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Batting, rotary cutters and the math for the right amount of binding

by Paul Leger
I finished yesterday by suggesting you add the Sew Easy Square Ruler 6½″ x 6½” and the Sew Easy Quilting Ruler 12″ x 6½” to your collection of rulers.

The houses of Mr. Roger’s neighborhood

Today, I’ll show you how to baste, quilt, and add a binding to the placemats.


For the binding fabric, I selected a darker blue to compliment the fabric I selected for the sky.

When these placemats are finished, they’ll be reversible, so, for the backing fabric, you can use any themed fabric you like. In my case, I chose a novelty fabric with sneakers on it.

When it comes to batting, I like the Fairfield Quilter’s 80% cotton 20% polyester batting due to its high cotton content with no more than 3% shrinkage. You’ll have enough batting left after this week’s project to make 4 more placemats or a quilt for a newborn. In quilting, nothing goes to waste.

Fairfield Quilter’s 80/20 batting with the fabrics which will be used for the binding and backing.

The only difficulty in basting a quilt is finding a spot to do it. I baste most of my quilts on the floor. Quilt basting is not difficult and is done in five steps:

  1. Tape the backing fabric right side down to floor;
  2. Using Odif 505 Temporary Quilt Basting Adhesive; lightly spray the backing fabric;
  3. Carefully place the batting onto the backing fabric;
  4. Again, using the Odif 505 Quilt Basting Adhesive, lightly spray the back of each placemat; then
  5. Carefully place them, the wrong side down on the batting as shown below.

Placemats basted using Fairfield Quilter’s 80/20 batting.

With the basting done, you’ll notice there’s an excess of batting leftover.

You can cut away the excess batting with agility using your rotary cutter, but I find it easier to simply use a pair of good SoftKUT Dressmakers’ Scissors – 8¼” . In quilting, you won’t use this type of scissors often, but you’ll be happy to have them on hand when needed.

SoftKUT Dressmakers’ Scissors – 8 ¼”

With the excess batting removed, use your rotary cutter to cut between the 4 placemats to separate them.

Now, we’re ready to quilt.

Normally, for large quilts, I use a quilting walking presser foot on my sewing machine but with small projects, like these placemats, I’m comfortable using my ¼” presser foot, as I’ll only be quilting the outlines for the colors used in the placemats.

For the quilting, I’ll use the same Gütermann cream cotton 50wt thread I used for the piecing.

Quilting placemats using cream Gütermann cotton and a ¼” presser foot.

Quilt your 3 remaining placemats in a similar fashion to the first one; outlining the colors.

When you’re finished quilting, trim the excess batting and backing away from each placemat and you’ll be ready to start adding the binding to the edges of each placemat.

To calculate how many strips we’ll need for the binding, we need to do a little math.

How to calculate how much binding you’ll need:

  1. 12 + 16 + 12 + 16 = 56
  2. 56 x 4 (placemats, in this case) = 224
  3. 224 ÷ 40 = 5.6 (rounded up to 6)

The first step when cutting the 2½” wide binding strips is to square off the fabrics.

To square off the fabric, fold the binding fabric in half, wrong sides together, so that the fabric’s selvages meet. After carefully folding the fabric, place it on your cutting mat. Place your 24″ x 6½” Sew Easy Quilting Ruler onto the folded fabric as shown below, ensuring that either the 1” or the 23” vertical line on the ruler is perfectly aligned with the folded edge of the fabric. Cut off the edge of the fabric.

Squaring off your fabric with a 24″ x 6½” Sew Easy quilting ruler.

With the fabric squared, cut approximately ½” from the selvage ends of your strips.

Next, sew all 6 strips together lengthwise end to end. Press the seams open, and then fold the strip wrong sides together.

Now, let’s sew the binding strips onto the placemats by following the steps below!

TIP! Read through the next 4 steps before you start.

  1. Line up the raw edge of your binding with a raw edge side of the placemat. Start sewing a ¼” seam approximately 5” from the end of your strip. Stop sewing ¼” from the placemat edge as shown below.

Sew binding along edge of placemat and stop ¼” from edge.

2. Fold the binding away from the placemat.

Fold the binding away from the placemat.

3. Fold the binding down along the next side of the placemat. Repeat this step until all 4 corners of the placemat are done.

Fold the binding down along the next side of the placemat.

4. When you arrive back where you started, sew both ends together. Overlap both ends by ¼”, then, sew them together. Finally, sew the last few inches of the binding to the placemat.

Overlap both ends by ¼”, then, sew them together.

With one placemat done, repeat the 4 steps above on the remaining 3 placemats.

When finished, you simply need to turn the binding edges over and sew them into place. You can do it by machine but I’ll be sewing by hand.

With our binding edges sewn down, we now have 4 reversible placemats for our table.

I hope you enjoyed learning how to make them and that you have equipped yourself with the different quilting tools introduced.

Placemats ready to be used.

Few quilting tools are as useful as rotary cutters for most quilting ideas and projects.

Earlier this week I suggested you get yourself one of 2 different 45mm rotary cutters, one with a straight handle and the other with an ergonomically designed handle. While the 45 mm cutter is the most versatile cutter, there are some quilting techniques where the smaller Komfort KUT Rotary Cutter – 28mm is better suited.

Then again, there are times when you want to cut through more layers of fabric than your 45mm rotary cutter can handle. In such cases, I like to use the larger KAI Ultra Rotary Cutter – 60mm. Try them all. You’ll love them!

KAI 60mm with Kumfort Kut 45mm and 28mm rotary cutters

Before I close off today, I’d like to pass this along.

Do you remember years ago when there was a huge craze with rollerblading? I do. I remember telling a friend I was going out to buy myself a cheap pair to see if I would like rollerblading before investing a large sum for a good pair. My friend, who had some experience with inline rollerblading, told me not to get a cheap pair as I’d find it difficult to skate and wouldn’t enjoy it. My friend advised me to spend the extra money and get a good pair. So, I followed his advice and did as he suggested and I happily roller-bladed for years! I want to give you the same advice here; buy the best quilting equipment you can afford. The investment will pay off by making the time you spend quilting much more fun and enjoyable while minimizing unnecessary frustration.

Stay tuned to QUILTsocial for more educational quilting posts!

This is part 6 of 6 in this series

Go back to part 5: Sew Easy rulers for all your quilting projects


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