Originally developed to prevent down mattress and pillow feathers from poking through or blowing away, ticking dates back as early as the eleventh century when the fabric was made with a linen warp and a cotton weft. Today, the clean and simple look of striped ticking comes in a variety of colors and is a favorite when creating a “homespun” look to sewing and craft projects. We used it as the border accent for an easy and casually elegant set of placemats with matching, all-ticking napkins.

For the main fabric framed by the bias-cut ticking, we recommend a mid-to-heavy weight décor fabric, such a twill, canvas, even outdoor can be and option. You want a to be able to use a single layer of this fabric to provide a substantial yet flat base for your table setting. If it’s nice on both sides, the mats can be reversible, giving you more mealtimes between washings. We laundered our ticking three times with fabric softener prior to starting the project so it was soft and supple, making the binding easier.

To make things fast and easy, we used our own Continuous Bias Binding Tutorial for make all the bias binding for the placemats. You could certainly also use traditional bias strips.

Cutting on the bias adds a pretty candy cane border with a holiday feel, but even after the season is over, a diagonal stripe is always a bit more interesting.

The large, dinner size napkins have wide hems top and bottom and narrow hems along each side – a more formal hemming style that works well with the heavier (and more absorbent) weight of the ticking.

The neutral colors we chose work well on a holiday table, but will be just as functional as the seasons change. Picking a neutral palette also makes your dinnerware the star. Bring out the bold colors or intricate border motifs, either will stand out beautifully against the classic fabric textures and tones.

Bundle up a set of four or more with a cookbook, your own special family recipe, or a pretty set of flatware. Table linens and accessories are always a welcome gift. They are also a quick and easy, beginner-friendly project.

Our placemats finish at 14″ x 20″ and our napkins are generously sized to finish at 18″ x 18″.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

NOTE: Supplies shown are for a set of FOUR placemats and FOUR napkins (two in each color combo).

  • 1½ yard EACH of TWO 44″+ wide ticking or similar in coordinating colors – each color is for TWO napkins and the bias binding for TWO placemats; we originally used two 44″ fabrics from the Ticking Stripe collection from Fabric.com
  • ½ yard EACH of TWO 44″+ wide upholstery/décor weight fabrics in coordinating colors for TWO placemats in each color
  • All purpose thread to match fabric
  • 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

  1. From the fabric for the placemat centers, cut ONE 14″ high x 20″ wide rectangle for each placemat. 
  2. From the fabric for the napkins, cut one 19″ wide x 20½” high rectangle (so the stripes run vertically) for each napkin.
  3. From the fabric for the placemat binding, cut one 24″ x 24″ square from EACH color to create enough continuous bias binding for two placemats of each color – four placemats total.
    NOTE: If you prefer to make standard bias strips, you’ll need a minimum of 70″ x 3″ for each placemat. 

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Napkins

  1. The napkins are designed to have a narrow ½” double-fold hem along each side and a wider 1¾” double-fold hem at the top and bottom. 
  2. To create this, first hem the sides. Fold in each raw side edge ¼” and press. Fold in an additional ¼” and press again. Pin in place.
  3. Stitch the hem in place, staying close to the inner fold. We used our Janome Quarter Inch Seam foot to maintain a precise stitching line.
  4. To create the top and bottom hem, fold in each raw side edge ½” and press. Fold in an additional ¾” and press again. Pin in place. 
  5. Stitch in place, again staying close to the inner fold.

Placemats

  1. As mentioned above, we used the continuous bias binding method to create our placemat binding. If you are new to this technique, we have a great tutorial on Continuous Bias Binding.
  2. As a brief summary for those of you familiar, you first cut your square (ours was 24″ x 24″) in half diagonally. Place the triangles right sides together along the straight cut edge.
  3. Stitch together, using a ¼” seam allowance, to form a parallelogram with a vertical seam.
  4. Mark for a 3″ strip width across the fabric, intersecting the seam.
  5. Fold the parallelogram right sides together with the drawn lines flush to form a tube.
  6. Stitch, again using a ¼” seam allowance
  7. Cut along the drawn line around and around the tube to create the continuous binding strip.
    NOTE: Again, here’s the link to the complete continuous bias binding tutorial. 
  8. Cut the strip into an approximate 70″ length for each placemat.
  9. Fold the strip in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press to set a center crease. Unfold, wrong side up, so the crease line is visible. Fold in each long raw edge to the center crease line and press well.
  10. Starting in the middle of the bottom edge, slip the binding over the raw edges of the placemat. 
  11. At each corner, turn the binding on a diagonal fold at the inside of the corner.
  12. Pin the binding in place as you go.
  13. Wrap the binding around the entire perimeter of the placemat, leaving approximately 2″ loose at the tail.
  14. If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to match the binding in the top and bobbin.
    NOTE: If you are new to working with slip-over-the-edge binding and/or stitching with thick layers, you may want to use a Walking foot or engage your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system in order to keep all the layers feeding smoothly and evenly. 
  15. Topstitch all the way around, running the seam close to the inner fold while still making sure you are catching both the front and back of the binding with this one seam. Stop approximately 3″ from your starting point. 
  16. With the diagonal stripe, a simple square overlap creates the best match. Fold under the tail approximately ½”, matching the stripe and overlap the head of the binding. Pin in place.
  17. Topstitch the remaining section of the binding, being careful to line up the new stitching with the existing topstitching.

Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild

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