Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Scrappy Rainbow Placemats - A Tutorial

Looking for the Giveaway Day post? Scroll down, it's right below this one!

Want to make some colorful, summery placemats? Here's the tutorial for the Scrappy Rainbow Placemats I made for the Make Mine Modern swap.

Before we start, let me again credit Angela, whose amazing Pink Lemonade quilt was the inspiration for these placemats. The original idea was all hers. Thank you, Angela!

You will need:
• scraps in 12 different prints of Color A (I'm using pink)
• scraps in 12 different prints of Color B (I'm using purple)
• 7 - 4.5" white squares
• 3 - 4.5" x 2.5" white rectangles
• piece of fabric for backing/binding, 15"-16" by 21"-22"
• 14" x 20" piece of batting

From six of your pink prints: Cut two 2.5" squares and two 1.5" squares from each print.

From the other six pink prints: Cut one 2.5" square and one 1.5" square from each print.

From six of your purple prints: Cut two 2.5" squares and two 1.5" squares from each print.
From the other six purple prints: Cut one 2.5" square and one 1.5" square from each print.

1. Take the white squares and rectangles, and lay them out in a checkerboard pattern, as shown, with the rectangles at the bottom. Be sure to lay out your pieces in a location where they can remain undisturbed until you're done piecing the top!

2. Now grab some of your unpaired pink and purple 2.5" squares (so, the prints from which you cut only one 2.5" square) and start laying them out in a row across the top, between the white pieces, alternating colors, as shown.

3. For your next row, use unpaired squares at each end of the row, and paired squares everywhere else. Again, alternate colors, so that you start to create a checkerboard pattern.

4. Continue laying out your pink and purple squares, following the pattern you've established. Be sure to keep your paired prints together, kitty-corner from each other, as shown in the photo above. (Sorry the squares are such a wrinkled mess!)

5. Take your 1.5" squares and lay them out over the top of your white background pieces. Put a 1.5" square at each corner of the white pieces, matching prints up with the corresponding 2.5" squares, as shown in the photo. (You should end up with two 1.5" squares left over.)

6. Once you're satisfied with your layout, pin your 1.5" pieces into place, on top of the white background pieces. Please note that you are not pinning for sewing placement. You're only pinning them to keep track of where all these teeny little squares go. But trust me, you'll want to take the time to do this!

7. Last step before you can start sewing: Mark the center line on your sewing machine, if you haven't already. You will use this as a reference line to sew diagonally across the 1.5" squares without having to mark all the squares. (This is a tip I picked up from Linda when she participated in the Supernova quilt-along.) I marked mine with a purple sticky note. I used the sticky note because it's repositionable, so I can put it right over my drop-in bobbin compartment.

8. Finally, you get to sew! : ) Take your first white piece, with the 1.5" squares pinned onto the corners. Unpin one of the little squares and flip it over, so right sides are facing. (If you're using a directional fabric, it should be oriented 90 degrees from the way you want it to appear after it's sewn.) Keep your other three squares pinned, so you don't lose track of which corner they go on!

9. Using the center line that you marked on your machine, sew a diagonal line across the 1.5" square, from corner to corner, as shown. Just keep the point of the 1.5" square on the marked line at all times as you sew, and you'll end up with a perfect diagonal seam.

10. Do the same with each of the other three 1.5" squares. You should now have a piece that looks like this.

11. Trim off the excess fabric beyond the diagonal seam at each corner and press your prints out, toward the corners, so you have a piece that looks like this. I recommend pressing seams open here. Repeat the above steps until all of your 1.5" squares are sewn into corner triangles on your all of your white background pieces.

12. Now for the easy part! Sew together the 2.5" squares into four-patch blocks. Start by sewing pairs of pink and purple squares together, as shown. Now I recommend pressing the seams to the side, since I find four-patches go together better with side-pressed seams that can be nested together.

13. Sew the pairs together into a four-patch. At this point I went back to pressing my seams open, since it's no longer important for alignment, and open seams reduce bulk.

14. Now you should have 20 blocks that can be sewn together into a completed top. So go ahead, what are you waiting for? : )

15. Layer your backing/binding, batting, and top, and baste with a few pins. You backing/binding piece should be at least 1/2" larger than the top and batting on each side.

16. I quilted mine in straight lines, outlining the basic shapes created by the piecing. I also used two different colors of thread to echo the fabric colors.

