Beat the Winter “Blues”

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We are now officially in the thick of winter. If you are like me, the months of January  and February are spent dreaming of last year’s hot holiday, and this year’s summer vacation. Fall is so busy, and by the time January & February comes, we need something different to think about! No doubt you have loads of scraps hanging around too. Well, have no fear, you can beat the Winter blues just like I did!

I had some lovely layer cake squares hanging around, in shades of blue with beautiful Shibori style art. (You may ask, what is shibori? Click here to learn more!) I also had some grey and white grunge style prints, perfect neutrals to coordinate with blues. So I came up with a set of placemats and table runner to beat the blues.

I had seen a set of similar placemats in a store, and thought to myself, I can make that. So I pulled out my piping foot, some cording, and my fabrics and set to work. Layer cake squares (10″ x 10″ pieces) are perfect for both small and large projects. They cut equally into 4 strips at 2.5″ each, so you can get lots of variety in your smaller projects. I cut up the squares into strips and set to making sets of 7 strips per placemat. Since they are just 10″ long, I knew they would need some other fabric added. This is when my memory of some lovely curved placemats popped back into my head. So I set to making piping.

Did you know that when you cut bias strips, they are perfect for piping around curves? Also did you know, that you don’t need to wrestle with a giant cut of fabric to cut bias strips? I used this very simple technique of a square piece of fabric, pressed and stiffened slighly, folded into a triangle like this:


Starting square, approximately 15″-16″.


First fold along the bias edge


Second fold, making a triangle. Make sure you cut on the edge that has one fold, not two folds.


I cut the first strip on the fold, which would be half the width (1″). This maximizes the area of your square.

Then I cut my strips at 2″. Since I was only doing placemats, joining them up on the 45 degree angle was really easy and not noticeable that the strips are short. After I made my piping, I laid the piping down on the placemat and arranged it so it looked nice, and then pinned. Notice that the piping is on top of the placemat. This makes attaching it so simple, because you don’t have to cut your curve first and then fiddle with sewing it in the right place.


I stitched the piping to the set of strips, and then cut the excess away leaving my curved seam. After that, I flipped the piping seam allowance to be underneath the strips and pressed really well. I did not baste at this point, as I wanted to include the final anchoring of this section in my quilting. Fun fact: This technique of anchoring an applique during the quilting process is called “Appli-Quilting”. It is so fun!


Stitching piping to strips


IMG_1184After the piping was attached, I pinned the strips to rectangles of background to form the full placemat size, approximately 14″ by 20″. I stitched the piping down the ditch (the ditch quilting sole plate for the Acufeed Flex is a must!), and then did some decorative stitches on both the strips and the plain background. Each placemat is quilted differently. Some basting on the edges of the strip sets helped everything stay in place. After the quilting was done, I squared them up to be all the same size and added binding using the Quilt Binder Set (that tool is a serious time saver. If you don’t have it, you need it.)


The table runner I made in the same way, and added some quilting with the embroidery machine to the open spaces. The orange peel motif is included in the machine, so I used Artistic Digitizer to create a grid of the design, and then deleted the ones as I didn’t want to create the whole design. I’m so please with how these turned out, they definitely beat the blues for me! And who doesn’t need a new set of placemats anyway!


Until next time,


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4 Responses to Beat the Winter “Blues”

  1. Cindy Dickerson says:



  2. Gloria Olson says:

    Fabulous soooooo….,creative!


  3. Great tutorial, thank you. I feel the need for new placemats myself!


  4. Anne says:

    Great project. And wonderful use of Artistic Digitizer!😊


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