Wednesday, October 27, 2010


This week, instead of finishing aprons, I was momentarily sidetracked with making a candle mat.  The embroidery design is for an embroidery machine, but if you haven't got an embroidery machine and you like a bit of applique, this is a simple project you could recreate with a simple triangle shape and a suitable shape for the basket.    If you are using your machine for applique, and it has  a few fancy stitches, you could use these as the swags of tinsel on the tree.  (This design will be posted on Sewforum, shortly).

If you fancy making one of these,  the following are some of the measurements you will need to get started.    It is an idea -  run with it, make it as big or as small as you like, decorate as you wish.     I used some Swarovsky Crystals to finish off the tree baubles. 

For this size mat, you will need 55 cm or 22 inches of  112cm/42in of fabric.  Mine was plain white with self coloured stars.     Cut this in half  - one for the front and one piece for the back.  
Batting/Wadding  55cm/22inches  by  55cm/21inches.   You will also need scraps of fabric for the trees.

I used the front fabric and the wadding first, and quilted using stippling, to stabilise the fabric.  You could also use a grid type of  quilting or a few random lines running up and down and across -  maybe even some fancy stitches if you like.

This will be the base for the applique.

Now you have to draw up your star.    I drew up 5 stars on paper, and moved them around until I was happy with the arrangement (suitably star like).    I pasted them down on to a bigger piece of paper to make my pattern piece.   When pasted, I took a ruler and added a 1/4in seam line all the way around.    Cut the paper pattern out and pin to your fabric.    Now using a method you prefer, transfer the design to the pre-quilted fabric.  DO NOT CUT ANYTHING!

Here are the measurements of my triangle (before seam allowances).

If you are using the embroidery design, print out a template and use to position the Christmas Tree correctly.  I lined the tree base up with the bottom corners of each triangle.    You can of course, position them how you like.
There is a line included in the embroidery that I used to make small adjustments to placement.   I temporarily used the good ole glue stick to tack the paper in place and made adjustments on the machine until happy with the placement.   I let the machine sew a few stitches on this line, stopped it, moved it ahead a few and sewed out a couple more stitches - just to make sure it was all straight.   To remove the paper, just carefully clip the stitches between the paper and the fabric.  If you didn't go mad with the glue stick, it will pull off easily - I used the same template for all five trees.

When everything is in place, do your tack down row of stitching and prepare the fabric for applique - I used vlysofix on the back of my applique pieces.

Sew out all five trees.   The finished top should look like this.   If you want, you could also add something to the centre at this point, perhaps Merry Christmas or Seasons Greetings.
 Now that the front is finished, we have to prepare the backing fabric.    You may choose to do this in another fabric, entirely up to you.    With the right sides together, fold the backing fabric in half.   Now cut in half using scissors.    Sew a seam, joining the two pieces of fabric together leaving an opening in the centre.   This will be for turning.     Make sure you do secure the stitching at each side of the  gap.   Press the seam open.
Using the drawn line as your cutting guide, cut out the star shape now.

Lay the backing fabric, right side up, on to your work surface.    Place the star shape on this fabric - face down.  Try to avoid having the seam line  fall on the points or in the valley, (see the arrow) - make sure the gap you left is in the centre of the star.  Move the star shape until you are happy with the arrangement and then pin into position.  DO NOT CUT ANYTHING.

Using a 1/4 inch seam allowance, sew all the way around, joining the two pieces of fabric.  I find it best to start my seams halfway up (or down) a triangle, not in the corners or on a point.    Now you can cut the star shape out from the backing.    By doing this, you are not working with bias edges that will shift and loose their shape whilst you are working on them.     Trim the points and clip in the valleys ready for turning.
Using that gap you left in the two pieces of fabric, turn the star through, taking great care with the corners so you don't pierce the ends.    By having a seam in the middle of the backing and not on the edge, all your edges will keep straight, and it is then a simple matter of ladder stitching this seam closed.

Work the points and seams with your fingers and then give a good press from the back.   Once everything is in place, you can now top stitch around the edge of the star.
The best way to get a good stitch on the points is to run a thread through the end of each point before sewing.    As you reach the end of the point and turn (remember to use "Needle Down"), you can pull on the thread, to make these points move under the presser foot and not get caught by their bulk.
I had a go at doing a slide show, to show you the finished product.   Here goes nothing.....

And just to finish off for today, how about some sticky buns straight out of the oven.

Bye for now, Sue xxx

1 comment:

  1. Wow that is a stunning candle mat. Thanks for the tutorial, you have explained everything so well. Love the slide show, but for some reason now I am hungry!!!


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