Thursday, July 14, 2016

English Paper Piecing Placemat Set

I was taking the Craftsy class Quick & Easy English Paper Piecing but didn't want to make a tiny sampler quilt, so instead I decided to make a set of placemats featuring these motifs. (I resized and changed a few of the designs to suit my purposes.)

I used a combination of solids and batiks for the motifs, and set them on a black Kona cotton background. I love Kona cotton ... it just feels so substantial. For the binding, I used a black-based batik. I really have a thing for batiks, I don't think I've met a batik I don't like.

Since the placemats are only 12.5" x 18.5", it presented a great opportunity to practice free-motion on a real project without getting overwhelmed. I still find free-motion kind of scary, and it feels like a runaway horse sometimes. It takes a few ugly stitches before I get "in the zone", and it's still remarkably easy to slip-up. However, despite my fear, I really love free-motion quilting. I used a combination of free-motion and walking foot to create a different design for each placemat.

Left: Grandma's Flower Garden

I did some dot-to-dot quilting to draw emphasis on the flower garden, and filled all the negative space with pebbles for rocks. Pebbles are one of my favorite designs, and I'm pretty good at them, but they're very time and thread consuming.

Right: Flowers on a Stem

I echoed inside the petals to add more detail and did a satin stitch to simulate a stem. (This is my first time using a stabilizer, and what a difference!) For the background, I did a meandering clover design, which is stippling with some 3-petal clovers stitched in. I really struggle with meandering I find.

Left: Hexie Columns

Since the columns did not go all the way to the edge (which I regret), I extended the design in the quilting, and then filled it with some back-and-forth lines, which I find quite easy to do. For the background, I did a simple lollipop design. This was a very fast design and very easy to do as long as I'm not aiming for perfection.

Right: Pentagon Ring

For the motifs I quilted a flower on each pentagon, and I filled the background with swirls. I like swirls a lot but do find them rather challenging, but it's definitely worth practicing.

Left: Honeycomb

I did lots of dot-to-dot flower designs in the motif, which I really like to do. For the background, I did a filler flower design which wasn't particularly difficult, but I'm not a huge fan of it because at the end, you can't really see the flowers, you just see texture.

Right: Double Star

I utilized visualizing each 4 sets of diamonds (a wing of a star) as a single dimaond and quilted a dot-to-dot design with echoes. For the background, I quilted paisleys, which I really really enjoyed. There are several versions of paisleys that I've seen, and this one is definitely a easier and more casual feeling one, which I really like. There's not a lot of traveling in this version.

Left: Tumbling Blocks

I could not decide on what to quilt inside the tumbling blocks, it seems anything I do will take away from the beautiful 3-d effect the blocks give, so I ended up not quilting it and just stitching in the ditch to secure them. For the background I did a grid, to give the illusion of this block lying on a geometric plane.

Right: Triangle Star

I did another dot-to-dot diamond design with echoes (yes I love those) and quilted the background with echo shells. I love echo shells ... they're both really easy and really beautiful, and I really enjoyed quilting these.

Left: Ring of Fortune

I quilted a feather in the round on the motif, which is my first real feather. I'm sort of on the fence about feathers ... on one hand, I really like them and the elegance they add, and they're also really fun to quilt. On the other hand, feathers scream traditional. For the background I used a walking foot and simply echoed the shape.

Right: Star Wheel

The motif is quilted with a spiderweb design, and I quilted straight lines on the background. It's not a very exciting design, but at the time I wasn't confident about using free-motion over the background.


I think staring at the placemats and trying to come up with a custom design for each motif was the most time-consuming part. I seem to really like dot-to-dot designs as they're both geometric and easy to do. Toward the end I can tell I'm getting more confident with moving the fabric around to do the design I want. I'm slowly building up confidence in free-motion and building my "toolbox" which consists of designs that I like and find easy to do.

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