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Easy Quilt Pattern: On-the-Go Place-mat

by Jennifer Houlden

The other day when I was meeting with my kindred group we were about to have lunch and one of the members rolled out her on-the-go place-mat. I thought, ‘how cool is that?!’ When I saw it I was thinking that I needed an easy quilt pattern for this blog post and why not something tailored for summer.

Everything you need for a picnic all rolled up in one place. She had her utensils and napkin right there at her fingertips. No searching for these items when they are all neatly rolled into one package.

The rolled up place-mat would also be great to take along for a pot luck lunch at work, kid’s birthday parties, to stash in the car or camper when you stop at a roadside picnic area for lunch on that long road trip or even to use at home on your deck.

The choices of fabrics at your local quilt shop means that you could individualize them for each member of your family so that there’s no squabbling over who gets which color. Perfect as a gift for all the special people in your life as well. The possibilities are endless.

On-the-Go Quilted Place-mat all rolled up

On-the-Go Quilted Place-mat all rolled up

I figured why not make one for myself and use the Quilt Expression 4.2 from Pfaff to create this neat little project. I can use many of the cool features I highlighted back in June when I first got the machine. And who knows maybe even discover some more.

Selecting the Fabric

First things first, the fabric selection. If any of you have been to my studio you know that I have a very large stash – well huge in fact, so lots of fabrics to choose from. My criteria is that the fabric had to be something fun, bright and summery.

I decided on this dragonfly fabric seeing how dragonflies are only here in the summer. I had purchased it a couple of years ago from one of my local quilt shops and the fabric has been waiting to be used in that perfect project. It has a lovely shimmer to it and I thought I need shimmery fabric to go with it. I had also purchased a whole stack of fat quarters that were shimmery from another shop and figured they would go perfectly with the dragonfly fabric.

And they do, don’t you think?

My fabric selection

My fabric selection

Easy Quilt Pattern Blocks

With so many shimmery fat quarters in awesome colors I decided to create some blocks with them for the center of the placemats. Nothing elaborate, just some fun playing with strips and squares and curves. Since I hadn’t done a lot of piecing with the Quilt Expression 4.2 I figured why not make a few blocks.

Strip Blocks

I used the green and yellow-green fabrics to create a set of strips. Each fabric was cut a different width to give some variation in the block. Using the IDT system with the quarter inch foot on the Quilt Expression 4.2 makes for nice straight seams and even feed of the fabric.

A good idea when sewing strips of fabric together, especially longer ones, is to sew one set of strips in one direction and the next set in the opposite direction. For example, if the one end has the selvedge in place start at that end when sewing the two strips together and then when adding on the next strip start at the end without the selvedge. This just helps to ensure that the whole piece ends up square without any twists or waves in it.

The 2 strip blocks look pretty good. I love the contrast between the light and dark fabrics.

Two green striped blocks

Two green striped blocks

Six Patch Block

This time using a couple of the purple fabrics, a light and dark to give some contrast within the block I cut up some 3 ½″ squares. Still with the quarter inch foot in place and the IDT system engaged I made six pairs each with a light and dark square.

I pressed all the seams towards the dark fabric and by doing this when I sewed the pairs together the seams butted together perfectly as they were each going in the opposite direction. This helps to reduce seam bulk where seams meet.

Just to be a bit different instead of the usual four patch or nine patch block I made a six patch block which then created a rectangular block rather than a square one. There really is no rule as to how many squares you can sew together.

Two six patch blocks

Two six patch blocks

Curved Block

And finally but definitely not least of the blocks I could create I wanted to see how well the Quilt Expression 4.2 worked on a curved seam. Curved seams are not nearly as hard as everyone thinks they are. The key is to have a nice gentle wave.

Once again two contrasting fabrics are used in order to see the curves. The key is to cut nice gentle curving lines in the layered fabrics with a rotary cutter.

Once again I used the IDT system and a quarter inch foot with the needle in down position to sew the curved pieces together. They fed very well under the machine especially when the free ends of the pieces are lifted up slightly off the sewing machine bed. This just helps to guide the curves under the foot to maintain that ¼″ seam allowance.

When pressing curved seams I press with steam to make sure that everything lies nice and smooth. Using steam to press seams is usually a no-no as it does tend to distort fabric especially cotton but because I usually make my curved blocks a bit larger than needed I can square them off and all is good.

Voila! Two wonderful curved blocks.

Two curved blocks

Two curved blocks

Decisions, Decisions

Now with all of these blocks made in all these wonderful colors and textures I have to decide how to use them in my place-mats. At least the fabrics have been picked, as that’s always half the battle.

That decision though I’m going to leave until tomorrow.

I hope that you’re going to sew along with me and create this easy quilt pattern so you too can have an on-the-go place-mat to use at all of your summer picnics.

Happy Quilting


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