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How many of you remember the Seinfeld episode where Kramer is pitching the coffee table book about coffee tables? The center point of most living rooms is indeed the coffee table. So it certainly deserves its own decorator touch for holiday celebrations. This table topper project features a classic nine-patch center section that shows off a beautiful selection vivid, large motif quilting cottons.

An accent row of vintage, mother-of-pearl buttons and bright corner tassels add extra special finishing touches. They are both optional, of course, but so are marshmallows in hot chocolate – and we all know cocoa really isn’t very fun without those melty mini marshmallows.

Our image above shows holiday décor, and we love using non traditional colors for seasonal decorating, but of course the nine center squares can be whichever favorite fabric you’d like. If you have some large motif scraps in your stash, this is a perfect project to pull them and show them off. You need just 13″ squares.

Brand new to quilting? A nine-patch is about as beginner friendly as it gets.

Our Table Topper finishes at approximately 40″ x 40″ – because it is meant to be decorative, we did not add batting between the layers, however, this is certainly an option should you want some added protection for your table.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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  • Yardage or scraps for inside squares (nine total with a finished size of 12″ x 12″ each): ½ yard of 44-45″ wide fabric will yield three 13″ x 13″ cut squares. We chose four fabrics, which meant we cut three squares from one fabric, but only two from the others. You could certainly use just three fabrics. We originally used: Heather Bailey’s Pop Garden & Bijoux: Paisley in Blue, Pineapple Brocade in Canary, Wallpaper Roses in Green, and Peonies in Red
  • Fabric for outer borders and back: 1½ yards of 44″+ wide quilting weight fabric: we used a cream cotton sateen
    NOTE: you will need to be quite exact in your cutting to make 1½ yards work (see below); if you want a little “fudge room” get 1¾ yards
  • Four large tassels in a coordinating color (optional): we made our own out of orange-red embroidery floss, but you could certainly use purchased tassels as well
  • 75-100 small buttons to sew around border (optional): we used a variety of mother-of-pearl vintage buttons
  • All purpose thread
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Hand sewing needle
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

  1. Cut NINE 13″ x 13″ squares from your selected nine-patch fabrics.
  2. From your backing and border fabric, cut the following:
    TWO 3″ x 41″ strips
    TWO 3″ x 37″ strips a
    ONE 41″ x 41″ square
  3. If you’ve decided to make your own tassels, make four now. For easy step-by-step instructions, see our tutorial: How to Make a Tassel.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

The center of this table topper is a simple Nine Patch Block, one of the easier quilt block patterns. Lay out your nine squares in three rows of three, in a pattern pleasing to you. If you’d like to duplicate ours, we used the following sequences: Blue Paisley, Green Wallpaper Roses, Canary Pineapple Brocade in row one; Red Peonies, Blue Paisley, Green Wallpaper Roses in row two; and Canary Pineapple Brocade, Green Wallpaper Roses, Red Peonies in row three.

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  1. Starting with row one, pin square one to square two right sides together. Stitch them along ONE side, using a ½” seam allowance.
  2. Take square three from row one and pin to the opposite side of square two. Stitch in place with a ½” seam allowance to create your first row of three squares.
  3. Repeat to create rows two and three.
  4. Stitch the three rows together along their long sides to complete your Nine Patch Center Patchwork. Finished, it should measure 37″ x 37″.
  5. With right sides together, pin one 3″ x 37″ border strip to the top of your center patchwork and the other 3″ x 37″ border strip to the bottom.
  6. Stitch both top and bottom, using a ½” seam allowance. You now have a piece that measures 37″ x 41″.
  7. With right sides together, pin one 3″ x 41″ border strip to the right edge of your center patchwork and the other 3″ x 41″ border strip to the left side.
  8. Stitch both left and right, using a ½” seam allowance. You now have a piece that measures 41″ x 41″ with nice right-angle corners.
  9. If using accent buttons on your border, sew them on now. Your exact placement will depend on the size of buttons you use. We used about 24 buttons per side. You want them to be spaced evenly along each edge and at least ¾” to 1″ in from the raw edge so you can sew your final ½” seam without interference and top stitch around the edge to finish. Use your ruler and fabric pencil to mark the point for each button.
    NOTE: Check out our Button Sewing by Hand tutorial as well as our how-to article on stitching buttons with your machine.
  10. With right sides together, pin the finished front piece to the 41″ x 41″ backing fabric square around all four sides, leaving a 7″ – 8″ opening for turning.
    NOTE: Remember, this cloth needs to lay nice and flat on your table. Be especially careful when pinning to insure the two pieces are flat against one another – with no baggy center or edges. After pinning, lay it flat on a table or the floor to check. Trim the raw edges to square if necessary.
  11. If using batting, now is the time to add this layer.
  12. Stitch front to back around all sides, using a ½” seam allowance and leaving the 7″ – 8″ opening for turning.
  13. Clip all four corners. It’s also a good idea to back-tack at each corner to reinforce them and make sure they stay sharp when turned right-side-out.
  14. Using the 7″ – 8″ opening, turn the piece right-side-out. Be sure to push out each corner so it is flush and square. Use a long tool with a dull point, like a knitting needle, chopstick or point turner.
  15. Tuck in the raw edges of the opening ½” so they are flush with the sewn edge. Press flat around all four edges and all four corners. If you’ve used vintage buttons, be careful when pressing as the heat and pressure can crack delicate shell buttons. A pressing cloth is a good idea.
  16. Topstitch approximately ¼” from the outside edge all around four sides. This topstitching will seal the 7″ – 8″ opening.
  17. Carefully hand-stitch a tassel to each corner.
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Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Heather Tucker

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