Cushion, Coasters and Placemats

A few different bits and pieces, with plenty of binding nightmares.

Hope everyone has enjoyed their bank holiday weekend. Last week there wasn’t a blog post because everything I had was a work in progress. Bits of fabric here, containers of wax there, various assorted items in various states of completion. This week some of those pieces are now finished so now they can photographed and shown here. This week I don’t think I’ve had a piece go smoothly from start to finish, so prepare for tales of things that made me want to pull my hair out in frustration.

A week ago I received five new candle making fragrances and I immediately made up some test tealight candles to see how these new scents worked. After having a week to fully cure, today was the first day I could lit them. Earlier in the day I tried a rose scented soy candle. It gave off quite a sweet, delicate, floral scent that filled my living room. It was quite different from the bold scents I’ve tested in the past. As I type this, a lemongrass scented candle is burning just an arm’s reach away. It gives a sharp citrus scent when right next to it but from this distance it’s difficult to smell anything at all.

A new walking foot for my sewing machine arrived this week in the post. I have to say it does make a huge difference when sewing quilted items or pieces with multiple layers of fabric. The first task it attempted was attaching the binding to some placemats to finish them off. Now that they are finished, it comes even clearer that I need to practice getting pieces cut and sewn straight when making patchwork pieces.

Blue and green handmade placemats

Blue and green handmade placemats 2

With the blue binding I sewed it to the back, where it formed mitred corners perfectly. However when I folded the binding over to the front, the corners kept becoming square. I couldn’t get them to form mitred corners at all. I’ve practiced with binding and mitred corners before and got them to work in the past. This blue fabric however does seem a bit more stretchy than other fabrics I’ve used, which may account for some of this problem.

For the red binding I tried to fix this by sewing the binding to the front instead, so that the front would definitely have mitred corners. When the binding was folded over to the back, it formed square corners again. One thing I had forgotten was that when the back was sewn down, the sewing would then show on the front of the placemats, as you can see. The square corners had formed flaps that had to be sewed down too, which made for some untidy looking sewing when looking at the front.

Red and orange handmade placemats

Red and orange handmade placemats 2

One thing that I had wanted to give a quick try was making a cushion cover. Now that the placemats were done, I gave this new project a try. Originally I was going to make the front a patchwork effect just like the placemats. However to give myself as easy a time as possible after that binding, I opted just for a single piece of fabric for the front.

Blue spotty cushion

Red stripey cushion

The top back piece looks a bit curved due to the bulge of the cushion pushing it out. The back pieces just overlap each other so the inner cushion can be removed easily. As the two back pieces needed to be hemmed, I thought I would try using my machine’s narrow hem foot a try for the first time. The fabric is quite lightweight so I thought it would work out well. I read up on how to use it on the Internet, then I sat down at the sewing machine and gave it a go.

First, since the fabric when using this type of foot was just over one set of feed dogs, the fabric didn’t get pulled through at first so several stitches got made on top of each other, basically looking a total mess. After getting the stitch ripper out, I tried a second time. This time the fabric went through but you need a good amount of eye-hand co-ordiantion to keep the fabric going through the foot correctly.

Since I was so focused on the fabric going into the machine, I didn’t look at the fabric coming out of the machine until after I had finished. When I did check, I found that instead of the fabric being folded over and tucked under by the foot, it had just been folded over and stitched down, so the raw fabric edge could be seen. Out with the stitch ripper again. In the end I folded over the hem myself and stitched that, taking much less than time than I did messing around with the foot. I think I’ll have to have a day of just practicing these techniques on pieces of scrap fabric, rather than trying them for the first time on different projects.

Red stripey coasters

The last project to show you this week is some stripey coasters. The backing fabric, which is folded over to create the binding too,  is the same slightly stretchy fabric used to make the binding for the placemats. As you can see from the photo above, I had varying degrees of success when creating mitred corners for these. After those I thought I would try one with square corners instead, of course completely forgetting my past experience with the placemats’ square corners.

Red striped fabic coaster

Two of the corners look OK as square, expect that this method creates a couple of flaps which would need to be fixed down. The other two corners however decided they didn’t want to be square and attempted to change to a mitred form as they went under the foot of the sewing machine.

Thank you for sticking with me through this long, long blog post. I currently have various different fabrics cut, ready to make another twenty four coasters. I’m really hoping my technique gets better by the time I get through them, otherwise my stitch picker will be getting a good workout. Wish me luck.

4 thoughts on “Cushion, Coasters and Placemats

  1. Good luck with your sewing. I love the bright and cheery colours and patterns on your table mats. I have a table mat project in my head, and it’s the binding that’s bothering me too. I may wait until you have perfected it and then copy you!!

  2. Well done with your sewing. I love the spotted backing on the placemats.

    Bindings aren’t the easiest things to sew. I sometimes end up stitching them by hand. Mitered corners can be quite tricky to do. I’m sure I’ve got a tutorial link bookmarked on my computer. I’ll dig it out and email the link to you. Hopefully it’ll be of help. xx