reversible placemats

Last week my parents came up for a visit!  My dad recently retired and they're about to move into a different house, so they're purging a lot of stuff to make the move easier.  One thing they offered me is the kitchen table they've had for the last twenty years.  That may sound old to some of you, but it's in great shape and seats six people instead of four like our current one, so I jumped at it.  (For those of you who are wondering, our old table and chairs are now taking up residence at the house of prayer.  Come visit them sometime!)

The table looks great in our dining room, but I immediately realized that I only have one set of six placemats.  Since our old table sat four people, I usually only bought placemats in sets of four.  So I decided to make some that were reversible.  Here's how I did it.

Materials for a set of six reversible placemats:
1 1/2 yards each of two coordinating fabrics and batting
 4 packages of extra-wide double-fold bias tape
Matching thread
Old placemat to use as a template

First, take an existing placemat and trace it onto paper or posterboard so you'll have a template when cutting out your fabric.  I liked the size of this one, but feel free to experiment with different shapes; square or ovals would be fun too.

Next, pin the template onto your fabric and batting and cut around, leaving a half-inch on all sides for seam allowance.  The easiest way to do this is to make a fabric and batting sandwich:  lay one fabric wrong-side up, then put your batting on top of it, then put the other fabric on top right-side up.  That way, once your placemat is cut out, all you have to do is un-pin (if that's a word) the template, and replace the pins back in the fabrics and batting, and you're all set for the next step.

Next, we'll need to quilt it to keep the layers together.  With this method, there's no turning it right-side out since the bias tape will act as a border, so all you need to do is sew straight lines across the placemat.  I chose to do straight vertical lines since one of my fabrics allowed for that, though horizontal lines, diagonal, or even free-motion quilting could work too.  Again, just play around with it.  I chose red thread since my bias tape is red and it matched both fabrics.

Do this with all six placemats, and then take a deep breath.  It's time for the bias tape. 

Don't be scared.  I'm here for you.  :o)  Okay, well maybe you've used this stuff before and aren't as intimidated by it as I was.  But in case you're unfamiliar with this stuff, it really is simple to use once you get the hang of it.  First, we're going to do the longer sides of the placemat.  Take the bias tape out of the package and measure out enough of the tape to go across one of the longer sides, leaving about half an inch on both sides.


Next, see how the bias tape unfolds and leaves creases? 


Pardon my un-manicured hands.  :o)  Anyway, take one edge of the unfolded bias tape and line it up with the raw edge of the placemat.

Pin it all the way down the length of that side.  Next, see that crease right above the edge?  That's going to be your path for the seam.  Put the placemat underneath the foot of your sewing machine so the needle will line up with that crease, and then sew all the way down.


And no, it's not just you.  It's dark in this picture because the lightbulb in my sewing machine burned out.  I practically went blind making these.  :o)  Anyway, now we're ready to fold the bias tape over to attach it to the other side.  Take the other side of the bias tape, leaving that other fold intact, and fold it over the raw edge.  Make sure it covers the raw edges and pin it into place.

Sew all the way down, as close to the edge as you can get.

Now we're ready to put the tape on the shorter sides.  Attach the bias tape on one of the shorter sides like you did before.

Now, in the process of folding it to the other side, you're going to want to tuck the edges of the other pieces of bias tape in there to make nice corners.  Here's how I did it.  First, take the overlap from one of the longer sides and trim it so it'll fit inside the the other (in the picture below, the vertical tape is the long side and the horizontal tape is the short side we're about to fold over):
Next, fold in the overlap on the short side so it lines up with the tape on the long side:

And then continue folding the short bias tape to cover up the raw edge; this will secure the previous fold you made.

Pin in place, and do the same to the other corner.  Sew down close to the edge like you did before.  Do the same to the other short side, and guess what.  You're done with your first placemat!


Now repeat 5 more times.  :o)  I'll admit, the first one I did is kind of gimpy-looking if you look really close, but as I got the hang of the scary bias tape, the other ones came out better and faster.  And now I have six placemats, really two sets of six if you think about it since I used two different fabrics:

Our table looks so pretty now.

 I'm also going to attempt my first "linky party" to showcase this project, since I'm still a little amazed that I pulled this off.  :o)  Check out the party here for some other great ideas!


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