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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.

We found good selections Mini Charm Square packs in stock and ready to ship at both Fat Quarter Shop and Fabric Depot.

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

Getting Started

NOTE: Steps shown are for ONE placemat.

  1. 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.
  2. From the fabric for the center panel, cut ONE 6½” high“ x 20½” wide rectangle.
  3. From the fabric for the back panel, cut ONE 14½” high“ x 20½” wide
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. Cut the rick rack into TWO 21” lengths.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Create the patchwork borders

  1. Collect the twenty mini charm squares that make up the top border. Place them in your preferred order: two rows of ten.
  2. 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.”
  3. 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.
  4. Stitch together, using a ¼” seam allowance. We’re using our Janome Quarter Inch Seam foot.
  5. Continue in this same manner to stitch together all 20 squares into 10 vertical pairs.
  6. Repeat to stitch the vertical pairs for the bottom border.
  7. Place your top and bottom vertical pairs back in order.
  8. Press each horizontal seam allowance open and flat.
  9. 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.
  10. Stitch together, using a ¼” seam allowance.
  11. 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.
  12. When the patchwork is complete, press all the vertical seam allowances open and flat.
  13. Find the two 4¼” fusible batting panels.
  14. 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.
  15. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the batting in place.
  16. Flip the two fused patchwork border panels so they are right side up.
  17. Find the two lengths of rick rack.
  18. 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. 
  19. 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.
  20. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 
  4. Find the center point along the bottom edge of your layered center panel. Place a dot at this point.
  5. Place your ruler at a 45˚ angle from this dot and draw in your first guide line.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Complete these parallel lines with 1” spacing across the panel until your diamond pattern is complete.
  9. Lightly pin the layers around the outer edges.
  10. 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.
  11. Starting at the center, stitch along each drawn guide line.
  12. Work from the center out to one side and then to the other side.
  13. When complete, re-set the panel to stitch all the lines in the opposite direction.
  14. When done, remove any visible guide lines.

Attach and quilt the border panels

  1. Find the fused border panels and the two remaining sheer fabric backing panels.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Repeat to sandwich the bottom of the center panel in the same manner. Pin in place through all the layers.
  5. Using a ¼” seam allowance, stitch across horizontally through all the layers along both the top and bottom of the center panel.
  6. 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.
  7. Press flat, which means the rick rack should be pressed towards the center panel at the same time.
  8. 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.
  9. Using the same foot and stitch settings as above for the center panel quilting, stitch each straight line.
  10. 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.
  11. When done, remove any visible guide lines.

Layer front to back to finish

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Clip the corners.
  4. 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.
  5. Press flat, pressing in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
  6. 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.

Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Leah Wand

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Belinda
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Belinda

I saved the PDF but I do wish I could copy and Paste it to consolidate and make the pictures smaller. I don’t like to print out that many pages. And I really do like the pattern! Thank Youboohoo

Liz Johnson
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Liz Johnson

@Belinda – So glad you love the pattern! We do provide the PDF function for all our free patterns, which is a step beyond most websites. However, we’ve had real problems over the years with content being taken and exploited without permission. Certainly nothing you would ever do! We know that 🙂 … but it is a shame that the actions of a few can cause ripple effects. Thank you for your understanding!

Connie
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Connie

I made two of these mini mats three years ago for my cousin’s mom who was turning 99. I embroidered her initials in the middle sections. She loved them.

Liz Johnson
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Liz Johnson

@Connie – What a lovely way to personalize the gift. We love these mini charms – so cute and colorful!

Carol
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Carol

Inspiration to make some for our Meals on Wheels project here in Ottawa. Thanks .

Liz Johnson
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Liz Johnson

@Carol – What an incredible idea! Something cute like this would definitely brighten someone’s day when their meal arrives.

Janet
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Janet

Thank you for sharing. I attempted to create one from memory (without jotting down the instructions) ended up with mug rug instead of place mat. Adorable in miniature, keeping it for myself as a reminder to take time, make notes and oops aren’t always bad. ;).

Liz Johnson
Admin
Liz Johnson

@Janet – I bet it is adorable as a mug rug! We’re glad you found the original project again!

Deb
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Deb

What a great, fun placemat pattern. Can’t wait to try it in Just Red, which I adore.

Liz Johnson
Admin
Liz Johnson

@ Deb — Thank you! All red?! I bet that will be pretty.

Cynthia Roberts
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Cynthia Roberts

Cute placemats! This would be a fun project to do with my mother-in-law who wants to make placemats for her dining room table.

Liz Johnson
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Liz Johnson

@Cynthia – Ahhh – thank you. I’m sure your mother-in-law would have fun with the project!

Jan
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Jan

A nice project for bought mini charms or for our scrappy squares. Easy to do for various holidays. Thanks.

Liz Johnson
Admin
Liz Johnson

@Jan – You are so welcome. If you make some, share a picture or two on social media so we can all be inspired. We are sew4home on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, and sew4home_diy on Instagram.

Christine Mulvihill
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Christine Mulvihill

I love these placemats. What a wonderful way to use the mini packs or 2 1/2 inch left over squares. I was contemplating sewing the top piece first than attaching a batting piece and backing. No rick rack. Once turned inside out doing all the quilting. That would be the way I usually do placemats. Do you anticipate any problems doing it that way? Thanks for your input.

Liz Johnson
Admin
Liz Johnson

@Christine – For our placemats, we prefer to keep the back panel clean and flat so it sits nicely on the table. That is why we have the quilting on just the top layer. But, you are always welcome to adapt the project to best fit your needs :-).

LinS76
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LinS76

I don’t understand the

I don’t understand the function of the ultralight fabric. It seems like an unnecessary layer. And in the section titled “Create and quilt the center panel”, which side of the fusible batting does the adhesive face, the sheer fabric or the top fabric? The directions say first the sheer cloth, the the batting, then the top fabric but it doesn’t specify how the fusible batting is oriented, adhesive up or adhesive down?

Kris Valle
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Kris Valle

These are really cute!

These are really cute!

RH
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RH

I made one of these today of

I made one of these today of out blue/green/yellow/orange batiks. It’ll go perfectly with my dinner dishes. Great pattern and directions. Thanks!

deelee45
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deelee45

This will be a good project

This will be a good project to use  up some of the 2 1/2 inch squares and strips from my scrap bin. Thinking of Christmas presents already. Love this site. I am fortunate to own three Janome machines.

Mary Eggert
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Mary Eggert

Love the ric-rac, adds a

Love the ric-rac, adds a nostalgic look! I’m going to make table runners, tho.

donna
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donna

oooh, great idea!

oooh, great idea!

Pati Akers
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Pati Akers

So perfect for left over

So perfect for left over pieces from former projects that are too small for major projects. Now they become a significant project, worthy of an “Atta Boy” Thanks!

Cyndi
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Cyndi

Wouldn’t it be easier to

Wouldn’t it be easier to quilt the charm squares before sewing them to the middle, because you could just sew off the edges?

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