Christmas Mats


2 fat quarters of Christmas fabrics.
1/2 yard of background fabric.
1 fat quarter of gold or silver fabric.

Wadding either insul bright* or normal wadding.
Backing fabric to back the mats and bind them.

100% cotton thread in a toning colour

If you want to make either a runner, set of mats or wall hanging buy 1/2 yd or metre of two fabrics and  3/4 yard or metre of back ground fabric. A fat quarter of the gold or silver fabric will be plenty, you only use a small amount for each mat. If your gold or silver fabric is stretchy use a light weight iron on stabilizer on the back to prevent the fabric stretching as you sew.

*Insul bright is a heat resistant fabric. It has a dull and a shiny side. If you want mats or a runner for hot dishes make sure that the insul bright is shiny side to the top of the mat. This means that the heat is reflected back into the dish and not down onto the table.

Remember accuracy is the key word, measure twice cut once, if you are not accurate with the seams over a quilt it can throw it out by many inches. If you are using your ordinary presser foot and not a 1/4" foot sew a line of stitching on a scrap piece of fabric, running the outside edge of the pressure foot down the edge of the fabric, then measure the distance from the stitching to the edge, it should be exactly 1/4" if it is not and you have the ability to move the needle across, sew another line with the needle in a slightly different position and measure again. Some machines have a dedicated 1/4" stitch on them, always use that if you have it. Most machine manufacturers make a 1/4" foot for their machines, it comes as standard with dedicated quilting machines.

Time to begin..................

Pick your fabrics, you need four.

Check that the edges are level, if not line the fabric up on your board with the uneven edge to the left, check all layers and trim with a rotary cutter so all the edges are even.

Cut a 2 1/2" strip from each of the fabrics

This is the gold fabric I use, its on a jersey backing so very stretchy which can ruin your block, so I iron a light weight fusible vilene on to the back to prevent it from stretching. It also sticks to your iron if you iron the right side, so I use an old cotton tea towel as a pressing cloth.

Your 4 x 2 1/2 inch strips

For the centre you need to make a four patch block so from your christmas fabric cut 4 x 2 1/2" squares and sew them together as in the picture making sure you have the  patches opposite not side by side and then sew them together, this forms your four patch part of the block.

Also cut 4 - 2 1/2 by 4 1/2" strips from your back ground fabric and 4 - 2 1/2" squares. 

Take two of you 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 strips and place them either side of your four patch. match a 2 1/2 " square with the same square in the four patch, place it face down and draw a line from the outside corner to the middle right through the corners, sew down the line and fold back the front to match the corner.

This is how it should look when you have turned it back.

Flip the front bit back and cut off the excess fabric from the back leaving a quarter of and inch of fabric

Follow the same method to attach a gold square to the opposite side so it forms a flying goose, make sure you put the gold piece on after the first pattened piece. Press from the back so you end up with a triangle then turn the block over and press from the front, make sure you do not have any little pleats in the fabric where it joins. If you use a gold fabric like mine, you will have to use a pressing cloth, an old  cotton tea towel will do, slightly pull the fabric as you press to make sure the block irons flat.

Now you need to sew the flying goose piece to the four patch. On the triangle at the back of the fabric there is a cross, push a pin into the centre of the cross and line the pin up with the  centre seam of the patch. You need to pin this so the centre of the flying goose is matched with the seam of the four patch, pin the sides and sew. You need to sew right through the centre of the cross  as you approach the pin ease it gently out so you go through the centre of the cross with the stitching.

When you have sewn the two sides on your block should look like the photo.

This is how to trim the triangle use your ruler, put the 1/4" line on the sewn line and rotary cut at the edge of the ruler.

Make the second two flying geese the same as the first two, but this time sew two background squares on each end and then

Sew the pieces on matching the seams.

This is how the block should look. it should measure 8 1/2 x 8 1/2.
A square up ruler has a line across from the top right to the bottom left, the line should go straight through the centre of the 4 patch block, if necessary you can trim the block, but you need to make sure you have 1/4" at the top of the points.

To put a border on measure through the centre from top to bottom and cut two side pieces 2 1/2" wide by the length, sew them on making sure you do not loose the points on your stars. then measure the block again across from side to side, cut 2 more 2 1/2" pieces by this measurement and sew them on, press well. You may find that your block is slightly out of true, you may be able to correct this by slightly pulling on the fabric.

To make table mats add another piece on either side, layer up and quilt. I use a 2 1/4 inch strips to bind the mats.

For a wall hanging or table runner make 3 blocks and join together with a sashing strip between each block, then put you borders on, layer up and quilt, cut your binding and attach. To make a wall hanging make a hanging sleeve and sew to the top.

I have put a narrow border all round the block and then sewn 2 1/2" strips to either side.

