Sunday, March 22, 2009

Playing with Placemats - Part 1

I have used cloth placemats and napkins on my table since I had my own table. I like the utilitarian nature of them and the fact that they don't come apart in your hands. I never understood why you would purchase, let alone use, placemats and napkins that were so fancy they had to be dry cleaned. Although lovely to look at, I never purchased them UNTIL I saw an article in Threads magazine on making purses from them.

Now I look for the dry clean only ones for neat little purses.
Here are several I have made over the years. The black tasselled one is from a placemat from Pier 1 that I use when I go someplace a little fancy. The tassel and button are non-functional and there is a hidden snap to keep it closed. The bright lime green one in based on a placemat from Kohl's and I use it when I go to the communty pool. There is no closure as the rather stiff interfacing keeps this one closed enough for me. The gold one I made the other night from a Crate & Barrell outlet placemat that I thought was pretty. The buttons are non-functional and it stays closed with a ittle bit of velcro.
The construction is very simple -
  • fold the placemat in half lengthwise
  • sew the long sides together
  • fold the open ends over each other as you wish with one end making pockets and the other a flap
  • sew both sides of the pocket part of the purse together...encasing your strap (if you will have one) in the side seams
  • add embellishments or a closure as desired.

There are two pockets under the flap and the flap has an opening to a more secure storage pocket. Wouldn't one of these look great for carrying key cards at work or your ID at a conference if you added a vinyl pocket on the flap?

Until last night I never considered making one of these in the other orientation. That is, sewing up the short sides and not the long sides as in the original. When fiddling with it I also realized I could add a zipper to one of the ends for a more secure pocket. Here it is next to the gold one so you see the difference in size and another picture of the interior showing the zipper.

Before you consider playing with placemats there are a couple of things to consider. Pick a placemat that is relativey flexible. The lime green one was very hard to sew because it was so stiff and thick. Also, think about your closure, embellishments and strap BEFORE you begin sewing. Although this design is relatively easy to add onto it is much easier to do the work before you sew up the sides.

I recently saw a different type of placemat purse demoed and have seen a couple of other totes using placemats. Since I picked up a few other nice ones at Crate & Barrel and a couple of more came in through the Quilt Show Fish Pond donations I am going to try these other placemat bags. I will post about these methods at another time.

Have a good week! Alex and the girls are having a sleep-over at Paul's for the next couple of days so I will need to set my alarm clock or I will miss my morning meetings without Kimora to wake me up to let them out. Here's hoping there are no power blips during the night!

No comments: