This gorgeous quilted table runner was originally designed to feature the Downton Abbey fabric collection from Andover Fabrics. However, the traditional patchwork star design is one that would work well with any number of current quilting cotton collections – especially ones that feature a similar palette of both dark and light colors and a selection of petite prints. Look for collections rich in color with layered motifs.
Although we’re a little shy on the kitchen help and footmen the Downton Abbey television series is famous for, we were still able to put together our own festive table setting to echo the holiday ambience of a traditional Crawley family gathering. Of course, the runner’s design would be equally lovely in non-holiday themed fabric, making it an excellent choice year ’round.
The piecing for this project contains some more advanced techniques, but in true S4H fashion, we’ve provided detailed step-by-step instructions along with plenty of photos and even several diagrams.
If you’re brand new to quilting, you may want to review our five-part Quilting Basics series for a good foundation prior to starting.
We used free-motion quilting within the solid white of each inset triangle in a classic feather design. If that style is too advanced for you, consider a simple diamond pattern, which would be a nice echo of all the half square triangles.
When shopping for your fabric selections, pay particular attention to how we combined the light and dark fabrics; it’s what enhances and showcases the star. If possible, look for a special focus motif, like the medallion we chose and fussy cut, as the perfect center point of each completed block
Our runner finishes at approximately 56″ long point to point and 20″ wide at the center.
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- Walking or Even Feed foot; optional but best for layers and ditch quilting; or engage your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system, such as the AcuFeed™ Flex system we use on many of our Janome studio models
- Quarter Inch Seam foot; optional but best for seaming
- Free Motion or Darning foot; for optional free-motion quilting
Fabric and Other Supplies
- FOUR cuts from your chosen quilting cotton collection; specific yardage is shown below coded to our original Downton Abbey fabric so it’s easy to follow-along with your personal fabric choices
- ¾ yard of a coordinating 44″ + wide cotton solid; we used Kona Cotton Solid in Snow
- 2 yards of 45″ + wide lightweight, low loft batting (you need a 22″ x 72″ cut); we used Warm & Natural 90″ Warm Bond Batting – with the 90″ width, we were able to use just ¾ yard by cutting horizontally
- All purpose thread to coordinate with the fabrics
- Machine quilting thread, 50 wt; we used Aurifil 50wt in white
- See-through ruler
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- 4½” square ruler
- 2½” square ruler
NOTE: These two speciality rulers are optional but will make your fussy cuts faster and more precise.
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
- Large safety pins for pin basting
- Hand sewing needle and contrasting thread (an option to pin basting)
Specific Yardage Notes
- ⅝ yard of fabric 1: Downton Abbey Christmas Medallions in White
- ⅝ yard of fabric 2: Downton Abbey Christmas Snow in Black
- ¼ yard of fabric 3: Downton Abbey Christmas Castle in Red
- 2 yards of fabric 4: Downton Abbey Christmas Typeface in Black
- ¾ yard of fabric 5: Kona Cotton Solid in Snow (also mentioned in the supply list above – just ONE ¾ yard cut is needed)
- Fabric 1 – Christmas Medallions in White
Using the 4½” square ruler, fussy cut THREE squares with the star motif centered. You can, of course, simply cut the square with a standard ruler.
Using the 2½” square ruler, fussy cut TWENTY-FOUR squares with the flower motif centered.
- Fabric 2 – Christmas Snow in Black
Cut the following:
TWO 2½” x Width of Fabric (WOF) strips. Sub-cut the strips into TWELVE 4½” pieces.
THREE 2½” x WOF strips. Sub-cut the strips into TWENTY-FOUR 2½” squares.
ONE 3″ x WOF strip. Sub-cut the strip into TWELVE 3″ squares.
ONE 1½” x WOF strip. Sub-cut the strip into TEN 1½” squares.
ONE 5½” x WOF strip. Sub-cut the strip into FOUR 5½” squares.
- Fabric 3 – Christmas Castle in Red:
Cut the following:
ONE 2½” x WOF strip. Sub-cut the strip into TWELVE 2½” squares.
THREE 1½” x WOF strips. Sub-cut the strips into TWELVE 12½” lengths.
- Fabric 4 – Christmas Typeface in Black:
Cut TWO 22″ wide x 72″ panels from the length of the fabric. Set one panel aside to be used for the table runner backing.
From the remaining panel, cut the following:
TWO 5″ x WOF strips. Sub-cut the strips into SIX 5″ squares. Cut three of these squares in half vertically, and three in half horizontally.
Trim to all of these half squares to 2½” x 4½”.
TWO 2½” x WOF strips. Sub-cut the strips into TWELVE 2½” squares.
THREE 2½” x WOF strips. Sub-cut the strips into TWELVE 4½” pieces.
