Monday, February 7, 2011

A Lesson in Failing

Sometimes, when projects fail, I throw up my hands and declare an end. This time, I started over and I am really glad I did!
 Placemats 36

I saw THIS at Thanksgiving time and loved it. The only problem is that I really don’t like chalk or chalk dust. I had to figure out a way to use this idea, but with less chalk stuff. It took about 5 minutes before I knew what I was going to do with this and I have been sitting on it since Thanksgiving. (And for procrastinators like me that means I really didn’t attempt to start it before the last second!)

Unfortunately, after a great deal of frustration, a finished project that I wasn’t happy with, and a post (with a tutorial) that was scheduled first thing this morning, I decided I just couldn’t do it. I was so unhappy with the end result that I scrapped the whole thing and started over.

I headed out for more materials instead of doing what I had planned to do today. While it wasn’t my plan for the day (and there are several other projects that didn’t get done today—like the laundry!) I was able to quickly make placemats that I was happy with and now I will share the good ones with you! Yay!

Placemats 38 Tutorial
(Amounts for fabrics vary depending on how many placemats you are making. Each placemat is 17 inches x 12 inches before sewing.)
Chalk Cloth
Valentine or “fun” fabric
Fabric for the back
Thin Batting
Masking Tape


PLEASE NOTE: I thought it would be a good idea to use iron-on vinyl for the front of my placemats to make them easy to wipe clean. By the time I was done, it worked, but it was hard to work with and I didn’t like the way it looked. Since I already had a tutorial written using the vinyl, I didn’t replicate every single picture for the new and improved tutorial that did not use vinyl. Don’t get confused if the front piece looks like it has vinyl attached—it did, but I threw those placemats out and started all over!)

Make a pattern for the placemat that is 17 inches x 12 inches. I used newspaper to make mine. You can just measure and cut  also, but I find it easier to use a pattern so I only have to measure once.

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Make a pattern for the heart. I just estimated how big I wanted it, folded the newspaper in half and cut it out the same way I learned in grade school. Works like a charm!

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Using the placemat pattern, cut the front piece using the “fun” fabric. You will need one piece for each placemat.

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Using the placemat pattern, cut the backing fabric. You will need one piece for each placemat.

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Using the placemat pattern, cut the batting. You will need one piece for each placemat.

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Using a Sharpie, trace around the heart pattern on the back side of the chalkboard cloth.

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Cut out the heart leaving about a 1/2 inch border.

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Cover the entire surface (right side) of each chalkboard piece with chalk then erase it. This will make the chalkboard fabric usable.

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With a pencil, chalk, or fabric pen trace around the heart pattern on the front (right side) center of the fun fabric.

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Fold the fabric carefully so you line up a small section of the lines you just drew and make a tiny snip just large enough to poke the scissors in when the fabric is opened again.
  Placemats 9

Open out fabric, insert scissors and cut our heart along the traced line. This way, you can save the heart for a future project.
It would make a great applique!

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Tape the chalkboard fabric flat to the back side of the fun fabric. Use the marker lines to help line it up with the edges of the fabric and to help ensure you have a decent border (extra chalkboard fabric) all of the way around the cut out.

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Turn over to front side and pin chalkboard fabric to fun fabric. Remove masking tape as you go.

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Sew along the edge of the heart on the front side using a small zig zag stitch.

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Layer batting, front piece (fun fabric with chalkboard heart sewn into center) and backing piece together.  The batting should be on the bottom facing the wrong side of the front piece. The front piece is in middle with right side facing the right side of the backing piece which is on the top.

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Pin all around the placemat leaving an opening along one side. The opening should be large enough to fit your hand through.  Mark the opening with double pins so you don’t accidently sew it closed!

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Sew around the perimeter using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Just so you know, no matter how slowly and carefully I sew this, I always end up with something that looks like this picture. Just trim the batting and move on!

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Trim the corners off so they aren’t bulky when the placemat is turned right side out.

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Turn placemat right side out by reaching in through the opening and pulling the right side out through the opening. Carefully push the corners out to sharpen them. Using your fingers, fold 1/4 inch seam allowance to the inside at the opening and pin closed.

