Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Forks on the left

Last year at Spring Market I enjoyed meeting some of the oilcloth vendors and salivating over their offerings. I'd never before considered using a material such as oilcloth for a sewing project, but being the risk taker that I am, I was definitely intrigued.

As with most of my sewing and quilting projects, an idea started to take shape in my head involving using oilcloth for kid-friendly placemats. I thought they might fill a niche that I as a quilter and mom of young kids felt was missing in what I call the "Quilted Placemat Craze of the early 201-'s." Yes, quilted placemats are gorgeous. Yes, they are a quick project to give a quilter serious "I didn't make another UFO, I made an actual object" satisfaction. But yes, they are ridiculously impractical for use with children, or dare I say, anyone messy. I name no names. So I figured wipeable, non-porous oilcloth might actually work for me. And my kids.

When I went to purchase some oilcloth, right next to it was chalkboard cloth. I then had a revelation right there in the fabric store, which is always very dangerous for my wallet and my sanity for the next two weeks while I figure out how to translate that revelation into a finished work, but this one actually came together pretty well.

The result is my "What's for Dinner?" table mats, featured this month in Quilt Pattern Magazine. Why do I love this project, other than the obvious practicality and adorability of it?

1. It features reverse appliqued place setting shapes, set as Miss Manners would approve (with the exception of the knife which I have been told has the blade reversed. Perfection is overrated.), so you can hand a stack of these babies to your kids and know that if they follow the shapes, your table will be set perfectly. And maybe someday, they will be able to set it from memory. Dare to dream, hotties. Dare to dream.

2. No more answering the question "Mom! What's for dinner?" 98 times between the hours of 4pm and 6pm. Or for three days prior to dinner as is the case with the 43 year old kid in my house. Again, I name no names. The plate area is just exactly the right size to write the menu for the evening, as long as said menu is not a 7 course meal. And if it is, I beg of you to please stop showing the rest of us up. When dinner is over, wipe the chalkboard cloth clean and you are ready to write tomorrow's menu.

3. Younger children might just get some help with their reading and writing, too. If dinner is a bit late because your Coq au Vin didn't coq properly, hand them some chalk and let them draw some letters and words. When they get bored of that, they can draw you standing in the kitchen swearing at the chicken or fighting with the spaghetti. The possibilities are endless.

"What's for Dinner" is available this month and next for all Quilt Pattern Magazine subscribers. Enjoy!

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