Scrappy Whole Cloth Placemats

on September 26 | in Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 17 Comments

Jen Carlton Bailly shows us how to make these gorgeous Scrappy Whole Cloth Placemats today! Learn more about Jen in her introduction (remember the great True Love series His + Hers Pillows from Jen?!). Use Jen’s tutorial to help you win our Table Stitch, Table Set, Tablescape Contest! Remember: We’re extending the deadline to Sunday, October 7th…

A few years ago I was staying at my mother-in-law’s house. On her guest bed was a store-bought whole cloth quilt with tons of lines of quilting. I totally loved it and thought it might be cool to one day do a quilt like that but with lots of different thread colors. Fast forward to last month at our Portland Modern Quilt Guild meeting, where one of the members did a presentation about the history of whole cloth quilts. My desire was sparked again, however my schedule just didn’t allow. I did have time to make up six new almost whole cloth placemats with a big scrappy binding!

Not only is this a quick project, it will also help eat up some of those scraps you have tucked away that you know you said you’d use one day!

These placemats finish at 15 by 13 inches which works great for my average sized Ikea plates. You can see below that I can fit exactly what I need on the mat. If your plates are larger, adjust accordingly. To find the right size, simply set your table as you wish, tape over where you want the mat to be and measure!

With all six of the placemats I quilted them using straight line quilting. Even though I have some wavy lines, I still used my walking foot the entire time. If you have never tried straight line quilting you should! It takes some practiced but once you get the hang of it it’s really fun to work with. Here are my tips for straightline quilting:

      1. Use a walking foot.


      2. Increase your stitch length. (I normally piece at a 2.0. When I straight line I jump to about a 3.5. Just play around with it until you find out what works best for you.)


      3. Make sure your quilt sandwich it super flat.


      4. Put in a new needle.


      5. If you have the capability, back off your pressure foot pressure.


    6. Practice!

If you’d rather free motion quilt, there are a ton of resources out their right now. Here are just a few; feel free to leave your favorite in the comments.

When I originally thought of this idea the front and the back where going to both be whole cloth, with the binding being scrappy. But then, as I was putting away a big bag of scraps that I had inherited, I notice how many solids I had. So I came up with the idea to just pick one cute print and build the solids from there. Like this.

I didn’t think too much. I really just let the scraps I have dictate. A few years ago, that would have never happened! But since my love for working with scraps has grown, I love working in this manner.

Then I did that six more times, planning out what thread I was using and what Essex Yarn Dyed Linen worked with which color. I laid it out like a color board to make sure I liked the look.

Finished Placemat: 15 by 13 inches

  • Fabric scraps-solid for the back (enough to have your back measure 18 by 16 inches)
  • Fabric scraps-printed (1-3 wide inches by 4 ½ inches. I used about 36 pieces to measure out to about 70 inches)
  • Solid fabric for the front cut to 15 by 13 inches
  • Batting cut to 16 by 14
  • Thread-various colors
  • Walking foot or free motion foot

To make your binding, simply cut your scraps anywhere from 1-3 inches in width and no smaller then 4 ½ inches in height.

Sew them together using a ¼ inch seam. I did mine in three sections to make it easier to square up to 4 ½ inches.


  • Make sure your favorite fabric is not on the ends as it will more then likely get cut off.
  • Press seams open! Originally I pressed to the side and it was just too bulky.

Press your binding in half just as you would when making a quilt.

Next, make your quilt sandwich by layering your batting in between the front and the back and begin quilting.

I knew that I wanted each of my placemats to have a different style of quilting and different colors of thread. However, each one had white thread as the common color:

Then my light orange:

Finally the dark orange:

Square up your mat and attach your binding using a 5/8th inch seam allowance. Here is a good reference for putting on binding.

I also serge around mine to clean up any lose threads and make it nice and flat. You could also do a zig-zag stitch here too.

Hand or machine stitch the binding down and enjoy!

I have detailed photos of each placemat and the quilting in my Flickr stream here.

Yellow placemat front + back.

Red placemat front + back.

Have fun with this and make it your own. But most of all, use those scraps!

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17 Responses to Scrappy Whole Cloth Placemats

  1. Carole says:

    The wavy line quilting caught my attention when you first posted this tutorial and I just now had time to sit down and try it. It started out looking nice and when I changed colors and started to criss-cross the waves it really turned into something fantastic – thanks!!

  2. Oh these are just awesome!

  3. These are amazing- love the extra color they add to your table!

  4. Jen S says:

    Fantastic idea! I’ve been wanting to make myself a mug rug and placemat for my desk and this style should work wonderfully.

  5. SewMyPlace says:

    Excellent tutorial. I am going to post this on my Facebook fanpage as I think some of my reafers will enjoy this.

  6. Julie says:

    Thats is great idea, love them. Thank you

  7. Peggy says:

    Love your use of a walking foot to do the quilting. Proof that you don’t need to FMQ to get a great result.

  8. Amy says:

    Love these!

  9. Arita says:

    A great idea. Thank you for the tutorial.

  10. nopinkhere says:

    I love the advice about making sure your favorites are in the middle when piecing the binding. It’s easy to grab those first!

  11. Tiara says:

    This is so neat!

  12. darci says:

    these are really cool. good tip on adjusting the presser foot pressure. i just got a new walking foot and did my first quilt with it. I really wish i could have adjusted the pressure on my foot- it would have helped avoid some of the pucker that still showed up

  13. Ginger says:

    Great idea…thanks!

  14. nicke says:

    i am in love!

  15. Michelle says:

    Great ideas, I am definitely going to give this a try using my scraps. thank you for taking the time to do this tutorial for us.

    in Seattle

  16. Thank you very much

  17. Lorrie says:

    Love these placemats!

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