last minute gift - placemats

Not too long ago, I discovered a quick, satisfying project that allows me to use up some of my fabric without committing to a huge project, like a quilt. Placemats. It's a nice simple creative outlet for crazy times like December.

Materials (for 4 placemats)*:
1 yard quilt batting or flannel
1 yard for placemat fronts
1 yard for placemat backs
2/3 yard for binding fabric

For myself, I prefer to mix and match fabrics to create a funky dinner layout. But right now, I'm making those last minute gifts. So the fabric combinations aren't quite as off beat. I used red-and-green paisley for one side; Christmas trees for the other. The binding is shiny gold.

From each of the placemat fabrics and the batting, I cut rectangles that are about 15 X 18. There was no need to be overly precise, because after I quilted the 3 layers of each together, I squared up the corners before binding.

The quilting is really one of the best parts of this project. I put on one of my favorite December CD's - Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Chrismas Attic. Now this is an important aspect of constructing these last-minute-Christmas-gifts, so if you try this, be sure to select music you love.

I put some variegated green-and-red thread in the needle of my machine; gold metallic thread in the bobbin and inserted my walkin' foot. Then I just gently stitched waves down the length of each placemat, sometimes just rotating it at the end and starting back in the other direction. The goal is to have no goal. That is, I enjoyed gently guiding the fabric in long unplanned curves, allowing them to cross.

Then I stay-stitched about 1/4" from each edge and took it to my cutting board to square up the corners. I tried to make the placemats a consistent size - about 14x17. Then I cut the binding 2" wide because I didn't think I'd have enough of it to go with my usual 2.5" wide binding. I also made the binding single thickness, since this isn't exactly an heirloom project.

So now I have some hand sewing left to finish the binding. This is TV-watching or car-riding stuff. I have a bit of both coming up soon.

*When I have made the funky versions for myself, I need only about a fat quarter of each fabric. This is a fun way for me to use a small piece of fabric I just need to play with.

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