Modern placemats made easy with the PFAFF performance icon

Spending quality time with a sewing machine really helps build your creativity muscle. For me, working with the PFAFF performance icon has stretched my ability to try new things when it comes to machine quilting on a domestic machine. I decided for this week’s posts to challenge myself to quilt a set of placemats in a modern style. Of course, I started with a lot of confidence in the free motion quilting options on the performance icon!

PFAFF performance icon

One of the best things about all the quilting features built into the performance icon is that I have no excuses for not finishing my projects!

I decided to start by pulling a focus fat quarter fabric from my stash and complement it with a light gray solid fabric. While I was searching for a bit more fabric, I discovered some leftover units from another project that, with some additional background gray fabric, could add some length and interest to the placemats.

Fabric Requirements and Cutting Instructions

1 focus fat quarter fabric, cut into:

4 – 8½” squares

½ yard solid background fabric, cut into:

8 – 2½” x 16½” strips

12 – 2″ x 8½” strips

8 – 1½” x 3½” strips

Coordinating fabric rectangles

Mine are made up of 8 – 3½” squares in shades of green to coordinate with the focus fabric. Two squares are sewn together to make 4 – 3½” x 6½” side units.

Layout of placemat fabrics

Assemble Placemat

To sew the placemat pieces together, I attached the ¼ inch Right Guide Foot for IDT System. This foot works great for keeping a consistent ¼” seam allowance when sewing, which is key to having all the units of a piece sew precisely together. It’s nice to have a machine help with this important step so all my placemats will be the same size, regardless of when I sew them together – even before coffee or after dinner!

Right guide presser foot

  1. Sew 1 – 2″ x 6 ½” strip to two opposite sides of one focus fabric 8½” square. Press the seams to the strips.
  2. Sew 1 – 1½” x 3½” strip to two opposite short sides of one 3½” x 6½” side rectangle unit. Press the seams to the strips.
  3. Sew the right edge of the focus fabric unit to the left edge of the rectangle unit. Press the seam to the focus fabric unit strip.
  4. Sew 1 – 2″ x 6½” strip to the opposite side of the rectangle unit. Press the seam to the strip.
  5. Sew 1 – 2½” x 16½” to the top edge of the focus fabric and rectangle unit. Press the seam to the strip.
  6. Sew 1 – 2½” x 16½” to the bottom edge of the focus fabric and rectangle unit. Press the seam to the strip. The placemat top should measure 13½” x 16¼”.
  7. Repeat steps 1-6 to create three more placemats.

Another great feature of the performance icon is the Needle Up/Down button. I use it when piecing to keep the needle in the fabric even when I’m not stitching – it’s like having a third hand. The best part is it allows me to skip pinning and keep my stitching precise. I didn’t pin while piecing my placemat units until I added the 16½” strips.

Sewing without pinning using the Needle Up/Down button

Layer and Pin Placemat Layers

I decided to layer and sandwich all four placemats before quilting them. Lay the batting on a pinning surface. Place the backing fabric on top, right side up. Finally, place the placemat right side down on top and pin around the edges to secure the three layers. Leave a turning gap about 3″ wide on one of the short sides; I like to put two pins where the gap starts so I know where to stop when I get to them.

Pinning three layers of placemat together

Now it’s time to stitch around the edges using a ¼” seam allowance. I continued to use the ¼ Inch Right Guide Foot for IDT System to help me accurately sew the layers together. At the beginning of the stitching, I did a couple of backstitches by using the Reverse button. The Reverse button is located very close to the needle location with an indicator light to help you keep track of its status.

Reverse indicator light

Once I got to my two pins, I backstitched again to secure the stitches on the other side of the turning gap. I did the same thing on the remaining three placemats before turning them all out through the turning gaps and finger pressed them flat. The PFAFF performance icon made quick precise work of the placemat piecing; now all that’s left to do is to quilt them! Join me tomorrow.

This is part 1 of 5 in this series

Go to part 2: Straight line quilting with the PFAFF performance icon

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