A puzzle mat will allow you to have a perfect surface in which to build your puzzle. If you’re using a felt, however, it can sometimes struggle to stay flat which can make completing a jigsaw very difficult but thankfully there are steps that you can take.
How do you flatten a puzzle mat?
One easy way to flatten felt is my ironing it on low heat. If that’s impractical or you already have puzzle pieces on there, it’s a great idea to either keep it flat with weights or clamp it down.
What should I use for a puzzle mat?
Felt is the most common puzzle mat material as it has all the qualities you need and can be tightly rolled up when you’re halfway through the puzzle, while still maintaining its integrity.
It’s best to try and use a thicker felt as not only does that give you a higher quality surface but it’s also going to be more likely to stay flat once you’ve unrolled it.
If you wanted a flat surface and didn’t have any plans to preserve your puzzle for a later date by rolling it then you’re going to have a few more options.
A rubber mat is an example of a surface that has the friction you would be looking for but also has the weight and density where it should be able to stay flat.
A yoga mat is also a similar material that many people use. As long as they aren’t too textured and have a good weight to them, you will be able to lay them down with no problems in needing to flatten them out.
With the likes of mats, towels, and blankets you may be able to roll them up but not with the puzzle intact, which is why felt is so popular.
Puzzle flattening methods
If you have got your felt puzzle mat out and it’s all curled up then there are plenty of things that you can do.
Ironing – Felt can be ironed but there are a few precautions you need to take. It’s best to start at a lower temperature and then build it up from there. You can use steam if required but it’s best to try it without first and see if the crease is removed at a lower temperature.
It’s worth noting that not all felt is made the same. Cheaper types of felt are made from repurposed plastic which you need to be careful with. Some higher-end irons have a ‘poly’ setting and you should check to see if yours does.
Also, if it’s still not flat then you can use fabric over the felt which will allow you to iron it at a higher temperature.
Tape it down – Another method that you can take is to simply tape it down to whichever surface you’re working on. The right tape for you will depend on the surface you’re sticking it too but for most situations, regular tape is going to be fine.
You have to be mindful that tape doesn’t stick to felt incredibly well and also you may be worried about leaving marks on a surface.
Clamps – One great way to keep a puzzle mat pressed tightly against the surface is to clamp it. You can get small spring clamps which are extremely easy to use and are effectively large clothespins.
Placing these around the corner of a table or a board is very easy. You can often get them in a large packet for relatively cheap.
Weights – Using weights is another simple way of keeping a surface flat but it’s worth bearing in mind that you’d only be able to do this on a non-tilted surface as a lot of people like completing a puzzle on a slightly slanted base.
Many items can be used as a weight with even books being a good solution. You can, however, simply use anything you have to hand but often large rocks are a good solution.
Pins – This is going to be a good solution if you use a board on which to do your puzzles and your place felt over it. You can pin in the corners and side of the felt to give you a nice and flat surface. Push pins are very easy to use and will give you the results you’re looking for.
Flattening a puzzle tips
If you want to prevent your puzzle from getting creased then there are a few things that you can do to make things easier.
Firstly, it’s easier to roll up your mat rather than folding it up. This will prevent any defined creases and ensure it’s much easier to flatten once it comes to getting it out again. Rolling it up will simply make your life a lot easier.
You also want to keep it dry when you are using it. The reason for this is that any moisture will soften the fibers which will then harden once it dries. This can make any creases in the fabric very stubborn to get out and therefore you should keep it dry.
If you are struggling with creases then the opposite can be true. You can wet the fabric and then make sure it’s kept flat as the fibers harden again, they will do so while the mat is flat and allow it to keep its shape.
How do you flatten a puzzle piece?
Puzzles pieces can become warped as they can have an imbalance of moisture with the printed picture on one side and the cardboard on the other.
The best way to flatten them is by simply placing a heavy weight over them. If they are stiff, it’s a good idea to add a little bit of moisture to prevent it from cracking.
What material is best for a puzzle mat?
If you want to be able to save your puzzle then there’s no better material than felt. It’s also great for table surfaces due to its friction. If you aren’t bothered about saving your puzzle then a heavier materials such as a yoga mat or rubber may be a better idea.