WIP: American Made Brand Placemats


American Made Brand Placemats Three Collage

While the American Made Brand 50 states blog tour is about to start up, I’m working with my fabric leftovers to make some placemats.  I’ll tell you more about it when I’ve got them all finished, but I can share that they’ll be a charity donation meant to bring smiles to some very deserving people, and I felt it was especially appropriate for the spirit of  American Made Brand.  (They said we could give away leftovers if we liked, and this is how I interpret “giving away.”)

It’s been a joy to work with these fabrics, and I’m especially liking the way they work up in patchwork.  The somewhat crisp feel presses and stitches together wonderfully.  I can’t wait to wash the finished placemats and see that quilty crinkle!




Before and After: Cat Dishes

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Cat Bowls Before and After

Problem: Mismatched dishes, undersized placemat and spilled food that would migrate across the slick surfaces out of the food area.  (Our dog Mojo knows not to eat from the cat food dishes, but he feels that cleaning up stray pieces of food is OK, and sometimes if they’ve spilled a lot he gets on a roll and cleans out all the dishes, too.)

Solution: A set of vintage melmac bowls found on Etsy and quilted placemat that helps keep dropped food from spreading away from the dishes.  The placemat was a piece of patchwork I’d sewn for another project and abandoned, just cut to the size I wanted.  (That’s why the squares are strangely sized, but the cats haven’t seemed to notice.)  We also just gave up on having a water dish by the cat bowls.  They never used it and it just got yucky.  They all share dog water.

New Bowls and a Quilted Placemat for the Cats

Since the change, Mojo has eaten the cat food once, but that is an improvement.  The quilted placemat can just be thrown in the wash, which is nice.  I’ll probably end up making them another placemat or two and they probably deserve another set of dishes, too.  Not that they’re spoiled at all.


Pixelated Spectrum Placemats: A Sewing Tutorial


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!

“Shape Workshop for Quilters” Satellite Placemats

Shape Workshop

We’ve been concentrating more on healthy eating at home, and keeping my mind on food has lead to an urge to make some scrappy, visually interesting placemats.  I can’t help it, my brain just defaults back to sewing from so many other topics.  When I saw a preview of the new “Shape Workshop for Quilters” book from Fat Quarterly, I immediately wanted to try the Satellite Placemats.  (See the preview here, or buy here.  Great price for such a beautiful book!)

My first project from the book is still a work in progress:

WIP: Placemat

This is my first attempt at something with so many seams meeting up in the middle.  I’m thankful for that center dot that conceals some of the wonkiness, and I’m hoping I can do well enough sewing around all those tiny circles!  I still haven’t tried free motion quilting, and I’m not sure this is the time to attempt it.  But I do love this design, so I think I’ll keep going and just see.  (I’m seeing it as a dart board so far, and a few friends saw pizza.  Maybe with other prints and colors I’ll start to see a satellite.)

The book is full of modern quilt blocks, complete quilts and other projects in fresh, inspiring colors.  There’s a selection of templates in the back, along with a basic quilting tutorial and helpful tips throughout the book for the technical bits, and loads of gorgeous photos for your creative side to drool over.  Great book!