TWO 3″ x WOF strips. Sub-cut the strips into TWELVE 3″ squares.
- Fabric 5 – Solid in Snow:
Cut the following:
ONE 4½” x WOF strips. Sub-cut the strip into FOUR 10½” pieces.
TWO 4½” x WOF strips. Sub-cut the strip into FOUR 14½” pieces.
FOUR 2″ x WOF strips. Set aside at full length for binding.
- Low loft batting:
Cut ONE 22″ x 72″ rectangle.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Flying Geese Unit A
- Find the twenty-four 2½” fussy cut squares (Christmas Medallions) and the twelve 2½” x 4½” rectangles (Snow in Black).
- Place one square right sides together with one end of a rectangle, aligning the 2½” sides.
- Using a clear ruler, draw a diagonal line through the middle of the square from the upper left corner to the bottom right corner.
- Stitch from corner to corner along the drawn line.
NOTE: You can see in the photo above that we used a scrap of leftover fabric as a starter piece to help begin the stitching at the exact corner of the square. You can learn more about this and other techniques in our five-part Quilting Basics series.
- Using the clear ruler, measure ¼” to the right of the sewn seam and trim away the excess corner.
- Press the triangle away from the block.
- Place another 2½” square right sides together with the opposite end of the rectangle, aligning the 2½” sides.
- Using a clear ruler, draw a diagonal line through the middle of this square from the upper right corner to the bottom left corner.
- Stitch from corner to corner along the drawn line.
- Again using your clear ruler, measure ¼” to the right of the sewn seam and trim away the excess corner.
- Press the second triangle away from the block to complete the Flying Geese unit.
- Repeat to create the ELEVEN additional Flying Geese Unit A sets for a total of TWELVE.
Flying Geese Unit B
- Find the twenty-four 2½” squares (Snow in Black) and the twelve 2½” x 4½” rectangles (Typeface in Black).
- Place one square right sides together with one end of the rectangle, aligning the 2½” sides. Notice that the rectangles have printing that is horizontal on 12 of the rectangles and vertical on the remaining 12 rectangles. This is correct.
- Using a clear ruler, draw a diagonal line through the middle of the square.
- Follow the same steps as above for Flying Geese Unit A to create TWELVE Flying Geese Unit B sets.
- Assemble the two Flying Geese Units
- Match up each Flying Geese Unit A with a corresponding Flying Geese Unit B to create a chevron shape in the middle in the Snow in Black.
- Place the two units right sides together and pin along the center edge. Stitch with a ¼” seam allowance, which should run right across the point of the Flying Geese.
- Press the seam allowance toward Unit A. Repeat to create a total of TWELVE combined units.
Half Square Triangles
- Find the two sets of TWELVE 3″ squares (Typeface in Black and Snow in Black).
- Match the sets so you have twelve pairs of two contrasting fabrics.
- Place the matched squares right sides together.
- Using a clear ruler, draw a diagonal line through the middle of the layered squares, keeping the diagonal lines the same on each.
- Stitch ¼” to either side of the drawn line.
NOTE: We used our Janome Quarter Inch Seam foot to keep our stitching lines perfect ¼” seams. This foot has a flange, which you can run along the drawn line. Most other brands will have a similar foot.
- When both seams are sewn, cut along the drawn line to produce two half square units.
- Press the squares open, pressing the seam allowance toward the darker fabric (Snow in black).
- Using the 2½” fussy cut ruler, trim each half square unit down to an exact 2½” x 2½” square. You will be trimming off just a tiny amount.
- Repeat these steps to create a total of TWENTY-FOUR half square triangles. Separate them into two stacks: one with the script oriented vertically and one with the script oriented horizontally.
Hour Glass Units
- Arrange the block on a flat surface. A 4½” fussy cut star should be at the center.
- Place the combined Flying Geese units around the center the their points facing the center square.
- Find the two sets of plain TWELVE 2½” squares (Typeface in Black and Castle in Red).
- At each corner, arrange the half square triangles and the 2½” plain squares to make an Hour Glass unit as shown in the photo below. Notice the script is oriented in the same direction at each corner.
- Picking up the pieces from your arrangement (it makes it easier to keep track of things if you work from your laid out pieces), place each half square triangle right sides together with its next-door neighbor plain 2½” square.
- Using a ¼” seam allowance, stitch together each pair along what will become the center side. Press the seam allowance toward the plain square.
- For each corner, place the upper two-square unit and lower two-square unit right sides together, carefully matching the center seams. Because you pressed the seam allowances above toward each plain square, your seams should nicely nest, giving you a perfect center point. Press each finished Hour Glass corner square open and flat.
