As they say, sometimes the best things come in small packages. We love the itty-bitty adorableness of Mini Charm Squares. At just 2½” x 2½”, they are beautiful bite-size pieces that can be pieced together into colorful combinations. We used them to create double borders on a set of placemats. Each placemat uses 40 of the standard 42 squares that traditionally come in a Mini Charm Square pack, so there’s hardly any waste. And since they’re all cut from the same collection, it’s easy to mix and match. We used a Mini Charm Square bundle from the new Lulu Lane collection by Corey Yoder for Moda.
Each placemat combines two different types of quilting: a pretty diamond pattern for the center panel and straight line quilting along the borders.
We use a very thin backing material for the actual quilting process, then overlay a plain back panel for the smoothest finish when the mat is sitting flat on your table. This method also allows the quilting to go edge-to-edge since the front and back are stitched together and turned rather than bound.
This is a very easy piecing project, but if you’re brand new to quilting, you might want to check out our Five Part Series on Quilting Basics.
Mini Charm Square packs are quite economical – usually just a few dollars. You can use the same collection for each placemat you make, as we show for our pair. Or, look for collections that go together and mix and match, using a different collection for each placemat. If you go this route, it will be best to keep the center panels, back panels, and rick rack the same to tie together all the mats as a coordinated set.
With the new spring and summer fabric collections already hitting in-store and online shelves, there are lots of great choices for this quick and easy project. A set of four or more would make a lovely shower or housewarming gift.
Each placemat finishes at approximately 14″ high x 20″ wide.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- Quarter Inch Seam foot; optional but recommended as all seams are ¼”
- Walking foot; optional but recommended for the quilting – it also can be helpful to use a Quilting Guide Bar with your Walking foot to help maintain an even distance without marked lines
Fabric and Other Supplies
NOTE: Supplies shown are for ONE placemat – multiply as needed to fill your table.
- ONE Mini Charm Pack – you will use 40 of the 42 included squares for each placemat; we used a Lulu Lane Charm Pack by Corey Yoder for Moda Fabrics
NOTE: If you choose to not use a Mini Charm pack, you will need to cut FORTY 2½” x 2½” squares.
- ¼ yard of coordinating 44″+ wide solid color quilting weight cotton for the center panel; we used Kona Cotton in Snow White
- ½ yard of coordinating 44”+ wide solid color twill or lightweight canvas for the back panel; we used Kaufman Ventana Twill in Ivory
- ¼ yard of 45”+ wide fusible fleece; we used 45” Pellon Thermolam Plus
- ¼ yard of 45”+ wide ultra-lightweight fabric for the quilt backing; we used harem cloth, which is a very lightweight 100% cotton cheese cloth
NOTE: For both the fleece and the backing, you need exactly ¼ yard; if you are worried about your cutting accuracy, get ⅜ yard of each.
- 1¼ yards of medium rick rack; we used a soft green rick rack, purchased locally
- All purpose thread to match fabric; we used a soft weight for both construction and all quilting
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Iron and ironing board
- Straight pins
NOTE: Steps shown are for ONE placemat.
- Lay out your mini charm squares in four rows of ten, moving them around until you have a color and pattern blend that strikes your fancy. Alternate colors and motif sizes to keep things interesting.
- From the fabric for the center panel, cut ONE 6½” high“ x 20½” wide rectangle.
- From the fabric for the back panel, cut ONE 14½” high“ x 20½” wide
- From the ultra-lightweight fabric for the quilt backing, cut the following:
ONE 6½” x 20½” rectangle for the center panel
TWO 4½” x 20½” rectangle for the border panels
- From the fusible batting, cut the following:
ONE 6½” x 20½” rectangle for the center panel
TWO 4¼” x 20½” rectangle for the border panels
- Cut the rick rack into TWO 21” lengths.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Create the patchwork borders
- Collect the twenty mini charm squares that make up the top border. Place them in your preferred order: two rows of ten.
- You will first stitch together each vertical pair: one square from the first row and one square from the second row (ie. one on top of the other). This mean you will end up with ten pairs. When stitched together, these pairs will form ten two-square “columns.”
- Pin the first two squares right sides together. If you are working with any directional motifs, make sure you are aligning the bottom of the top square with the top of the bottom square.
- Stitch together, using a ¼” seam allowance. We’re using our Janome Quarter Inch Seam foot.
- Continue in this same manner to stitch together all 20 squares into 10 vertical pairs.
- Repeat to stitch the vertical pairs for the bottom border.
- Place your top and bottom vertical pairs back in order.
- Press each horizontal seam allowance open and flat.
- Working in order from left to right, pin the first two vertical pairs together along their inside 4½” raw edges. Again, pay attention to any directional motifs.
- Stitch together, using a ¼” seam allowance.
- Continue in this same manner to stitch together 10 vertical pairs to create one full top border panel and the other 10 vertical pairs to create one full bottom border panel.
- When the patchwork is complete, press all the vertical seam allowances open and flat.
- Find the two 4¼” fusible batting panels.
- Place a batting panel on the back of each border panel. The batting and fabric will be flush on three sides, and on one long side there will be ¼” of fabric extending beyond the batting. It is important that this free edge is along the bottom of the top border panel and along the top of the bottom border panel.
- Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the batting in place.
- Flip the two fused patchwork border panels so they are right side up.
- Find the two lengths of rick rack.
- Place a length of rick along the bottom of the top border panel and along the top of the bottom border panel. In other words, along the edges that extend beyond the batting. One side of the rick rack should be flush with the fabric panel. Pin in place.
NOTE: The rick rack is ½” longer than the actual width of the panel. This gives you just a bit of wiggle room to make sure you are truly edge to edge.
- Machine baste the rick rack in place, staying very close to the raw edge (it should be within the ¼” seam allowance). Trim any excess rick rack so it is now flush with the fabric.
- The rick rack needs to end up along the top and bottom of the center panel, so at the risk of sounding like a broken record, remember to make sure you are stitching along the correct side of each patchwork panel.
Create and quilt the center panel
- Find the three layers for the center panel. Place them together, in order, to create your quilt sandwich: first the sheer cloth for the backing, then the fusible batting (fusing side up), then the top quilting cotton fabric (right side up). You want the fusible batting to adhere to the back of the main center panel. The sheer panel acts as your backing, allowing you to easily stitch all your quilting lines without the risk of the batting catching on the needle plate.
- Press all three layers, which will allow the batting to adhere. You just need to lightly press as the quilting will be what actually secures all three layers.
- The center panel is quilted with a diamond pattern. If you are at an expert level with your quilting, you can certainly do this quilting using just center starting guide lines and your quilt guide bar. However, because the beauty of a diamond pattern is in its perfectly even lines, we recommend drawing in your all guide lines with a fabric pen or pencil.
NOTE: As always when working on the right side of your fabric, make sure your marking tool is one that will easily wipe away or will vanish with exposure to the air or the heat of an iron. This is particularly important when working on the light colored fabric.
- Find the center point along the bottom edge of your layered center panel. Place a dot at this point.
- Place your ruler at a 45˚ angle from this dot and draw in your first guide line.
- Continue drawing in parallel guide lines in 1” increments, working first to the left of center then to the right of center. Be diligent about keeping the 45˚ angle.
- When the first set of diagonal lines are complete, return to the center point to draw in a 45˚ diagonal line in the opposite direction.
- Complete these parallel lines with 1” spacing across the panel until your diamond pattern is complete.
- Lightly pin the layers around the outer edges.
- Thread the machine with thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch. If possible, attach a Walking or Even Feed foot or engage your machine’s built-in feeding system. We are showing a Walking foot attachment in combination with a quilting guide bar so you can see the set up, but we really relied on the drawn guide lines.
- Starting at the center, stitch along each drawn guide line.
- Work from the center out to one side and then to the other side.
- When complete, re-set the panel to stitch all the lines in the opposite direction.
- When done, remove any visible guide lines.
Attach and quilt the border panels
- Find the fused border panels and the two remaining sheer fabric backing panels.
- Place the top border panel right side down on the center panel, aligning the bottom edge of the panel (with the rick rack) with the top raw edge of the quilted center panel.
- Place the sheer backing panel against the back of the center panel. You have sandwiched the center panel between these two layers – fused patchwork panel on the front, sheer backing panel on the back. The raw edges are all aligned.
- Repeat to sandwich the bottom of the center panel in the same manner. Pin in place through all the layers.
- Using a ¼” seam allowance, stitch across horizontally through all the layers along both the top and bottom of the center panel.
- Bring the front panel and the backing panel up into place. These two panels are now wrong sides together with the seam allowance sandwiched between. If your panels are not laying completely flat against one another, grade the horizontal seam allowance to relieve some bulk.
- Press flat, which means the rick rack should be pressed towards the center panel at the same time.
- The border panels feature straight line quilting with one seam in the ditch of each vertical patchwork seam and one seam down the middle of each vertical pair. Since you can follow the previous seam line for the ditch quilting, you need only draw in the center guide lines.
- Using the same foot and stitch settings as above for the center panel quilting, stitch each straight line.
- We recommend stitching from the outer raw edge down toward to the center horizontal seam. Stop each quilting line right at the center horizontal seam. If possible, use a lock stitch for the neatest look. If you don’t have this feature, leave the thread tails long then pull them through to the back and hand knot to secure.
- When done, remove any visible guide lines.
Layer front to back to finish
- Find the full back panel. Place it right sides together with the completed front panel. The edges should be flush all around. Pin in place, leaving an approximate 4” opening along one side for turning.
- Using a ¼” seam allowance stitch around all four sides. Remember to pivot at each corner and to lock the seam at either side of the 4” opening.
- Clip the corners.
- Turn the placemat right side out through the opening. Use a long, blunt tool to gently push out all the corners so they are nice and sharp. A knitting needle, chopstick or point turner all work well.
- Press flat, pressing in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
- Edgestitch around the entire perimeter of the placemat. This seals the opening used for turning.
NOTE: This edgestitch was enough to hold our placemats firmly. The inner layer of sheer fabric is a bit “grippy” as well, which helps prevent shifting. However, if you feel your placemat needs a bit of extra security, you could stitch in the ditch along the two center horizontal seams through all the layers.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Leah Wand