Confession: I'm not much of a decorator. We have two little boys, so our house is highly, highly functional. It's nice, but no one is coming over to take pictures for your favorite homemaking magazine any time soon. None the less, every year, like clockwork, I am possessed with a desire to freshen things up as we head into the holidays. I'm sure it has something to do with how much more time we're spending inside, how many people we always seem to have over as friends come back to Atlanta to see family, etc, and, well, did I mention the holidays?
My favorite way to add a fresh feel to our spaces is to change up the table linens. I'm a total sucker for a good placemat, too, they're quick and fun to piece and quilt, and easy to wash! It's such a nice way to brighten up the table, make it feel seasonal and welcome. And, as an added bonus, placemats are great opportunities for practicing free motion quilting.
To that end, let's use the lovely Chimney Sweep Block on Board, that looks so nicely like a woven basket, to create these classic Basket of Blessings Placemats!
In addition to the usual materials like a machine, thread, etc, you need:
(Fabric Per Placemat)
- Color 1: Fat Quarter
- Color 2: Fat Quarter
- Backing/Binding: Fat Quarter (you could potentially use the leftovers from the cuts above)
- Batting: Fat Quarter
The die packaging has very detailed instructions for precutting before using the die, but here's the quick overview for the block:
- From COLOR 1, you will cut A x1, C x2, D x6, and E x4
- From COLOR 2, you will cut A x2, B x6, and C x2
To do this, precut according to the package directions and lay the precut bits out on the die. One pass through your AccuQuilt, and you'll be ready to piece a block!
In addition, cut from Color 2:
- 2 - 2½ x 10½ strips
- 2- 2½ x 14½ strips
(Disclaimer: I was working with some stray bits from my stash, so the frame on my placemat is a bit more pieced than this.)
After following the die package directions to assemble your chimney sweep block, use the 2½ inch strips to add a frame around the block, starting with the 10½ inch strips on parallel sides, then the 14½ inch strips on the final sides.
One of my favorite things about placemats is they are a low risk, high satisfaction way to experiment with different quilting techniques, threads, etc. For my Basket of Blessings Placemat, I used a quilting ruler on my home machine to guide crisp straight lines and continuous curves. Placemats are also an excellent candidate for practicing free motion quilting. If FMQ is on your "to learn" list, be sure to check out my Three Top Tips for Successful FMQ!
Typically, I'm a "big rectangular placemat" kind of gal (which you could totally do with this by adding an additional strip of fabric on the right side of the framed block), but, I've found that big placemats can be really hard for holidays when we're often trying to squeeze as many people as possible around a table. These smaller, square placemats help each place at the table have its own beautiful touch without creating too much "bulk" on the table. And just like that- Voila! A gorgeous, handmade holiday-ready table refresh!