It's the age-old square peg in a round hole conundrum... or vice versa: round peg in square(ish) hole. Plates are traditionally round, but placemats are usually rectangles. Sure, you have that extra real estate off to the sides for your napkin and utensils, but circles do come in any dimension. Our round placemats finish at 16" in diameter, giving you plenty of room for a variety of place settings. And they're reversible: patchwork on the front, solid on the back for twice the table topping power.
Each placemat uses a combination of five different fabrics (four on the front for the quarter-round wedges and one for the back). They all mix-and-match beautifully, so there's no trouble coming up with an entire banquet table of options. We offer a wedge pattern below, so there's also no stress about drawing a perfect circle.
We originally used the Fox Field collection by Tula Pink, an older collection that is no longer readily available. Tula is a favorite here at Sew4Home; her intricate designs have a wonderful, "look-again" quality to them. Look once, it's a playful jumbo polka dot, look again, there's a bunny hopping through the dots, look once more, it's a rich floral. Luckily for us all, Tula Pink comes out with wonderful new collections nearly every season. Take a look at Pinkerville and Zuma as new inspriation for your placemat sets. Or, dive into your own statch for fabrics that mix and match. If you're brand new to this technique, take a look at our article: Top 10 Designer Tips for Blending Colors and Prints.
Classic straight line quilting completes the project. Depending on the look you want to achieve, you can opt for matching thread or contrasting thread for this finishing step. We used contrasting thread in a color that matches our piping.
Each placemat is 16" in diameter, excluding the piping.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- Zipper foot
- Walking foot with Quilt Bar; optional for the straight line quilting – or use your machine's built-in fabric feeding system, such as the Janome AcuFeed Flex™ system
Fabric and Other Supplies
NOTE: We used Fat Quarters for our project. If you choose not to use pre-cuts, you'll need approximate 18" x 22" scraps or ⅓ yard cuts for the wedges and ½ yard cuts for the backs. These amounts allow extra for fussy cutting, which is important to the final outcome of this design.
- Each placemat requires FIVE Fat Quarters (or yardage as noted above): four for the front and one for the back. If you are making a set, you could certainly repeat some fabrics, as we did, for both continuity and best use of fabric.
- ½ yard of 20"+ wide fusible fleece; such as Pellon Thermolam
- 1⅝ yards of ¼" piping per placemat; we used pre-made jumbo piping in a soft blue-grey that coordinated with all our fabrics, purchased locally
NOTE: You could certainly make your own piping. If you decide on this path, use ¼" piping cord and 1½" bias strips to equal a length of at least 55" per placemat. Check out our Piping Tutorial for more details.
- All purpose thread to match fabric; if you choose to use contrasting thread for the straight line quilting as we did, you'll also need a second all-purpose thread – for the best look, we suggest choosing a color to match the piping.
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Iron and ironing board
- Straight pins
- Hand sewing needle
Getting Started and Pattern Download
- Download and print out TWO COPIES of the TWO pieces that make up our Wedge Pattern. These pieces have been bundled into one PDF to make the download easier.
DOWNLOAD WEDGE PATTERN
IMPORTANT: Each page in the PDF is ONE 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide rule on each page so you can confirm your final printout is to scale.
- Cut out each pattern piece along the solid line.
- Butt together (do not overlap) each pair along the solid center lines (marked with arrows). Tape together each pair to create two full wedge pattern pieces. Set one wedge aside.
- From each of the front fabrics, use the wedge pattern to carefully fussy cut one piece. As we mentioned above, fussy cutting is important to this design, not only to center a focal-point motif, but also to make sure your wedge is straight and true so the final straight-line quilting looks good.
- Once all four front wedges have been cut, find the second wedge pattern. Rotate the second wedge 90˚. At the center line where the two would join, trim away the seam allowance from the rotated wedge.
- Overlap the trimmed wedge with the full wedge, aligning the dotted lines to maintain a perfectly straight match. Tape together to create a half circle.
- Finally, trim away the seam allowance from the straight edge (the inside edge). The seam allowance now runs only around the outer curved edge.
