Leaf Placemats – A Judy Niemeyer Pattern

Judy Niemeyer Placemats

Judy Niemeyer Placemats

After quilting Judy Niemeyer’s Cattails quilt, I was intrigued to see what all the fuss about Quiltworx patterns is.  Making four placements would be a snap.  I chose something small, quick, easy.  Right?

I have paper pieced before and went into this project boldly.  It required only four fabrics and a little bit of a fifth for the veins.  Perfect!  My stash would have what I needed.

After reading the directions three times and skimming a couple more times, I somewhat confidently cut my pieces.  I wanted this part done as I was planning to sew at a friend’s and didn’t want to be overwhelmed and unable to visit.  I’m a chatterer, afterall!

Front and Back of Paper Pieced Leaf Halves

Front and Back of Paper Pieced Leaf Halves

Although I felt ready to begin sewing, I quickly learned that the wording used in the pattern was confusing.  Let me be clear here:  the wording was “lengthy” to me.  Lots of words to say one simple thing.  Long story short, it took me FIVE hours to make one half of one leaf!  And I thought I was an experienced quilter/seamstress.  Humbled….  Remember, I was visiting as well so this may have played a role in the timeframe.

Two Niemeyer Leaf Halves (no veins)

Two Niemeyer Leaf Halves (no veins)

I was frustrated, but I was also determined to see the project through.  While my completion time did improve for each section of the leaves, I’m guessing I have about 18 hours of sewing time in the project so far!  So much for fast.

Veins in Judy Niemeyer Leaf Placemats

Veins in Judy Niemeyer Leaf Placemats

An aggravating part for me is that after all the leaf halves are sewn and the vein is added to one side of a leaf half, you are told to place a pin in the registration mark.  What??!!  I reread the directions two times and still I’m lost.  So feeling I had had it with the whole “let’s do a quick and easy, eye-catching project”, I sewed the halves together using my method!  Pin, pin, pin.  Check, recheck, double-check.  My leaves look fine.  Can’t wait to quilt them, bind them, and MOVE ON!

Oh, and notice that I have two different colored veins in my leaves?  I thought I could use a LITTLE of a fifth color for the veins.  No such luck.  So after cutting (incorrectly the first time!) some brown fabric, I found some light rust fabric already cut in bias 2″ width and said “good enough”.  I like it.

And now I know why they have certified instructors to teach Niemeyer patterns!  😉


  1. Holy cow….since this project is on the horizon for me…I am wondering “what have I gotten myself into?” Can’t wait to see how you quilt these!

    • Yes, there is a reason for certified Neimeyer instructors…and classes. Cattails also had ‘wordy’ instructions, but I discovered, as you did, careful reading and following means you can have fantastic results! I’m looking forward to making these same placemats — especially with the hints you have provided.

      • Jolene, thanks for the confirmation that the instructions are “wordy”. Phew! It’s not just me. Having done Cattails, you’ll be a great asset for the newbies to Niemeyer projects. I’m hoping you’ll all share lots of pictures!

    • Working in a group would have been much more fun. Two heads — or five — are better than one. You’ll love the project and the results!! Have fun!

  2. Charlene says:

    This was my first paper piecing project (yikes) but I’ve been sewing most of my life and quilting for 2/3 rds. Thankfully I took a class. As stated the first half of the leaf takes a lot longer than the second half. It turns out very well.

    • Charlene, I’d love to see your quilted leaf placemats. Also, do you feel once you’ve taken a Neimeyer class that you’re comfortable to take on one of her bigger projects? I’m curious as having done the placemats, I’m not sure I’ll do any of her patterns. Again, it was the wordiness of her directions that bogged me down.

      Thanks for sharing here!

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