Every now and then, some crafty genius comes up with such a fun idea that I just have to try it. That is the case with the casserole carriers that I saw, first by Heidi Hadaway Marlin, and then by Diana Smith Thomas on the Brother PE Embroidery page on Facebook. Heidi shared all the how-to details of her invention. Then Diana played off of that and changed it a bit for her preferences. Diana also shared the word "kickasserole" on one of her casserole carriers and I told her I was going to remember that!
The basic idea of this project is simply to sew together a couple of store-bought placemats, add straps and some kind of personalization, and a way to close it. Heidi used buttonholes with a serving spoon that served as a closure; Diana added an interlining of Insul-bright batting and elastic hair bands to close, while tying her spoon on top. On mine, I used Velcro to close the cover and tucked my spoon inside the cover to keep it clean.
I found my cute scalloped, quilted placemats at Walmart. This is part of the Pioneer Woman kitchen collection. For Christmas, my little girl convinced my husband to buy me plates and bowls that match this pattern. Apparently, it took quite a bit of convincing because my husband just couldn't believe I wanted Walmart dishes. She was right though, I had been eyeing those dishes for a bit. When I saw that there were matching placemats, I wanted to find some kind of use for them. I ran right out to buy them as soon as I saw Heidi's and Diana's projects! While I was there, I bought a new 13x9 rectangular baking pan and a cute spatula that I decided would be fun as a serving utensil. (I liked the color and even the handle). I made sure the pan would fit inside the perimeter of the placemats with room for the thickness.
I pulled some fabrics to help me decide on colors to go with the placemats for the applique. I decided to use an Itch2Stitch applique frame. I picked two and started on the handles.
Handles: My handle fabric and part of my applique was cut from one fat quarter. This fat quarter was 21" x 18". From the other ladies' notes, I knew I wanted my handles to finish around 32". I cut four strips that were 4" using the 18" dimension of the fat quarter for length. That meant that I had to sew two together for each handle. Then I trimmed them down to 34" and kept the scrap to use for the applique. It doesn't matter where the seam falls when you use a print; the seam gets lost in the design.
Then, for each one, I pressed the lengthwise foldline.
Then I opened it back up and folded in each side and pressed that in place.
Then I folded in half again and pressed one last time using the original foldline I started with.
On one end of each of the two straps, I folded in about 1/4" and pressed it down.
Then I folded it back, and took it to my sewing machine to stitch closed by topstitching on each side. I like my blindhem foot for that because I can let the edge of the metal in the center of the foot work as a ledge to glide my strap against. It makes the topstitching perfectly straight without much effort.
I set the handles aside and worked on the top of the carrier.
Embroidered top: I opened my Embrilliance software (I only need Embrilliance Essentials for this). I brought in the frame file and I added two different text objects. "Nadia" is done using Itch2Stitch Magnolia Sky, spaced and re-sized to fit the space. "Send home with" is Applique Corner Rodney in 1/4". The design is turned in my 5x7 hoop so that it can be the maximum size. I added a basting box in Embrilliance (found under 'utility' in the toolbar). I printed my design so I would have a paper template to use for placement.
I just hooped tearaway stabilizer in my hoop, found the center of my placemat and marked it with an "X".
I used the thumbtack method to place my placemat in the exact center of my hoop. I do this by marking the cross-hairs on my hooped stabilizer using the grid inset for my hoop.
I place my paper template on the stabilizer, matching cross-hairs on the template with those on the stabilizer. I place one thumbtack in the center of the cross-hairs from the back and a second one on another spot, usually on the x or y axis. Noting the left and right of the template helps to make sure it is placed correctly in the hoop.
I remove the paper template, leaving the thumbtacks.
I take off the paper template, fold it along the crosshairs and place it on the X that I made on the placemat. Folding it helps to match it up against the mark.
I had to pin it in place because this fabric was slick and with the multiple layers and quilting, my normal use of tape wasn't working. (I usually spray with textile adhesive but the placemat was too thick for that to be effective). Then I placed the placemat with the pinned-on paper template on my prepared hoop, matching the thumbtacks up into the very same holes they made previously. I double-checked by lifting the placemat and visually inspecting that the cross-hairs continued and appeared to match perfectly.
I removed the pins to remove the paper template and then replace them to pin all the way through to include the stabilizer. This shows my pins.
Once done, I removed the basting box, WSS from the front, and tearaway from the back.
Attaching handles to the back: I used the embroidered front on my gridded cutting board to figure out where I wanted my handed to be. I used tape on my grid to mark the corners and centers. I placed the handles on the top placemat (the embroidered one) and marked with tape on the grid where they were placed.
Then I removed that placemat and put the bottom placemat in its place, using the tape marks to get it placed properly. I place the handles using the marks I made. I use a ruler to overlap the ends in the same place so that the two handles match.
I overlap the raw end with the one I turned under 1/4". The overlap is about 1/2" or so.
I take it to my sewing machine and stitch a 6" box inside the topstitched handles to secure them to the bottom placemat, which will now be the bottom of the carrier.
I move the handles out of the way so that I don't accidentally stitch through them!
I use the center mark on my presser foot to make sure the line I stitch is straight for the box.
The handles are stitched in place.
I gather up the handles and pin to the center of the placemat to keep them out of the way while I sew the sides up and sew the closure.
Closure: I used Velcro to close one end of my carrier. I sewed that before the sides were sewn. I cut a length of each side (hook and loop) and pinned them in place, making sure they matched on the ends of the carrier.
Because these were reversible placemats, the inside of the carrier is pretty and looks lined.
I unpin the handles and put them in place around the carrier. And it is complete!
And my new 13x9 pan fits perfectly!
The spatula fits in just perfectly with it, as would a serving spoon or other utensil.
And it closes up perfectly.
Links shared in this post (none of these are affiliate links):
- Pioneer Woman reversible placemats (this is a four-pack, but they sell them individually at the store): click here.
- Itch2Stitch Fancy Double Applique Frame: click here.
- Embrilliance Essentials embroidery software to merge, resize, add text: click here.
- Font used for "Nadia" is Magnolia Sky: click here.
- Font used for "Send home with" is Rodney: click here.
I used a Brother PE 770 embroidery machine and a Brother sewing machine to make this project. Embroidery thread I used was from Metro. The sewing thread was from Coats and Clark. I used pre-wound bobbins and tearaway stabilizer from World Weidner. For all my notes and resources for embroidery, check my embroidery page on this blog, or click here.