Serger Style Quilt As You Go Placemat

Can you quilt with your serger? Absolutely! This placemat project will teach you a quilt-as-you-go method that works great for strip piecing. You may already know that the four-thread stitch on a serger is very close to a ¼ inch seam. It’s perfectly suited for many patchwork projects that don’t require precise seams. As an added benefit, the combination of the loopers and two needles help compact the fabric and batting layers, making a clean finished seam with added durability from the four threads. To make this placemat, complete the strip pieced patchwork on the serger, then switch to your sewing machine to finish the binding. You’ll have a reversible placemat that’s neat and pretty on both the top and bottom sides. It’s easy and fun to quilt with your serger. Are you ready? Let’s go sew!

Materials and Supplies

  • Brother 4-thread Serger
    to use for stitching strip pieced placemat. Note: Model 5234PRW
    is featured in this project.
  • Brother Sewing Machine
    to use for finishing placemat with binding.
  • Four cones of serger thread to blend with selected fabrics. New, size 90/14 needles for serger.
  • Basic sewing notions including long pins with large heads and sewing thread to match binding.
  • Rotary cutter, mat, and ruler for cutting pieces. Note: A quilting ruler measuring 3-inches wide X 18-inches long is ideal for this project.
  • Choose cotton, quilt type fabrics for this project, selecting a mixture of light, dark, and medium fabric prints.

Fabric Requirements

Choosing a combination of three shades is a common technique used in patchwork quilting. Take a look at the finished project photo as an example. Fabric requirements for each placemat are as follows:
  1. Dark fabric, cut three strips measuring 3-inches wide X 16-inches long.
  2. Medium fabric, cut two strips measuring 3-inches wide X 16-inches long.
  3. Light fabric, cut two strips measuring 3-inches wide X 16-inches long.
  4. Fabric for backing, cut seven strips measuring 3-inches wide X 16-inches long.
  5. Thin cotton or synthetic batting for filler, cut seven strips measuring 3-inches wide X 16-inches long.
  6. Finished placemat size is approximately 17-inches wide X 14-inches long.

Note: Select one of the light, dark, or medium fabrics to use for binding. Cut two strips to equal 2-inches wide X 17-inches long and two strips to equal 2-inches wide X 15-inches long.
Tip: Use this placemat as a jumpstart for your own ideas and feel free to create whatever mix of fabrics makes you happy! Note that the backing fabric can be anything you like. For the purpose of illustration, I chose a fabric that is different, but blends with the general color scheme. Multiply the number of strips for the amount of placemats you wish to make.
Please review step-by-step instructions for creating this placemat before you begin. Use the letters as a guide for choosing correct fabric layers and imitate steps shown in the photos to create your own beautiful placemat. The following important information will help you understand the basic steps to create this reversible quilt as you go placemat.
  • This quilt-as-you-go method takes advantage of the four-thread stitch on the serger to compact multiple layers and stitch a secure seam. Skim the edge while serging, trimming away just the loose threads extending from the edge.
  • It’s important to have all of the raw edges aligned and even for each set of strips sewn. If at any time your layers are uneven after stitching a set of strips, use the rotary cutter and ruler to trim and even them up. Be careful to trim just a small amount, so strips continue to look equal in size.
  • Place layers in order illustrated in photos to create a placemat with alternating dark, light, and medium pieces on the top side. Note that pieces on the back side are all the same fabric.
  • Layering process is easy to follow if you label your pieces with A=Dark, B=Medium, C=Light, D=Backing, and E=Batting. If you want to check your layers before stitching, simply pin the edge where you intend to sew, and then open up the layers to see if they’re in the correct order before you pin down the center and sew the seam on the serger. Be sure to keep pins well away from serger blades.
  • Using fabrics that have no one-way design makes the project easier. However, this example includes a one-way rooster print to better illustrate how strips are layered and sewn.
  • After the first two strips are sewn the process is the same for remaining strips. It helps to press each set of seams after they’re flipped open.

Steps to Create Placemats

  1. Set up serger for a four-thread wide stitch. Increase stitch length to longest number. Test stitch on scraps, using two layers of batting and two layers of fabric. Balance stitch as necessary.
  2. Gather up placemat strips and batting in preparation for sewing. Note: Amount of fabric strips and batting shown here are for creating one placemat. See Figure #1a and #1b.
[caption id="attachment_19292" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Figure #1a[/caption] [caption id="attachment_19293" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Figure #1b[/caption]
  1. Prepare the first set of layered pieces in the order shown in Figure #2.
[caption id="attachment_19294" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Figure #2[/caption]
  1. Pin layers together with raw edges even, keeping pins away from the edge to avoid contact with serger blades. Turn the group of strips over so batting is facing up. Take pieces to machine and prepare to stitch. Note: In the photos shown below pins point to the correct edge for the first serger seam. See Figure #3a and #3b.
[caption id="attachment_19295" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Figure #3a[/caption] [caption id="attachment_19296" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Figure #3b[/caption]
  1. Serge seam and flip to open. See top side in Figure #4a and back side in #4b.
[caption id="attachment_19297" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Figure #4a[/caption] [caption id="attachment_19298" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Figure #4b[/caption]
  1. Layer the next group of pieces as follows: Layer a new strip of backing piece D against previously stitched piece D, with right sides together. With right sides together layer piece B on top of C, followed by a layer of batting. Pin, serge, and flip to open as you did before. See Figure #5a, #5b & #5c.
[caption id="attachment_19299" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Figure #5a[/caption] [caption id="attachment_19300" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Figure #5b[/caption] [caption id="attachment_19301" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Figure #5c[/caption]
  1. Piece together remaining strips, continuing the strip piecing as follows:
    • Layer a new piece of backing against the previously sewn backing with right sides together.
    • Place the next dark, light, or medium strip in the sequence against the previously sewn top strip with right sides together.
    • Next, place a strip of batting on top as a final layer. Serge the seam with the batting on top, and then flip the layers to expose right sides of fabric. Continue with this process until all strips are sewn.
Be sure to complete the placemat by working from left to right, having the seven top strips in the following order: Dark (A) > Light (C) > Medium (B) > Light (C) > Medium (B) > Dark (A). See example of final seam in photos below:
  1. Press strip quilted piece and then trim to equal a length of 14-inches. Trim side edges slightly if necessary. See Figure #6.
[caption id="attachment_19302" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Figure #6[/caption]
  1. Set up sewing machine for sewing a straight seam. Pin long binding strips to back side, having raw edges even. See Figure #7.
[caption id="attachment_19303" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Figure #7[/caption]
  1. Sew binding strips using a ½-inch seam allowance. Turn to the top side. Press raw edge under ½-inch, fold over the seam allowance, and topstitch close to the folded edge. See Figure #8.
[caption id="attachment_19304" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Figure #8[/caption] Finish short edges in the same manner, turning under excess ½-inch at each end to enclose raw edges. See Figure #9a and #9b. [caption id="attachment_19305" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Figure #9a[/caption] [caption id="attachment_19306" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Figure #9b[/caption] You are finished! Enjoy!

Options and Ideas:

  • Note that strips are cut slightly over-sized. You can easily trim the pieced placemat to finish slightly larger or smaller. Be sure to adjust the size of your binding accordingly.
  • Create a placemat with one single color for the top side and one single color for the back side.
  • Substitute pre-purchased binding in place of self-fabric binding.