Sometimes you can have panels of quilt fabrics that you’ve wanted to use for a long time. When I was asked to participate in the BERNINA Advent Calendar, I finally took these cheerful, brightly coloured Christmas panels out of the cupboard. I looked for a piece of fabric with a nice soft green colour, picked some embroidery patterns and got started: I am, of course, making them for my grandchildren as a Christmas present. The placemats are a little bigger than usual, due to the size of the embroidery patterns, namely 40 x 50 cm – they are all on average 15 cm wide/high and 12 cm high/wide … so that a plate and cutlery can easily fit.
What do you need to make these placemats?
1) Christmas panels that you can cut, enough for the number placemats you want to make. (I am making 3.)
2) Green fabric for the top of the placemat: 50 x 60 cm for each placemat.
3) Batting: 50 x 60 cm for each placemat.
4) ‘Temporary’ background fabric – to complete the sandwich (it isn’t nice to have the batting as the back layer; a sandwich always consists of 3 layers: top, batting and back): 50 x 60 cm for each placemat. (I used a lightweight fabric that I had left over.)
5) Green fabric for the ‘actual’ back: 50 x 60 cm per placemat.
6) Green fabric strips of 5 cm wide, cut on the bias – sufficient for the outline + some extra for every placemat = approximately 2 metres.
7) Embroidery pattern for the machine (if you have this option available to you), with matching thread.
8) Machine quilt thread. (I used green.)
Also: rotary cutter, cutting mat, quilting ruler (long), sewing threads, long pins and all the other “ordinary” things used when working with fabric.
You can cut the panel; in other words, you can separate blocks with illustrations. These can be used separately, so that various pieces from a single panel can be used for multiple placemats. I will be sewing to the left of the placemat. But first, I will be making the embroidery patterns.
I found these wonderful Christmas mice to embroider! Who could resist them? I created a basic sandwich, on which I will embroider one mouse per placemat, so that each placemant will have its own mouse; the size of each basic sandwich is 50 x 60cm. I matched the thread colour to the colours of the panel that I will be cutting. I will need to work hard to get everything done in time: the number of stitches for each mouse varies from 24,000 to 39,000 per pattern: definitely something to take into account if you want to embroider a pattern ‘quickly’.
Because I’m embroidering the pattern on the green fabric, everything that was originally green will be embroidered in a different colour (otherwise there would be far too much green). I will embroider the package in purple and light purple. Nice to use the bright colours from the panel fabric.
The pattern is imported to the machine through my USB stick, and placed on the display: I always check if all four corners fit in the ring, even though I know that these patterns were made especially for the oval ring of the BERNINA 770QE. Therefore, I don’t need to compress the pattern. All the colours of the embroidery threads are selected, so embroider on…
It’s nice how you can watch the work grow. And when it’s done, take it out of the ring and move to the next embroidery pattern or another sandwich.
I also want to make the placemat larger: 40 x 50 cm, because I find it such a shame that a plate, which is usually placed in the centre of a placemat, is placed partly on the mice. I have placed the embroidered mice in the top right corner, so that cutlery can be placed beneath the mice – especially the small little knifes, forks and spoons of your grandchildren. Or you can place a serviette in a matching colour, while the cutlery is placed to the left on the panel illustration… in either case, we will see once the placemats are done.
First cut all the pieces of the panels you want to sew on each placemat: I am sewing them to the left on top of the sandwich, about 10 cm from the edge (because that is the width of the strips of the panel + seams), right across the sandwich. I do, however, cut the green fabric beneath this strip away, because leaving it would make the piece much too thick. In the picture above, you can see the sandwich with the piece of panel to the left, the embroidery to the right and some long quilting pins to hold everything together nicely.
To quilt the placemat, I decided to quilt using cross lines. To do this, I used foot 97D on the machine because it enables me to work 1/4 inch from the edge, afterwards when finishing, and because the top feed can be enabled with the ‘D’ feet, making it easy to quilt thicker sandwiches. If you use an ordinary presser foot, you have the risk that the top layer of the sandwich could ‘slide’ over the bottom layer, thus giving you disruptions at intersections with crossing lines…
Start by quilting the first line: I quilted this line from one corner to the other corner of the 40 x 40 cm piece (green fabric).
You can use your large quilting ruler to position the pins next to this quilted line, but you can also use your guide if you are in front of your machine, to measure the distance of 5 cm. Whichever you prefer…
First finish all the quilting lines on your placemat in a single direction, always leaving a gap of 5 cm between the lines.
Finally cross-quilted across the entire placemat: including the piece of the panel. I then placed the beautiful backing fabric on the back (I used green here as well) and finished the seams to exactly 40 x 50 cm.
For the finishing edge, I cut several bias strips (at 45 degrees) and put them together in one long strip of about 2 m; the strip width is 5 cm. I folded this strip double and ironed over the length (note: iron open all the seams from putting the short strips together into one long strip to prevent thicker parts).
You can now do one of two things with the finished edge: stitch it in the front (double) with the open edges matched together, fold over to the back and sew by hand, or – as I prefer – sew it on the back, fold to the front and sew it in place using the machine.
TIP: stretch the double binding strip slightly while sewing, regardless of whether this is done on the front or the back. This will ensure that it fits nicely into the sandwich.
Also remember to sew the corners closed neatly at 45 degrees / diagonally; I have done this by hand. I always do this when the strip is positioned to the front, but before I sew the strip in place. This way, the corners are all neat and the strips fit in place along the edges effortlessly…
And there we have three placemats… one for each granddaughter… All I have to do is wrap them and lay them under the tree as Christmas gifts… But first, I put everything on the table: Christmas tableware and cutlery, to see how it looks…
Cosy, right? Do you want to make your own placemats? The Christmas panel is available in my online store . Do you need any help after reading through these illustrated instructions? Send me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have fun creating and Merry Christmas!
Quilting and embroidery regards,
Sylvia’s Art Quilts Studio