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Sewing Fabric Pieces into a Place-mat

by Jennifer Houlden

Yesterday, I ended the day with some decisions that needed to be made before I could start sewing fabric pieces into a placemat today. The decisions have been made and I can now proceed, I can’t wait to see how these fabrics come together in this little project.

Have you selected your fabrics?

Sewing Decisions Made

I decided that I would use only two of the shimmery fabrics to go with my feature fabric rather than the quilt blocks I made yesterday. I figured it would be easier sewing the first one with plain pieces of fabric rather than with the blocks so I’ll put them aside for now.

The next decision was which shimmery fabrics do I use? It was a tough decision but I picked my favorite complementary colors of blue and orange to use for sewing this first on the go quilted place-mat.

Feature fabric with complementary coordinating fabrics.

Feature fabric with complementary coordinating fabrics.

As well I needed to decide how big I wanted the place-mat to be so that I knew what size to cut the pieces. I foolishly didn’t measure my friend’s place-mat so decided to go with a size that would work with a dinner plate. My finished size is 12 x 18 inches.

Cutting Instructions

All the measurements include the ¼″ seam allowance.

From the feature fabric (dragonflies)

Piece A – cut one piece 9½″ x 12″ for the center of the place-mat

Piece F – cut one piece 14″ x 20″ for the back of the place-mat

Piece H – cut two strips 2¼″ x WOF for the binding

From the coordinating fabric (blue)

Piece B – cut one piece 4½″ x 12″ for the left side of the place-mat

Piece C – cut one piece 5″ x 12″ for the right side of the place-mat

From the accent fabric (orange)

Piece D – cut one piece 6″ x 5″ for the utensil pocket

Piece E – cut two pieces 4″ x 5″ for the napkin holding bands

Piece G – cut two strips 2″ x 18″ for the ties

Now that the pieces are cut, I can get on with sewing the pieces into a place-mat. I’ll walk you through each step of the way and this is a beginner project so anyone can do it.

Let’s get started!

Sewing The Utensil Holder

Step 1

Fold one end of the fabric over to the back about an inch and press so that there is a very good crease. I use steam for this. You may want to use a stylet of some sort so you do not burn your fingers.

Turn the piece over to the back and fold the one inch section back over under itself so that no raw edge is showing. With no raw edges showing the fabric will not fray. Press again with steam. This will make a very nice edge on the utensil holder section of the place-mat.

Double folded edge at top of utensil holder piece.

Double folded edge at top of utensil holder piece.

Step 2

Topstitch the folded over edge about an ⅛″ from the edge of the folded over piece. I sew with the wrong side of the fabric up so that I can run the ⅛″ mark of the quarter inch foot on my Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.2, along the edge of the folded over bit. This makes for a nice straight line of topstitching which is about ⅜″ from the top of the piece.

Note the placement of the fabric under the foot in the photo below.

Sewing the topstitch line an ⅛″ from the edge

Sewing the topstitch line an ⅛″ from the edge

Step 3

Pin piece D to the bottom of piece C matching up the raw edges. The wrong side of piece D will be facing the right side of piece C.

My favorite pins for piecing are the flower headed pins from Clover as they are long, sharp and easy to remove while sewing. I always pin with the head of the pin coming out to the right of the fabric. This makes it easy to grab them and remove before getting to the foot and needle as you never want to sew over a pin. This could result in an unplanned trip to the sewing machine doctor.

Sew the raw edges together with an ⅛″ seam along the right hand side and bottom of piece D. Most quarter inch feet do have an ⅛″ mark on them. The toe of this quarter inch foot is an ⅛″ so that makes it very easy to sew this line of stitching.

Stop at the corner and pivot to sew in the other direction. Having the needle in the needle down position is very helpful for this and the foot hover makes it easy to turn the fabric under the foot.

At this point only 2 sides of piece D or the utensil holder are sewn down.

Utensil holder sewn to background fabric

Utensil holder sewn to background fabric

I used a contrasting colour of thread for this but matching thread will work as well. Whatever you wish to use. I decided that I didn’t want to be switching threads and am using the same thread for the topstitching as well as the quilting.

In the photo below I even sewed the pieces together with this thread which is not normal for me as I always use a neutral color when piecing. The tension control, stitch length and quality of stitching on the Quilt Expression 4.2 make it easy to use the colored thread for piecing without it showing.

Step 4

Pin the unit made in step 5 to piece A with right sides together. Sew together with a ¼″ seam allowance. Press the seam towards piece A.

Pieces A,C & D sewn together.

Pieces A,C & D sewn together.

The place-mat is now well underway with half the top sewn together. I’m really loving these fabrics and am pretty sure I’ll be making more than just one place-mat.

I’m hoping you were able to follow along with me and had fun getting this little sewing project off the ground. Join me again tomorrow to finish up the top of the place-mat when I’ll be sewing the bands which hold the napkin in place.

Happy Quilting


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