Thursday, April 12, 2012

It's a month of kitchen tutorials and Vicki is celebrating birthdays with a special placemat ( and yes our first but not last special guest)

Thank you Madame Samm for inviting me here to share my first tutorial with your great community. I'm Vicki Welsh and I'm a blogger and fabric maker. I blog at Field Trips in Fiber and sell my hand dyed fabrics in my Etsy shop. I have a gazillion food allergies so I'm not much of a cook but I like to serve my boring food on great placemats. Today I'm sharing one that I designed for celebrating family birthdays. If you want to print a pdf version of this tutorial you can download it here and you can check out all of my other free tutorials here.

Wouldn’t it be fun to have an easy way to honor your family on their special day? All you have to do is make one of these placemats and then bring it out for each family member to use all day (or even all week) for their birthday.
You could even make a personalize set, one for each family member. Each cake could be decorated to reflect the personality of the celebrant.
These are the approximate materials for 1 placemat.
Feature fabric – for the cake you need about 1 fat quarter in the frosting color of your choice. Solid, textured and pearlized fabrics would be great.
Cake plate – about 18” x 4”
Letters – about 5” x 14”
Backing – 1 fat quarter
Batting – about 1 fat quarter. Flannel will give a nice weight to the placemat without making it puffy. This is a great opportunity to recycle. You could also use denim, canvas or other materials for batting. Just make sure it’s been pre-washed and shrunk.
Thread– You will need thread for quilting (the frosting pattern) and thread to sew down the letters.
Fusible web – Mistyfuse and Wonder Under are my preferred products
Other decorations – ric rac, hot fix crystals

Step 1 – Create the pattern
This pattern makes a placemat that is approximately 16” x 12” and we have to start by drawing a pattern. I found the grid lines of my cutting mat to be very helpful.
Get a piece of tracing paper (or other paper that’s about 18” wide by 14” tall. If you don’t have paper that big just tape separate sheets together to get the size you need.
Start by drawing a rectangle that is 16” wide and 12” tall.
Find the 8” mark along the bottom and top of the rectangle and draw a line straight up the middle to the top of the rectangle.
Along the side of the rectangle draw a line across (horizontal) at the 1 ½” mark and another at the 9” mark.
We are going to draw the pattern first on the right side of the pattern. Mark the following dots:
- 3” up from the bottom and 1” in from the right.
- 1 ½” from the top and 1” in from the right.

Connect the dots:
  • Create the top of the cake by drawing gently curved lines from the center to the top dot. You want an oval shape.
  • Create the bottom edge of the cake plate by drawing a gentle curve from the center line at the bottom of the rectangle to the 3” mark on the right edge of the rectangle.
  • Create the bottom edge of the cake by drawing a gentle curve from the center line at the 1 ½” mark to the 3” mark that is 1” in from the right edge. This line will be mostly parallel to the bottom of the cake plate.
  • Draw the right side of the cake by connecting the 2 points of the top and bottom edges of the cake.
  • Finally draw that little curve that defines the back edge of the plate. It is a curved diagonal line from the edge of the rectangle to the side of the cake.

Fold the paper along the center vertical line and trace the lines to complete the pattern on the left side. Mark ¼” around all edges for seam allowance and cut out the pattern.
Step 2 – Cut out the fabrics

Using the whole pattern cut out a backing, batting and cake.

Cut the cake plate piece off the main pattern. There’s no need to add a seam allowance.
Adhere fusible web to the back of your cake plate fabric and cut out one cake plate piece.

Fuse the cake plate to the front of the cake.
Now it’s time for your first decorating decision.
You need to decide what you want to use for your decorative frosting. I used 2 layers of ric rack, a wide one topped with a narrow one.
You could use decorative stitches on your sewing machine, fabric paint, hand embroidery stitches or other trims.
Using your pattern for placement, sew the top cake decoration in place on the cake front only. We sew this one here so that the raw edges of the trim are caught in a seam.

Layer your 3 parts:
Batting, then backing (right side up) then the cake front (right side down).
Stitch all around the placemat with a ¼” seam allowance.
Leave one side open about 4” so you can turn the placemat right side out.
After stitching clip the curved edges of the cake plate and clip the inside corner where the cake plate meets the cake. This will make sure that your edges are smooth when you turn the placemat.

