Roll-Up Board Game / Card Game Surface





Introduction: Roll-Up Board Game / Card Game Surface

This might be of interest if you live somewhere with limited space but would like to have a good surface to lay over a table for playing card games or board games.  It seems it's pretty common for people to buy a roll of baize to lay out like a table cloth for this purpose, but I thought this would skid around or be too easy to tug around accidentally, particularly if it overlaps the edge of the table.  So, we stitched together pieces of baize and leatherette to produce a surface that's possible to roll-up for storage and also provides a static and smooth surface for playing games on.

To avoid having frayed edges, we folded the baize over every edge, added an extra crease in the overlap and stitched through all of those layers (3 layers of baize and 1 of leatherette).

The tricky bit about this project was getting the size of the baize right, since ironing creases into the edges shrinks the material around the outside.  We tried to reduce this effect by ironing the baize all over before starting, and stretching out the baize before sewing the pieces together.  There may be a better way of doing this, however.

Step 1: Get the Materials

We bought 90cm by 130cm of baize and leatherette from John Lewis, allowing at least an extra 15cm in each dimension - the actual size of the materials we got were up to 10cm out, it turns out.  You need the baize to be at least 6cm bigger in each dimension than the intended final size of the mat.

You'll also need some good scissors, a ruler, a measuring tape, tailor's chalk, an iron, a sewing machine and thread to match the colour of the baize.

Step 2: Measure Out the Leatherette

Lay out the leatherette with the backing (a white canvas material in this case)

Carefully mark out on the back of the leatherette the intended final size of the mat, making sure that it's rectilinear using a large right-angle or repeated measurements.  It might be worth checking that the diagonals measure the same to check that the rectangle isn't skewed.

Step 3: Cut the Leatherette to Size

Cut the leatherette to its intended size, along the lines you marked in the previous step.

Step 4: Iron the Baize

Iron the baize all over to remove any crinkles and (hopefully) to ensure that the edges don't shrink much more than the middle when you iron in the creases later.

Throughout this project we used the iron on its wool setting and with steam.  However, if you can get away with doing it on a lower setting and without steam, this may reduce the shrinkage.  We found that we needed steam in order to press in the creases, however.  Another point to note is that there appeared to be some water staining from using the steam but it isn't so noticeable that it bothers me.

Step 5: Measure and Cut the Baize

The two sides of the baize that we got seemed to be indistinguishable, but that may not be true in every case, so make sure that you're chalking the side that will be against the leatherette in the finished article.

Lay out the baize on the table, put the leatherette on top, making sure that there's at least a 3cm margin (seam allowance) on each side.  Use the chalk to mark all around the edge of the leatherette on the baize.

Then measure an extra 3cm seam allowance all around the edge and mark it with chalk.  Finally cut it to size along that outer line.  At the end of the step it should look like the picture.

Step 6: Pin the Edges of the Baize

Fold each edge of the baize along the inner line you marked in the previous step and pin it, as shown in the picture.

Step 7: Tack Around the Edges

Tack (baste) around the edges with bright coloured thread, removing pins on the way, just to make the next step (ironing in the crease) easier.  In practice, you could probably get away without doing this and just iron along the edges, removing the pins as you go, but it's important to get this edge straight so we thought this stage was worth doing.

Step 8: Iron the First Crease Into the Baize

With the iron on a low setting, as before, iron in the crease around every edge.  This is a crucial stage since this crease will be the actual edge of the mat, so it's important to make sure that it's both straight and firmly ironed in.

After you've done this ironing, unpick and remove the bright thread you used for tacking.

Step 9: Mark Out the Second Crease

Now mark out the second crease for the hem, half way into the overlap, so 1.5cm in from each edge.  (This isn't strictly necessary - it's possible to just fold it, as in the next step, without measuring it.)

Step 10: Fold in and Pin the Second Crease

Now fold along the line of the second crease, tucking it under so that the edge meets the first crease, and pin it in place.  (The picture shows a close-up of this process half-way along one side.  Note that when I took this picture, I'd accidentally failed to put the pin through the bottom layer - the pins should go through all three!)

Step 11: Iron in the Second Crease and Tape to the Leatherette

Next, iron in the second crease all the way around, removing the pins as you go along.

