Monday, June 28, 2010

Silk Placemats

Good morning! I have a totally quiet house right now. DH is off at camp. Baby G stayed up way late with the babysitter last night and is down for the count now. Perfect time to plan out my week and post my newest sewing tutorial. Yay!

I've been stitching like a mad women recently, but no projects that would post well. For instance, do you want to read about the 15 cloth diapers I've sewn?! Probably not. This weekend was different.

If you got married, say last night, then skip this post until you've opened your gifts. Otherwise... I needed a wedding gift for a neat couple who've traveled, particularly in southeast Asia. I wanted to make something Asian inspired but not shamelessly copied. I settled on silk placemats.

The placemats were fun from beginning to end. I got to buy bright colored fabric; I didn't have to use any funky stitching; as an added bonus, my sewing machine tension behaved itself. And the result was a gift I could be proud to put our name on.

How to Sew a Placemat:

Note - This tutorial is specific to working with a light weight fabric such as silk. If you want to use a heavier fabric, like broadcloth, I would follow this tutorial at SewMamaSew.

1. Start with a trip to the fabric store (yay!). To make 4 placemats at 14"x17", I bought 3/4 yard of backing and single-sided fusible webbing and 1/4 yard of each of the front panel fabrics (3 total fabrics for 3/4 yard total). Also, you will need double fold bias tape and corresponding thread.

2. Cut the pieces for your front panel. Before you cut, decide how big you want the placemat. As I said, these were 14"x17" which will comfortably house a large dinner plate. The front panel can be as complicated or simple as you like. Regardless, consider your seam allowance when you calculate the front pieces. In this case, I had two seams at 1/2" per piece of fabric for a total of 2" seam allowance. The center strip was 7"x17", the thin strip was 3.5"x17", and the wider top strip was 5.5"x17".

3. Piece and sew your front panel. You can skip this step if you chose a solid piece for the front. To piece, simply pin the fabric right side to right side and sew a straight seam along the pinned edge at your designated seam allowance.

4. Iron the pieced seams. The seams must lay flat, otherwise you will have odd ridges in your placemat.

5. Cut and iron fusible webbing. The webbing gives the placemats structure without adding a lot of bulk. The webbing should wrinkle slightly when it's warm enough to bond. If the webbing isn't sticking, turn up the heat on the iron.

6. Trim the placemat. With the webbing in place, straight cuts become much easier. This is the time to square things up and ensure that all of your front pieces reach the edge of the placemat.

7. Attach backing and and bias. Pin the backing on first. At this point, you can trim the backing to ensure a good fit with the front of the placemat. Then pin the double fold bias tap around the outside edge, making sure to fold and pin the corners as you go. When sewing, use a straight stitch positioned as close to the inside edge of the bias tape as possible. This will ensure that you get a big bite of all three layers of fabric and that your bias tape doesn't fold up or roll later.

Ta Da. You're done. 

I really enjoyed making these. Throughout the process, I kept thinking about what I wanted to do when I made some for us. I think I have a pretty cute idea coming up. Can't wait to show you. In the mean time, try sewing some silk placemats. They can really spruce up your table setting or make an excellent shower/wedding present.


  1. I have been toying with the idea of making some placemats for our table, too. Not silk, necessarily. . . I'm a gingham/broadcloth/homespun kinda girl.

    But. . . the webbing was the step I've been contemplating. I didn't really want to add bulk by putting a layer of fleece in there. Fusible webbing would definitely do the trick.

    My next project - once I finish the quilt(s) I've begun. . . ? Tablecloths. I get so tired of digging crumbs out of the ridges in my table. :)

  2. @ Stampincyndi - Thank you.
    @ Angie - the webbing really was the key. I hate when placemats lift up with your glass of water, but the webbing keeps them in place.


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