was an easy and fulfilling project to make. Kudos on designing it! I blogged about it here if you want to check it out: http://mary-made.blogspot.com/2011/01/christmas-2010.html

Anne Hamilton

Thanks so much for your fabulous tutorial! I made one of these for a silent auction for some friends who are adopting a little girl from Ethiopia! Here's a link to my blog: annehamilton77.blogspot.com


"DIY Porta-Party"…. oh my gosh. I just snorted coffee through my nose when I read that. This is adorable, by the way.


I’m going to make one for my daughter, but make it a picnic/ tea set…reversible. Then one for my son with trains on one side, cars the other! Can’t wait!


I’ve started making this for my soon to be 3 yr old neighbor and I’m realizing two things that would have made cutting out the large circle easier. First use a small safety pin instead of a straight pin so you ribbon doesn’t slide off the pin. Second, fold your fabric right sides together and then only have to draw a half circle to the fold instead of a full circle, which hard to do on a small folding table that I have in my sewing room and it would be much more accurate-that it’s perfectly round. I wish I had done that because when I fold my circle in half I can tell how not round my circle is. 🙁


YAY! I finished! I think the hardest part was sewing the pom-pom trim on. I had a hard time with it not getting stuck under my presser foot. I wish there some way of posting a picture of my portable tea party. I always like to see pictures of everyone’s variation of the project.


Eeek! Super cute! I love, love, love the Owl and the Pussy Cat fabric!!! What a dreamy print (the poem is read aloud in our house most nights as the kiddos prepare to drift on into dreamland).

to get pregnant

Hi there are using WordPress for your site platform?
I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started
and set up my own. Do you need any html coding expertise to make your own blog?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!


Oh my gosh – I was envisioning this exact same thing for my newest grandniece. And since I am SLOW I should have it done by her 1st birthday in 11 months !!

Sonia Bowers

Thank you so much, I have loved working on this, it is ready for ribbon and wrapping – will blog about it in a week after the birthday girl has recieved it.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *