Saturday, November 24, 2007

Table Topper Tutorial 1

I am attempting this tutorial for those of you who have expressed an interest in quilting, but have no idea of where to begin. Some of you have wonderful sewing skills in other areas, and some of you have never sewn a stitch. My directions will be very basic, so you experienced sewers will have to go along for the ride on some of these points. ANYONE can make this table topper and napkin set. I am thinking for those of you with young daughters, this could be a great way to introduce quilting/sewing to them also. That is how easy this is...your daughters can do it (or your sons). I can make this table topper from beginning to end in just an afternoon, so there will not be alot of time involved either. What a wonderful Christmas gift too!!!

Here are a couple of basics:
Fabric. Fabric is key. When choosing fabrics, make sure you choose 100% cotton fabrics that are shirt quality. A simple test...can you see your hand through the fabric? Is the weave loose? Put it back!! I am a bit of a fabric snob, but I am setting that aside for this tutorial. The 2 fabrics in my topper are very different in price. One was a $9/yd. quilt store fabric and one was from Walmart. You can tell the difference, but not enough that I would not mix them together. Also, you will want to prewash your fabrics and press them nicely before we cut them. If you catch your dryer cycle right at the end, pressing will be simple.
Pressing. Pressing in the world of quilt making is second only to the actual stitching. Your iron will be your best friend in this process. It makes or breaks the final outcome of the quilt top and makes the entire process flow or stop. Steam is a personal preference. You will find quilters who love to use steam and others who say Heaven Forbid!! What you need to be sure of is this... that you PRESS...not IRON. Try not to stretch your fabric out of shape during this process.
Batting. For a topper you will want a thin batting so the piece will lay nice and flat on a table. When choosing batting, I prefer a poly cotton mix of 80%cotton and 20% polyester. You will only need a small piece for this project, so a crib size should do many toppers.

Sewing Machine...or not. I will be using a sewing machine to do this table topper and napkin set, but if you do not have one don't let that stop you, I will include some hand piecing tips in the tutorial. Charlotte does all her piecing by hand and I did for several years. Make sure your machine has a walking foot (pictured above) and a sharp needle. A universal walking foot is very inexpensive. You will need this for the quilting/binding process. A 1/4 inch foot will also be used. If you are hand sewing, you will need a 1/4 inch ruler to mark your sewing lines or 1/4" masking tape works too...I prefer the marked line.
Cutting. I use a rotary cutter and mat with a ruler, but good scissors and a cardboard cereal box will work just fine.

Before I give the supply list, you will need to decide what kind of napkins you want. A traditional napkin is one layer with a hemmed edge. These are very nice but require a fabric that does not have a "wrong" side. In other words it looks the same on the front and back. I did not have that so made my napkins a double layer. They turned out very nice. It really depends on what you want. For the double sided napkins you can use one of the fabrics in the table topper, or both fabrics so that they are reversible...I will give yardage for both choices. So you will need less fabric for the traditional napkins of course. A great choice for these is a homespun plaid or a gingham type fabric.

So, lets get going.
Here is a supply list:
FOR THE TOPPER (measures 18x15)
Feel free to adjust the measurements to make place mats. You will need to multiply the yardage by 3 for 4 place mats (18 x12). I am generous with the yardages here, always rounding up 1/4 yard. Nothing wrong with having scraps.

Choose a light and a dark fabric and buy 1/2 yard each (this includes enough for the binding)
Backing fabric 2/3 yard (can be one of the top fabrics, or totally different)
Batting 2/3 yard or a crib size to have extra for future toppers
Coordinating thread for the binding

FOR THE NAPKINS (measure approx. 16" square, quantity of 6 napkins)
3 yards of matching fabric for doubled napkins OR
1 1/2 yards each for reversible napkins for a total of 3 yards OR
For traditional napkins you will need 1 1/2 yards of coordinating fabric.

Let's CUT!!!!
I do all my cutting at let's start with the topper. From your light fabric (prewashed and pressed) cut 15 3 1/2 inch squares. Use your rotary cutter and ruler or cut a 3 1/2 inch square from a cereal box and use this as a template to cut your squares with scissors. I trace around the template on to the fabric with a #2 pencil and do each square individually to keep them accurate.
Now cut 15 3 1/2 inch squares from your dark fabric.
Cut your backing fabric and batting at least 20" x 24" can eyeball this as it does not have to be exact.

Cut a strip of one of the fabrics (your choice) 2 1/2 inches wide x 70 inches long. You can do this in pieces so that when sewn end to end (later) it will equal 70" long. A strip of cereal box cut 2 1/2 inches wide will work if you are using the template method. This is your binding strip. Set all of this aside.Now the napkin cutting. For traditional napkins, cut 6 16 1/2 inch squares (2 across/3 down).
For reversible napkins, cut 6 16 1/2 inch squares from EACH fabric.
For doubled napkins (shown above), cut 12 16 1/2 inch squares from one coordinating fabric.
For those of you hand piecing, you can mark your 1/4" sewing lines on the wrong side of the fabrics (all 4 sides) of all of the 3 1/2 inch squares and 16 1/2 inch squares (unless doing traditional napkins...these do not need a marked sewing line). We will stop for and cutting should keep you busy for a little while. Early in the week we will begin sewing, and by the end of the week you will have a beautiful table topper and matching napkins. Feel free to e-mail me with ANY questions!!! Christmas fabrics may be the way to go!!!! Make sure you take pictures!


Copper's Wife said...

Bren - Your instructions are great, and I think they'll be easy to follow. I'll be coming back soon to follow along, and I'll be sure to let you know when I do!

Lib said...

Hi Bren,
What a great idea.:o) You did a Great job with your instructions:o)
Have a Blessed wk.end. Lib

Solstitches said...

Thanks for taking time out of your busy day to do this. I'd love to make the table topper although it might not be until after Christmas.

Niki RuralWritings said...

Your a good teacher, must be an excellent homeschooling mama! I'm hoping to try this in the next while, I really want to learn!

Nadine said...

What a nice and clever tutorial, Bren ! THANKS for that !

((HUGS)) & smiles to you !

lannyt said...

I made a table topper with fabric I bought on sale at my favorite upholstery and designer fabric You can get to it by clicking

They always have great fabrics on sale and the employ a full time deesigner to help you with your choices FREE.

Hope this helps.