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Portland, OR


Handmade quilts and home accessories by fiber artist Linda Nussbaum. See samples of past projects as well as pieces available for sale and inspirations for custom orders. To see what is currently available for sale, please visit my Etsy Shop.

Blogger Archive

Filtering by Category: placemats

recycle, reuse, repurpose

Linda Beth

Keeping in line with the theme of pulling old projects off the shelf of oblivion, I surprised even myself this afternoon! The earlier part of the day was spent crossing a couple of smaller items off my list, including getting those star blocks pieced together in a finished top:
which, to be fair, looks very much like the photo of the individual blocks displayed on the design wall, found in this post.

And then I took a lunch break, and maybe enjoyed an adult beverage, too;-) So, coming back to the studio I spent some time at the ironing board pressing new fabrics and regrouping. But I was not ready to dive in to one of these new projects just yet.

So, where does that leave us but finding a NOT-SO-NEW project! I don't know if any of you remember these?
a false start I had on that placemat commission that ended up looking like this. Though I had decided that this wasn't right for the client, I still like 'em, so I stowed them away for a bit.

One of the issues that had come up initially is that one of the placemats ended up short. And I didn't have enough of the focus fabric to scrap the large piece and cut a replacement. So, what does one do with 2 discarded placemats, one of which is too small to be useful as such? Why, cut them into a pair of pot holders, of course!!

As for quilting them, I went against the grain (no pun intended). For pot holders I generally use a simple, straight line quilting, because let's be realistic, no one cares how fancy the quilting is on the tool you're using to pull the casserole from the oven, right? But this fabric gets me every time! I was drawn in by the little vines and leaves on the print, and it evolved into an actual feather quilting motif! Who'da thunk it?

And can you believe this was my first foray into free-motion quilting on the Bernina?!? Though I prefer my trusty Viking in SO MANY WAYS, I do have to concede that this machine handled Beautifully with FMQ!! Not even any tension issues on the bobbin thread, which I find inconceivable! However, that said, these might not be so practical as pot holders any more! Just one of the sacrifices we'll make to push our creativity, I guess.

The blue placemats are mine no more!!

Linda Beth

remember these?

Well, it took me the better part of a year, but I managed to finally finish these guys up and send them off to the recipients. I don't think I could have moved forward into the next year if I had this project hanging over me, and I KNOW that my friend Erica is glad that I finally finished them.

So here are some of the final photos that I took of the whole set before sending them off.

backtracking... getting ready for Auburn

Linda Beth

Coming home from my Thanksgiving travels I went directly into making last-chance preparations for my first (what I thought would be a) craft bazaar as a vendor. My friend Saskia, who makes handmade soaps and lip balms under the name Base Natural, has been doing craft fairs and farmers markets for a few years now, but recently moved up to the Pacific Northwest from the Bay Area, so the possibility of attending one together is a newfound treat! Thanks to her diligent searches, we found a holiday bazaar at a HS in Auburn, WA where she works, scheduled for December 3rd.

I took at least 3 different place mat sets with me to St. Louis and Ft. Lauderdale to finish off bindings over the nearly 2 weeks away. So, the last additions to my inventory made it in just under the wire.

I also made sure to print up cards and labels for everything, of course:

and had heard that it is very important to test your table set-up before actually getting there. Not entirely sure of the table size I would have to work with, I did the best I could at my studio.

Now, I really should have taken a good look at these photos (and more I have not included) to realise that my set up was maybe a mite too busy. But these are lessons we learn one way or another. Too bad I had to travel 150 miles for one day of work to figure it out.

So I packed all these goodies in a suitcase and a couple of large totes and loaded my car for the ride up to Tacoma. The bazaar was not quite what I had expected, but still worthwhile for a first time experience. And great to do it with a good friend at the next table. Too bad I was mucho forgetful that weekend - first I left my camera in my overnight bag at Saskia's house, so couldn't take pictures of the table. I did eventually get to take a couple of photos later in the day using her boyfriends' camera, and I'll try to upload those when I get them. My sales were a little less than impressive - only a set of coasters to a walk-by customer (though Saskia's mom did purchase one of the place mat sets, and Saskia bought a couple pairs of pot holders)... I think less going on on the table will be better in the future - pick and choose which types of inventory I'll be showing at any one time. I'll play around.