This is a wall hanging or table runner made from a block called the three dudes block, its an interesting block to make, I will do a tutorial for this in a couple of weeks. It does not have to be made in Christmas fabric, its up to you. The original block was made using 2 1/2" jelly roll strips.

table runner made from 3 star blocks and corner stones

Table mats, these went to the USA.

Table centres.

Binding your mat, table runner, wall hanging.

There are several ways of putting the binding on. I like to stitch mine on small items before trimming the wadding and backing off.

Cut your wadding a good inch wider all round than the mat.

Do the same with the backing. I used plain calico, I use spray glue to hold the fabric together whilst I do the quilting. I quilted across from corner to corner and then all round the inside edge of the narrow border. You can use safety pins or baste the layers of your mat together so they do not slip whilst you are quilting. If you are using a plain backing match your thread to the backing. I suggest you sew a test piece you may need to adjust your needle tension so the thread does not show the top thread on the back.  Leave long ends when you start and finish the machine quilting. Once you have bound your mat use a needle, thread it with the thread and go into where you started stitching thread the needle into the wadding and bring the needle about 2 - 3 inches away, pull the thread through and trim off. Do this with all the loose threads.

Once you have quilted your mat, measure across, in this case mine was 14".

Measure the sides, mine was 10" add the two together, times by two and add 4 inches for turning the corners, and allow a bit more for joining the ends. I use the same method as for joining the strips, it makes it difficult to see where the binding starts and finishes.

I tend to use a slightly narrower strip in this case 2 1/4 inches wide.

You will need to join two pieces together to make enough binding to go round your mat. Take one piece and measure 2 1/4" down the side, make a small mark and draw a line from the corner to this point.

Place the two pieces face together with the drawn line going from the top of your binding to the opposite bottom corner, pin so it does not move and sew on the drawn line. Turn the top piece back and make sure the fabric lines up all the way across.

The line sewn from corner to corner. press.

Put the 1/4" line on your ruler on the sewn line, with the point of the fabric sticking out and using your rotary cutter cut the triangle off.

Open the seam and press flat, this means that you do not have several layers of fabric meeting at the same place, which can cause problems when you are sewing the binding on.

At this point take your strip and do a quick round to make sure that the join in the fabric does not come on a corner, you may have to jiggle your fabric round to make sure this does not happen.

Fold your strip in half, starting just past the middle towards the left, lay the binding cut edged to the top of your mat, use your ruler to mark 1/4" from the edge of the mat and mark, 

I put a pin in to hold it. Adjust your stitch length a little and starting about an inch back from the mark, sew to the mark, do a couple of back stitches and cut the thread.

Fold the fabric and using your nail finger press a piece about three inches along.

Take the strip in your right hand fold the strip back on its self making sure it lines up with the side of the mat.

Fold the strip down making sure that the top fold is square and level with the top of the binding you have already sewn, take a pin and pin through all the layers.

Starting just off the strip sew down and continue to the next corner have marked your stopping place as before.

When you get to the last side turn the corner as before but only sew until you have secured the corner, do a couple of back stitches and cut your thread.

The next bit is a bit complicated, a couple of spring pegs can be useful at this point. Turn the right hand tail that you left at the beginning 2 1/4" back on its self, and press. Take the left hand piece to it and fold it back and press.

On the right hand piece mark 2 1/4" down on the right hand side and draw a line from the corner to this mark as you did before. There should be a crease on the left hand piece. put the right hand piece right side down with the crease on the left hand piece, which has the right side facing up. Pin at this point, a couple of spring pegs are useful, you are working in a small area fold your mat so you are able to lay the strips flat, pin the pieces either side of the line.

Open out the strips and make sure it fits with the mat laying flat, then sew down the line as before, cut the long tail off, then trim the join to 1/4 inch, press open.

Pin the strip down, start sewing a few stitches back from where you stopped, sew three or four stitches past where you started to sew the binding on, back stitch........ thats your binding stitched on. Now you need to trim the mat.

You need to trim the excess backing and batting off, use your ruler, lay it acroos the long side of the mat, make sure you are clear of the fold on the right hand side, trim with your rotary cutter, repeat until you have removed all the excess fobric.

Take your iron and carefully press the binding towards the back. poke the point of the iron into the corners,

At this point I use a glue pen, run the pen long the back of the mat and fold the binding down. when you come to the corners press the right hand piece down so it forms a right angle triangle, then fold the left hand piece down so you form a mitre, I do use a clip on the corners to hold them down. You can pin the binding down, I do however suggest you get some of the new clover clips, they are small and very easy to use.

This is what your mitred corner on the back should look like, you  may have to just trim a bit away from the inside to get the fold to lie straight.

The mat ready to be finished. I prefer to hand stitch mine down, I have machined them in the past, but I do not really like the look of it.

I will post how to put three mats together as a runner or wall hanging later when I have one ready to put together.

I would love to see your mats when you have finished them.

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