Sunday, July 18, 2010

Xmas in July Placemats

Our local quilt shop celebrated their annual Christmas in July this last week.  Every day at noon there is some pattern or technique taught.  I did a class on those ever-so-fun tessellating pinwheels.  So, to celebrate the theme, I made up a set of Xmas placemats.

Here’s a closer look:

I used two charm square packs and – boy, this really pleases me – used every single square in making up the placemats. 

For anyone who is interested, here’s the basic supplies and directions:

Materials (to make four placemats)

  • 2 charm packs (42 squares each)
  • 3/4 yard pinwheel border fabric
  • 1 fat quarter outer border
  • 1 fat quarter backing strips
  • 1/3 yard binding
  • 2 packages of Rick-Rack

Supplies – Once again I used the L’il Twister template to cut out the pinwheels.


1.  Sew up a three by four grid of the charm squares and add borders.  (Make four)

2.  Use the L’il Twister template to cut the squares into the tessellating pinwheels and them sew them together.  (See here for a blog entry that provides a detailed look at how the L’il Twister template works).

Tip:  This pattern is one of those times where my portable design wall (click here for a tutorial on how to make one) is really useful.  I have it set up by my cutting table as I cut out the squares and then move it over to the sewing machine when I’m ready to sew.  

3.  Add border strips.  (I cut my strips 1 1/2" by 12 1/2").

4.  Layer with batting and backing and “quilt as desired.”  For this pattern, since these are destined to be utilitarian, I settled for some very simple stitch in the ditch.

5.  Add the Rick-Rack.  I use my good buddy Roxanne’s Glue-Baste-It to hold the rick-rack in place while I sew.

Binding – I thought I would show my method for adding single fold binding.  It isn’t very fancy and is part of my “I really hate handwork” attitude.  One of my absolute most favorite quilt teacher’s once said in a class that she thought it was tacky to machine sew your binding.  Hmmmm.  Then I shrugged.  Hey, I thought, I’m from New Jersey.  No one who falls in love with the Jersey shore can have that much of a problem with tacky, right?  So, there it is.  I decided that, given my roots, tacky is just like mother’s milk to me!  So, here’s my tacky, easy, less than perfect way of adding binding for when I’m making something simple and utilitarian and I don’t think the back needs to be a thing of beauty.  (And after an introduction like that, how can you resist?)

1.  Cut your binding into 1 1/2" wide strips.

2.  Attach a strip (no folds) to one of the short sides (on the front) of the placemat: Sew from the front, using a quarter inch seam allowance.  Then iron the strip back away from the quilt to get a nice clean edge.

3.  Turn over to the other side and fold the raw edge of the binding in to meet the raw edge of the placemat.  Press.

4.  Run a line of glue down the binding.

5.  Fold over and press.

6.  Then, from the front side of the quilt, stitch in the ditch.  (I usually match my thread to the color of the binding since when my stitching goes a little off track, I am most likely to stitch up onto the binding.  When I am really worried about the thread color causing a problem, I use invisible thread on top). 

7.  Repeat for the opposite side of the placemat.  Trim the binding even with the edge of the placemat.

8.  Now add a strip to one of the long sides.  Be sure to have about an inch of overlap off of each edge.  Once again, fold the fabric down and press.

9.  Trim the overlap to about 5/8".  (I just eyeball this; it doesn’t need to be exact).  I then trim out some of the folded over fabric to lessen bulk.

10.  I also trim off just a wee bit from the corner of the placemat itself.  This allows me to get a nice smooth foldover in the next steps.

11.  Once again, I apply glue.

12.  Then I fold in the flap and apply more glue.

13.  Now it’s time to fold over the binding and press in place. 

14.  Once again, flip over and stitch in the ditch from the front side.  Here is what it looks like on the back once you are finished.

15.  And here it is, all finished. 

Of course, you could make this look nicer.  You could, for instance, cut your strips a little less than 1 1/2" and have your stitching wind up closer to the edge of the binding.  You could still hand sew the binding.  And, of course, if the idea of all that glue bothers you, you could use pins.

What I like most about single fold binding is that it adds far less in the way of bulk – most quilts just don’t need a double fold for any good utilitarian purpose.

Here’s a close up of the remaining two placemats in the set:

You may be wondering how I used up all of the charm squares since there are some left over from making up the tessellating pinwheels.  I used them on the back.  I pieced nine patch blocks and added a little border strip to each side (I cut mine 3" wide) to fit the placemat.  And there it is – I used every one of those charm squares!

Of course, I did wind up with a little left over – all those little scraps that are waste from the pinwheels.

I’m thinking I can use those somehow someway.  Pot holders?  Hot pads?  Something to match the placemats could be pretty darn cute, I think.


  1. these are a great idea! I LOVE the rick rack!
    ....I think a few ornaments with those scraps!

  2. Cute idea! Love how the windmills blend together. The scraps would also make a nice edging on a napkin.

  3. My pot holders!
    Lovely placemats, really :)

  4. What beautiful table toppers!
    Loved all the great ideas!

  5. They're great! I haven't made placemats before...I should.