Final block assembly
- Join the three units into rows and then join the rows to complete the block. Take care to match all points and corners. Press the seams to one side for each seam as it is sewn.
- Repeat to create three identical blocks.
- To help your brain absorb all this, below is a helpful exploded view of the block.
- And, here is another helpful illustration of the assembled block.
Make the inset triangles
- Find the 5½” squares (Snow in Black) and all the solid rectangles (Snow solid cotton).
- Place a 10½” x 4½” solid rectangle right sides together with a patterned square, keeping one side and the top edge flush.
- Using a ¼” seam allowance stitch along the top edge of the square only.
- Press the seam allowance toward the square and press the square away from the rectangle. Rotate the sewn unit 90˚.
- Match a 14½” x 4½” rectangle to the sewn unit, creating a right angle with the two solid rectangles.
- Using a ¼” seam allowance stitch from the overlapped corner to the outer side edge of the square only.
- Press the seam allowance toward the square and press the rectangle away from the square.The unit will form a “L” with the Black Snow square centered.
- Place a mark ¾” in from each end of the “L”.
- Place a ruler from mark to mark. Using a rotary cutter, trim away the excess.
- Repeat to create three additional inset triangles.
- Find the TWELVE 1½” x 12½” strips (Red Castle) and TEN 1½” squares (Black Snow Dots).
- Set aside six strips.
- From the remaining six strips, create two units:
TWO of Unit 1: 1½” square, 12½” strip, 1½” square, 12½” strip, 1½” square
TWO of Unit 2: 1½” square, 12½” strip, 1½” square.
- Using a ¼” seam allowance, stitch together all four units to create longer strips, which will become sashing strips for the blocks. Press all the seam allowances away from the squares.
- Arrange the star blocks, inserting the triangle and sashing strips as shown in diagram below. The arrangement is easiest sewn as diagonal rows. All seam allowances are ¼”.
- Sew a plain 12½” strip to top and bottom of each block. Press seams toward the strip.
- Along the outer side, sew one shorter strip unit to the main block, carefully matching the seams. Press the seam toward the strip.
- Along the bottom, sew an inset triangle to the block. Press the seam toward the strip.
- At the raw edge of the opposite longer side, sew a longer strip unit, again carefully matching the seams. Press the seam allowance toward the strip.
- This creates the bottom row. Repeat as a mirror image to create the top row.
- The center row is constructed using partial seams.
- Place an inset triangle right sides together with one raw side edge and one sashed edge of the block as shown in the photo below.
- Sew the inset triangle to the block as shown, stopping the stitching halfway along the sashing strip side. Press the partially sewn seam toward the sashing strip.
- Match up each long raw edge of the center row with the remaining raw edge of the longer sashing unit on the top and bottom rows. Press the seams toward the strip.
- Complete each partially sewn seam.
Quilting the runner
- Find the 22″ x 72″ backing panel and the 22″ x 72″ batting panel.
- Place the fabric panel right side down and flat on a large work surface.
- Layer the batting on top of the backing.
- Center the runner top right side up over the batting. Trim the excess batting/backing so they extend approximately ½” beyond the runner top.
- Pin or hand baste the layers together. We hand basted.
- Ditch stitch along both sides of all the sashing. We recommend a Walking or Even Feed foot or engage your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system.
- Ditch stitch on both sides of each black inset triangle.
- Ditch stitch around the fussy cut star in the center of each block.
- Ditch stitch around the black chevrons and black hour glass units.
- Free-motion quilt within the solid white of each inset triangle. We used a feather design.
- Trim the excess batting and batting flush with quilted runner.
Binding the runner
- Locate the 2″ strips of solid white.
- Place the strips right sides together, end to end, along the 2″ ends. Pin, then stitch in place with a ¼” seam allowance to create one long strip. Press the seam allowances open.
- Fold the joined strip in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press.
- Working from the front of runner, align the raw edges of the folded and pressed strip with the raw edge of the runner. Pin in place, mitering each corner.
- Start in the middle of one long edge, leaving a tail of approximately 4″. Sew the binding to the runner, using a ¼” seam allowance.
- Stitch all the way around, stopping approximately 4″ from your starting point
- Open out the binding and join the ends, measuring to fit. Stitch the ends together and trim away the excess fabric.
- Re-fold the binding and finish the seam.
- Bring the binding up and over from the front…
- … to the back side of the runner, covering the line of stitching. Press in place and pin as needed.
- Hand stitch the binding in place along the back.
NOTE: If you are brand new to binding, take a look at our tutorial: A Complete Step-by-Step For Binding Quilts & Throws. We show detailed instructions for a number of attaching and finishing options.
- Remove the basting threads if you used them to hold the layers together.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Michele Mishler