Sunday, March 8, 2009

Funky Placemat How-To

I'm so excited to share my *first* (very amateur) tutorial on how I made some totally cool placemats (which I need to get final pictures of - because I already gave them to their recipient...) But before I get to that - -just a quick comment about how I have a cute boyfriend. See? (OK, I get it, I'm cute, too...but I really like this self-made photo...)

OK - moving right along before I start blushing. For fun placemats (and 6 matching napkins, if you desire), you'll need the following:
1/2 yard each of SIX (6) coordinating/contrasting prints
(Mine are from Heather Bailey's Pop Garden line for Free Spirit Fabrics. Yum-o.)
About 3 yards of heavy weight interfacing (I used sew in, but fuseable would be great, too.)
(A note about the interfacing, I had intended to use canvas as interlining until I found the stiff stuff in my stash, so canvas would probably work, too - just depends on how "stiff" you like your placemats - I like mine fairly stiff. If you like 'em soft you could even use quilt batting.)
Coordinating thread and sewing supplies, especially a rotary cutter, quilter's ruler & mat.

1. iron all your pieces - I don't prewash. I'm not a prewasher. If you like to prewash, please do. I won't hold it against you if you don't hold my non-prewashing against me. Then, from each print, cut a 15 x 18 rectangle. (I wanted my placemats to be square-ish, so that's the reason they are this size. Any size from this up to 18 x 22ish will be fine if you like them more rectangular.)

2. Stack all 6 rectangles, aligning edges carefully with each other and with the lines on the cutting mat. Take your ruler and make "slices" how ever you choose. Since you have 6 fabrics, you'll need to make 5 "slices" (cutting the rectangle stack into 6 generally equal pieces...but not necessarily on a straight edge...see this picture) - I like to make a center cut FIRST, so that the side pieces will be close to even, while still looking slightly askew. I like askew. If you like 'em straight, cut 'em straight :)

3. This step is the fun part. "Shuffle" the pieces, (see above photo) so that you have one of each print on each of the 6 layers. Be careful - you MAY even want to label the pieces 1-6 on the back or with a water soluble marker. I risked it, but I had one (out of 6) that I didn't sew together in the right order (1 to 2, 2 to 3, etc.)...and I had to rip out and start over.

4. Carefully sew the pieces in order, as you have them laid out. The edges should match up fine, but they will look like this when seams flat, and then to one side.

When you are done sewing the seams of the shuffled pieces, it should look like this:

5. Measure your placemat tops across the middle lengthwise and crosswise. (Mine are 15 x 16ish.) From the remaining fabric, cut ONE rectangle of that size from each of the prints. Also cut SIX rectangles of that size from the interfacing/canvas/batting - whatever you are using:

6. Make a sandwich. Put the solid panel down, right side up. Layer the pieced placemat top, right sides together, on top of the solid panel. Place a rectangle of interfacing on top. Pin all the way around, leaving about a 4 inch opening along one edge for turning.

7. With a 3/8" seam (you could use a 1/4" if you wanted...I just like that 3/8" gives me more wiggle room if my big rectangles don't match. I hate cutting...have I mentioned this?) - sew all the way around, turning at the corners with the needle down, leaving the 4" open for turning.

8. Clip the corners, and grade/trim the seams.

9. Turn placemat right side out through the hole.

Use a turning tool (or a fat knitting needle) to make the corners sharp.

11. Press edges well...

12. While pressing the edges, turn under the flap where you left the opening for turning & press well. Use a pin or two to hold it closed.

13. Edge stitch all the way around the placemats, closing the opening, and turning at the corners. I did a second row of stitching just inside the first row of edge stitching, purely because I like how two rows looks.

14. Then, I stitched "in the ditch" along the seams where the top is pieced. (This is optional - and would be fun if you decided to stitch in a different pattern, or in a zig-zag stitch or blanket stitch along those seams...) VOILA! Placemat divine.

Here's the back - you can see the stitching (you have to look hard...)

Oh, and I made matching napkins out of the leftovers from the 1/2 yards...I just turned under 1/8 inch on the edges, twice, pressed, and stitched.

If you try this, or some version of this, PLEASE let me know!!! I heart comments and pictures.

1 comment:

  1. wow. You are talented. If I knew or cared what interfacing, fuseable anything, interlining, or a turning tool were...well then. You and I would be clones and twins born a decade apart is good for me.