Quilted Placemats: The PERFECT Beginner Quilt Project


Ready to give quilting a go, but not quite ready to dive into an entire quilt? Let me introduce you to the placemat: perfect for practicing new skills, and totally manageable, even for newbies. Not to mention deliciously stylish.

This pattern's extra fun because it's reversible. I put a solid gold fabric on one side and a cheery polka dot print on the other, so your mat can go from average weeknight dinner to fancy soiree with a flip.

How to sew placemats step by step

Materials (for each placemat)

  • 13" x 18" piece of quilting cotton for the front
  • 14" x 19" piece of quilting cotton for the back
  • 14" x 19"piece of quilt batting or fusible fleece
  • 70" of quilt binding
  • Rotary cutter, ruler and cutting mat
  • Binding clips and sewing pins

Step 1: Make the quilt sandwich

Ah yes, start with the tasty quilt sandwich: Layer a piece of batting between the two pieces of fabric. The batting should touch the wrong sides of the fabric. Spray baste the layers in place or pin in a few places, if desired. (Full disclosure: I skipped this step, and my layers still stayed together well while quilting. But it's good to practice if you're new.)

Step 2: Quilt it

Starting in the middle, quilt through all the layers using a walking foot. Use your hands to smooth out the layers as you go. I sewed vertical lines at a slight angle, but I give you permission to go crazy with your quilting here. Continue until the layers are all quilted together.

Step 3: Trim to size


Trim the placemat to 13" x 18", using a ruler and rotary cutter. The lines of your cutting mat will serve as a guide to make sure the edges are straight on all four sides.

Step 4: Attach the binding


Place the raw edge of the binding strip along the raw edge of the placemat. Beginning in the middle of one side, sew a straight line about ¼" from the edge. When you get¼" from the corner, pivot your placemat under the sewing foot and sew toward the corner as pictured above.

Step 5: Create the mitered corners

Fold back the binding strip at a 45-degree angle, along the line you just sewed. Use your fingernail to make a crease along this fold.

Keeping the fold you just made, fold the strip at a 90-degree angle as pictured. Press the crease with your fingernail, and place the binding strip's raw edges against the next side of the placemat.

Step 6: Sew around the placemat

Sew the next side of the binding strip to the placemat, and continue around all four sides. 

Step 7:  Finish the binding

When you get close to your starting point, leave a gap of about 4".

To join the binding tails, place a sewing pin at the point where they meet, pinning close to the placemat. Make sure the right sides of the binding fabric are touching.

Pull the pinned fabric away from your placemat. Carefully sew a straight line where you pinned together the strips. Trim off the tails ¼" past the stitched line.

Press the seam open and fold the binding in half so it lays nicely on the placemat. Stitch down the remaining binding, being sure to backstitch at both ends.

Step 8: Fold the binding over

Press the binding on the front side around to the back; secure with binding clips. Make sure the binding extends past and completely covers the previous stitch line (so your stitches will blend in on the opposite side).

Step 9: Sew the binding into place

At this point you can either hand-stitch the binding to the back of your placemat, or machine stitch it on, as I've done here.

With the back side of the placemat facing you, stitch ⅛ " from the edge of the binding in one continuous stitch. (Backstitch when your final stitches overlap the first ones.) 

I've used a thread that matches the front of the placemat in both the spool and the bobbin, for a nice contrasting look on the back side. You can choose to match your top thread to the binding for stitches that blend in.

Now keep stitching and make yourself a set. They don't even have to match — use whatever fun fabric you have for a mis-matched, boho vibe.

Variations on this quilted placemat

Skip the quilting

If you want to opt out of the quilted part of these placemats, you can skip the batting. Fuse a 13" x 18" piece of lightweight interfacing to the front and back fabrics instead, to give them a bit more weight.

Skip the binding

If you're going rouge with no batting and no quilting, you can skip the binding, too. Sew the top and bottom as you would a simple pillow cover. Stitch the top and bottom fabrics right sides together, ¼" from the edge, leaving a 4" turning gap. Turn the placemat right side out. Poke out the corners. Press, and hand sew the gap closed. Topstitch the placemat ⅛ " from the edge to finish. This method also gives you a double-sided placemat.

We'll give it to you straight: It is totally possible to hack your machine so you can free-motion quilt. Start dreaming up those swirly motifs, and get ready to teach your old machine some new tricks!
Christa Watson
Take your machine quilting skills in new directions as Ann Petersen teaches you 17 quilting designs that will add richness to your free-motion work.
Ann Petersen
Ann Petersen
Get to know your machine and the basics of pinning, stitching, pressing and finishing as you make a pillow and a pencil skirt.
Diana Rupp
Diana Rupp
Now Reading
Quilted Placemats: The PERFECT Beginner Quilt Project