Today I’m revisiting one of my quilt block tutorials to give it a festive tweak (and use it to sew Christmas placemats).
This block is made from my Alex Quilt Block tutorial, which can be made in either two or three colours (plus background fabric). It’s also a perfect quilt block pattern to use with scraps.
Turn Alex into a Christmas Quilt Block
The colours you use for your festive decor are of course a personal choice. You can go modern or traditional, bold or pastel, patterned or solid. So many options – it’s a great time to be alive!
For me, I tend to sway towards green and red, always with accents of silver. As I have a healthy stash (ahem) I had no trouble locating many fabrics suitable for a Christmas theme.
My one big tip here is to make sure you use non-directional fabrics – especially for the background. Save yourself the stress of trying to figure out how to sew each piece to make sure it’s the right way up!
Choose Your Colour Scheme
This is always the hardest part for me – there are so many ways you can style this quilt block.
Firstly, I knew that I wanted a colourful background, rather than white or a neutral.
Red was a great option and I had plenty of this solid fabric in my stash. Teamed with silver and white it could be made either of these ways:
I toyed with the idea of also adding some green. Here are some possible variations:
And there are more than these options, but I felt that I wanted to stick with the ‘just red’ theme for my first block.
I decided to sew my block with a white solid and some spotted grey fabric.
I think it looks really cute. If you look closely you’ll see the spots are actually directional, so I had to take my time with cutting them. (Even if they hadn’t all been in the same direction I don’t think it would’ve been very noticeable.)
Next up I chose a non-directional, green print fabric from stash. Again, teaming with white and silver gave me two options:
And if I’d added red back into the mix I could have made any of these:
But I stuck with the 3 colours and sewed up this quilt block:
Turn the quilt block into a Quilted Christmas Placemat
There are so many things you could do with these blocks! Make some pot holders, a quilt, a wall hanging or a cushion cover. I decided to try my hand at making a placemat from the block.
The standard size for placemats is 12″ x 18″. This block is 12½” square unfinished, which is perfect for placemat sizing. All it needs is a bit more on the sides.
At first I wasn’t sure if I wanted my block centred or offset.
I’m very fond of setting things at the one-third mark, especially in photographs.
But when I did a mock-up of that setting it didn’t seem terribly practical. It worked nicely when the placemat was uncovered, but when a plate partially covered the design it looked a little odd.
I preferred putting the design smack-bang in the centre. Once a plate is put down it covers the design completely, leaving only background fabric exposed.
To make this centred design, I used two pieces of background fabric 3½” x 12½”.
If you prefer the offset design, just add a single piece of background fabric 6½” x 12½”.
Create Your Christmas Placemats
Once you’ve sewn your additional background pieces to the Alex block you’re ready to quilt the placemat.
You can complete your placemat the same way you would a mini quilt- just baste, quilt and bind. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough background fabric left over to make a binding (and I didn’t want to use a different fabric). For this reason I decided to finish the placemat without binding (commonly referred to as the pillow slip method).
I basted the placemat top to my batting and quilted. Thicker batting works well here, so if you have it, use it.
I chose matchstick-style quilting as I wanted it to give the placemat a bit of body.
Once completed I trimmed the quilted placemat to 12″ x 18″ and cut a piece of backing fabric the same size.
Put the backing and placemat top right sides together and pin around all the edges. I like to put a small pencil mark to remind me where to leave a gap in the stitching for turning the piece right way out.
Sew almost all the way around the perimeter of the quilt sandwich with a quarter inch seam, leaving the gap unstitched.
Clip the corners to reduce bulk (be careful not to cut any of your perimeter stitching).
Turn the placemat right sides out through the gap in the stitching. Take time to push the corners out properly (a wooden skewer or similar pointed tool might be helpful here).
Press the placemat to set the seam around the perimeter and to fold the edges of the gap inwards a quarter inch. Top stitch all the way around the perimeter (an eighth of an inch from the edge) – this will also stitch closed the turning gap.
If you like you can do some more quilting through all three layers, although it’s not necessary. Try to quilt from one edge to the other and pivot along the top stitching so you don’t have to bury many thread ends.
The next step is to sew more Christmas placemats! The number depends on how many people you’ve invited to dinner. If you only want to sew one then use it as a festive table runner instead.
Or the version of this Star quilt block that finishes at 12″:
Plenty of options to choose from – I hope one of them proves useful for your holiday themed decorating.
All the best and happy holidays!