Remember the Table Setting Placemats I posted a few weeks ago? I gave them to my two year old niece for Christmas and she loves them! Not your usual toddler gift, but she really enjoys helping at home and is one of those kids who's very particular about order and routine, so the placemats make it easy for her to be a helper at mealtimes when she likes having a "big kid" job to be in charge of. I cut out a second set for my daughters, and as soon as my sewing machine gets back from its tune up in a few days, I'm going to put them together and get my 2 year old into a new dinner-time job, too!
I found the inspiration for these over at Squares and Triangles. They're fairly simple and easy to assembly line, plus you can choose more sophisticated fabric for the back so they're reversible to something you'd use when you're dining with company who have a more refined palate than that which chicken fingers and carrot sticks will satisfy ; )
Table Setting Placemats
Getting started.... To make a set of six placemats measuring 12" x 18", you'll need:
- 1 1/8 yards of the front fabric
- 1 1/8 yards of the back fabric
- roughly a 6" x 8" scrap of contrasting fabric for each place setting applique
(I used scraps from the back fabric for the napkin appliques and purchased 1/8
yard of each silverware color, but had plenty leftover even after cutting two sets
- 1 yard of heavy weight fusible batting
- Heat'n Bond Lite or similar sewable adhesive (enough for place setting appliques)
- Template plastic
- Coordinating thread
- Optional: spray starch, paper/tracing paper, marking pen, corner turning tool
Step 1: Cut six (6) rectangles measuring 13" x 19" from both your front and back fabrics (for a total of 12 rectangles - 6 front, 6 back). Pay attention to direction of the fabric's design; assuming your fabric is 42-44" wide, you can cut the pieces either 2 across horizontally or 3 across vertically from the yardage.
Step 2: Cut six (6) rectangles measuring 12" x 18" from the heavyweight fusible batting. Center batting on the wrong side of each placemat's back fabric and iron on following manufacturer's directions, then set aside for later.
Step 3 (optional): Starch pieces of placemat front fabric and set aside. This is optional, but I found it a lot easier to align and applique the silverware once the fabric was stiffened a bit. My picture shows Mary's Ellen's Best Pressed (which works great) but my bottle is actually refilled with homemade starch (much more economical and super easy to make!). I use a 1:2 ratio, filling this 16 oz bottle about 1/3 full with really cheap vodka and then topping off with water.
Step 4: Raid your silverware drawer for some spoons, forks and knives to trace. I decided on a height of 6" for the spoons and forks, and 7" for the knives, and I drew a 6" tall triangular napkin. Trace your silverware and napkin designs onto clear template plastic and cut out. Knowing that a) my spoons and forks were not perfectly symmetrical and b) I would flip the knife absent-mindedly later, I labeled each utensil template with the word "top" so I could keep track of them for the next step.
Step 5: Trace your silverware and napkin templates upside down onto the non-adhesive side (the smooth paper side, NOT the rough adhesive side) of the Heat'n Bond. Make sure at least the knife template is upside down! (If you've labeled it, the word "top" should read backward through the template as you're tracing ; ) Leave enough room between each traced utensil to have a buffer for cutting out the shapes once you've ironed them to the fabric.
Step 6: Roughly cut the utensils and napkins outside their lines from the Heat'n Bond, and according to the manufacturer's directions, iron to the wrong side of the silverware fabric you've chosen. (As a side note, this is the step where I realized it would've saved me some initial cutting if I had traced the silverware in sets onto the Heat'n Bond in Step #6 instead of all spoons together, all forks together, etc. I had to cut every one out instead of a set of three in a row, and that would've been a time saver.)
Step 7: Put on your favorite show/soundtrack/podcast (Have you checked out While She Naps? Abby has a great post 10 Podcasts to Listen to While You're Crafting), and start cutting!
Step 8: Mark placement of utensils on the placemat fronts, then peal off adhesive paper backing and iron utensils and napkins to placemat fronts. (I'm really really OCD about stuff like this, so I laid out rulers to square exactly where I wanted my silverware on each placemat, and then made a few small guide marks with a disappearing ink marking pen. If you're happier eyeballing it, feel free to simplify this step, just make sure you account for the 1/2" seam allowance! I didn't mark the napkins; I used the forks as a guide once they were ironed on.)
Step 9: Machine appliqueing! I chose a variegated grey thread to coordinate with the chevron print (from my recently-purchased-now-in-love-with set of Aurifil's Tula Pink collection : ) and used a small zigzag stitch to applique around the edges of the napkins and silverware. By starting on the inside between each set, I was able to minimize wasting thread as I hopped from one iron on to the next. Also, if you're new to appliqueing on your machine, the needle down position is your very best friend - especially turning back and forth on those fork tines!
Step 10: Getting close to the end! Time to assemble. Lay your placemat front and back on top of each other, right sides together, and pin. Begin sewing around outside edge of placemats, using a 1/2" seam allowance. (I failed to snap a photograph of this being sewn from the other side, but your seam should end up running along the edge of the fusible batting that is attached to the placemat backing fabric). At the start and finish, reverse stitch to secure the seam, leaving a few inches open for turning right side out. (On larger projects like this, I typically gauge my opening by the width of my hand to make it easier to reach in and pull : )
Step 11: Turn placemats right side out, working corners to a neat point using a corner turning tool (if you don't have an official one - I don't - there are plenty of stand ins from knitting needles to chopsticks to my personal tried and true favorite, a blunt pencil with full eraser). After squaring your corners, carefully turn under the seam at your opening and press with an iron to set. (Since the human eye tends to travel left to right, top to bottom, I usually try to plan my seam openings for the bottom left side of a project where any variances will be least noticed. Of course on the one placemat I photographed for this step, the opening accidentally landed beside the knife and spoon, though I think it hid well once ironed : P)
Step 12: Last step! Topstitch the perimeter of the placemats using a 1/4 seam allowance, overlapping and backstitching where you began in order to reinforce the seams. This will close the opening from where you turned the placemats right side out, and will anchor the batting between the front and back layers. It will also give your placemats a nice finished look. (And I've had to learn this tip the hard way... old me would've used my usual 1/4" foot to topstitch - and you certainly can with decent results because the layers are not all that thick, so no worries if you don't own a walking foot for your machine, just take it slow - but switching to a walking foot for this step will give you a better result without any tucks in the seam.)
Ta da! You're done!
Now you have a nice new set of reversible placemats that can keep your table tidy and help teach your kids to set it, too : )
Enjoy! Bon appetit!