SO, a first try is always a good step, and one I'm glad I've taken. By the time spring rolls around and more markets are looking for vendors, hopefully I'll have ironed out some of the newby issues and be ready to present myself the best I know I can.

Pot holder and place mats

Linda Beth

There is nothing like having a specific goal (read "deadline") to compel me to get s*** done.

I quilted and bound that pot holder for our PMQG / KCMQG swap...

(like those little martini glasses??)

And really, the theme of the week has been binding. I have 3 sets of place mats on which I have sewn bindings, one of which is the long-overdue commission, the other two are new additions to hopefully have a decent inventory when Saskia and I have our tables at a holiday bazaar next month. (more info to come soon...)

My thimble finger is about to get quite the workout!

Rose Festival place mats continued

Linda Beth

I managed to finish the first set of these place mats before leaving for our lovely trip to Hawaii last week, but did have to bust out the napkins the day after our return. However, got it all taken care of and dropped off at the Rose Festival Foundation offices on the LAST day for accepting auction donations for their upcoming auction.

Keep your eyes peeled for the converse set of these guys!

update on the crazy

Linda Beth

Got the place mats sewn up (at least 6 of them, that is).

I do like using that quilt-as-you-go technique for these reversible guys... makes things go so much faster. And keeps it interesting!
(both sides of one mat)

The next few days are dedicated to binding. Whew!

I'm either crazy or stupid

Linda Beth

About 2 weeks ago a good friend of mine contacted me to ask if I would be interested in donating a set of place mats to the Rose Festival Auction happening in October. The Rose Festival is one of Portland's major annual events, with a year of fundraising and organization, and about 2 months of various attractions, events and festivities culminating in a fair, festival, parades and a crowning princess.

I have a few sets of place mats already made, and I just figured that I would use one of those, but by the time I got the donation form a few days ago, I still hadn't decided on a set to use. That says to me I wasn't prepared to fall back on ANY of the ones I already have in stock. Dagnabit! Oh, and I have to have them done in less than a week!

Soooo, I sat up for over an hour in the middle of the night on Thursday with fabric combinations and selections swimming in my head, trying to figure out HOW I would get all of this done. I already had in my possession a good amount of a Valori Wells print from her new line, Wrenly

And my solution: pick up some of the green color way in the same print, find coordinates for both, and go to it! So, after over-sleeping (due to my 3-4:30am interlude) I grabbed some coffee on the go and headed down to visit Marie at good ol' Cool Cottons. And boy-howdy, she worked her magic, put my fears at ease and helped me get psyched for this unapproachable prospect.

I started by pulling together close to 8 prints for each side (color combo):

These selections eventually got edited down to 6 fabrics per side:

One of the things that Marie and I had discussed was bringing in a grey fabric with the greens, but it had to be just the right grey... and I got back to my studio, auditioned just about every grey-green, green-grey, green-aqua, grey-white (you get the picture) I found on the shelf, but then there was the hidden gem of what remains of my Jay McCarroll Woodland Wonderland squares. And it must have been meant to be, because once I cut what I needed for the project, I was left with this:

Friday afternoon was dedicated to the laundering of the new fabric, planning and cutting. I got far enough to lay out 1 set of six reversible mats, which will be sewn to the batting tomorrow.

Yes, it WILL get done. And binding on Monday is the plan.

