Hi there! Genie from the Sew and Tell Project is here today. I’m so happy that it’s finally summer here in Michigan, and I’m celebrating by sewing up a patriotic table runner…the Fourth of July is coming soon!
Pictured below are the supplies you’ll need. I have a quarter yard each of the four prints at the bottom, a yard of the checked chambray, and a yard of the Pellon Thermolam (I ended up not using the tan starry fabric…I didn’t like it when I started piecing). For batting, you’ll want something with a lower loft (thinner), so that it lays flat. I chose Thermolam so this runner could double as a kind of oversized trivet. I strongly recommend using a rotary cutter and mat with a large clear ruler. My runner is roughly 15×30″. I actually laid out my piece of batting on the table to determine what size I wanted.
First, you’re going to cut strips. Lots of strips. I used varying widths (my smallest strips were 1.25″ and my largest strips were 3″). I chose to use the blue on blue floral for my binding, and cut those strips to 1.5″.
Then, start piecing. I decided on a diagonal design, using the 45 degree angle mark on my cutting mat. It would be much simpler to use vertical or horizontal stripes. Just line them up and stitch them with a 1/4″ seam allowance. They should be larger than your final size, and the ends don’t need to be even. This will make it simpler to trim it down later. If you’re not comfortable with a 1/4″ seam allowance, no worries, but be sure to account for a larger allowance when you cut your strips.
Press each strip as you go. For clothing, seam allowances are often spread to both sides, but for projects like this, I just press them to one side. I don’t have to worry about bulky seams here, and it’s just quicker and easier. Once you have your topper the size you’d like, you’ll cut a piece of backing and a piece of batting. Trim all three down to even edges with nice 90 degree corners.
Next, you’re going to quilt. Don’t panic! It’s fun! My quilting is super simple, but feel free to add swirls or stars or whatever your heart desires. I’m simply not that skilled. 😉 I stitched along each of my seam lines on the quilt topper (aka “stitched in the ditch”). I start in the center and quilt to one side, alternating the direction of my quilting.
When the first half is done, I do the other half in the same manner. I really like how alternating my direction makes the back of the quilted piece look. If you don’t like those crinkles, you could just as easily quilt in one direction. Here’s where I should probably admit that I’m not an advanced quilter; I just do what I like.
Once your quilting is complete, check your edges one more time and square up to account for any shifting.
There’s two ways you could finish a small piece like this. I chose binding because I like the way it looks. The other way would be done BEFORE quilting; you would just sew the three pieces together with the batting on the wrong side of the quilt topper, and the backing right sides together with the topper. Leave a hole to turn, turn, and top stitch along the edges. Then quilt as desired.
I made my binding by cutting 1.5″ strips and attaching them. If I were making bias tape for clothing, I would have cut the strips on the bias, but I don’t need the bend for this project so I kept it simple. I do, however, join my strips at an angle. It makes for less fabric to have to sew over/through at those joining spots. Here, you’d sew from the top left of the square where the fabrics overlap to the bottom right, and then trim the corners off, leaving your seam allowance about 1/4″.
Then you press the seam open (again, it makes the areas where the bias tape is joined thinner and a little easier to sew).
There are a few ways to make the folds in the bias tape. There’s an easy set of bias making tips, where you just choose the appropriate size and then pull the fabric through, pressing at the end.
Or, you can press the tape in half lengthwise, unfold, and then fold the long edges into the center crease, pressing as you go.
Next, you’re going to attach the bias tape to the quilt. I like to sew it right sides together with the backing because I like to do my topstitching on the topper, but either way is fine. So, unfold one long edge of the bias tape and match it to the edge of the quilt. Sew the tape to the quilt by stitching in the crease.
I prefer to start in the middle because, frankly, I think trying to sew corners and match up edges is a nightmare. At the beginning of your seam, fold the bias tape up like I’ve pictured. You’ll place the unfinished end on top and when you fold it up and wrap it over, all raw edges will be miraculously enclosed.
For your corners, sew all the way to the seam allowance, and then backstitch a few stitches. Pull the piece from the machine and clip the bias tape from the corner to the stitching, being careful not the cut the stitching.
Then, continue on your next edge.
Finally, you’re going to trim all of the edges seam allowance roughly in half. Do a little testing to be sure your second folded side of the bias tape can wrap all the way around to cover the stitching on the other side.
Above, you can see the stitching, the way I’ve pinned the bias tape, and the beginning of a corner. I sew the corner all the way to the edge, and then back the stitching up. I pivot the piece, leaving my needle down, and fold the excess fabric at the corner up. It’s kind of like folding military corners on the flat sheets, but with needle and thread.
And, voila, you’re done!
I like to choose a more neutral backing piece so that I can flip it over when I don’t want the holiday pattern. These are great for any holiday!
I hope you’ll try to make one yourself, and come show us when you’re done!