Then lay the baize out with the creases facing up, and lay the leatherette over it.  Now lift the creases, fold them around the edge of the leatherette and tape them down with invisible sellotape (a.k.a. magic tape).  Make sure that the edge of the leatherette goes right into the crease, so that you'll be able to sew through all four layers in the next step.

At the corners you should trim a triangle off the baize in order to reduce the amount of overlapping material, while making sure that there still is some overlap to sew through - i.e. don't cut the triangle right to the corner of the leatherette.  Ideally this cut should go through the point where the second creases would meet.

You might find that the baize has shrunk from the ironing, so at this point we stretched it out, weighted down the corners with books and left it overnight (as shown in the second picture).

Step 12: Sew the Baize to the Leatherette

With the leatherette side facing up, use the sewing machine to stitch all the layers together around all the edges.  It's up to you how far in from the edge you stitch, but make sure that it's a distance you can keep consistent all the way around and that it will be going through all four layers at each point.

The leatherette is quite stiff and heavy, so you may need someone else to support and gradually move the mat as you're sewing around the edges.

Step 13: Finish Off the Trailing Threads

The only remaining stage is to finish off the trailing threads on the back, and possibly hand-stitch the corners if they haven't come out well after sewing all around with the machine.

When you're rolling this mat up for storage, we found it's best to fold it over once before loosely rolling it up - this seems to minimize creasing of the baize and leatherette.  (See the third picture for this step.)  Even so, it's difficult to roll it up without crumpling the baize to some extent, but as yet it hasn't been difficult to smooth it out when you lay the mat out again - time will tell whether this is a problem in the longer run, I suppose.



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21 Discussions

Looks fun!
I'm extremely Surprised that I'm not seeing these 'roll up game surfaces' in the main stream. Shipping a poster tube is dirt cheap compared to folding game table toppers...

Custom game surfaces like D&D, Texas Hold'em, black jack, CATAN, TICKET to RIDE, etc would make some one with contacts in the manufacturing industry stacks of cash!

A kickstarter perhaps? ;-)

Just finished making our own mat based on your awesome instructable! I deviated a bit from the double hem since I didn't care that much about having a super fancy edge and went with a double sewn hemmed border deal. My wife did the sewing machine part for me cause I'm a n00b. But we think it turned out great!! Thanks for the idea and instructions!

photo 3.JPGphoto 2.JPGphoto 1.JPG
1 reply

That looks great! I'm glad to hear the instructable was useful. The double hem was indeed quite time-consuming to do; I think if we were to make another one, I'd probably do the edges as you've done.

I have heard of this type of thing being used for jigsaw puzzles and I would probably make one for that case as I never finish them and need the table space so that I can work on something else... I personally wouldn't want to use them for my card games as I would be afraid that it would bend the cards too much... Anyone who has made one of these before, could you let me know if that has happened or not? Still I would make this regardless.

Well, i finished mine. Ran into a few problems like the lether stuff warping but, i'm finished, and it looks great.

2 replies

Great! I'm glad to hear it worked out well.

Strangely, I think a comment disappeared from this thread asking about felt versus baize as a material for the surface.  (I got an email with the comment but it never appeared here.)  Anyway, our thinking was that felt would produce much more fluff after some use, but I don't know if that would be a real problem or not.

 Would it be hard to put  a grid on it for use in games like Dungeons and Dragons?

1 reply

I'm afraid I've never played Dungeons and Dragons, so I'm not really sure what the requirements would be.

That said, one option would be to stitch a grid into it, but that would be very time consuming and easy to get wrong - also with our sewing machine you could only really stitch round the edges.  Perhaps it would be better to start with a material with a grid printed on it anyway, but I imagine it would be difficult to get baize pre-printed as such.  You could just draw lines onto it with marker pen, but I think that would be difficult to do neatly, since you'd have to keep the baize under tension for drawing with pen.

Sorry I don't have any better ideas about that...

It's about 2½ feet by 4½ feet (75.6cm x 138cm), just because that was the size of our kitchen table.

Sorry, I meant 73.5cm x 135.0cm - read the wrong numbers from my notes!

Thanks for your kind comment, and the links - Jamaica looks rather fun!

Wow, this is exactly what I need.  I'm going to have to add this to my "to do" list and perhaps bump it up ahead of a few others.  Thanks for sharing.  Well written instructable.

Looks like Puerto Rico...never heard of the other...