29 May 2014

Plaid(ish) Placemat Tutorial

These placemats are quite fun and surprisingly easy to make. I am big on shortcuts, so I tried to make this as easy as possible. They finish at around 12" x 18" because a fancy schmancy designer friend once told me that is the proper size of placemats. 

Fabric Requirements:
  • Background fabric: One WOF 16" strip
  • Vertical stripes: 1/4 yard, cut into four WOF 2" strips
  • Horizontal stripe: 1/4 yard, cut into two WOF 2.5" strips
    • subcut into four 2.5" x 17.5" pieces
  • Backing: 3/4 yard fabric (or pieced scraps)
  • Batting: 1/2 yard of the wide kind (or scraps from other projects)
  • Binding: 1/2 yard of fabric

Okay, let's get started. First off, you are going to take the background strip and keeping it with the selvages folded together, cut about a 4" strip off one cut end. This will leave you with a WOF x 12" strip and a WOF x 4" strip.

Now we need to get one strip of the 2" vertical fabric strips and sandwich it in between the the 12" and 4" background pieces. I pressed this strip towards the background fabric, but you could press this step to either direction.

Next we need to divide this new sandwiched strip into quarters, like this, as if you were cutting along the dotted lines. This means we will now be working on each placemat individually.

Next up is adding the horizontal strip to the placemats. Cut a 2.75" strip off the bottom of each placemat and sandwich the horizontal strips in.

Now we are going to press towards the horizontal strip or else things will be too bulky.

Now it is time to add the remaining two vertical strips. This bouncing back and forth is what gives the appearance of weaving or plaid. With the remaining three WOF strips still folded in half, cut 14" from the selvages. Toss once of the remaining three folded pieces in your scrap bin.

Unfold and flatten the two remaining pieces, and cut them to about 14" pieces as well. This will give you the 8 strips you need to finish the placemats.

At this point, you will cut either 1.25" or 1.5" away from the right and left sides of the first vertical stripe, and sandwich the others in between. *Please note: From this point on, it is important that you keep things in order (or use 4 different pin colors) so that the strip you cut off one placemat goes back on that same placemat, just in case any previous cuts or seam allowances don't meet up.

My original sketch required them to cut at 1.25" away from the central stripe but my hands were moving faster than my brain, so I cut the gap between the middle and right stripes at 1.5" (which resulted in a 1.25" gap between the two) and it didn't look so bad. For contrast, I cut 1.25" away for the left stripe (resulting in a 1" gap). Here are a couple of pictures to show how they each look.

That is 1" of background between the left and middle (because I cut 1.25" away), and 1.25" of background between the middle and right (because I cut 1.5" away). Whichever distance you choose, cut the placemat and sandwich the vertical stripe between the two cut pieces, then repeat for the other stripe. Press into the vertical stripes. At this point, you are going to square up your placemats. They might come out a little large, so you can just make them bigger (I like to leave wiggle room in case something goes disastrously wrong), or trim them to the 12" x 18" standard size.

Now that we have everything squared up, all that remains is the quilting! I decided to add some hand stitching, which is completely optional. Whenever I add hand stitching, I like to not have it show on the backing, so I spray basted the front to the batting and hand stitched, then spray basted on the backing and machine quilted.

To save time, I machine quilted a few decorative lines in between the vertical stripes, and then just used the stitch-in-the-ditch technique. Then you add some binding and presto: You have 4 fun placemats!!

Since I chose linen for my background fabric and didn't do very dense quilting, it looks a little lumpy, but I'm okay with that. If you are not okay with that, make sure you add more straight line quilting or use a dense FMQ design.

Side note about seam allowances: I'm awful at keeping exact 1/4" seam allowances, so as long as you keep your seam allowance consistent, you can use whatever works best for you.


  1. I really like the slice and insert method. The placemats look great! :)

  2. Nice work Visiting from WIP Wednesday, Hope you stop by and enter my giveaway.