Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Texas Place Mats

Several years ago when Elin headed off to college, she found the perfect place mats to remind her of home:

When I visited her recently, we used them for dinner. They are still magical but, unfortunately, they are also beginning to show their age. So (Christmas spoiler alert, Elin) I decided to make her some new ones.

I rummaged through my fabrics and found red, white and blue pieces that I thought would work well together:

Using Elin's old place mat as a guide, I created a pattern:
Cut each blue piece 6 x 10 1/2"
Cut each white piece 5 1/2 x 9"
Cut each red piece 5 1/2 x 9"
Use a 1/4" seam allowance on all pieces.

Sew the white and red pieces together. Press the seam flat toward the red fabric (so that it doesn't show through the white on the right side):

Sew the blue rectangle in place so that when you turn your place mat to the right side, the blue is on the left, the white is on the top and the red is on the bottom. Iron the seam flat toward the blue rectangle.

I needed a pattern for a five-point star, so I googled it and was able to find one just the right size. Trace the star onto fusible webbing--like Wonder Under--and, following the directions that come with the webbing, iron it onto the blue fabric. (Fusible webbing allows you to glue one piece of fabric on top of another using an iron.)

Because the place mats will be used and washed frequently, take time to zigzag around the star as well:

Elin's old place mats had blue borders, but I couldn't find a solid blue that matched my star fabric, so I chose red instead. Cut the borders 2" wide and sew them in place. Stitch the top and bottom borders first, iron the seam flats, stitch the side borders on, and iron those seams:

Using the front as a pattern, cut a back from one of the coordinating fabrics. Place right sides together, pin front and back in place, and stitch around the outside edge leaving about a four inch opening in the middle of one side to turn it right side out. Before turning, cut the corners on the diagonal, being careful not to cut through the stitching, so that it will be easier to square the corners:

Turn the place mat right side out. Using the point of a pair of scissors, gently push the corners out. Iron the place mats flat making sure that the raw edges of the turning gap are tucked inside:

If I were a perfectionist, I would have blind-stitched the gap closed by hand. But I am not a perfectionist, and I also felt that it would be less likely to come undone if I used the sewing machine. So I simply top-stitched the gap closed as close to the edge of the place mat as I could, making sure that the stitching caught both the top and the bottom. Using a decorative stitch, I sewed over the seam that connects the border to the flag. It adds a little extra pizzazz as well as providing added stability to the piece. (You can also decorate the other seams before you sew on the borders. I wish I had thought to do that):

Here you go, Elin:

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