Thursday, July 12, 2018

Patriotic Placemats

For the 4th of July holiday I wanted to have patriotic placemats on my dining room table along with other stars and stripes and red/white/blue decorations. I did get the placemats sewn with a layer of bamboo batting in between the two fabric layers but did not get time to quilt them before my holiday guests arrived. Dots was a pattern that was not to busy to complete with the bandanas I had tied around my candle holders

On clearance sale a couple years back, I had bought a one yard bundle of Riley Blake medium dot fabric in several colors with a cream background. The red and navy dots were great for this time of year. One yard red and one yard blue made six placemats, each 18" high by one-third the WOF or about x 14"wide, red on one side and blue on the other. This way I could mix them to be patriotic or have just red for Christmas or Valentines or just navy for any neutral other time. Plus I was glad I was using a bargain bundle from my stash that I had bought on spec..

That Riley Blake bundle of medium dots and a similar bundle I bought of medium stripes turned out to be versatile stash additions. The other dots colors not shown were pink and lime – like the stripes on the left – and black. I used the black dots on creme for the backing of a zebra pillow. The zebra is in my post for December 6, 2017. The creme background worked out perfectly since the zebra was not stark white.

I used the pink and lime dots as backing for a lion and lamb pillow, post for April 6, 2017. I quilted these with a diagonal grid which came out looking sharp. Had my red dots aligned with my blue dots on the reverse side of my placemats, I might have done the same diagonal grid. Knowing that alignment was not likely to be precise enough, instead I chose to practice my FMQ. At first I thought I might do a different pattern on each placemat but then decided I preferred to improve my skill on just one pattern. I picked overall swirls, a design I am not at all proficient at, but want to learn and am a bit chicken. I watched several YouTube demonstrations by Angela Walters, Lori Kennedy, and Leah Day and they look easy but looks can be deceiving. I doodled and then got brave to stitch it. After all it was just a set of placemats, not a huge time investment, and small enough to maneuver.  Here is a comparison of my first mat on the left with my fifth mat on the right. Neither are stellar but a dinner plate goes over it, right? Also I am not quite sure which is better.

I tried to concentrate on consistent spacing, approximate roundness, and desirable size so each of my five attempts focused on something different. My second and third attempts had more uneven spacing as I tried to adjust on the fly. For the fifth one I placed a round tape measure on the mat as I sewed to keep me mindful of a size I was gunning for. Of course that commitment went out the window when I was trying to fill in between. I eventually tried to fill in with echoing rather that smaller spirals. I did find that going at faster speed did tend to help me keep the swirls rounder. 

I have one placemat left to go. I want to study what I've done so far and see if it is roundness, or size, or spacing that is my biggest area for improvement. I can't fix what my eye fails to reveal to me what is not quite right. Here are placemats #2, #3, and #4  and the one non-quilted placemat on my table. The quilted ones do not lie as flat as I'd like, but I have not steamed them either. I was wary of flattening out the texture I had just worked so hard to introduce. Hmm. Maybe I like the non-quilted one best. Hmm. Maybe swirls should be reserved for a more solid and less graphic background.

By the way, here are all six placemats on the navy dot side; counter-clockwise from lower right they are, #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6. That ivory thread really blends in and all that is left is texture. I am not really sure but that I like the non-quilted one best. But at least I got a bit of practice. Sharing my experiences with Let's Bee Social#233.