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how to sew a placemat

To tell you the truth, though I love fabric placemats, I may not use one on my dining table unless it is for a very very special occasion or I am serving only dry foods;  And whenever there is a soup, curry or sauce in my menu, out comes my washable, easily dryable non-stainable plastic Placemats. Why wouldn’t I, if this is what happens, whenever I use fabric placemats ?

The plastic placemats sure are not as pretty as the fabric ones but the maintenance of fabric placemats is a little tough for a lazy person like me. Ok, enough of me trying to shoot my own foot and discouraging you to make a fabric placemat even before you have even started reading the tutorial. 

Here is the tutorial to make that fabric placemat, where your creativity can take wings. 

Placemat size and dimensions

Your placemats can be the size you want it to be. But going by the industry standards, the placemats are usually 17 inches wide and 12 inches long. I am making a 15 inch by 11 inch placemat. If the placemat is big, you may have to make quilting stitches to keep the fabric pieces together. 

How to Make a reversible placemat

Thick heavy weight fabrics are preferred to make this simple and easy placemat. Check out this post on the list of thick heavyweight fabrics you can use. You can use burlap fabric and jute trims for a country charm. Checkered fabric also gives that old fashioned look. Plain textured fabrics have a more sophisticated and modern feel. 

You can do embroidery or applique on either side or attach a trim on an edge or attach a piece of contrasting fabric on one edge. You can make your fabric by joining different fabric pieces together (Patchwork). Check out this post on the 50+ techniques you can use to create beautifully embellished fabric.

Cut out two fabric pieces with a dimension of 1 inch more than your desired finished placemat. 15 inch by 12 inch rectangle in my case. After you have cut out the pieces keep them together and adjust the size. You may have to cut out some from the edges to get both the pieces to match.

If you are binding the placemat, you also need to cut out fabric strip for binding. 

placemat make

The easy way of making a placemat – You can make a simple reversible placemat by keeping your fabric pieces right sides together and then stitching them along the periphery, leaving 2 inches unstitched. Bring out the rightsides through this unstitched hole and then sew it closed by topstitching along the edge. Make quilting stitches to keep the two fabrics together. 

But yet another easy way is to bind the edges. This is a very attractive way of finishing the placemat. Here is the tutorial for that. 

I am using a scrap piece cut from an old jeans with little patchwork pieces attached to the denim with running stitches.

make placemat

This is simple sashiko embroidery done over small patched fabric pieces – Sashiko work involves making running stitches all over the fabric.

How to bind your placemat. 

Cut 2 inch wide fabric strip of length = perimeter of the placemat + 12 inches.

If you do not have fabric strip of this length, join pieces together. To join, keep the strips right sides together as in the picture below.

sew a placemat

Join the pieces together with a diagonal stitch. Cut out the extra seam allowance and then press the seam open.

Now fold one end of your strip up diagonally as in the picture below.

sew placemat

Cut out this portion.Fold the edge to the inside 1/8 inches”

Fold the strip by half, right sides outside. 

how to sew a placemat

Keep your main fabric pieces together (stack them together), right sides to the outside.

Place the binding strip piece (in the same folded position as above) on top somewhat midway on one side edge.

sew placemat

Sew in place with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Ensure that you are catching all layers of fabric. When you reach the corner stitch till the end.

sewing a placemat

Now fold the strip upwards. Then fold the strip downwards.

sew placemat

Now again start stitching from the corner. (Ensure that you are not catching the fold of the strip) ; Just stitch the edges together.

Do this with all the corners; This will give some extra allowance in the corner.

Continue stitching till you reach where you started.

Insert the tail end of your binding into the cone shaped edge at the starting of your binding. Stitch the overlapped edge. 


Now your placemat will look like this. The binding has to be turned to the back and stitched there. Cut off extra seam allowance, if any, to level everything.

how to sew fabric placemats

Turn the binding to the back and then hand stitch in place, preferably. You can also machine stitch.

If you machine stitch, you can do stitch-in-the-ditch from the front, making sure that you are catching the binding at the back. If you have a dark printed binding like mine, you can simply stitch over the binding catching the back binding, and no one will notice.

When you reach the corners, fold the corner as in the picture below, giving a mitered corner.

placemat sewing tutorial

Related posts : Household linen sizes; How to sew cloth napkins; Jeans recycle ideas; How to sew coasters.


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