" ". The Smiling Cat: Scrappy Autumn Place-mats~

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Scrappy Autumn Place-mats~


Hello, here it is, Autumn again!  Although we don’t have a very dramatic change of seasons on the CA coast-the days are getting shorter & the nights are a bit chilly.  People are putting up their Halloween decorations & buying bags of candy, the holiday season has begun.  Soon it will be time to take the Christmas decorations out of storage & hang the Christmas lights.  After Halloween, time seems to fly by-I guess it’s because there is so much to do!  Decorating, shopping, cooking, baking special goodies, crafts and sewing projects.
This is my latest sewing  project:  Scrappy Autumn Place-mats. 


At least that’s what I’m calling them.  I love place-mats because they are an inexpensive & practical  way to dress –up the table. Cloth napkins are also practical & just, well- nicer.  As is usual for people who sew, I’m always trying to organize my hoard of fabrics.  I started by sorting out fabrics for Christmas, but discovered quite a few Autumn themed prints & solids.  The main, maple leaf, fabric has diagonal lines in its pattern-which led me to use this random braid design.  It’s starts by foundation piecing the middle braid.  I used this pattern- 

braid-pppTo print this pattern, follow this link to: Scrappy Braid Pattern.

Many people prefer to use paper as a foundation, which is removed when finished.  I think fabric makes a more stable foundation, even though it’s thicker.   I like to use light-weight scrap fabric as a foundation, I save old sheets, pillow cases-what ever.  Cut a piece that’s about 3-1/2”x18-1/2”, trace it on to the fabric using a pencil & ruler.  The pattern is only 5” long, but it’s enough to get started.

When foundation piecing, you place the fabric pieces on the front, and sew on the lines drawn on the back of the fabric.  Start by cutting a triangle that’s just a bit bigger than the beginning triangle.  Cover the triangle area on the front of the fabric with the right side facing out.  Place another piece of fabric on top of  the 1st, right sides together.  Match the two edges with the first line that’s between the 1st & 2nd area.  Then stitch on the line between the 1st (triangle) & the 2nd area. 

It’s alright if you sew past the next line, it will be sewn over.  After you sew the seam, trim the edge, then flip the piece over to right side out and press.

Next, place another small piece of fabric over the 3rd area, making sure it’s slightly larger than the section.  Match-up as before, this time sewing on the line between the 2nd & 3rd section.

Trim, flip open and iron, again.

Getting the idea?  The pattern will end, but just keep going, alternating the sides like this with random-sized pieces, to the bottom of the strip.

When you reach the bottom,

Trim the strip to 2-1/2”x18”.  The strip will be a little stretchy(I don’t know what else to call it), so iron it with a good amount of spray starch before taking the next step.

Next, I cut two 1-1/2” strips of dark green cotton, and sewed one to each side of the braid.  Ironed with a little more spray starch, pressing the seams toward the outside edge.

Cut two 1-1/2”x18” strips of tan fabric, and do the same as before.  You should have a 6-1/2”x18” piece of work, now.

Add a 4” strip of the Fall print to each side, press the seams toward the outside edge.  Now cut a 13”x18” piece of quilt batting & fabric for the backing.  Center and layer:  pieced top, then the batting, plain fabric backing on the bottom.


I just stitched along the six long lengthwise seams, and another two lengthwise down the middle of the Fall fabric.  I used invisible machine quilting thread on the top, and thread matching the backing fabric in the bobbin.  You may have noticed that I changed from having the green backing to the tan backing.  It just looks better.  After the quilting, I centered & trimmed the piece to 12-1/2”x17-1/2”.

I finished the edges with double-fold binding, the same as I would a quilt. You can find my binding tutorial Here.

I also made matching cotton dinner napkins hemmed with mitered corners. A first for me!  I thought they would be tricky & time consuming.  But, I found that miter corners aren’t that difficult.  I found a tutorial at Sew4Home,  a great resource for all kinds of home sewing projects.  It may seem a bit fussy, but really makes a difference!  This tutorial first turns over a 3/8” hem, then an 1” finishing hem.  I did the 3/8”, but then turned over 1/2” finishing hem.  The 1” hem seemed too wide for napkins.  I’m pleased with the result.
Well, I hope you like this project.  Leave me a comment-I’d love to hear what you think!
Bye for now-Carole
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