Di has been blogging at Clementine’s Shoes for quite some time. She started in 2004, and one husband, two children, and one house extension later, she’s still at it, writing about sewing, knitting and trying to lead a more sustainable life. You can also find her pinning all manner of inspirations at Pinterest. 

Whip up has been a regular source of inspiration for me for quite some time. Kathreen and her contributors gather together so many things to look at, links to such a variety of sites and ideas to explore. For me, blogging has always been about finding and sharing creative inspiration with others, so to be contributing here today is wonderful opportunity.

I’d like to share a recent project that has been all about gathering and consolidating: patchwork placemats for our family dinner table. As a young family of four, we always sit down at the dinner table together, and I felt we needed something to adorn our (easy clean) vinyl covered table, something to celebrate coming together to eat and to help instil some more grown up meal time manners (although we’ll be ignoring what the baby gets up to with her food for a few more years I know).

Being in a thrifty, make-do mood, I wanted to work from my fabric stash. It’s not a huge stash, but the box that holds my cotton prints is crammed to bursting. When I pulled the box out and started to muse on my options, I initially struggled. The colours and prints just didn’t seem to jump out as being every day dinner table companions – too dull, too precious to get smeared with tomato sauce, too matchy-matchy, not matchy enough, too small. So I had to play, and draw on some of the patchwork inspiration I’d been pinning, particularly the colourful patchwork of Rita of Red Pepper Quilts and anything featuring varied collections of scraps. I’ve always been drawn to scrap based patchwork, patchwork with a variety of prints and colours within an overall theme, tied together by some kind of overall structure or order.

For this project, I decided to work with strips. Easy to cut, easy to piece, easy to use up little scraps of favourite prints. Using dots as a unifying motif, I gathered all the spotted fabrics I had, weeded out a few colours that didn’t sit right, and cut a pile of 5cm (2 inch) and 10cm (4 inch) strips. I sewed them together end to end, selecting the pieces fairly randomly, to make one long strip for each width. I cut these into 45cm (18 inch) long pieces, and started to play with layouts. Each placement is made from five narrower strips and one wider strip, selected so that they have a gentle balanced disorder. Not too matchy, not too off balance, just comfortably varied.

I sewed them together with 5mm (1/4 inch) seams (I took time to press all the seams open to avoid big lumps in the finished placemats). I backed the tops with plain calico, also sewn with a 5mm (1/4 inch) seam so that the edge strips are the same finished size, and turned out through a 10cm (4 inch) opening.  After a thorough pressing, including pressing the opening edges in, I top stitched in a neutral thread 2mm (1/8 inch) from the edge, thereby closing the opening and giving a neat finished edge all round.

I was too lazy (or perhaps just too eager to put them to use) to bother with any additional quilting, although you could do if you wanted to. They have been in daily use since completion, for breakfast lunch and dinner for our family and visitors. Despite a slight hiccup (I hadn’t prewashed the calico, which shrank dramatically on the first wash, requiring unpicking and new backings) they have been a huge success. They’ve made a great addition to our 4 year old’s table setting ritual, a source of dinner conversation (who has more of the orange multi-coloured spots tonight?), and creatively satisfying too.

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modern placemats

by kath_red on 30/12/2010

in Home+Decor

Make some modern placemats to brighten up your table this New Year. Pdf pattern here.

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handmade by alissa – she made these placemats for a present – they are so cool – whipup featured a tutorial by weeks ringle a few years back [pt1 + pt2] on how to make something similar – but basically they are mini-quilts – love them.



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