Lots of Little Pebbles

Linda Beth

So, the saga of the blue place mats continues, though it's coming together with positive results. As you all may recall, once I finally came up with a solution for the piecework, after quite a journey, the next step was to figure out how I would quilt these guys. I drew a few sketches in my notebook, and decided to try slightly wonky, echoed circles mimicking the print on the border, but at a much larger scale.
Not only did I have trouble doing freehand circles at that scale (especially working at my machine on my dining table, so I only had the throat of the machine as a working surface), but I felt that the motif felt a little too juvenile for the design of the place mats at this stage. Back to the drawing board (quite literally). I still liked the idea of circles, and decided to try my hand at pebble quilting. And how effective it is!!
However, it is also extremely intense on both one's concentration and the muscles from the neck, shoulders and down to the fingers. I find I need to take a break just about every 15 minutes or so, otherwise I start getting sloppy, and it shows! This also requires a LOT of thread! I love how the variegated thread looks with these place mats - I went with Sulky Blendables and am very happy with the outcome. However, these come in 500m spools, and I am about to start on my 3rd spool after quilting just 5 of the 8 mats. Each one is using up about 3 bobbins! I've quilted whole crib quilts with under 2 bobbins' worth of thread!! But darn it, it's going to be worth it when they're done, right??

The saga of the blue place mats

Linda Beth

Many, many months ago a friend contacted me about making some placemats for her to give as a host(ess) gift to her brother and his partner. She did not specify a "need-by" date, which unfortunately for me means that it ends up getting pushed from the forefront of my project list more often than not. What she DID give me is a link to photographs of their kitchen and home, which had been published in a major design publication! (I probably shouldn't divulge until the set is actually finished, out of my hands and hopefully in the home of the intended recipients). Trying to work from these photos had slightly contradictory results for me: 1.) There was the added impetus to get going and whip up something fabulous to compliment this already beautiful space,
2.) But with that added pressure (totally self-inflicted, mind you) I would start going in one direction, then deem it unworthy and start over again. This happened at least 4 times.

Too dark, not to mention a bit too conservative and "strict".

A design I was very interested in, but had trouble feeling that it was coming together cohesively, so I abandoned it (for the time being).

After beginning to work with more solids, I started pulling these various blues to compliment the photos of the kitchen I saw... My next attempt was WAY beyond my skill level... a 1-patch herringbone design to mimic the brickwork in their kitchen, but my Y-seams were AWFUL! I couldn't even finish 2 mats, much less all 8!

But, I now have 8 pieced tops for placemats (and 2-3 possibilities for backings) that I am happy with, and would be almost proud to submit for this project.

Next step is to figure out how I am going to quilt these puppies! I am hoping the folks in the Flickr group How Should I Quilt This?come up with some better suggestions than I've had run through my mind!

Right now I'm leaning toward either a loose cross-hatching (more random than measured) or just going with vertical lines at various increments. Regardless of what I choose, I am imposing a deadline... Erica is due to visit Portland at the beginning of September, and I plan to have them finished enough to show her (binding may or may not be complete) in person before sending them off. She's been too lenient on me!

Thursday is swap day

Linda Beth

Last week I came to the realization that I need more structure. Part of that process will be assigning different general projects to different days of the week. For instance, Tuesday is now a "merchandise" day, for making (primarily) place mats and pot holders:

My new schedule allots Thursdays to working on bee and swap projects. Last week I worked on blocks for the do.Good Stitches bee on Flickr. Megan, a.k.a. Canoe Ridge Creations, posted a tutorial on her blog for a simple as pie bow tie block.

She showed us an array of clear, saturated, rainbowy fabrics as inspiration for the palette... which seems to be a trend right now. Not an unwelcome one, I must say.

In addition to the bow tie blocks, I dedicated quite a bit of time to cutting squares for the Warm Cool Quilt Along hosted by Jeni at In Color Order. I shared a little more about this process in my previous post, found here.

This week, however, I moved on to working on 2 other projects, one of which I thought the deadline had passed me by. The Portland Modern Quilt Guild is putting together a banner to represent the group at the annual Sisters' Outdoor Quilt Show in Sisters, OR, along with a selection of member quilts which will be on display at the show this year (the second Saturday of July, for those who are interested!!). Admittedly, I did not get the memo in time to submit (have I mentioned that I am terrible at keeping up with my blog list and online newsletters??) so I do not have a quilt in the show, but several of my Portland colleagues will, along with hundreds of other Oregon quilters! However, I did get a chance to do a block to be added to the banner for the guild, which I dropped off at this evening's meeting.