- Find the fabric for each placemat back. Fold the fabric in half, being careful to keep the motif straight. Place the straight edge of the pattern along the fold. Pin in place. Then cut around the outer curved edge to create the back circle of the placemat.
- Arrange each set of four wedges into a finished front circle
- This helps you keep track of the quadrants and insures the motifs are all going in the correct direction.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Place the upper right wedge right sides together with the bottom right wedge. Pin in place along the center seam.
- Repeat to pin the upper left wedge right sides together the bottom left wedge.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch both pairs together.
NOTE: As you can see in the photo above, we chain stitched our pairs. For more about this, as well as other quilting tips and tricks, take a look at our five-part Quilting Basics series.
- Place the two halves right sides together, carefully aligning the center seams. Also, be sure to "nest" your seams, which means one seam allowance should be pressed to the right and one to the left. Again, there are more notes about this and other patchworking steps in our Quilting Basics series. Pin in place.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the halves together.
- Open up the completed circle and press flat.
- Find the fusible fleece. Using your completed front circle as a pattern, cut out a circle of fleece.
- Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the fleece to the wrong side of the front circle.
- Find the piping. Cut a 55" - 56" length for each placemat.
NOTE: If making your own piping, this is the time to do it. You can review our Piping Tutorial for more details.
- Pin the piping around the entire outer perimeter of the placemat top, on the right side. The raw edges of the piping should be flush with the raw edge of the fabric. Your joint should be at a wedge seam. Remember to leave an approximate 1" piping head and tail free to join.
- At the starting/ending point, use your seam ripper to reveal the cord. Cut the ends so they butt together at the seam.
- Trim away the excess fabric if need be, then re-fold the fabric into place around the cording and re-pin.
- Machine baste the piping to the placemat top. We used a Satin Stitch foot on our Janome. You could also use a Zipper foot.
NOTE: Again, if you are new to working with piping, check out our full Piping tutorial, which has great step-by-step notes on joining.
- Place each placemat front and back right sides together, sandwiching the piping between the layers. Pin around the outer perimeter, leaving an approximate 3" - 4" opening for turning.
- Switch to a Zipper foot. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch around the entire perimeter. Your seam allowance may be slightly wider or narrower; the goal is to stitch as close to the piping cord as possible. Go slowly and keep your seam allowance consistence. Remember to lock your seam at either side of the 3" - 4" opening.
- At the opening, pull away the placemat back panel, revealing just the piping against the placemat front. Still using a Zipper foot, carefully stitch right along the piping cord across the width of the opening. By doing this short seam now, when you turn the placemat right side out, the piping will be completely flush around the front and you will only need to worry about closing the opening along the back.
- Clip the curved edge all around, being very careful to not clip through your seam. Turn the placemat right side out through the opening and press flat.
- Fold back the raw edge of the placemat back at the opening so it is flush with the sewn seam. Lightly pin in place.
- Flip over the placemat. Using a see-through ruler and a fabric pen or pencil, draw guide lines for the straight line quilting. Start ¾" in from one side (inside the piping) and draw your first vertical line. Continue parallel lines at ¾" intervals across the entire front of the placemat. You are working on the right side of the fabric, so make sure you are using a fabric pen or pencil that will easily wipe or wash away or vanish with exposure to the air or the heat of an iron.
NOTE: If you are working with a Walking foot and quilt bar, you only need to draw one line to start. You can then set the quilting bar at a ¾" interval to create the remaining vertical lines.
- Re-thread the machine with the contrasting thread that matches the piping in the top and bobbin. You can, of course, choose to stitch with matching thread.
- If possible, attach a Walking foot with quilt bar. Or, engage your machine's built-in fabric feeding system. Slightly lengthen the stitch.
- Stitch along each drawn line, simply following each line or by setting your quilt bar along the previous line of stitching.
NOTE: If you are new to quilting, you may also want to review our guest tutorial from Heather Jones on Straight Line Quilting.
- Thread a hand needle and hand stitch closed the section of opening pinned down on the back of the placemat.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild