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Liz's "Blissful" Triangle Mantle Cloth

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Life is not always square. Other geometric shapes sometimes waft through to give our brains a design challenge. I have a corner fireplace in one bedroom, which means the mantle is... a triangle. In addition, all the moldings in the house are very Arts & Crafts, so ruffles and frou-frou need not apply. After staring into the triangle corner for awhile, Alicia came up with a simple yet striking solution: a simple bound triangle with two drop panels to accentuate the heavy vertical design of the fireplace surround. Proving once again that, a) Alicia is smarter than me, and b) there's always a solution to your home décor challenge.

My construction notes follow. I'm not going into full-on, step-by-step project details since sizing and style are going to depend totally on the size and shape of your unusual surface. So, much as I did with the 'Liz's Hiding Curtain' tutorial, I've tired to outline the basic steps so you can easily adapt them to your particular situation.

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Thanks to our friends at Fat Quarter Shop for providing the beautiful Bliss fabric by Bonnie & Camille for Moda Fabrics. I really love this collection because it is so varied. In fact, those of you who are familiar with it might to surprised to learn the two fabrics I picked are from Bliss - given their subdued tone-on-tone designs. That's what I love about the collection, there are vibrant florals and patterns but there are also quieter prints and colors, giving you an excellent pallet to work from for all kinds of projects.

I used a plain linen for my lining fabric. The top fabric is Bonnie & Camille's Bliss in Tonal Lime Paisley and the binding and drop panels are Bliss in Lime Polka.

Getting Started

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  1. Make a paper pattern of the area you want to cover. Include any drop if it is to fall over the front edge, but DO NOT add seam allowance. Simply cut the paper to fit. Pencil on a few notes to indicate right, left and which side is up, because things are not always as symmetrical as you might like to think. I didn't want mine to go right to the edge, so I first made it to fit exactly and then cut it back to the actual finished size I had in mind.
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  2. Press your top fabric and lining fabric. Since we are binding layers, it is very important to work with flat pieces at all times.
  3. Lay the two pressed pieces of fabric WRONG sides together on your work surface.
  4. Place your paper pattern on top (the pattern should be right side up) and pin or weight it in place.
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  5. Cut around the paper pattern through BOTH layers.
  6. Remove the pattern, then re-pin all the edges.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Stitch around the perimeter very close to the cut edge. This is called 'stay stitching' and will be covered by the binding. There are two reasons for doing this: first, it allows you to now work with your two layers as one piece of fabric; and second, our scarf is triangular, so the front edge is a bias cut. It is important not to let this edge stretch as you sew and the stay stitching helps prevent that. To be sure, we measured the paper pattern from corner to corner, then measured the scarf after the stay stitching to make sure it hadn't stretched out of shape.
  2. Our mantle cloth doesn't drop over the front like other, more traditional designs you may have seen. Instead, we added two drop panels. These were sized to match the molding around the fireplace: 5" wide x 18" long with a point at the bottom.

Create the drop panels

  1. Cut TWO pieces of trim fabric: 11" x 20".
  2. Fold each piece in half lengthwise (so it is now 5½" x 20"), matching the raw edges.
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch along the 20" side.
  4. Make a small press mark at the center fold on one end. Roll the seam to this center mark and press the seam open.
  5. Don't turn the panel right side out quite yet, we need to make our point.
  6. We used a clear ruler with angle markings to get accurate, clean cuts at 30˚ off the center seam.
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  7. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch both raw edges of the point, remembering to pivot at the tip of the point.
  8. Trim the seam, clip the corners, turn right side out, and press.
  9. Measure from the point up to your desired finished length plus ½" for a top seam allowance. In our sample, we measured 18½" from the point.
  10. Trim off the excess, being careful to make a very straight cut across the top.
  11. In our sample, placement of the drop panels was critical because they needed to hang directly in front of the molding to either side of the fireplace. We measured and marked on the raw edge of the mantle cloth first. Then we pinned the drop panels in place on the lining side of the cloth, matching the raw edges. Then... we measured AGAIN to be sure. It's good that we did, because it turned out our mantle was ½" different from one side to the other!
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  12. Once we were sure of our position, we machine-basted the drop panels in place, keeping the stitching close to the raw edges. The binding strip will encase the raw edges.

Creating and attaching the binding

  1. To create the super sharp points and the right angle of our isosceles triangle, we decided to attach our binding as three independent strips.
  2. If you are new to measuring for and cutting bias binding, check out our tutorial: Bias Tape: How To Make It & Attach It.
  3. For our cloth, we cut FOUR 2½" wide bias strips. Two we used as is, the remaining two we seamed together to make a longer strip for our front edge.
  4. We used our wonderful
  5. We attached our binding in the traditional method: open it up, match the raw edges, stitch in the fold, then wrap the binding around to the front and stitch again close to the folded edge. How's that for a brief description?! If you need more, check out that dang bias binding tutorial I keep sending you to.
  6. A few additional NOTES that were helpful for this project: since we wanted the top to be the prettiest and knew the back would never really show, we wrapped the binding from back to front. Pretty normal, but thought I'd mention it nonetheless. Also, it's good to start on a side and work your way around to the back so the stitch line across the front is clean.
  7. We also had to remember to flip out our drop panels prior to the second line of stitching on the binding.
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  8. A few additional CAUTIONS that are also helpful: It is tempting to match the cut of the bias tape to the cut edge of the mantle cloth. This looks tempting, doesn't it?
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  9. But, look what happens if you do that when you fold the binding over the edge. Too short! Oh no!
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  10. Instead, let the binding extend beyond the cloth, then fold the binding over and trim off the excess so the binding is now flush with the cloth. That's my friend, Kathy giving us the 'a-okay' sign below.
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  11. After the first edge is finished, you need to make pretty corners to continue.
  12. Our scarf has one easy 90˚ corner and two very pointy 30˚ corners. We decided the best way to keep our corners and points sharp (and the easiest way to boot) was to trim our bias tape lengths to they extended about ¼" - ½" beyond the corner. We stitched the binding in place (the first line of stitching in the opened fold), then turned back that extended end of the binding flush with the sewn side, wrapped the binding around to the front, and stitched it in place.
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  13. This technique worked well for the pointed corners as well as the square corner.
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  14. Press, press, press... steam and press some more, and you're done.

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