Saturday, June 21, 2014

How to Make Burlap Placemats

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Way back in 2009 when I was self taught novice blogger,  : )  I wrote a blog post showing how I made a set of Burlap Placemats.  Pottery Barn was showing lots of items in their stores and catalogs at the time with numbers on them and that is what inspired me make them. I was busy finding all kinds of things to make with burlap and became very preoccupied with the idea of stenciling numbers on anything I could get my hands on! I was obsessed with numbers and kind of sort of still am.   : )

Well little did I know that that little project would take on a life of it’s own.  It has turned out to be one of my most popular blog posts and projects.

And then just a few weeks ago I received an exciting email from someone at Taunton Press asking me if I would like to have my placemats featured in a book on burlap projects they were putting together! Yes please!   So it was time to get to work.  I decided to re-write my How To blog post on how to make these placemats.  My original blog post can be seen here Pottery Barn Inspired Burlap Placemats if you’d like to take a peek.

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In my original blog post, the set of burlap placemats I made used only two numbers.  I decided to make the new set stenciled with three numbers and I like the effect better.  But of course that is all up to you!  It’s kind of fun deciding which numbers to use. 


How to Make Burlap Placemats

Here’s what you need to make 6 placemats

3 yards of burlap

Spool of matching thread

Quilting pins, Scissors, Measuring Tape, Sewing Machine

Black craft paint

Stencil Brush

clear packaging tape

Number Stencils *


I purchased 3 yards of burlap at $2.99 a yard.  Quite the bargain.  Three yards actually gave me enough to cut out 7 placemats.  I was just shy of having enough for that eighth placemat so if you want a set of 8 placemats which is probably the case…I would purchase an additional 1/4 yard to be sure you have enough.

Step One:  Cutting Out The Burlap Pieces

The burlap that you buy off of the bolt is usually folded in half lengthwise, which is what you want.  This way you can cut out two pieces at a time.  These two pieces will be sewn together to make one placemat.  My placemats are a bit different than some I have seen for sale on Etsy and on other sites in that mine are double sided.  This is what gives the placemats a nice weight and make stenciling on them easier.  (And the paint wont bleed through two pieces to the other side.)    I took the black and white checked placemat in the photo above and used it as my template/pattern to cut out my burlap pieces.  Use any placemat you have as a pattern or cut out your own pattern out of paper if you like.  The dimensions of my placemats are 19 X 14 inches.

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Step Two:  Sewing Placemats Together

After you have all of your placemat pieces cut out, sew two of the identical pieces that you cut out together around all four edges with a matching colored thread approximately 1 inch from the raw outer edge.  When you get near a corner, place your machine needle into the burlap and pivot to the direction you want to sew for a neatly stitched corner.   This seam is important because it is what is going to hold your placemat together and help you control how much fringe your edges will have. 



Step Three:  Fringing the Edges

Once all of your placemats are sewn together it’s time to fringe the edges.  Burlap can be incredibly messy in that it sheds little fibers and sticks to everything!  I recommend you do this step outside.  With your fingers, gently pull the outermost burlap thread and remove it.  Continue to gently remove the threads one after another until you meet resistance.    When you do, Do Not Pull Hard, simple take your scissors and very carefully snip the thread as close to the seam line with out cutting into the seam itself.  Do this to all four sides of your placemat.  After you have finished fringing all of the edges, you might notice some of the edges are uneven.  Take a sharp pair of scissors and trim all the edges so you get an even and uniform fringed edge.


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Step Four: Stenciling

Now comes the fun part where you give your placemats some personality!  I use regular black acrylic craft paint.  You could of course use black fabric paint if you like.   I also prefer to work with a stencil brush instead of the sponge dabbers.  I get much better results with a stencil brush.  Decide what numbers and how many you would like to use and place them down near the lower right corner of your placemat.  I stencil my numbers on one at a time and work from the outer edge inwards.  Once you like the placement of your number, use some clear packaging tape to secure the stencil.  The tape also helps keep your brush from accidentally smearing any excess paint past the stencil edges.  Once you have finished stenciling your number, gently peel back the stencil and admire your work!  Repeat until you have all of your numbers stenciled in place.  Set aside and let dry. 

