Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Sneaky Sewing

Several weeks ago I went fabric shopping.  I had no Halloween décor for my home, so I enlisted my  friend and former coworker Amy, a huge Halloween fan, to help choose fabric for placemats to address that lack.

fabric:  orange, black with orange and cream Halloween text, cream with black spiders, black with tiny orange stars

Those spiders are a stretch for me.  Not a spider fan over here, despite knowing that they help control pests.  The color, scale and theme were right though, so I went with it.

Halloween patchwork using black, cream and orange prints
Halloween Fresh Wrapped placemats in progress

I chose to use my Fresh Wrapped pattern. There wasn't much cutting to do, as these are strip pieced, so the cutting and piecing were easily finished in one evening.  I then pondered what to quilt, and decided quilting in the ditch would be just fine.  The fabrics are the stars of the show in these, and since I was using Thermore for the batting,  I didn't need to quilt more densely than that.  Thermore is ideal for runners and placemats, as it has just enough loft to still show a bit of texture from quilting, but not so much loft that the surface is uneven and results in tipped beverage glasses. It also doesn't shrink, so paired with pre-washed fabric it results in a placemat that won't get too wonky after washing.

placemat sporting multiple binding clips, with a sewing machine
Binding Fresh Wrapped placemats

I think the binding took longer that the quilting.  Placemats are small, so it's easy to forget how much binding a table set needs.  This set has about 360".  That's 10 yards!  If you're wondering why I use so many clips, you can read all about it and the rest of my binding method here.  I've tried school glue instead of all those clips, but clearly I need to go back to kindergarten because I made a mess with the glue.  I'll stick with clips. 

Binding is rather boring, right up until it's finished.  When it's finished, I marvel at what difference the binding makes.

Fall flowers and mini pumpkins on a set of placemats and runner
Halloween version of Fresh Wrapped, by Canuck Quilter Designs

By now, I'm sure you're wondering why I titled this post "Sneaky Sewing".  Remember Amy, the Halloween fan?  Her local wedding reception was on Saturday, and this was her wedding gift.  Yup, I had her pick out her own gift without telling her that's what she was doing.  I sewed it in plain sight on Instagram and Facebook, too!

What is the sneakiest sewing you have ever done?


  1. Sneaky! I don't know that I've ever been that tricky, so maybe I need to try? I used your binding tutorial earlier this week for some Quilts for Kids bindings that required machine sewing. After yours, I wandered out for videos, but ended up deciding yours was better than the others (I could easily skip the parts I already knew) and more in line with the way I had learned it a long time ago. But the pressing - just like you, I wondered why I hadn't learned that sooner. (I'd heard of it between my last attempt and this one, but hadn't used it for machine binding, just skinny hand binding.) Truly a game changer. And I only put Wonder clips on about every 3 or 4 inches! (Pins in the corners, though, to keep those tidy and just so.) Thanks for the effort to write it all up! And I love the placemats, spiders and all!

  2. Very fun placemats, and I got a kick out of how you had your friend chose her own gift.
    My sneakiest sewing was one year when I made tied TATW quilts for each of my 4 children, my in-laws, and my brother-in-law and his wife. It wasn't hard to do the in-law quilts, but the ones for my kids were harder. I could only work while they were at school. I didn't have a sewing room at the time, so I couldn't just lock the door. I didn't even have a dining table. I had to set up a table in the living room and sew like a mad woman while they were gone. Then I had to clean it all up before they got home and make it look like I had been doing other things all day. My Mom came and helped on the days I tied them. She would come as soon as the kids were on the bus. We would get a quilt tied and everything put away before anyone came home, and do it all again when I had the next quilt finished. I didn't start them all until late in the fall. It was an exhausting holiday.

  3. Cute! I bet Amy got a good laugh when she saw them! I have done my binding like that for years, I thought every one did, LOL

  4. What a great friend you are. The set will be loved, I am sure.

  5. Sneaky indeed! What a marvelous finish. I'm sure they will be much appreciated. I need more Wonder clips!

  6. I love sneakiness like that! They're fun placemats, too.

  7. That is very sneaky but what a lovely gift!

  8. That was a nice sneaky sewing surprise. They look terrific!

  9. When I was doing the embroidery on the "Vintage Tin" quilt that I made for DH, I did the hand embroidery every morning since I get up early and he doesn't. Even when we were on a trip and I was embroidering in the motel room where he was sleeping, he never had a clue until I gave him the quilt for his birthday. It took me about a year to do all the embroidery for it.


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