How to Make a Self Binding Placemat

Binding a placemat, or other project, is sometimes intimidating if you’ve never done it before. There are a few different ways to create a binding on a project. Professional quilters generally sew all binding pieces together in a specified manner, then hand stitch or machine stitch. Another, easier way, to do a binding is self-binding, which has a long history in quilt making.

What is Self Binding?

Self binding is a technique that uses the back quilt fabric, by cutting it slightly larger than the quilt or project front, equally all the way around and then bringing that edge to the quilt front, creating a binding. Generally, it’s machine stitched.

It’s  a  fairly simple process, and self binding works great for placemats, table runners, baby quilts, etc. In this tutorial, I’m going to sew a simple self binding placemat, quilted with free motion embroidery or stippling. This is my first project using free motion stippling, and although I’m not a professional, with some practice, it’s a fun and rewarding way to embroider.

How to sew a placemat using the self binding method.  Materials needed for self binding placemat: At least 3 contrasting fabrics, thin cotton batting (I use Warm & Natural cotton batting), and sewing notions, such as a rotary cutter, scissors, thread, pins, and your sewing machine.

Steps to Make Your Holiday Placemat

This tutorial is for a self binding placemat, measuring  15″ x 19″. My fabric rectangles are cut at 10″ x  8″.  You can make your placemat smaller or larger by altering your rectangle size.

The steps are below, but you may need a visual to help you through the instructions. It’s hard to explain sewing in a step-by-step tutorial. This video will help greatly, and can also be watched directly from our TLC Inspirations YouTube Channel:

  1. Cut 4 rectangles from your various fabrics. I cut 2 out of one fabric, and 1 each from the other 2 fabrics.
  2. Lay out your 4 rectangle pieces the way you want them. As you look at them, pick up the top left rectangle fabric, and with right sides together, place it on the top right rectangle. Sew along one of the short edges and press your seam.
  3. Do the same thing with the bottom 2 rectangles.
  4. With right side together, sew 2 squares together, the sew the other 2 squares together.  Now sew those two sewn pieces together.  Now all four are sewn together.
  5. You should now have 4 rectangle sewn together, that looks like a 4 square placemat
  6. Next, cut a piece of batting the same size as placemat.
  7. Choose which fabric you want for your backing, and cut it larger than the placemat. For this tutorial, the backing was cut at 20.5″ x 16.5. That gives you 3/4″ all the way around for the self binding. You can cut this larger, if you want a wider binding.
  8. Place batting under top placemat piece (fabric piece right side up). It will sort of stick in place on it’s own.
  9. Lay your combo piece (from step 8) on top of the backing (backing is face down). Align it 3/4″ around (you now have batting sandwiched between placemat front and placemat back, with backing wrong side up and top piece right side up).
  10. Pin all 3 pieces together. I pinned along all 4 edges, and along intersecting seams of the 4 rectangles, making sure the fabric is as smooth as possible.
  11. Stitch in the ditch (in the intersecting seams) and around the outer edge of the placemat, close to the edge of placemat.
  12. It is at this point you would remove the pins and do your quilting or free motion embroidery, or stippling. If you aren’t comfortable with trying the free motion method, you can quilt your placemat with wavy lines, or straight lines using a regular presser foot. For the free motion embroidery stippling, you need to put your machine feed dogs in the down position, and use an open toe/free motion embroidery presser foot. Turn upper tension to zero or near zero. Stitch width and length to zero. Free motion embroidery is created by you moving the fabric in the direction and speed desired instead of the machine doing the work.  The machine moves the needle up and down, so you have complete control of the fabric and stitches. Speed of the needle is on the fast side, as you move the fabric at a slower pace.  It’s a bit tricky, and practice is needed before attempting this on your placemat. Also, if you are a newbie, I would suggest using thread as close to the color of your fabric as possible. Using a bold color will show all of your mistakes, such jumped stitches, uneven curves, etc. Trust me, I know! Once you are comfortable with the free motion embroidery, then you may want to use bolder colors. 
  13. Fold edge of backing towards placemat edge so it’s next to the placemat edge. Press into place on one side of placemat. Fold again, so it comes over the top of the placemat, and press.
  14. Fold rolled corner towards placemat, then proceed to repeat process around the placemat, pressing and pinning. Top stitch as close to the inside edge as possible on top of your placemat, all the way around.

Congratulations! Your self binding placemat is finished and ready for your Thanksgiving feast! You can add appliqué, machine embroidery, or whatever you’d like to do to embellish your placemat. If adding appliqué or machine embroidery, you will want to do that before your stippling, then work your stippling around your embellishments.

About Bonnie

Bonnie has been sewing since she was a child, and her love of playing with thread has only grown since then. She continues to sew, but has a newfound love for all things embroidery.

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