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Topstitch along the edges close to the edge. Sew on the top since that is the side that will show. At the corners, leave the needle in the fabric at the place where you want to pivot. With the needle in the fabric, raise the presser foot and turn the fabric 90 degrees. Lower the presser foot and continue topstitching. You will sew the opening closed with the topstitching.

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Iron the placemat smooth and flat being careful not to let the iron touch the chalkboard fabric. My placemats were really smooth and flat until I added the trim. I am not sure if it was turning it around the curves or not being careful enough, but it turned out fine—a little wavy--in the end so I didn’t let it bother me! Besides, it was waaaaaaaaay better than the other completed placemats! {wink, wink}

Sew trim on top of the edge of the cut out fabric. I found that the two styles I used went around the curves really well. There are so many different styles that you will just have to find the one (or two!) you like.

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Since you are sewing through all of the layers, the backside of your placemat will have a slightly quilted look. Sew carefully if you are using thread that contrasts with the fabric! (Yikes!)
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Now, set the table with those fancy placemats.

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Write a message with chalk.

I kind of like these messages…

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Enjoy those lovely {pun intended} Valentine’s Day (or week) dinners!

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I link to THESE link parties—or check them out in my sidebar!


Ziggyeor,  said... February 7, 2011 at 5:46 PM  

Wow I never knew there was such a thing as chalkboard fabric! Very cool place mats.

Two Shades of Pink,  said... February 7, 2011 at 7:30 PM  

Very cute and fun! Does hubby appreciate you saying how hot he is? Or is that his handwriting with messages to YOU? :)

Nancy,  said... February 7, 2011 at 9:48 PM  

I love them! How fun and festive. I just love when something doesn't turned out as I envisioned and then ends up being something better.

Unknown,  said... February 7, 2011 at 10:40 PM  

Alright, let me first of all just say that these are super cute. What a fantastic idea. Scrapping a project sounds like something I would do too. But these turned out beautiful! I especially love the ruffles.
Second of all, my mom called me today and told me how you saw the blocks you made for Bunco on my blog which she had sent me last year (wow...that was a terrible run on sentence; No punctuation either...did you get all that?)
I had no idea this was your blog! I saw your felt cake on U-Create the other day and I thought "Wow...that is awesome...I wouldn't have thought of that". So fun!

I also saw your cards on U-create with kids. My good friend from college runs that blog.

So moral of this story is it's fun to put a face with a blog! I love all of your stuff, and I'm your newest follower :)

Beverly {Flamingo Toes},  said... February 7, 2011 at 11:38 PM  

These are soooo sweet! I love the heart and the pleated ribbon - they are just perfect! Thanks so much for the shoutout too. :)

Rachel {},  said... February 8, 2011 at 1:31 AM  

never give up... you are so talented!!! I had a major fail today... I guess I should try it again!

Humble Homemaker,  said... February 8, 2011 at 8:08 AM  

I saw your comment on my blog so came to check out yours and I love it! This idea is so cute. I wonder if I have time to do this before V-Day.... ;)

Erica {B is for Boy},  said... February 8, 2011 at 8:53 AM  

These are so cool! Love the idea!
Erica @

Misty @Creative Itch,  said... February 8, 2011 at 10:58 AM  

What a fun idea!! Thanks for linking @Creative Itch's "Sew Cute Tuesday"!

Ellie,  said... February 8, 2011 at 1:40 PM  

I think this idea is great! How fun would those be on the dinner table!

Sassy Sites!,  said... February 8, 2011 at 3:21 PM  

We are hosting a Valentine linkup party over at Sassy Sites! I would love to have you stop by and link up this Valentine post (and ANY other valentine post you have!) xoxo!!

<3 Marni

Brittany,  said... February 8, 2011 at 3:57 PM  

I love this! What a cute way to leave messages for each other. I wonder if it would look as good with bias tape around the edge instead of turning it inside-out to sew.

Auntie K,  said... February 9, 2011 at 12:30 PM  

So clever. Still can't get chalk fabric at my local J. Is the pleated trim purchased or did you pleat it?

Anne,  said... February 13, 2011 at 9:55 AM  

Love it!! I linked to your tutorial over at Craft Gossip Sewing:


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