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Colorful Placemats with Hand Stitch Accents

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The serenity of a neutral palette is wonderfully cool and calming. But sometimes, you gotta shake things up with a burst... no, an explosion of color. This set of four mix-and-match placemats is designed to use up to nine different fabrics (eight for the two-part fronts and one for all the backs) in super bold colors and patterns. We chose riveting jewel tones, which are drop dead gorgeous, but this project is just begging for your own infusion of style. A hand running stitch in a thick floss across the bottom panels adds a subtle dash of handmade flair.

This is a simple yet classic creation executed in gorgeous fabrics - perfect for gift giving or your own decorating, with a beauty that will last year 'round. 

Not quite ready for such a big blast o' color? Go neutral. Or, choose just three fabrics (two for all the fronts and one for all the backs) and make a completely matching set of two, four or more placemats.

Each placemat finishes at 20" wide x 14" high. 

We originally used fabrics from Ty Pennington's Fall 2012 Impressions collection, which can be hard to find now. We offer an alternate Tula Pink set below, found at Fabric.com, that offers the same colorful mix and match options.

From Tula Pink's Slow & Steady Collection for FreeSpirit Fabrics 

    

    

    

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

The ingredients shown below are for ONE 20" wide x 14" high placemat. Because we were extra fussy about our fussy cutting, we opted to work with a larger piece of fabric than absolutely necessary. If you too are extra fussy, go with the larger yardage amounts listed below. If you are less fussy, the smaller yardage amounts will work fine. If you are new to fussy cutting, check out our handy step-by-step tutorial.

  • ½ - ¾ yard of 44"+ wide quilting weight fabric for the front top panel
  • ½ - ¾ yard of 44"+ wide quilting weight fabric for the back panel
  • ¼ - ⅓ yard of 44"+ wide quilting weightfabric for front bottom panel
  • ½ yard of 22"+ wide mid-weight fusible interfacing; such as Pellon Décor Bond 
  • 2 yards of pearl cotton needlecraft floss to coordinate with your fabric for the horizontal hand stitching accents; we used Anchor Pearl Cotton in a size 8
  • All purpose thread to match fabric
  • Tapestry needle - with a large eye and a sharp point
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Straight pins
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper

Getting Started

The large, flat surface of a placemat provides a great opportunity to showcase bold motifs. We carefully fussy cut all our fabric to take best advantage of each pattern. As mentioned above, if you are new to fussy cutting, check out our step-by-step tutorial

  1. From the fabric for each top front panel, cut ONE 21" wide x 11" high rectangle
  2. From the fabric for each bottom front panel, cut ONE 21" wide x 5" high rectangle
  3. From the fabric for each back panel, cut ONE 21" x 15" rectangle.
  4. From the mid-weight interfacing, cut the following:
    ONE 20" x 10" rectangle
    ONE 20" x 4" rectangle 

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse interfacing to the wrong side of each front fabric piece, centering the interfacing top to bottom and side to side so there is ½" of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all sides. 

    NOTE: The interfacing is cut 1" smaller than the fabric piece to keep it out of the seam allowance. This allows for the sharpest corners and seams. 
  2. Pin the TOP 21" edge of the bottom front panel piece right sides together with the BOTTOM 21" edge of the top front panel.
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the panels together.
  4. Press the seam allowance towards the bottom panel.
  5. Find the tapestry needle and pearl cotton floss. 
  6. Cut a 50" length of pearl cotton; the hand stitching needs to be done with ONE continuous length. Double the floss and knot the end. You want a nice, chunky weight so the hand stitching is visible.
  7. Hand stitch, using a simple running stitch, across the placemat within the bottom panel, staying approximately ⅛" from the seam. 
  8. The stitches themselves should be about ¼" with approximately ⅛" between each stitch.
  9. Find the back panel. Place it right sides together with the completed front panel.
  10. Pin in place around all four sides, leaving a 3 - 4" opening along the bottom edge. 
  11. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch around all four sides. 
  12. Remember to pivot at each corner with your needle in the down position. For placemats that will get a lot of use and so will be laundered often, it's also a good idea to back-tack at each corner to reinforce the corners and make sure they stay sharp when turned right side out.
  13. Also reinforce your 3 - 4" opening with a generous backstitch at the beginning and end of your seam. 
  14. Clip all four corners of the placemat on the diagonal, being careful to not cut into your seam.
  15. Using the 3" - 4" opening you left in the bottom of the placemat, turn the sewn placemat right side out.
  16. Push out each corner so it is sharp and square. A long tool with a dull point works well for this, like a knitting needle, chopstick or point turner.
  17. Fold in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
  18. Press the placemat flat. It can help to gently roll the edge of the placemat to push the seam out so the placemat layers are as flat as possible.
  19. Re-thread your machine with a coordinating or contrasting thread (we used a coordinating gray thread on all our placemats). Increase your stitch length.
  20. Topstitch ¼" all around four edges of placemat. This topstitching seals the 3 - 4" opening used for turning. We used our Janome Quarter Inch Seam foot to keep the stitching even all the way around. 
    NOTE: When deciding where to start/stop your topstitching, look for the color within the design that most closely matches the color of your topstitching thread. Also, if possible, use a lock stitch function on your sewing machine rather than backstitching to secure the beginning and end of the seam. This helps keep the stitching line clean. If you do not have this function on your machine, you can leave the thread tails long and knot them by hand.

Contributors
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Michele Mishler

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