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Jelly Roll Strip Placemats

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Today's fabric collections seem to get larger and more gorgeous with each season's new arrivals. There are multiple colorways and a wonderful variety of motifs. And, of course, they all blend together beautifully. It can be hard to narrow down your choices, which is why we designed today's multi-fabric placemats. Each one uses seven different 2½" strips. It's perfect for pre-cut Jelly Rolls, but you could also cut your own strips from all your favorites. Decorative stitching ties the rows together, adds a bit of elegance, and holds all the layers in place.

We chose a lovely floral theme, using jelly roll strips from the Billet-Doux collection by Verna Mosquera for FreeSpirit Fabrics. Going with all solid colors would be a great color-block treatment. Or, using playful prints and bright decorative stitching would be especially fun for a set of kid's placemats. The options are endless... but the project is fast and easy.

For more information about pre-cuts, check out our tutorial from our friends at Fat Quarter Shop, where you can find a full variety of Layer Cakes, Jelly Rolls, Honey Buns and other yummy pre-cuts. 

Each placemat finishes at approximately 14" high x 20" wide.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Supplies shown are for ONE placemat

  • SEVEN Jelly Roll Strips per placemat; we used Jelly Roll strips from the Billet-Doux collection by Verna Mosquera for FreeSpirit Fabrics
    NOTE: If you want matching placemats, one Jelly Roll strip is normally 44" long, so you could cut one strip into two 20" lengths (the length needed for our design). This means you can actually make two identical placemats from the seven strips listed above. If you do not have Jelly Roll strips, you will need to cut SEVEN 2½" x 20 strips for each placemat.
  • ⅛ yard of coordinating 44"+ wide solid cotton print fabric for the binding; we used a spearmint green cotton, purchased locally
  • ½ yard of coordinating 44"+ wide solid cotton print fabric for the back panel; we used a spring green cotton, purchased locally
    NOTE: You could certainly use the same fabric for the backing and binding; if so, get ⅝ yard.
  • ½ yard of 20"+ low loft batting; we used 2107 Natural One™ batting from Pellon
  • All purpose thread to match fabric
  • Decorative thread in a slightly contrasting shade for the decorative stitching; we used 40 wt rayon in light green
  • 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. Cut each Jelly Roll strip to a 20" length. If you are not using Jelly Roll strips, cut SEVEN 2½" x 20" strips.
  2. Lay out your strips side by side until you have a color and pattern blend that strikes your fancy. Alternate patterns, colors and motif sizes to keep things interesting. 
  3. From the batting, cut ONE 14" x 20 rectangle.
  4. From the solid fabric, cut the following:
    ONE 14" x 20 rectangle for the backing
    TWO 2" x WOF (width of fabric) strips for the binding

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Create the top panel

  1. Working from bottom to top, assemble the strips to build your front panel. To do this, start with the first two strips in the sequence. Place these strips right sides together and pin in place along one long edge.
  2. Using a ¼" seam allowance, stitch these first two pieces together. 
  3. Place the next strip in the sequence right sides together with the two-strip piece. 
  4. Pin in place and then stitch in place. We used our Janome Quarter Inch Seam foot for all the seams.
  5. Continue in this manner until all seven strips are sewn together as one unit. 
  6. Press all the seam allowances in the same direction. We pressed all ours up towards the top of the panel. Press flat from the front.

Decorative stitching

  1. Place the back panel wrong side up and flat on your work surface. 
  2. Place the batting rectangle on top of the back panel.
  3. Place the front panel right side up on top of the batting, forming a three layer stack. All four raw edges of all three layers should be flush. Trim as necessary if they are not. 
  4. Pin in place around the outer edge as well as through the middle. If you are worried about slipping, you could machine baste the layers together around the outer perimeter. 
  5. Thread the machine with thread to make the bac panel in the bobbin and contrasting decorative thread in the needle. Following the settings and process for your machine and model, select an interesting decorative stitch.
  6. Topstitch along each seam line through all the layers, using the seam itself as the center guide for each line of decorative stitching. We used our Janome Walking foot to eliminate any shifting of the layers.
  7. If necessary, trim the layers flush and square up the placemat.


  1. Find the two 2" x WOF binding strips.
  2. Place the two strips right sides together, along one 2" end. Pin and stitch together with a ¼" seam allowance to create one long strip.
  3. To attach, we have two options. The first method is faster, requiring just one topstitched seam. But, you still need to be careful and precise to insure you catch both the front and back of the binding in the one seam. The second method is similar to what you might see on a quilt binding. It requires two seams, but the result gives you clean finish on the front of the placemat. We opted for the first method for the samples shown in the pretty photos above.
    NOTE: If you are new to the binding, take a look at our tutorial: A Complete Step-by-Step For Binding Quilts & Throws. We show detailed instructions and a variety of options for attaching and finishing.