Turn the placemat right side out. Carefully smooth out all of the edges and press the placemat.
Press under the seam allowance of the open edge and slip stitch it closed.

Quilt your placemat. I chose to make my placemat using only straight stitches on my sewing machine but you can be as creative as you want. On the top of the cake I did straight line stitching parallel to the edges going around until my stitching met in the center. It looks like a pointy oval.
For the bottom of the cake I did vertical parallel stitches using the edge of my sewing machine foot as a guide.
You can go crazy here. Swirls in metallic thread would look awesome!

Sew the frosting decoration at the bottom of the cake. If using a trim be sure to turn under the raw edges.
Where the cake plate “goes behind” the cake the plate is a raw edge. I sewed a straight line of stitching along that raw edge as I sewed a couple of rows of stitches on the plate.
Step 4 – Decorating the cake
Now it’s time to have fun! You can do anything to decorate your cake. Here’s just one idea.

Apply fusible web to the back of some decorative fabric and cut out Happy Birthday letters. For the letters you will want to find a font that is chunky and make the letter about 2” tall. I used Microsoft Word to print the font Arista at 220 point. My letters are at the end of this tutorial. You can print any letters you want in any font. You could also paint, stencil or stamp letters.

Tip: When I print letters to use for appliqué templates I make sure to print the letters in light gray instead of black to save on ink.
I cut my letters from the fused fabric and arranged them by eye…no measuring. Fuse the letters in place and the stitch them down. I used a straight stitch but you could do a sating stitch or buttonhole stitch.

But my cake wasn’t complete yet. It needed sprinkles! My sprinkles are hot fix crystals. I am told that these will hold up in the wash but I admit that I haven’t tried it yet. You could also fuse on flowers, candles, stars and add sprinkles with decorative machine or hand stitches.

Now it’s time to serve the cake! I think there are lots of possibilities for this.
  • Kids could decorate their own cakes using fabric paints as a birthday event
  • Make a cake for baby’s first birthday and decorate it with the baby’s hand prints.
  • Make holiday cakes for other celebrations.
I hope you enjoy the tutorial.


  1. HOla:
    Gracias por enseñarnos todas estas cosas cada día, me ha parecido precioso el mantel de las manzanas.

  2. This is just adorable and I am printing out the instructions now! Awesome!

  3. Hi Vicki and welcome to Madame Samm's little niche in the world. Your tutorial is awesome and a very good idea. I hope to use it for my grandson's birthday.

  4. how fun and I have a someone to make this very soon.

  5. Happy Birthday, now why did I not think of that. congrats to your first visit here. Luv it!

  6. Good morning Vickie..great 1st tut...celebrate with you." great idea... You rock....lol

  7. This is an awesome idea. I love to give the birthday person a special place. This placemat would go great with the ceramic plate we use that says " Today is my special day". (We do use the plate for more than just birthdays, it's great for graduations,new driver's license, confirmations or whatever. Now I can make placemats for the occasions too! Thanks for sharing.

  8. Vicki, this is wonderful! What a great way to add to the cheer of a birthday....and it can be tailored to the partier in so many ways! Thanks for a super tutorial!

  9. What a great idea Vicki! This would make a lot of birthday people very happy!

  10. Congrats on your first tutorial...I can still remember mine....sTReSSed me OuT....great job and great idea!!

  11. What a super cute idea Vicki. Thank you for the great tutorial.

  12. Vicki, this is a very cute birthday cake. Thanks for this tutorial post on sewwequilt. Madame Samm, thanks for having Vicki as a guest.

  13. What a great idea! I wonder who will be the first lucky person to use a "Happy Birthday" placemat at our house!

  14. I wish I had had this when my children were little! I will just have to make one for the grandpeeps. Very Very cute!!
    Gmama Jane
    P.S. I'm headed over to check out your blog!

  15. Love the cake! I use lots of ric-rac and have never sewn it on top of each other. Thanks for the ideas.

  16. I absolutely LOVED your tutorial...what a great idea!

  17. I love this. My sister's birthday is next weekend, and I hope to make it for her.


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