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Scrappy Rainbow Placemats


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.

39 replies
  1. sonja
    sonja says:

    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.)

  2. Jeni
    Jeni says:

    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! 🙂

  3. Saraccino
    Saraccino says:

    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 ^^

  4. Nancy U
    Nancy U says:

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

  5. Monika
    Monika says:

    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.


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