Now that the top secret parcel has reached its destination, I can reveal that it contained place mats and napkins. I made the mats in toile de jouy backed with raspberry chambray, using a combination of the instructions for coasters and mats in Bend the Rules Sewing (an excellent book) as my guide. I am pretty pleased with results, though once again humbled by the experience. Perhaps I shouldn't even be thinking of making garments when I'm still fairly inept at ostensibly easy tasks such as sewing straight lines around a rectangle.
For the napkins, I used these directions for mitred corners, and experimented with my machine's embroidery stitches, which was a lot of fun. I read somewhere that 'sewing' might more accurately be called 'ironing' - these napkins certainly bore this out: it took me an obscenely long time to press the double-turned hems, trim the corners, and re-press, then about one minute to whizz through the machine. Anyway, I do hope their recipient enjoys these pastoral-themed table accessories.