Introduction of How To Sew Placemats
Sewing placemats for you yourself or for gift-giving is super easy and fairly cost-effective to beginners. One year I made over 70 of these for Christmas gifts!
If you love shopping for fabrics like I do, it’s fun to make seasonal placemats and change them out for variety’s sake.
I’ve purchased placemats before and unless you spring for the spendy ones, mine end up looking like this after a few washings: YUK!
So maddening! I refuse to iron placemats when they need to be washed! Life is too short!
If you get everything all cut and pinned and stacked up, it’s assembly line style sewing and goes fairly fast.
If you are debating what sewing machine to buy, check out our review article Best Sewing Machines for Quilting here. It is chock full of insider tips and product comparisons that will translate very well into the needs of a beginner sewing machine.
Supplies Needed To Sew Placemats
If you decide on plaid or striped fabric, you ‘ll need to make very sure you are cutting all the edges parallel with the lines in the fabric designs. If you are skewed, it will look lopsided. I quite like using plaid because it is so easy to see the straight weave of the fabric and I use it to eyeball stitching straight.
On the other hand, floral or patterned fabric hides a bunch of mistakes!
- For six placemats you will need 1 ⅛ yard of 44” sized fabric for one side and 1 ⅛ yard alternate fabric for the back of the placemats.
- You will also need 1 ⅛ yard of Pellon 972 Econo-Fleece and matching thread.
- For eight placemats, purchase 1 ½ yards each of top and bottom fabrics and fleece and matching thread
For best results, use a walking foot for your sewing machine….totally worth the cost of buying one! But if you don’t have on, never fear, read on!
Please read our article on sewing machine reviews here. It is about selecting the best machine for quilting, but a lot of that applies to beginning sewing as well!
Budget Tips For Sewing Your Placemats
Try using big box craft store coupons or check out the fabric section of Walmart. Both stores are not heirloom quality fabric, but for placemats that will get stains on them from constant use, I’m ok with budget fabric! Honestly, after a couple of years of use, I get tired of the same look in placemats and want to replace them anyway!
8 Instructions For How To Sew Placemats
1. Preshrink The Fabric
I always preshrink the fabric (not the fleece) and iron it flat before I start. I also use a rotary cutter and straighten up the raw edges if they have gone askew with the washing. Cheaper fabric will almost always need this!
2. Cut the fabrics
Cut each placemat 13 inches wide by 20 inches by marking 13 inch increments on the folded edge of the fabric. This will give you six placemats that you can trim down to 13 x 20 inches. (sometimes the bolt of fabric is wider than 40 inches so you will have a bit more waste fabric to trim away).
3. Cut the fleece
Cut the fleece in the same manner.
Lay a top and bottom piece of placemat fabric right sides together and smooth flat so there are no wrinkles. Lay one piece of fleece batting on the bottom and pin all three layers together on the raw edges.
*I like to double pin the opening area for turning inside out so that as I’m stitching, I know when to stop and backstitch an anchor stitch.
*If you don’t have a walking foot, take one hand and firmly grip the fabric behind the presser foot and with the other hand firmly grip the fabric as it feeds into the presser foot and firmly pull it tight as it feeds into the presser feet. It removes the slack in the fabric just enough to help eliminate any puckers.
Stitch all around the outside edges of the placemat about 3/8 inch to 1/2 inches from the edge, depending on how big a rim you prefer on the finished outside edges. I used 3/8 inch or a tad wider. Honestly, I eyeballed it! Trim/taper the corners to reduce bulk. I like to NOT trim the rest of the seam in this case because when you turn it inside out and stitch the top, that extra bulk makes a perfect padded rim all along the outside edge and it keeps the placemat from rolling after washings.
6. Turn inside out
Turn inside out and pull the corners as pointed as they will easily go, without unraveling any of the fabric weave, then iron flat using a hot iron and plenty of steam.
7. Finish step
Hand stitch the opening closed by folding the fabric opening to the inside.
8.One last tweak
Iron flat one last time. Using pins to baste the seams flat, topstitch ⅜ or ½ inch around the inside edge of each placemat. You could go really precise here and mark the fabric with a ruler, but honestly, I’m just not into so much precision. I use the seam markings on my sewing machine plate or just eyeball it. You can see that the fleece was double thick on the border because I didn’t trim it (except at the bulky corners). I stitched just a tad to the left of this double bulk and it made a perfect firm padded border rim all around the placemat. THIS will keep it from rolling under after repeated washings!
If your machine has a NICE anchor stitch (mine is a knotted mess) you can start and stop on a dime and just clip your threads. An alternative is to stitch forward and backward two stitches a few times and create your own anchor stitches at the beginning and end of your topstitch runs, then clip threads.
You can sure leave them as is, they will be sturdy and look great for many, many washings.
If you like a more custom look, you can add a quilted pattern in the center, sew on rick rack or washable trims, use your fancy embroidery stitches if you have them on your machine, or sew a quilted grid.
Here’s another photo of the placemats and you can see which ones are three years old and survivors of dozens of machine washing and drying. I’m really please with the durability, even if the fabric is less than heirloom quality to begin with. SCORE one for the budget!
While I was at it, my daughter requested a new table runner for Christmas decorating, so, I just made a placemat extra, extra long using the same techniques! Here’s the front:
and Here’s the reverse, which will really set off centerpiece arrangements and lighter colored stylizing with mercury glass vases, red blown glass votives or farmhouse tin! The fringe was a good project to unravel while watching tv. It took about one hour to do both ends. I made a stay stitch on both ends and stopped fringing about 1/4 inch before the stitching.
There you go! We hope you enjoyed this simple tutorial and have fun making gifts for your kitchen or for your friends! Happy sewing!