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My biggest tip when stenciling is to not use too much paint on your brush.  Use a paper towel if you need to dab off any excess paint.  You will have cleaner and crisper edges.  I also get the best results when I use an up and down pouncing motion.  Do not dab and smear…if you do the paint could end up collecting under your stencil edges and there goes your crisp edges! It is also important not to use too much paint because you do not want it to bleed through to the back side of your stencil.  I have never had this happen.  But if you are new to stenciling you might want to do a practice stencil on a leftover scrap of burlap.      


I get asked all the time where I get my number stencils.  My favorite source for stencils is Maison de Stencils and I have been ordering stencils from them for years.    These are the best and highest quality stencils I have found!!   The set I used is called the Old World Number 1 Numbers and I ordered the 3 x 3 stencil set.

I love working with their stencils and I always get good results.  I am also happy to say that my placemats are also featured on their website in their client gallery!  They have such unique stencils and a huge variety that you just  can’t find anywhere else.  I have also had them make me a custom stencil that I used to create this Grains pillow below and I got great results!!   The other pillow in the basket photo was sewn out of burlap and I used a Maison de Stencils stencil on that one too. 

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But I am burlap and stencil digressing……Back to the placemats!

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I love that rustic look you get with burlap and making a set of these placemats couldn’t be any easier.  And when you stencil on some numbers you can create something really useful that looks great on the table.  And these are great for gift giving too. 

    Burlap Placemats

Let me know if you have any questions as I am always happy to help!

I will also keep you all posted on when Taunton Press releases the burlap projects book!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Pickled Jalapeno Peppers

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So I was at cookout about a week ago during the Memorial Day weekend and it seemed everyone was in the mood for Mexican appetizers.  I brought a bowl of homemade guacamole….awesome…recipe to be posted very soon….and someone else made one of those baked re-fried bean and cheese and salsa dips.  It too was delicious and I found myself picking around the dip in search of the mini jalapeno rings that the dip was garnished with.  But that was the sad part about it…there were only a few being used as a garnish.  And I felt a little bit guilty every time I lifted one of the decorative pepper rings off the top of the dip!  I was eating all the jalapeno peppers. 

Well, long story short, I made a point of finally finding a recipe to try and made my own.   That way I could have as many as I wanted.   I’ve only wanted to make these for years now and honestly…they are so inexpensive to make.   And by the time summer is in full swing…the prices on these little babies at the Farmer’s Market is bound to go way down and will be even less money to make….and way more tasty than the rings you can buy at the grocery store. 

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Caution!  These babies are hot!  The heat from a jalapeno comes from the seeds and the white membrane inside the peppers so you can somewhat control how hot you want these to be by keeping or tossing more of the seeds and white membranes. 

Caution # 2:  Wear gloves when you cut these!  Or place a  couple of sandwich baggies on your hands. Otherwise the skin on your hands will burn later and heaven help you if you should accidentally touch your eye while working with these.  Ere on the side of caution.  : )

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Pickled Jalapeno Peppers

22 to 25 Jalapeno Peppers

1 cup water

1 cup white vinegar

2 1/2 TBSP Kosher salt

1/4 cup sugar

6 garlic cloves, sliced

Makes 4 jelly size jars

Slice up the peppers into little wheels and set aside in a bowl. 

Mix the water, white vinegar, Kosher salt, sugar and garlic in a medium size pot over medium heat.  Bring to a gentle boil. 

Add the pepper rings and stir to make sure they are all mixed in well and let sit and boil for about two minutes and then turn off the heat.  Let them sit in the solution.  They will change from a bright green color to more of an olive green color. 

While the peppers are resting in the pickling solution, sterilize your jars lids, and ring. 

Scoop out the peppers and pickling solution and fill your jars. 

Add your lids and rings and set aside to cool. 

Store in the refrigerator for a few days for best flavor and these should keep in the fridge for about a month. 

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Add them to everything!  And if you make one of those baked bean and cheese dip recipes….don’t be stingy with the jalapeno peppers!  Sprinkle those babies on!