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Charming placemats

Charm square packs. I might have more than a couple laying around here. Sometimes I buy them with a project in mind, or I find them discounted because the fabric line is running out by the time I discover it (Moda Uptown). I’ve gotten them in swaps, or just because I want them. 

There’s lots of terrific ways to use charm squares and one of my favorites is this simple log cabin block. I’ve used it a couple times before. The first time was a Christmas quilt for Mom, and then for placemats.  It’s a 6″ finished square, so 6 blocks form a 12.5″ x 18.5″ placemat (including the binding).

Here’s a little math to consider:

  • Each 6″ block requires TWO charm squares or 12 per placemat.
  • Standard charm packs have around 40 squares. As long as they have at least 36,  that’s 3 placemats per charm pack.

Since I only needed 4 placemats for this project, I bought one charm pack and added a few stash fabrics to the set.

The other consideration is how scrappy you want your block.  All one color? You’ll need two matching squares per block ~ easy to do if you’ve bought two charm packs. All different colors? Just cut a pile of charm squares in half and start sewing ~ even easier!

I like using two different squares for each block, plus the same center square for all the blocks.  It’s not any harder, it just means pairing up the strips after the charm squares have been cut.

I also used the same fabric for both the centers and the binding, and cut the binding at 2″.  I like a narrower and less bulky binding on placemats.

Materials for 4 placemats

  • 1 charm pack plus enough 5″ stash fabric squares to equal 48 squares.
  • 6″ x 40″ strip or 1/4 yard for fabric centers
  • 2″ x 70″ strip PER placemat for binding. 4 placemats = 280″ or 1/2 yard.
  • 1 yard backing fabric


  • Cut (48) – 5″ squares in half to make (96) – 2.5″ x 5″ rectangles. Match up pairs of rectangles and stack together.
  • Cut (24) – 3″ squares for the block centers.
  • Cut (7) – 2″ strips for binding

Yep, that’s it.

The trick with this little block is the partial seam at the beginning/end of the piecing. No, don’t run away! It’s a partial seam, not a set-in seam.  It’s no big deal.

Every seam starts with the center square on top of the rectangle and the top right corner/edge aligned.

Place the center square on top of the first rectangle, right sides together and the top right corner and edge aligned. Sew about 2 inches, stopping one inch from the raw edge of the center square. I don’t back stitch, but you can.

Open the pieces, finger press away from the center, and lay it down on top of the next rectangle as above. Sew the entire seam.

Repeat for the 3rd and 4th strips. Make sure to keep the loose edge of the 1st strip free of the 4th seam.

Match the first seam edges and begin sewing 1/2 inch before the end of the original stitching line, overlapping the stitching to secure.

By keeping the center square on top and sewing down the right edge, you’ve already secured all the seam allowances away from the center. A quick press and on to the next block.

And because every block is sewn in the same rotation, when it comes time to put the blocks together, there are no bulky intersections.  Who needs a lumpy placemat?

I get to cheat and throw the whole thing on my longarm for quilting, but machine quilting placemats is a great way to practice your skills.  They don’t have to be quilted the same, either. Try different designs on each one.

I wash my placemats in a normal cycle, and then lay them out to dry.

These placemats were a gift for Tim & Nicole. She loves bright colors and yellow especially, so when I found this pack of Moda Fresh Flowers a couple months ago, I grabbed it. I hadn’t decided what to use for the centers & binding until they bought a black table and chairs for their new dining room.  Problem solved!

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. CUTE! Thanks for the idea and tutorial.

    June 6, 2011
  2. VickiT #

    These are wonderful. LOVE ‘EM! Thank you so much for the tutorial.

    June 6, 2011
  3. Great idea to use charm packs!

    June 7, 2011
  4. Sharon #

    Charming. I want a present like that!

    September 12, 2012

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