Pixelated Spectrum Placemats: A Sewing Tutorial

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Pixelated Spectrum Placemats Tutorial

I LOVE these placemats!  At first glance they might look like a lot of work, but the construction is just simple patchwork.  They’re also less expensive that you might think, thanks to the use of just one pack of Michael Miller’s Cotton Couture charm squares, which makes it easy to have this gorgeous range of colors without the huge investment of multiple yardage cuts.  The charm pack contains 85 five inch squares in an absolutely beautiful spectrum of color.  (For more with Cotton Couture, check out this Spectrum baby quilt I made with one charm pack of Cotton Couture and two packs of white charm squares!  I think it’s my favorite quilt so far.)

Pixelated Spectrum Placemats

To make six placemats, you’ll also need backing fabric (about a yard and a quarter), batting (crib size) and if you decide to use binding, one yard of fabric for that as well.  (Note: you may want to read the entire tutorial before beginning, because there are a couple alternative methods offered.  All seams are a quarter inch.)

Pixelated Spectrum Placemat Tutorial

First, separate your colors into six stacks, one for each placemat, with at least 14 charm squares in each.  Think about the way you want the colors to blend from one side of the placemat to the other when dividing them.  Then cut each charm square into four equal 2.5″ squares.

New Project

Line your squares up into nine rows of six squares each.  I added a square of white or cream for just a bit of “sparkle”, as if light were being reflected.  Be sure to blend the colors a bit, but not too much, so the hues shift as your eyes move across the placemat.  Pretty!

Spectrum Placemats

Sew each row of six together, taking care to keep them in order.  It helps to pretend the points of the pinked edges are the top of a flat edge, like this:

Pixelated Spectrum Placemat Sewing Tutorial

Then press the seams open.

Pixelated Spectrum Placemat Sewing Tutorial

Pin the rows together, carefully matching and pinning at the seams.

Pixelated Spectrum Placemat Sewing Tutorial

Sew the rows together.

Pixelated Spectrum Placemat Sewing Tutorial

And press the seams open.

Pixelated Spectrum Placemat Sewing Tutorial

If you are new to piecing patchwork, you may want to take a look at Ayumi’s basket tutorial on Pink Penguin, a legend of internet sewing tutorials, which shows another method of lining up patchwork seams.  This is actually the way I learned to do patchwork and would work nicely for these placemats as well.  I chose the open seams method to make the seams just a little smoother and flatter since drinking glasses will be used on these, and I hoped to lessen the chance of any spills.

After finishing the tops, it’s time to quilt the placemats.  You have a couple choices here as well.  If you’d prefer to make the placemats without binding the edges, quilt only the top and batting together, then put the backing fabric face down on the top, pin in place and sew around the edges, leaving a few inches open to turn.  Carefully trim the corners close to the seam (but do NOT cut your stitches) so that the corners will be less bulky.  Then turn right side out and sew a finishing seam around the edges of the placemat.  (I apologize for not having photos of this method.  I like the way binding frames each placemat and went with that.)

If you are using binding, layer your backing fabric face down on the bottom, then stack batting on top of that and your finished placemat top face up on top.  Your backing fabric and batting should be slightly larger than the placemat top.

Pixelated Spectrum Placemat Sewing Tutorial

I use a quilting spray to keep everything in place while I sew, but you could also pin the layers to keep them from shifting.

Pixelated Spectrum Placemat Sewing Tutorial

Using a walking foot (which helps pull the layers of fabric evenly), stitch about a quarter inch from the horizontal seams.

Pixelated Spectrum Placemat Sewing Tutorial

And do the same for the vertical seams.

Pixelated Spectrum Placemat Sewing Tutorial

Trim closely around the placemat.

Pixelated Spectrum Placemat Sewing Tutorial

And now you’re ready to bind!  If you’ve never made or used binding before, I think the best tutorial is by Heather Bailey.    I like to cut my binding strips three inches wide.  The fabric I used is “Weave” in Coal from the Summersville collection by Lucie Summers for Moda.   I wanted to keep going with that grid vibe, but a solid black or something with a dark texture would be beautiful.

Pixelated Spectrum Placemats Tutorial

And enjoy!  Here’s a picture before washing:

Pixelated Spectrum Placemats Tutorial

And after they’ve been washed and dried, with all that crinkly, quilty goodness:

Pixelated Spectrum Placemats

Pixelated Spectrum Placemats

Pixelated Spectrum Placemats Tutorial

Finished size will be about 11.5″ x 17″.  If you make them, I’d love to see them — share a link to your pics or post, please!

A Good Fortune Cross Quilt for Alexis

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Cross Quilt

My niece Alexis is graduating from her high school as valedictorian!  I didn’t emphasize that quite enough: 

~~~***Valedictorian!!***~~~

Yes, it’s a big deal and she’s pretty freaking wonderful.  I thought, “That girl deserves a quilt.”

As usual when making a quilt for someone, the first step is just to think about her.  It’s almost like the word association game.  I say, “Alexis”, you think …

Christian, in word and in deed.  And brilliant.  Also beautiful.

A cross quilt seemed like the perfect fit.  A “plus” cross design lets you see the cross when viewed from any angle, and it also hints at math and that strong mind of hers.  It’s a simple design that looks good with prints or solids, a great place to start.

Cross Quilt

Next: fabric shopping.  Growing up, Alexis had tropical themes for birthday parties and her bedroom, so she might enjoy carrying those memories on to college with her.  Since she’ll be attending the University of Tennessee, I looked for collections of fabric that included the color orange.  When I found this line called “Good Fortune”, I knew I had a winner.  What better wish for her happy future?  Perfect!

Cross Quilt

This quilt is sized for a twin bed in the hopes that she can use it in her dorm room.  If the front gets a bit too busy for her, it reverses to a calmer gray on gray dot.  (I love that gray with the purple binding, and thanks to Katy at I’mAGingerMonkey for letting us know about the Moda extra wide quilt backing fabrics!)  This was my biggest quilt so far and I was in a time crunch, so I took it to a local shop for quilting.  Quilts by Phyllis did a great job!

If you want to make your own, charm squares laid out in a 14×20 grid and sewn with quarter inch seams will fit a twin bed.  I used one yard of fabric for binding, two yards of the extra wide backing fabric and ten packs of charm squares.  You’ll have a little left over of everything, especially charm squares, but you’ll need 10 packs to have enough for at least two full crosses of any given color.  (You’ll hear more about what I did with those left overs later!)

Alexis, we love you and are so proud of you!  Congratulations!