I just got a lovely note from a friend to tell me that Bernina is featuring my Magic Mats in Issue 4 of Through the Needle, a free online publication. I knew the article was coming, but it’s always a thrill to see one of my projects in print. Happy me! Because we have so many new people in our community, I want to share the Magic Mats tutorial that I posted last summer. Enjoy!
Here’s a great little project for our DesignMagic stencils – or one of your own designs! My Magic Mats pattern is the simplest way to make a placemat that I can think of. All you need is two pieces of fabric, some interfacing, one paintstik, one brush, and one pair of DesignMagic stencils. It’s easy!
Fair warning – this is a long post with a lot of pictures. If you want the short version, visit the Learning Center on our site and download the instructions as a PDF. The instructions are posted here.
Here is a photo of three finished Magic Mats. As you can see, you’ll need one piece of fabric to be painted and one that will serve as the borders and backing. Let’s get started!
Material List (for one Magic Mat)
- 1 (9″ x 17″) rectangle focus fabric (to be painted)
- 1(18″ x 17″) rectangle of border/backing fabric
- 3/4 yard medium weight fusible interfacing, such as Pellon ShirtTailor
- 1 set DesignMagic stencils
- 1 or more Shiva® Paintstiks
- 1 stencil brush (more if you use more than one color of paint)
- Grip-n-Grip no-slip mat [Bear Thread Designs]
- 404 spray adhesive [Spray and Fix / JT Trading]
- Removable chalk pencil
Step 1 – Fuse interfacing to fabric
Cut two rectangles of fusible interfacing slightly smaller than the fabric rectangles. (I cut mine about 1/8″ smaller so I don’t get fusible stuff on my ironing board cover.) Fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric rectangles using the manufacturer’s instructions.
The interfacing adds body to the fabric and eliminates the need for batting. The placemat stays thin, but it’s not wimpy. I used Pellon’s ShirtTailor interfacing, which is a nice medium weight product.
Step 2 – Prepare fabric and stencils for painting
Mark the horizontal and vertical center lines on the focus fabric with a removable chalk pencil.
Place your stencils right side up on your work surface. Clearly mark one as Stencil-A and the other as Stencil-B with a permanent marker.
If you are using pre-cut mylar DesignMagic stencils, place the stencils wrong side up on a piece of newspaper and spray the back side of each stencil with 404 adhesive spray. (I prefer to do this outside or in the garage so I don’t stink up my work area.) I like to call 404 spray “post-it notes in a can.” Once the stencils are sprayed, they stay where you put them and don’t move around as you are painting.
If you are using your own designs cut from freezer paper, do not spray them with 404. Use the information in the Design Magic book for alignment tips and adhere the stencils to your fabric by pressing with a warm iron.
Step 3 – Paint DesignMagic images on focus fabric
Place your focus fabric right side up on a Grip-n-Grip mat (if you have one.) The mat will keep your fabric from moving around while you paint.
Remove the film from the end of your paintstik, rub the paint on a piece of freezer paper, and load the paint onto a stencil brush. For more information on stenciling, visit the Learning Center and download the document on Stenciling.
To paint the first image, position Stencil-A so that two alignment guides are even with the registration marks on the fabric. Paint the fist images using paintstik color and a stencil brush.
Lift the stencil from the fabric. Place the stencil on scrap fabric and gently wipe away any excess paint before using the stencil again. (I don’t usually worry about wiping my stencils unless it’s very messy or if I’m using several colors and don’t want to muddy them up when I paint the next image.)
To paint the second image, position Stencil-B next to the fist painted image. Rotate the stencil until th eimages on the stencil match up with the painted image from the previous step. Use the alignment guides and the registration marks to make sure the stencil is in the right place. Paint the image, lift the stencil, and clean the stencil if necessary.
Continue painting images, alternating between Stencil-A and Stencil-B until you have painted 8 DesignMagic images on the focus fabric.
Step 4 – Allow paint to dry and heat set paint
Allow the paint to dry for 24 hours and then heat set the paint to make it permanent. To heat set, place the painted fabric on an ironing board, right side up. Cover the painted fabric with a piece of muslin or scrap fabric. Preheat a dray iron to the appropriate temperature for the fabric. Press each section of the fabric for 10-15 seconds.
I usually heat set paint by placing the fabric paint-side down on parchment paper and pressing from the back. But in this case, I’ve already fused interfacing to the back, and I think it’s better to press from the top with a pressing cloth.
Step 5 – Assemble Magic Mat
Use a 1/2″ seam allowance for all seams on this project.
Align the long edge of the painted fabric with one 17″ edge of the border fabric, right sides together. Pin as needed and stitch the full length of the seam with a 1/2″ seam allowance. I don’t have a good 1/2″ seam guide, so I actually marked the 1/2″ line on the back side of my painted fabric.
Open the fabric and check to see that there the seam allowance covers the unpainted portion of the fabric. You can always make an extra wide seam allowance if you have unpainted portions of the focus fabric showing at the seam. Press the seam allowance toward the border fabric.
Fold the remaining 17″ edge of the border/backing fabric 1/2″ to the back side a press. After pressing, open the fold for the next step.
Align the second long edge of the painted fabric with the remaining 17″ edge of the border/backing fabric, right sides together. The fabric should form a tube. Pin as needed and mark the seam allowance 3″ from each side. (See red arrow in photo above.)
Stitch a short 3″ seam from each end, leaving the middle of the seam open. You will turn the Magic Mats through this opening later.
Here’s what your Magic Mat should look like so far. The two pieces should form a tube, and there should be an opening in one of the seam.
With the tube wrong side out, flatten the tube so one of the long seams is 1.75″ from the folded edge. Do NOT press the tube flat while it is wrong side out – we’ll press it flat after turning it right side out.
Pin the ends of the tube together and stitch a seam along each end using a 1/2″ seam allowance. Peek inside the mat to make sure unpainted portions of the focus fabric do not show at the side seams. Trim the side seams to 1/4″ if desired.
Gently turn the Magic Mat through the opening in the seam. Use an awl to pus the corners out for nice square corners.
Flatten the placemat and give it a good pressing.
After the mat is pressed flat, top-stitch along the edge of the focus fabric to secure the layers together and to close the opening in the mat. I also top-stitched along the grid lines in the painted fabric. The stitching gives the illusion that the fabric is pieced, but is far less work.
Enjoy your Magic Mats!
Magic Mats really are easy to make, and they are a fantastic way to play with DesignMagic images. They are big enough to show off the repeating designs, and small enough that they can be done quickly. It takes me about 25 minutes to paint one of the panels and less than an hour to assemble a mat. Now that’s what I call magic!
Make Magic Mats for your own home – or make gifts for your friends and family. If you prefer runners to placemats, simply make a longer version of this project. It’s easy!
Download a free copy of the Magic Mats pattern
Visit the Learning Center on our website to download a free, printer-friendly version of the Magic Mats pattern. The pattern is posted on the Design Magic Resources page. You are welcome to make copies for your friends.
Learn more about Design Magic
If you like making Magic Mats, you’ll love Design Magic for Paintstiks on Fabric. Learn to make your own designs, turn them into stencils, and transfer the images to fabric. With Design Magic, you really can design your own fabric!