17. I used Made By Rae's "Cheater Binding" tutorial for quick and easy binding. This is why the backing piece needs to be larger than the top—you'll be folding it around to the front and sewing it down to create the binding. The only change I made to Rae's tutorial is that my binding is narrower, which I thought was better for a small piece like a placemat.

Good luck! Please let me know if you make these placemats, I would love to see them.


  1. These are so cute, thank you for the awesomely thorough tutorial!!! Looks like a great stashbusting project :)

  2. Very awesome! thanks so much for sharing!

  3. Great tutorial Lee! These are fun!

  4. I love these and I'm so excited to give them a try! Thank you for making the tutorial!

  5. So tricky smart - using a non-pieced white middle! I am going to have to file that one away. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I love these! So glad you gave us the tutorial. This is a keeeper!

  7. Thanks so much for the tutorial! Can't wait to try it!

  8. Thank you for taking the time to make such a great tutorial!

  9. I LOVE this pattern!! You make it look so easy...would be a great quilt too!


  10. Love them! Thanks for the tutorial. I can't wait to add something else to my project list :D

  11. Awesome. Thanks for the taking the time to write up this tutorial!

  12. Awesome tutorial. I need another project like I need a hole in the head, but I can't wait to try this!!!

  13. Wow, I really love this but I am not sure that I have the patience to try. I'll get back with you in a couple weeks to show off my attempt (I have a family of six so it will take that long to make a set.)

  14. Beautiful tutorial Lee! So pretty, can't wait to try it!

  15. Thanks for the great tutorial! These are SO pretty! I love this pink and purple one you made!

    Where in Wisconsin do you live? We're moving to Madison in a little over a month! :)

  16. This is such a great tutorial, thank you.

  17. Love the tutorial! Thanks for posting it!

  18. How fun!! I'd definitely try making one soon :) Thank you for a wonderful tutorial!

  19. These are great placemats. The tutorial is also wonderful. Thank you.

  20. I was SO hoping you would do a tutorial on these!! I love them to bits!!! Will link you up after I'm done! :) THANKS!!!!

  21. Ohhh thank you for posting this tute, Lee! Love it!

  22. I love this tutorial (and the pattern of course!! The pictures are so great that just by viewing them it is so clear how to sew this pattern and even more: I could remember it instantly!

    With most patterns I have to sew them until I know them by heart ^^

  23. WOW! I'm so excited to try this!

  24. Thank you for this tutorial Lee:) I'll definitely give this a try!!!

  25. thanks for sharing your brilliance lady! :)

    So clear and so cute...

  26. Yea! I am so excited to make some of these!!Thank you!!

  27. Love the placemats...thank you so much for the tutorial!

  28. Wow! I love these! Great tutorial. So glad that I found your blog through the SMS giveaway day!

  29. Fabulous tutorial, thank you!

  30. That's my kind of placemat, and I have tons of precut scraps, so I'll definitely give this a try! Thanks!

  31. I want to see if I can whip some up for the "4th", will let you know.

  32. These are gorgeous! I don't use placemats, but will find some use so I can make these. Thank you for teaching!

  33. Hi Lee,
    thank you for the great tutorial! I made no placemats, I made a table runner for the summertime. If you would like to see it, a photo is on my blog.

  34. I love this project, really cute. I featured it on my blog: http://koolbeenz-blog.blogspot.com/2011/06/gallery-of-featured-crafters-3-with.html

    Feel free to grab my Featured Button.

  35. These are so pretty. Thanks for sharing this!!!

  36. Thanks so much for showing how to do this! I love them

  37. Oh I love this!! I'm going to try your pattern for a wedding gift :)

  38. I love these! I think I will work with the girls to make these for American Girl doll quilts!


I love comments and read every one of them! : )

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


In addition to my paid sponsors, I sometimes accept free fabric, notions, or tools in exchange for posting about it on this blog or my other social media platforms. But I pledge that this practice will never change one of my product reviews or lead me to use fabric or other items that are not "my style."

I also am an Amazon Affiliate and receive compensation for items ordered via my Amazon links.

Copyright and Permissions FAQ

Can I make a quilt that looks just like one of yours? Of course! You don't need my permission for that. But remember, it's polite (and helpful to others) to credit your source of inspiration.

Can I share one of your photos on my blog or website? Probably! But please contact me for permission first. Use of my photos for commercial purposes is prohibited.

Can I pin your photos to Pinterest? Yes, please do! I love Pinterest!

Can I sell individual items made from your tutorials or patterns? Yes! But please don't open a factory and start churning out hundreds of them. : ) And please do not reproduce or sell the patterns or tutorials themselves. Thank you!