By: Julian Collins
As we head into a holiday season that looks a bit different, I knew bright bold colors were just what the doctor ordered to put a small on my face and fill my heart with cheer. One of my favorite fabrics to work with is Ankara otherwise called African wax print.
Here's what you'll need
- African Wax print fabric (I had 6 yards but used about 4 yards)
- Kona Cotton 2.5-inch precut strips (jellyroll)
- Low loft batting
- Coordinating thread
- Scissors or rotary cutter
- Sewing machine and a size. 80 needle
Choosing the right fabric
Usually the first thing I look for when searching fabric is for African wax prints because they usually come in six-yard cuts and they're always filled with so much color and pattern. Once I saw this pattern filled with stars of teal purple and tan I knew that would put a big smile on my face! I knew I wanted to bring out a color in the print and this Kona cotton 2.5 inch strip precut roll was just the ticket with a thing of Fairfield Poly-Fil Project Fleece low loft batting I was ready for a fun freestyle project that would bring life to my dining room.
If you are after another color scheme for your table another great option is Supreme African Ankara Wax Print Fancy Gears Green/Pink. The pink and green gears really pop with black Kona cotton precut strips.
Let's get started!
Marking & Cutting
The great part of this project is that it is pretty freeform and a fun entry into quilting. I knew I wanted my finished placemats to be about 14 by 19 inches, so I cut my backing fabric around 14 ½ by 19 ½ and the batting to be around 17x 21. For my coordinating runner I decided I wanted a finished size of 15”x 60” so I cut my backing fabric to be around 17”X 63” and my batting to be 19”x by 66”.
To go along with the precut strips, I took two yards of the wax print and cut it into 3 inch strips the full width of the fabric but you could cut them larger or smaller depending on the look you are after. Some of the strips I took and cut them in half as I was making the items as I wanted to add a bit more interest with smaller stripes.
Sewing the Seams
I basted the backing and batting together with a ¼ inch seam allowance using a large stitch length on my machine. I placed my first strip making sure it covered the basting of the backing and batting. I then placed the next strip down over top right sides together and sewed them down with a scant 1/4-inch seam allowance. While using a quarter inch seam allowance through most of the project sometimes I went up to 3/8 or ½ inch depending on the strip I was sewing down and the look I was after.
Putting it Together
The great thing about this project is the strips don't have to be straight and perfect. I placed them at different angles and even cut some in half to create unique patterns in each placemat. Between each strip I finger pressed the seams all in one direction and because of the opacity of my fabric I didn’t have to do any trimming. I chose to place the strips horizontally, but you can choose to have the strips vertically or even diagonally. From the strips I cut I was able not only to get the placemats I also created a table runner that was about 15x60. For the binding is used the remaining strips of the teal precut and viola I have a table runner and place mats.
Still having some left I wanted to create coordinating napkin/utensil holders to place on top of my dinnerware. Using the remaining strips, I made strip units that were at least 15 inches wide. I then cut them into 12-inch sections, so each rectangle was 12x15. I then folded them right sides together and sewed up the 3 sides with a ¼ inch seam allowance leaving room to pull them through. Once turned right side out I stitched around the whole perimeter and then took one edge and folded it up about 2.5 inches and top stitched it down in order to create the pocket for the silverware.
This set was just the bit of color to put a small on my face! With some white dinnerware this really made my table pop. It is also very versatile; I can see myself using the placemats or the runner on their own throughout the entire year to keep my dining room bright and cheerful.