Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Fat Quarter Placemats

I got plenty of feedback from many of you publicly and privately about my recent posts. I can't thank you enough! It's a bit odd to write a blog ... put your life out to the world and not be sure if anyone is listening ... I love the ghost hugs, words of encouragement and love ... kind words about me quitting my job, healing my heart and ... making these stinkin' cute placemats! 

I can't tell you how to upend your life like I did but  thought I would give you a tutorial on the placemats! Seems like a safer lesson .... 

I literally made dozens of these fat quarter placemats. They are one of my favourite stash busting projects and gifts to make. I usually make a set of six to fit our family but will show you here how to construct a set of four. 

You start with four fat quarters. Any colour, any mix or design. I picked out some greens from my stash bin to make a St. Patrick's Day gift for my mom. It's pretty risky for us to eat off of white placemats in my house! 

These sweet little chicks just make me smile! I couldn't wait to stitch up something fun with them.
I tend to looking more at the fabric's value and temperature feel when choosing my blends. 

What the heck am I talking about?! 

I look at the fabric and judge whether feels warm or cool. Colour temperature is something that photographers are very in tune with but quilters should start to pay attention more to. You likely, intuitively gravitate toward a temperature and not be aware of it. 

Cool colours are generally more bluish - blues, greens, violets; where warm colours lean to the reds, oranges and yellows. 

You may have constructed a scrap quilt or block at some point say ... all in greys and one part just stuck out like a sore thumb. One block maybe catches your eye more or just doesn't blend in. It is likely an off 'temperature' from the rest of the quilt. Warm colours generally stand out while cool colours recede. 

At times, you may want a part of your quilt to jump out so you would purposely choose a fabric of different temperature.
Say, you are appliqueing an object .. you may choose a warm orange leaf on a cool blue background. That would make the piece really pop. 

Here is a photographer's colour chart

Don't be afraid of temperature. Honestly. Dump your scrap basket out on the middle of the floor and sort into two piles ... warm and cool. Don't pay attention to colour, style or design. Go with colour feel. 
You may quickly see what you gravitate to. 

I know as a new quilter, I loved warm .. lots of loden green, dark beige, creamy creams and burgundy. 
Now, I head to designers like Cotton & Steel that work with cool hues. I lean to whites, cool greys, light greens and purples. 

Think temperature when choosing fabrics for your next quilt!

The four fabrics I chose for this project all have a cool feel to them. 

I generally pick a large, medium and smaller print when working with placemats or when making anything with a fat quarter mix, actually. The frog print actually reads as a solid. It helps to give the eye a place to rest. If I chose, say, four fabrics all with small dots like the top fabric, the end product would read a bit flat. 

Whatever you choose, be happy with it! I have never seen these turn out terrible! 

Trim up your fabrics to a rectangle. Be mindful of the size of your fat quarters. They are not always the same size! Some fats are cut from a yard, others a meter. It is very often that when you line up fat quarters from different stores or lines, they are different. 

My chicks are much bigger as you see below, but only because this was some yardage that I cut. The chicks are a new wide back fabric that I just got in for my quilting costumers. 

All squared and lined up ... ready to cut. 

This was a free pattern given to me years ago from a shop. I don't actually have the original anymore as I just eye ball the design. I tend to like a bigger placemat than some and trim them up to around 18" by 12.5" finished ... I cut these rectangles to 14 " X 20 ". 

Stack and line the fabrics together and cut ... I start with the bottom left - that's the first and biggest cut. You could make yourself a paper template if you wish but I just place my ruler over top and slice through the four layers at once.

Move the first section away and cut three more wedges - cut through all four layers. You will now have 16 pieces total on your cutting board. As mentioned, I like to make 6 placemats for set. In doing that, I have 6 fat quarters lined and stacked together. Six is about the maximum you should safely cut through to ensure you aren't slipping too much. Check to make sure your rotary cutter has a sharp blade as well or you may get snags.

Now, you shift the fabrics. One from the top of one section, shifts to the bottom of that pile. Move around the piece making sure you have four different fabrics.

Now, you are ready to sew. I generally start sewing with the last pieces cut which are the bottom right in the picture. Pin in place and sew with a quarter inch foot. Be sure to select an appropriate thread. I used white for this project. In the past, I had wanted to use up some half filled bobbins and would maybe use grey or a different colour. Maybe you are thinking to use green for this ... I would use the lightest colour you have to avoid any ghosting through the fabrics.

There is inevitably some shifting that takes place with these guys. I trim to my smallest placemat. Like I mentioned, I enjoy a bigger placemat for our table and often trim them to 18" X 12.5 "
Here is a picture of the last trim. I use a large square ruler for this process.

And just left to bind .. I love a striped binding ... I think I will play with a few options before I tack anything down. Tradition would say to bind in green but who said I was a traditional girl!

Here's another picture of my February mats I made. We have been giving them lots of wear and tear this past month!

I can't tell you what I nice gift this is to make. Think about handing these over to your next dinner host instead of a bottle of wine. People who don't quilt are mesmerised by these quick fat quarter lovelies. (And yes ... that is an action man laying on my table. He's a boat driver ... tomorrow a troll, maybe Peppa Pig ...)

It's a fast project that really takes only an evening. I usually bind my placemats because I like the look of it and quilt on my longarm, but you can also pillow case the placemats and quilt as desired after. The binding takes a bit more time, but I think its worth it.

Binding and Netflix!


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