Designer Elizabeth Hartman of Oh,Fransson! joins us Mondays this October with a Color Blocks Placemat + Napkin Sew-Along! Elizabeth will guide you through the entire project in four installments, today and October 10, 17 and 24. Join us and add your progress photos each week in the Color Blocks Placemats + Napkins Sew-Along group for your chance to win some fantastic prizes. Have fun, and don’t forget to download your PDF with all of today’s important information for starting the placemat and napkin sew-along.

Color Blocks Placemats + Napkins: Part One
Hello Sew-Alongers! For the next few weeks, I’ll be going over the process of making a set of four patchwork napkins and quilted placemats. Each finished napkin will measure about 20” x 20” and each finished placemat will measure about 13” x 18”.

My instructions are based on making four, but today’s PDF file includes information about how to double, triple, or quadruple the pattern to make 8, 12, or 16 sets. Our goals for the first week of the sew-along are selecting fabric and preparing it for sewing, including cutting out all of the pieces we’ll use during the next three weeks. Let’s start with selecting fabric.

I wanted to keep my placemats and napkins looking clean and modern, so I chose a very simple combination of fabrics, as follows:

Component 1: Four Patchwork Fabrics

These are the fabrics that will make up most of the placemat tops and the edges of the napkins. To duplicate the look of my project, start with a single multicolored print and then choose three monochromatic (one color) print and/or solid fabrics that coordinate with it.

I started with the beautiful gray, orange, and white print. Then I added subtle prints in gray and orange, rounding out the selection with a gray solid.

Fabrics used:

Alternately, you can use your scraps for this part of the project. The cutting directions include a diagram with the dimensions of each piece you will need.

Component 2: Neutral Solid Fabric

Think of your neutral solid fabric as the walls of a room in which you’re going to hang your patchwork fabrics and choose a color accordingly. I used White Essex cotton/linen blend, which also adds a nice texture and a little bit of weight to the finished placemats and napkins.

Component 3: Bold Solid Fabric

If your neutral solid is the plain wall, your bold solid is the wild piece of furniture you put in the room to liven things up. This fabric will be used to add a pop of color the backs of the napkins and placemats, and for the binding on the placemats. I used Kona Paprika.

Other Things You Will Need:
For each placemat, you’ll need a 15” x 20” piece of low-loft cotton batting. I recommend Warm and White or Warm and Natural because they’re easy to work with and don’t shrink appreciably in the wash.

You’ll also need thread for piecing, topstitching, quilting, and binding. Use one or more different threads, depending on your preference. I used the same off-white cotton thread for piecing, topstitching, and quilting, but I used a matching thread to finish the paprika-colored binding.

Now let’s talk about prepping and cutting the fabric. I don’t usually prewash my fabric for quilting, but I think it’s a good idea for this project, primarily for the napkins. Have you ever bought napkins only to have the hems wrinkle up weirdly in the wash? That’s what we’re trying to avoid. Prewash your fabrics in cool to warm water using the same detergent and machine settings you’re likely to use for the finished project. You do not need to prewash your batting. Take your fabric out of the dryer when it’s still just a bit damp and press it thoroughly. Refold the fabric, matching the selvage edges (so it looks the way it did when it came off the bolt).

The PDF download for this week includes yardage requirements and rotary cutting directions. If you need more information about how to use rotary cutting tools, Pages 25 – 28 in my book The Practical Guide to Patchwork go over the basics. You can also reference this earlier tutorial that the lovely and talented Jacquie Gering wrote for Sew,Mama,Sew!

Don’t forget!: Post photos of your progress in the Color Blocks Placemats + Napkins Sew-Along Flickr group each week for a chance to win:

Really!– Add a photo of the fabric you’ve selected, the cuts you’ve made… We want to see it all!

Comment today for your chance to win a new sewing book! We’ll select two winners from the comments each week. This week YOU can win Everything Alice or Sewing with Oilcloth. For book details see this post, and don’t forget to add your progress photo to our Sew-Along Flickr Pools for more chances to WIN!