Monday, May 30, 2016

Snowflake Quilted Placemats

Back before ChemKnits Baby #2 was born, I had an idea to make my first quilt for him.  I was afraid that as a second child he'd miss out on many things that I did for Lucky so I wanted to make sure that he got some unique firsts of his own.  I was fairly confident about the piecing, but nervous about the actual quilting and binding process.  Lucky for me there is a project in my learn to sew book that would let me practice quilting and binding.

When it comes to the quilted place mats in 1, 2, 3 Sew, I decided to go ahead and make all 4 of them as indicated in the project. I'm using a fun snowflake fabric pattern to make a set of holiday place mats.  I think that the sewing in circles will be a useful skill PLUS I will get to try out some machine binding.

Before even cutting the fabric for this pattern I found myself watching multiple videos on machine binding.  I'm still not quite sure what the written instructions are telling me to do, but I'm feeling more confident that I can figure something out.

I cut folded fabric as directed, creating 8 separate pieces for the top and bottom of each place mat plus 9 strips.  For the front and back, I cut along the edge so I could keep the fabric along the fold to use for a future project (creating a larger scrap.)  For the binding edge pieces, I cut all the way across to have longer binding strips so I will have to sew fewer of them together when finishing this quilting.

I used my cutting board to help me center the circle on the placemat and to pin the three layers in place.   I didn't pin all the way out to the edges yet because I figured that the fabric could shift a bit, but I pinned out most of the center portion.

You can barely see the white pencil circle in the center
The bottom of the first circle puffed up a bit (not shown), but after that the quilting started going pretty smoothly.  I'm not sure if I like how large the first circle is in the center, but I can always go back and quilt a smaller one in when I'm done.

The subtle first quilting

You can barely see the quilting on the placemat because of the busy pattern, but that is part of the point of choosing a matching thread.  While this design would probably be more appreciated on a solid fabric, I appreciate the practice as I prepare to make my first ever quilt for my second baby.

I hope that my quilting won't unravel.  I'm not backstitching over the beginning, but instead stitching over where I started at the end of each circle.  We'll find out whether this is sloppy or if it works!  I'm trimming loose ends as I go so that I'm sure to find them all.  As the circles get bigger it is easier and easier to pick up speed.

Not that you can really tell from the pictures, but I hit the outside edge of the concentric circles on the same round.  I'm not at the SAME place on the edge, but pretty close.  This speaks well for my ability to keep the stitching distance relatively even.  Since you can't really see the stitching, I'm not going to worry about the edges being symmetrical but just continue the circular quilting to the best of my ability.  (Now that I'm not doing a complete circle I will backstitch at the beginning and end of each row.)

I ran out of the first bobbin when I was nearing the end of quilting the second place mat.  There is still plenty of thread on the spool and I have a second spool in reserve.  I believe that I'll be able to make it to the end of this project without running out.  Wahoo!

The second bobbin and then first spool of thread ran out when I was almost at the end of quilting the 4th placemat.  I'm so glad that I thought to purchase a second one!  This means that when I'm doing Boogaloo's quilt that I'll really need to make sure that I have enough thread for all of the quilting.

The placemats required a bit of trimming to square things back up after the quilting.  I'm not sure how the fabrics shifted so much when I had everything lined up, but maybe this is why a walking foot would be useful?  Yes, watching some videos about using a walking foot confirmed that I will want one of these before I start quilting Boogaloo's quilt.

After squaring the placemnats they aren't perfectly the same size, but I could trim them more if I really wanted them to be identical.  I don't care that much about perfection in this project so I'm just going to go with what I've got.

I attached my binding strips without breaking the thread in between each one.  This is a technique I saw in some videos online.

I switched to my 1/4" seam foot to attach the binding.  I was a little confused by the written instructions for machine binding here so I'm going to re-write out what I understand to be the plan.
  • Make binding at least 65" long.  (I sewed 4 strips together for the first one. 
  • Press 1/4" of one side of the binding (started as 1.5" strips.)
  • With the RS of the placemat up, match the raw edge of the binding strip (not the pressed edge) to the raw edge of the quilted mat.  Attach binding as directed.
  • Fold over binding.  Stitch in the ditch of the RS to attach the binding on the wrong side.  

Attaching the ends of the binding didn't go nearly as bad as I thought.  Maybe it would be easier to hand stitch (or at least baste) these together since I had trouble fitting this into the machine and keeping the correct angle.  At least you can't tell where the ends joined together on the finished placemats.  

From other videos I watched on machine binding, I learned how to attach the ends at an angle for the last bit of binding.  This was easier to do than I expected and I was able to finish off the binding.  

This wasn't nearly as bad as I thought!  The back of the quilt doesn't look perfect since there are some overhangs of different widths, but for a placemat who is going to turn it over?  I'm so proud of myself!  These will be a great addition to our holiday dinner as Keith and I host Christmas Even with his parents for the first time ever.  I can't wait!

Started 11/21/2015.  Finished 12/5/2015