The Best-Dressed Table in Town

Mary K. Stout

Editorial Assistant

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    Even if you’ve never sewn before, these placemats won’t tax your skills, but they will brighten up your meals. They’re also fun to make and give as gifts. Quilted cotton is recommended, but muslin, denim, or canvas will also work. For reversible placemats, cut two complementary fabrics into rectangles 14-by-21 inches (large) or 12-by-18 inches (small). Pin right sides together and sew 1/4 inch from the edge, leaving 2 1/2 inches open in the middle of one side. Trim your corners if you have rounded your edges or snip them into the seam if they are square. Then turn the placemat right side out. Next hand stitch the 2 1/2-inch opening with blind hemming or attach a napkin holder at the seam and then hem. Napkin rings are made from 5-by-8-inch rectangles of fabric. These can be fastened to the placemats or left free to lie on the mats. Press all seams flat.

    You may prefer oval mats with a contrasting bias binding. Make a cardboard or paper pattern to the size you want. Then cut a single thickness of fabric for each placemat. Cut a bias strip and attach it to the edge. Use your imagination and embroider on your mats or sew pockets for silverware.

    Napkins are cut from lighter-weight materials such as cotton, kettlecloth, or any other absorbent, washable fabric. Cut the material into 18-inch squares and hem. Don’t be afraid to mix checks with stripes or different prints. You may want to make more than one set of napkins for the placemats. These, too, may be embroidered with names, dates, or individual maxims.

    One yard of 45-inch fabric will make four large placemats or six small ones, with extra material left for napkin rings or pot holders. Seven-inch squares sewn together make attractive pot holders.

    Photo by Royce Bair