I don't like quilted placemats.
I know, right? I'm a quilter. Am I even allowed to not like quilted placemats? But they just don't look all that modern to me, no matter what the design or fabric. I trace this dislike back to about 1982, when I was forced to eat dinner every night on my mother's blue and brown calico quilted placemats. Those things were '80s country kitsch at its finest. And they most certainly were not handmade—I'm guessing she bought them at J.C. Penney's. That kind of emotional scarring isn't easily overcome.
Best of all, they're insanely easy to make. Ready?
To make four placemats, you will need:
• Eight fat-quarters of Pat Bravo's Modernology in the "Vogue Blue" color way
• 1.5 yards fusible interfacing (I used Pellon Craft Fuse)
• About 10 yards of grosgrain ribbon in coordinating color(s)
• Glue stick (I used Elmer's All-Purpose glue, since it's washable and non-toxic)
• Disappearing ink marker
1. From each fat-quarter, cut a rectangle 13.5" by 19.5". From the fusible interfacing, cut 4 pieces 13.5" by 19.5".
3. Pair up each placemat front piece with a back (interfaced) piece. With right sides together, sew around the edges of each placemat, 1/4" from the edges. Leave a 3" to 4" opening in one side for turning.
4. Clip the seam allowances in the corners of the placemats and turn right-side out. (I use a chopstick to poke out the corners and make them sharper.) Press well, making sure the seam allowances are folded in where you left the opening for turning.
5. Topstich around the entire placemat, 1/8" from the edge. This will finish the edges and close up the opening you left for turning.
Tip: I used Aurifil 28wt thread (the kind on the gray spool). I think the extra-thick thread turns the stitching into a great decorative touch, and my machine handled the extra thickness with no issues whatsoever!
6. Now that you've got your basic reversible placemats completed, it's time to embellish them with the grosgrain ribbon. Begin by marking the front of the placemat with the disappearing ink pen. Draw lines 2.5" and 4" from each short side, and 1.5" and 3" from each long side.
7. Go over the inside frame you just made with your glue stick, as well as the smaller squares at the corners of the frame (basically everywhere you'll want ribbon). Put down plenty of glue—the glue will keep your ribbon nice and flat—and exactly where you want it—until you sew it down.
8. Starting at one corner of the inside frame, start laying down your ribbon, onto the line of glue you just put down.
9. When you reach a corner, you'll need to miter the ribbon. This works almost like mitering corners on quilt binding. I tried a few different ways of doing this, and this was the method that worked best for me: Fold the ribbon on a 45-degree angle, away from the direction you want to go in. You also need to fold the ribbon inward, toward the placemat, instead of toward yourself.
10. Again folding inward toward the fabric, fold the ribbon back underneath the 45-degree angle, and toward in the direction you want to go in. And there you have it, a perfectly mitered corner. Pin into place.
11. Keep working your way around, in the design shown. If your glue loses its tackiness, re-apply before putting the ribbon down. When you come back around to the starting point, trim the ribbon ends and tuck the ends under the piece of ribbon running perpendicular to them (this is why it's important to start at the corner!).
12. Stitch over the ribbon, 1/8" from each edge, stopping at the places where the ribbon goes underneath another layer of ribbon and locking your stitches at these points. Again, I used the chunkier 28wt Aurifil.
That's it! Enjoy your nice flat placemats. : )
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