Monday, December 14, 2009

Charm Square Placemats

Ingrid's mom, Pam, made a charming holiday table runner using Benartex fabrics from Nancy Halvorsen. It really looks great on the table.

I decided to add some placemats and napkins to match.

If you are looking for a really quick gift for someone, either for the holidays or for a little hostess gift, here is how I do my placemats.

you will need 12 charm squares per placemat.
Backing for the placemat is 14" x 18"
14" x 18" batting (cotton such as Quilter's Dream Cotton or Warm and Natural is recommended - avoid polyester batting).
Thread for piecing and quilting.
Binding strips cut 2 1/2"

Additional supplies for making this go very quickly!
Alene's Glue Baste It (or Elmer's School Glue)
505 Basting Spray
Quilting Template
Pounce Pad with Chalk
Mary Ellen's Best Press

1. Stitch your charm squares into pairs. Place them Right Sides Together (RST) and stitch using 1/4" seam allowance.

2. Using Best Press, press seams to the darker square.

3. Stitch 8 pairs of charms into 4 patches.

4. Stitch the (2) 4 patches together so you have 4 squares x 2 squares.

5. Take the remaining charms and stitch them into a row, which is one patch by 4 patches and add that onto the 8 patch unit completed in Step 4.
You now have placemat top which is a total of 12 squares (4 squares by 3 squares).

6. Cut your placemat backing 14" x 18". Tape it down, snuggly, wrong side up on a flat surface and spray it with 505 spray. Just a bit will do it.

7. Cut a piece of batting 14" x 18" and smooth it onto your backing. Spray it lightly with 505 also.

8. Smooth your placemat top on the batting, centered, making sure you have backing and batting around all sides.

9. Select your quilting stencil (if you are using one) and place it on your placemat. Use your Pounce Quick Swipe Pad to mark your quilting design. (I like to tap my Pounce on the table several times before I remove the cover. Then I just rub the Pounce pad over the stencil several times and the marking is done).

The pounce gives me a beautifully clear marking which I find very easy to follow when I am doing free motion quilting on my placemats.

10. Complete the free motion quilting. Use a bobbin thread which matches the backing fabric and a thread in your needle which matches the majority of the charm squares. I used a deep rose color for my quilting which blended nicely through all the fabrics, and was a bit calmer than a deep Christmas read.

11. Prepare your binding strips. I used 2 1/2" binding strips which I joined end to end, using a bias seam.
I place on strip on the table Right Side UP and then place a second strip perpendicular to it.

12. Using a ruler, draw a line from the upper left hand corner of the top strip to the bottom corner of the bottom strip.

13. Carefully place the strips in your machine and stitch on the drawn line.
After stitching, trim the triangle to the right of your stitching line, and press the seam open.

14. You'll need about 75" of binding for each placemat. Once your binding is long enough, press it in half lengthwise, right sides out, and use Best Press when you press it.

15. Once the binding is prepared, pin it to the edge of your placemat top, with raw edges aligned. Place a pin 1/4" away from the first corner you come to.

16. Stitch the binding to the placemat, using 1/4" seam allowance. Stop stitching at the pin 1/4" away from the corner. Back stitch to anchor your stitching.

17. Remove the placemat from the machine and flip the binding strip up over your stitching line. This creates a 45 degree angle on your binding strip.

18. Now fold your binding strip down to the next side of the placemat to be stitched. The fold of the binding strip should be even with the raw edge of the placemat.

19. I like to put a pin in the binding right where I feel that 45 degree angle and I put my needle down right near that pin in order to start stitching on the next side of the placemat. This process is repeated on all 3 remaining corners.

20. When I get to the starting tail of my binding, I make a 45 degree angle fold on the beginning tail and trim 1/4" away from that crease. I then slip the ending tail withing the beginning tail and stitch completely.

21. Once the binding is completely stitched, I trim a little triangle off the seam allowance in each corner. This allows my corners to finish nicely. I use my rotary cutter to trim the excess backing and batting 1/4" away from my stitching line.

I use glue in my binding technique, and at this point I like to set my glue bottle in a mug of warm water. My applicator is very tiny and the warm water bath helps the glue to flow more easily through the tip.

22. Run a small bead of glue along the seam allowance of the binding on the front side of the placemat and press the binding toward the seam allowance. This will heat set the glue and it will secure the binding nicely.

