Free-motion quilting totally scares me! I even bought a sewing machine for my birthday last year that would make this easier for me to do than my other machines. If I am totally honest I have to admit that the only time I have tried to do free-motion quilting was at an orientation lesson to familiarize me with my new Janome sewing machine. I am so intimidated and terrified of the whole process. A new friend to a new neighbors' quilting group I belong to, Sharon, does it all the time and says it is so easy. She has promised to show me her method.
Until then I will continue to choose quilt patterns that I can do simply machine quilting stitching---stitch-in-the-ditch, outline stitch, diagonal stitching across the square, and what I call sew and quilt-in-one. The latter one is so easy and even easier if you have a walking foot attachment for your machine. This foot keeps the top fabric from stretching as you sew the layers together. You can buy the attachment to fit your machine if you didn't have one come with your machine.
The first project I did using this method was a baby quilt for granddaughter Madison before she was born. I don't have a picture of the finished quilt to show you (I know, how did I manage to not get a picture of it?), but trust me, it was really cute.
I have so much Christmas material that I have collected over the years that it fills a big tub. The quilting group I mentioned earlier (we need to come up with a name for ourselves besides New Neighbors' Quilting Group) decided to make placemats for fall. I think I have a picture of mine, but I don't know what disk it is own....I know I need to get organized with my pictures....Will try to find it and show them to you before fall.
After we finished our fall placemats, I decided I wanted to make some I could use for Christmas and Winter. I remembered the technique of sewing and quilting all in the same stitch that I had used for Madison's baby quilt and knew that was how I was going to make the placemats. I used various Christmas prints (18 different ones----told you I had a lot of Christmas fabric) and then a snowman print for the back. I have always made a distinction between Christmas and Winter. This snowman print has nothing that shouts "Christmas" so I simply turned the place mat over after Christmas and continued to use the placemats until March and Spring.
When Spring came and I had to pack up my Winter stuff, I knew I needed to get going on the Spring ones quickly. I love the 30's reproduction prints and knew that was what I wanted to use for them. I chose a fabric print that looked good with them (even though you don't see both sides of the placemat at the same time) and sorta looked more like summer than the prints I chose for the Spring side.
Since I started this blog less than a month ago, I don't have extensive pictures to illustrate my instructions. But I have been asked several times by friends how to make the placemats when they saw them, so I will show the one picture I have along with a couple of excellent links for the binding.
What you need to make 6 placemats:
Chosen prints(18 fat quarters - or 1/4th of a yard of 18 prints) or scraps at least 1.5 in X 18 in
1.5 yards of thin batting
1.5 yards of material for back
3/4th yards of material for binding
What to do if using chosen prints:
You will cut 3 strips across the width of your fabric 1.5 inches wide. Then cut the strips into 18-inch long strips. Do this until you have used all 18 prints cut. (Note: it is ok if you are not using 18 different prints but will be repeating prints) You will need 18 strips for each placemat.
Decide on the arrangement for the strips. I made all 6 of mine identical, but you wouldn't have to whether you are using the chosen fabric or just scraps.
Cut the thin batting and the material for the back 18 in X 14 in. If you fold the fabric for the back, you will cut a total of 3 strips across the material every 14 inches. Then cut the strips into 18 inch rectangles.
Layer the materials to start sewing this way: Backing -- right side down; batting; the first 1.5 in X 18 in strip--right side up; and the second strip -- right side down on top of the first strip. Line the strips up on the right side of your backing/batting sandwich. Sew the two strips together using a quarter inch seam sewing thru all layers. Backstitch at the beginning and end of this seam. Press seam open with your fingers and then press with iron. (Make sure you "press" and not "iron" so that you don't stretch the material.) Lay the next strip down with right sides together and sew with a quarter inch seam.
Continue until you have worked across the placemat and used the 18 strips.
Trim the placemats with your rotary cutter to the same size -- about 17.5 in X 13.5 inches.
When I make the binding, I cut my strips 2 inches wide. You will see different widths used in different directions...probably the most common is 2.5 inches. BUT I like to work with a 2-inch wide strip. I can thank my friend Kay for suggesting this. You have a nice neat trim binding when you finish and the binding is the same amount on both sides.
Once the binding is sewed on the top, I fold the binding around to the back and sew the binding down using a blind stitch. You can see how to make a blind stitch HERE.
Hope this was helpful and that you will try to make your own Sew & Quilt-in-One Placemats.
You might be interested in checking out my post/tutorial for my fall placemats. I used this same method but with varying widths of strips.
I just finished this baby quilt using this method. You can check it out HERE. I show lots of pictures showing each step.
This afternoon I made a hot pad with some scraps using this method. It was so easy. I need to make a number of these since I do so much baking.
EVEN ANOTHER UPDATE!!!!!
I just figured out how to make the log cabin pattern block for a hot pad using my Sew & Quilt-in-One method. You can find that tutorial HERE. Here is what it looks like.
Here is a picture of another one I made my friend Fran.
If you need to see detailed pictures illustrating this method of sewing and quilting in one, check out this POST where I made a baby blanket using the method.