I have been commissioned to create a set of 8 parallelogram placemats, and I want to share a quick tutorial for how to piece this fun 12.5″ by 19″ placemat pattern with you today.
But first, let me talk about some more details about the background of this project. With input from me about the amount of fabric required, my customer selected and purchased the fabrics. I am happy to report that all 8 tops are complete, and I am ready to start quilting and binding this set. I will show you a bit more about these particular placemats and then we’ll dig into a tutorial.
The navy is going to be used for the backing and binding. The cream is for the sides of the main body of the placemats, and the navy, garnet, pink, wasabi, cedar, and coal are all used for the parallelogram piecing.
Using EQ5 and downloaded color swatches to match the fabric, I created several concepts to make sure that the customer was happy with the layout before I started cutting fabric. My initial concept started witch 45 degree angles, but to keep the parallelograms off the short sides of the placemat, I needed to switch to 30°/60° angles instead.
I am continuously pleased and surprised at how well an EQ5 concept can compare to an actual pieced quilt. What a neat tool. Each placemat is unique, although they all follow the same color repetition in the stripes.
For the quilting, I plan to use a cream thread for the top and a navy thread in the bobbin. I am going to straight line stitch parallel lines to the strips, but offset from the seams. I think I will only quilt in one direction and not create a grid with the quilting, but I might improvise a bit more once I get the first placemat quilted. I will be machine binding these placemats as well. Hopefully in a few more days I will have the finished set to share!
Parallelogram Placemat Tutorial
There are 2 main layout options for the parallelogram placemat pattern: aligned and offset. The aligned pattern requires slightly less fabric (1/4 yard cuts instead of 1/3 yard cuts), but requires much more piecing precision.
For a set of 8 placemats, the yardage requirements are:
- Fabric for Backing, Binding, and use in the parallelogram (navy for reference): 3 yards
- 5 Additional Coordinating Fabrics for use in the parallelogram: 1/4 to 1/3 yard each
- Background Fabric (cream for reference): 1 yard
- Batting: 8 rectangles of 13.5″ x 20.5″ (12.5″ by 19.5″ minimum if really stretching to use your scraps)
Starting with the backing/binding/parallelogram piecing fabric:
- Cut (3) 21″ by Width of Fabric (WOF) strips.
- Subcut each WOF into 3 14.5″ x 21″ rectangles. This will create one extra piece of backing that you can save in case you need it or set aside for other use.
- Cut (14) WOF strips by 2.5″ to use for binding later. Set aside.
- Cut (3 or 4) 2.5″ x WOF strips for parallelogram piecing.
- If you have 1/4 yard cuts of your additional coordinating fabrics, cut 3 strips. If you have 1/3 yard cuts of your additional coordinating fabrics, cut 4 strips. As mentioned above, there are two layout options: aligned (1/3 yard cuts) or offset (1/4 yard cuts).
From the additional coordinating fabrics for use in the parallelogram:
- Cut (3 or 4) 2.5″ x WOF strips.
- If you have 1/4 yard cuts of your additional coordinating fabrics, cut 3 strips. If you have 1/3 yard cuts of your additional coordinating fabrics, cut 4 strips.
From the background fabric:
- Cut (2) 14″ x WOF strips.
- Subcut to create (8) 8.125″ x 14″ rectangles.
My 18″ by 24″ OLFA brand cutting mat has a 10″ by 10″ grid in the lower left hand corner with 30°/60° cutting lines in it. This tutorial assumes that you have a cutting mat that has 30°/60° lines. First, align a 2.5″ wide strip with the left hand 30° cutting line on your mat.
Trim the selvage edge by cutting along the bottom line, marked 0 (zero) in the grid in the above photo. Then cut every 2.5″.
The photo above has the selvage edge and every other parallelogram removed to demonstrate the cut lines to use. Each 2.5″ x WOF strip should yield 14 2.5″ by 2.5″ 30° parallelograms.
Each placemat will use 5 or 6 parallelograms of 6 different colors and (1) 8.125″ by 14″ background fabric rectangle. Using a design wall, table top, floor, or other favored flat surface to arrange 5 strips of 6 or 7 parallelograms. Note that if you are creating the aligned placemats, you will use 6 parallelograms per strip exactly, and if you are making the offset placemats, every other strip will have 7 parallelograms.
To piece the parallelograms, place two blocks right sides together. You will have small dog ears on either side of the seam. When sewing your 1/4″ seam allowance, the needle should pass right at the point where the dog ear meets the other fabric. I like to piece one strip, then stand up to press the seams open. I am sure there is a very speedy way to chain piece all the blocks, but I was worried about keeping the color order of the blocks as I pieced. *Note* that I used a scant quarter inch seam throughout when piecing this top. If you use a true quarter inch seam, your placemats will just trim a bit smaller than the final dimensions I list at the end.
Once you have 5 strips of parallelograms pieced and pressed, you are ready to sew the strips together. The photo above is how the aligned placemats would be sewn together. If you are making the offset placemats, every other strip would have an extra parallelogram, and the rows would stagger.
When piecing the strips together, you will once again have small dog ears at the top and bottom of each seam. If you are making the offset placemats, I would suggest trimming the strips down after pressing seams open before sewing on the next seam. To trim, make sure the edge of a strip aligns with the 30° line on your mat before trimming flush.
To prepare to use the background fabric, line up opposite corners of a 8.125″ by 14″ rectangle on your cutting mat along the same line and cut the rectangle corner to corner.
The background triangles that you have just created are oversized but at the correct 30°/60° angles.
The background triangles are sized generously because I find that working with the tiny angle on the bottom left and upper right can be very tricky with an exactly cut block. This way alignment when sewing on the triangles is less critical and the placemat will be trimmed to fit in the final step.
I always start by trimming the top and bottom (long edges) of the placemat. Then I trim the short edges to bring the background fabric to a point by the colored parallelogram corners. The placemat top should finish out after trimming at 12.5″ by 19.25″ if you used a scant 1/4″ seam allowance.
Finish with quilting and binding, and one placemat will be complete!