Do this on all 4 sides.

23. Turn the placemat over and looking at the backing side, run a small bead of glue along the seam allowance again, and press the binding to the back side of the placemat. The glue will heat set and hold your binding in place. The folded edge of the binding strip should be right on the bobbin stitching line on the backing of the placemat.

24. Your binding corners will automatically fold in at 45 degrees. For my placemats, I used a dark green thread which matched my binding. I used a buttonhole decorative stitch on my machine.
Stitching on the front of the placemat, I ran my stitching just along the edge of the binding, and when completed, I had a nice decorative stitch right along the edge of the binding on the wrong side.

25. Mist your placemat with cool water and brush with a towel to remove any quilting marks and your placemat is done.

26. To make coordinated napkins, take 2 fat quarters and press them Right Sides Together. Use your Best Press.

27. Take the fat quarters to the cutting mat and trim them to 16 1/2" square.

28. Stitch the fat quarters around the edge, using a 1/4" seam allowance. Leave a 2" opening for turning the napking right side out. Trim a triangle off the seam allowance of each corner to help the corners turn crisply.

29. Reach in through the opening and grab the opposide side of the napkin and pull it right side out through the opening. Use a pencil or other small pointed object to gently push the points out in the corners.

30. Press napkin. You can push seams flat from the inside or pull them from the outside. Spray with Best Press again. Top stitch 1/8" from the edge.

Have a Happy Holiday! We have kits available for these placemats and napkins. Great for the holidays and gifts. Enjoy!
Quilter's Paradise

Turning 20 Around the Block

I recently completed a Turning 20 Around the Block Quilt using the 12 Days of Christmas collection by Nancy Halvorsen. The collection included a panel, which I cut apart and integrated into the instructions in the book "Turning 20 Around the Block" by Tricia Cribbs.
This quilt was sooo much fun! And you can use any type of panel for this quilt pattern. The 12 Days is a favorite of mine, and the colors of the collection went so well together. I would recommend trying to incorporate as many coordinating fabrics from the collection that go with your panel, if at all possible. It gives the quilt a very cohesive look.
If you are curious about how to make a panel square or rectangle work, here's how it is done.
Here is the original 12 Days of Christmas panel:

1. Cut your panel squares apart. Usually there is a line in the printing of the panel that you can follow as a "cutting line". On the 12 Days Panel, I cut right down the green line between the squares.
2. Take one (or more) of your coordinates and cut strips to "frame" your blocks. They will be used to bring the focal blocks from your panel up to size. A good size to cut the strips is usually 2 1/2"
3. Place the strip Right Sides Together (RST) with your panel block and align the raw edges.
4. Flip the panel so that the framing strip is on the bed of your machine and the panel block is facing you (and it will now be wrong side up)
5. Stitch along one of the print lines and use that as your "stitching" line. The stitching may not be a perfect 1/4" seam allowance, but that is ok in this instance.
6. Repeat with another framing strip on the other side of the panel block.

Here you can see the green framing strip has been sewn to the panel block.

Once strips have been added to both sides, the strips are trimmed even with the top and bottom of the square.
Then framing strips are added to the top and bottom of the square and trimmed even with the side strips.
Once the block is pressed, you place it under the Turning 20 Template Ruler, and trim it. Be sure the block is centered under the ruler. Continue with the rest of your blocks.

Once the blocks are trimmed you just integrate them into the quilt according to the directions in the Turning 20 Around the Block.

The 12 days panel also included a "title block" at the top of the panel which I chose to integrate into the quilt.
It was a bit longer than the standard 16 1/2" block in the quilt, and not as "tall" as the standard blocks, so I added some scraps from the cutting of my block pieces to bring it up to size.

Next I created 2 side blocks to place on either side of my "title Block". Again, I worked with my scraps and some additional fat quarters so The blocks would blend in, and I made 2 patched hearts which were appliqued onto background squares.

I added these blocks to either side of my title block, and trimmed them to size so that the top row would fit my other rows, and finished off the quilt with the addition of borders.
The end result was totally charming and everyone that sees it loves it.
I hope you will be inspired to try this technique with a 12 Days panel or with a panel of your choice.
We have kits on the web site for the 12 Days, but grab yours soon, as quantities are very limited!
Quilter's Paradise
Merry Christmas to all!