I kept going back and forth about what design I would want to use to sum up my quilting style in one 6" block, sketching ideas, but came up with this simply by revisiting my own Flickr photostream. I originally did a quilt from one of Judy Hopkins' books (whose name escapes me right now, I have to admit) several years ago as a wedding gift for some friends.

A perfect way to combine string piecing and working with an awesome modern focus fabric (and this piece of Heather Bailey's Freshcut I have Jenn, Sunnyauh to thank for!!)

But the bulk of the day was dedicated to working on Cruz's blocks for the Seams Perfect Scrap Bee on Flickr. She pointed us toward this tutorial from Freshly Pieced.

I LOVED working on these blocks, though was thrown off by how long it took to actually select each round of 3 fabrics! And I do have to say that it was a challenge to keep my hexagon blocks even as I went around, as can be seen by the wonky angle of a couple of the strips, but hopefully it won't make too much of a difference. Next month is my month to host that bee, and I still have to get my sample blocks and templates together before the end of June, as I think I will have to send out bits for paper piecing... more to come on that one later. All in all, I think this will be a good schedule to keep to, assuming I am able to keep to it!

get to business!

Linda Beth

A couple of months ago a friend of mine approached me about making a set of place mats for her to give as a gift to her brother and his partner. Knowing a little bit about the couple for whom they are intended, my self-editing, over-analyzing side went into overdrive. I started one project

and then another

but neither quite worked for me. At least not after studying the photos of their home that were published in an issue of House Beautiful Magazine.

So, I went back to the drawing board, quite literally, and worked on a design that found a happy medium between those two false starts, and had already settled on the one focus fabric, but decided to use only solids to compliment it, and create the full design.

I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I finally think I'm on the right track. Gonna try to get further along with these before setting anything in stone (or even posting new pics to my friend), but hope to have more to share in a couple of weeks.

continuing the place mat process

Linda Beth

After spending the better part of an afternoon prepping the raw materials for more place mat sets, I've got about 2 afternoons under my belt at my sewing machine piecing them together (and still one more set to go, plus bindings on all). I do like that Quilt-as-you-Go method, though!

I've decided to upload some process photos, and leave the explanations to a minimum. If you're curious about my QAYG technique, I did a detailed post/tutorial back in February, which you can find here. The sets I am working on currently follow the same basic method, and only differ in combination and placement of fabrics (oh, and in overall number).
(I've already got a larger strip on the "back" side of the batting piece, waiting to be stitched down

pinned in place

front to back

chain stitching a QAYG

the first row on all 8 mats in the set

pressing open

Getting a glimpse of both sides, and see where the joining stitch on one side provides a quilting line on the opposite side. And now my raw edges are lined up, ready to add strips to both sides simultaneously for the next step.

placing a strip face down on each side of the mat, to be stitched down simultaneously.

And so on, and so forth.

Some pics of the *mostly* finished products... bindings yet to come.

Working with formulas

Linda Beth

I'm trying to ramp up my actual production of "stuff," especially after having gone to Portland's Crafty Wonderland fair at the Oregon Convention Center last weekend. It was a great gathering of crafts, and for the most part a good balance of items (though a bit heavy on the jewelry and screen/press printing, but that can't be bad). So, between that excursion and an exchange of emails with my dear friend from BaseNatural (homemade soaps, lip balm, etc.), I've been able to see goals a little more tangibly.

So, I worked out a new formula for more Quilt-as-you-go place mats...

... and started gathering fabrics...

... and cutting strips.

And more strips, for more sets.

And then I cut the batting...

... with the left-overs being the perfect size for future pot holders!

QAYG reversible placemat tutorial

Linda Beth

I am not sure when I first began making these placemats, but I seem to have found a general layout that appeals to me and comes together rather quickly and effectively with all sorts of different fabric choices. Thought I might share one of the methods I use to make a fun set of Quilt-as-you-go reversible mats.

