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Festive Fussy Cut Placemats with Decorative Stitching Detail

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The traditional Thanksgiving table usually features a tablecloth, but we think placemats are a fresh take on tabletop convention. Our set of four mix-and-match placemats blends eight gorgeous colors and designs fussy cut from Joel Dewberry's Heirloom collection. Last week, we featured our Festive Cook's Apron, which was also done in Heirloom. It broke records across Social Media for likes, shares and pins. So, we knew we had to show off these great coordinating placemats. There's also a link to the matching napkins and ties. I think it's going to be a very vibrant Thanksgiving this year!  

For those of you new to sewing, 'fussy cutting' is not pitching a fit in the barber chair when one side of your bangs is longer than the other. Although that is perfectly justifiable behavior. To fussy cut in sewing means to select and cut out a specific motif from a printed fabric or to center your pattern piece directly over a design within your fabric that you want to feature. This is what we did to perfectly center the beautiful designs on each of our coordinated yet distinctive placemats. We have a tutorial on Fussy Cutting that outlines the tips and tricks for getting professional results. 

Our placemats also feature a dramatic line of decorative stitching across the front. We used the a 9mm stitch for ours, from the wide selection of stitches on the Memory Craft 9900. But nearly every sewing machine, even the basic ones, have at least a few decorative stitches built in. You want to select a stitch that echoes a design within your fabrics and has a wide enough swing from left to right to bridge the accent seam.

For the tutorial on the matching napkins and unique wrap ties, click here

Joel Dewberry's amazing Heirloom is an older collection but still readily available from a number of outlets. We found good selections at Fabric.comHawthorne Threads and QuiltHome

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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The ingredients below are for ONE placemat, which finishes at 14" x 20". Because we were extra fussy about our fussy cutting, we opted to work with a larger piece of fabric than absolutely necessary. If you too are extra fussy, go with the ¾ yard listed below. If you are less fussy, ½ will work fine. Also take note that we recommend a home décor weight fabric for this project.

  • ½ - ¾ yard of 44-45" wide fabric in a home décor or cotton sateen weight for the left front panel and the placemat back
  • ½ yard of 44-45" wide fabric for main right front panel
  • For our four mix-and-match placemats, we used the following cotton sateen fabric combinations from Joel Dewberry's Heirloom Collection for Free Spirit Fabrics:
    Tile Flourish in Blush - left panel and back with Rose Bouquet in Garnet for the main right front panel - both from the cotton sateen Ruby palette
    Empire Weave in Blush - left panel and back with Ornate Floral in Gold for the main right front panel - both from the cotton sateen Ruby palette
    Empire Weave in Sepia - left panel and back with Ornate Floral in Sepia for the main right front panel - both from the cotton sateen Sapphire palette
    Tile Flourish in Fuchsia from the Sapphire palette - left panel and back with Blockprint Blossom in Garnet from the Ruby palette for the main right front panel - both in cotton sateen
  • ½ yard of 22"+ wide lightweight fusible interfacing; we used Shir-Tailor® by Pellon
  • All purpose thread in color to match fabric
  • Contrasting color thread for topstitching and decorative stitching; we used Coats Dual Duty in a deep garnet red
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Straight pins
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper

Getting Started

  1. Use your see-through ruler and fabric pencil to draw out each of your shapes or make patterns out of tissue or pattern paper. Because I wanted to very carefully fussy cut all my pieces, I opted to use tissue paper patterns to insure I centered everything exactly where I wanted it. Also, because printed fabric is rarely 100% straight... that's just the way it is, I find it easier to fussy cut with a pattern and concentrate on keeping my design straight within the confines of the pattern even if it may look slightly askew on the fabric.
  2. From the fabric for the left front panel and the back, cut the following:
    ONE 7" wide x 15" high rectangle
    ONE 21" wide x 15" high rectangle
  3. From the fabric for the main right front panel cut ONE 15" x 15" square.
  4. From the lightweight interfacing cut ONE 21" x 15" rectangle

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Thread your machine with the thread to match the fabrics.
  2. Pin the left front panel piece, right sides together, to the main right front panel along one 15" edge.
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  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the panels together.
  4. Press the seam allowance open and flat.
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  5. Thread your machine with a contrasting thread.
  6. Following the instruction manual, set up your machine for decorative stitching. Choose a decorative stitch that will stand out nicely against your fabric. 
  7. If you are new to decorative stitching, we have a helpful article on the topic.
  8. Run a line of decorating topstitching along the front panel seam, using the seam itself at a center guideline.
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  9. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the 21" x 15" piece of of interfacing to the wrong side of the 21" x 15" placemat back panel.
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  10. Pin the fused back panel and the decorative-stitched front panel right sides together, leaving a 3 - 4"opening along the middle of the bottom edge.
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  11. Re-thread your machine with matching thread.
  12. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch around all four edges. Lock your seam at both sides of the 3 - 4" opening along the bottom edge of the placemat.
  13. Remember to pivot at each corner with your needle in the down position. It's also a good idea to back-tack at each corner to reinforce them and make sure they stay sharp when turned right side out.
  14. Clip all four corners of the placemat on the diagonal, being careful to not cut into your seam.
  15. Using the 3 - 4" opening you left in the bottom of the placemat, turn the sewn placemat right side out.
  16. Push out each corner so it is sharp and square. Use a long tool with a dull point, like a knitting needle or a chopstick.
  17. Tuck in the raw edges of the opening ½" so they are flush with the sewn edge.
  18. Press the placemat flat around all four edges and all four corners of the placemat. It helps to gentle roll the edge of the placemat to push the seam out so the placemat layers are as flat a possible.
  19. Re-thread your machine with the contrasting thread. Increase your stitch length.
  20. Topstitch ¼" all around four edges of placemat. This topstitching will seal the 3 - 4" opening. I used my Quarter Inch Seam foot to keep my stitching even all the way around.
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    NOTE: When deciding where to start/stop my topstitching, I looked for the color within the design that most closely matched the color of my topstitching thread. This is where I started, as I knew the matching color would best hide where the seam joined. I also used the lock stitch function on my sewing machine rather than backstitching to secure the beginning and end of the seam. This helps keep the stitching line cleaner. If you do not have this function on your machine, you can leave the thread tails long and knot them by hand.

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Contributors
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Liz Johnson

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Comments (1)

Candy5422 said:
Candy5422's picture

Great fabric and color combination, very eye catchig.  Love your picture detailing. Thanks for the ideas and fun projects.

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