One seam topstitch method

  1. 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.
  2. Starting in the middle of the bottom edge, slip the binding over the raw edges of the placemat. Leaving approximately 3" loose at the head, wrap the binding around the entire perimeter of the placemat. 
  3. At each corner, turn the binding on a diagonal fold at the inside of the corner.
  4. Pin the binding in place as you go. Leave an approximate 3" tail at the end.
    NOTE: We machine-basted our binding in place rather than relying only on the pins. This is totally optional, but does allow you to get in as close as possible for the final edgestitching. 
  5. If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to match the binding in the top and bobbin.
  6. Topstitch all the way around, stopping approximately 4" from your starting point. We used our Janome Walking foot.
  7. Open out the binding and join the ends, trimming them as necessary so the binding fits flat against the placemat. Test your fit when pinned. Then, stitch the ends together.
  8. Re-fold the binding along the original crease lines.
  9. Pin in place.
  10. Topstitch the remaining section of the binding, being careful to line up the new stitching with the existing topstitching.

Two seam quilt binding method

  1. Fold the joined strip in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press.
  2. Working from the front of placemat, align the raw edges of the folded and pressed strip with the raw edge of the placemat. Starting in the middle of one long edge, and leaving a tail of approximately 3 - 4". Pin all the way around, leaving a 3 - 4" tail at the end as well. 
  3. If necessary, re-thread your machine with thread to match the binding in the top and bobbin.
  4. Sew the binding to the placemat, using a ¼" seam allowance. 
  5. Miter each corner. To do this, stop with the needle in the down position when you are approximately ¼" from the corner.
  6. Pivot the fabric 90°.
  7. Using the reverse button on the machine, back off the fabric. 
  8. Turn the bias binding straight down at a 90˚ angle. This will create a 45° fold to the inside of the corner, and allow you to align the raw edge of the binding with the raw edge of the next side of the placemat. Re-start your stitching at the point of the fold.
  9. Continue stitching all the way around, mitering at each corner. Stop approximately 3-4" from your starting point.
  10. Remove the placemat from under the needle. Open out the binding and join the ends, measuring to fit (same as above for the "easy" method).
  11. Re-fold and press the binding. 
  12. Bring the binding up and over to the back side of the placemat, covering the original line of stitching. Press in place and pin as needed. Don't be afraid to use lots of pins.
  13. Flip the placemat so it is right side up. Stitch in the ditch from the front all the way around the placemat.


Project Design: Alicia Thommas  
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild


Comments (13)

Cora said:
Cora's picture

you say to do the backing and  batting at. 14 x 20.   Shouldn't! it be 14 1/2.  Finishing at 14 by 19 1/2 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Cora - if you have super perfect 1/4" seams between all seven strips, you do end up with 14-1/2" in height, but we figured in some error and suggested to trim flush as needed when layering the back, batting, and top. The width doesn't vary from the 20" of all the original cuts. The binding will take up no additional - if using the one-seam method (which is the alternative we used for our sample). If using the alternature two seam method, you will take up 1/4" all around, but that doesn't affect the size of the original stacked layers. 

Vicki D. said:
Vicki D.'s picture

Can't wait to try this out but I could not really understand how you handle the corners or finish off the first method (The One Seam Topstitch Method). I checked the link but it only seemed to give instructions for the second method. Thank you for your help!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Vicki D. - when you bring the binding around at 90˚ to turn the corner, you simply turn in the excess fabric at that corner to form the diagonal folds front and back. It's almost like a tiny pleat. It sounds a bit complex when I explain it here, but you'll find when you try it that the fabric almost does it by itself. Just check on both sides to make sure your fold is flat and pin in place.

marcia T said:
marcia T's picture

what decorative stitch number did you use on these placemats?

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ marcia T - the stitch used is #58 on a Janome MC11KSE -  the actual stitch number may vary model to model. said:'s picture

Fast, fun and easy!  Thanks for sharing....

Lori M. said:
Lori M.'s picture

I'll try your suggestions, Liz. I've got two boys (three, if you include the husband) and spillage is a way of life around here. Thanks so much! I can't wait to make these placemats.

Lori M. said:
Lori M.'s picture

The placemats are adorable! I love the idea of using a jelly roll to make this project go together quickly. Since these are placemats, do you prewash the jelly roll strips for shrinkage? If so, what's the best way without getting them in a tangled mess?  

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Lori M - According to our friends at Moda, pre-cuts never need to be pre-washed. Pre-washing means pressing and that takes a lot of the ease of use factor out of the pre-cuts, and you could also end up with a big tangle of thread ends. However, this project mixes pre-cuts and yardage, which could cause some challenges if one is pre-washed and one isn't. It's hard to give a 100%-works-everytime response. If you are mixing types as well as maufacturers your best bet may still be preshrinking everything. If you want to prewash precuts, they should be placed in a mesh bag or pillowcase. If you have enough extra yardage/pre-cuts - you could do a small sample prewash of both to see how they behave.

Claudia W said:
Claudia W's picture

Most jelly rolls are cut with the fabric strips 2 1/2" wide, not 2" as mentioned in this article.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Claudia - whoops - that was a typo, which is already fixed. Thanks for the note. They are indeed 2-1/2".

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