Total yardage requirements are for a set of 6 placemats, each approx. 13" x 18" finished.

Yardage requirements:
*A - 1/4 (3/8)
B - 1/3 (3/8)
C - 1/4 (3/8)
*D - 1/2 (3/4)
E - 3/4
F - 3/8
Binding - 2/3 yd
* if you use the same fabric for A & D, you will need 3/4 yd total
(yardages in parentheses are for directional fabrics)
You will also need 6 pieces of batting, approximately 14” x 19”, preferably with no polyester content, as you will be ironing over the batting as well.
Thread to match (or artfully contrast) your fabrics.

We'll start by getting all of your fabric pieces cut first. This is generally pretty straight forward, but be aware of any directional fabrics and be sure it is running the direction you would like in that position and where applicable, adjust the cutting instructions to make the 13 1/2” strip first and then subcut by the appropriate widths for that piece.

**Fabric A: Cut 2 strips 4 1/2” x WOF
sub-cut at 13 1/2” for a total of 6 rectangles 4 1/2” x 13 1/2”
Fabric B: Cut 4 strips 2 1/2” x WOF
sub-cut at 13 1/2” for a total of 12 rectangles 2 1/2” x 13 1/2”
Fabric C: Cut 2 strips 2 1/2” x WOF
sub-cut at 13 1/2” for a total of 6 rectangles 2 1/2” x 13 1/2”
**Fabric D: Cut 2 strips 8 1/2” x WOF
sub cut at 13 1/2” for a total of 6 rectangles 8 1/2” x 13 1/2”
Fabric E: Cut 2 strips 13 1/2” x WOF
from each strip cut (3) 4 1/2” x 13 1/2” rectangles and (3) 8 1/2” x 13 1/2” rectangles
Fabric F: From the 3/8 yd, cut 6 rectangles 6 1/2” x 13 1/2”
** In this set I've pictured, I DID choose to use the same fabric for A and D, so instead I cut (2) strips at 13 1/2" and from each strip sub-cut (3) 4 1/2" and (3) 8 1/2" for a total of 6 rectangles of each size.

Start with one of the pieces of batting, take a rectangle A and one of the 4 1/2” wide rectangles E. Layer them on either side of the batting, front of fabric facing out and lining up the edges as best you can.

Have the batting so that fabric E is showing. Take a rectangle F and place it face down, lining up the raw edges on the right side. Pin in place.

Next, turn over the batting, and place a rectangle B face down on A, again lining up the raw edges on the right. Reset your pins to go through all layers.

Carefully stitch with your walking foot, 1/4” from the matching raw edges of the fabrics on top. At this point it is good to check to see if your seam allowance on the back side is approximately 1/4”. Don’t worry if it’s a little bit off, that’s to be expected, just be sure there isn’t too much of a difference.
Take out the pins and press each side open. Try to get your rectangle F to lie flat against the batting, then flip over to work on the other side.

Next, take a rectangle C and place it face down on B, again lining up the right-hand raw edges. Pin in place. Stitch as before, take out pins and press open. Repeat with another rectangle B.

You will notice that on the "back" side of your mat (piece F) the seams from the piecing you have been doing are coming through as quilting stitches, securing the batting and fabrics thus far...

At this point the raw edges of your second strip B and of fabric F on the opposite side should line up. Take a rectangle D and place it face down on the same side you’ve been working from. Pin in place, then turn your project over and place an 8 1/2” wide rectangle E face down over F. Reset pins to go through all layers, stitch and press open.

Voila! I do recommend adding a little more quilting in some of the larger sections without stitching. I will often add just a couple more lines across, either parallel to or perpendicular to the stitching already in place, but you are certainly free to quilt however you like (be it meandering, pictorial, zigzags, echo, etc.)

Repeat for all 6 mats. Square up mats to approx. 13 1/2” x 18 1/2” and bind as you would a small quilt.