Folk Modern Table Runner
by The Long Thread Follow

Join the sew-along and win a copy of my book 1, 2, 3 Sew!

Thanks to Kollabora for asking me to contribute a project for their Sew-Along series! My name is Ellen Baker and I am author of 1, 2, 3 Sew and 1, 2, 3 Quilt (due out in September), both published by Chronicle Books. I also design fabric for the Japanese company Kokka and I blog at The Long Thread

Today we'll get started making this simple patchwork table runner, which is the perfect introduction to quilting. If you've never made a quilt before, you'll find it much less daunting to start with a smaller project like a table runner. This project has no top stitching or binding around the edges, so it's perfect for beginners or those who want to make a quick project.

The basic block is simple and only requires you to cut squares. You’ll practice your cutting skills, learn how to make the fundamental ¼ inch seam used in quilting, align seams for perfect piecing, and sew a basic, padded table runner. Take it a step further by adding machine or hand quilting to your completed table runner. Here, I made the runner with my Folk Modern fabric collection in a linen/cotton blend, but it could be made with any cotton, linen, or even a lightweight wool fabric. 


This week you can gather the supplies listed below, cut your fabric, and then we'll get started sewing the blocks next week. I suggest that you use six fat quarters of fabric, but if you have smaller pieces or scraps that you'd like to use, you can take a look at the cutting instructions below to see the sizes you'll need.

6 fat quarters (18” x 22”) of various patterned fabrics 

¼ yard solid background fabric

2 yards backing fabric (see cut dimensions below)

cutting tools (rotary cutter, cutting mat, and ruler)

matching thread


2 yards of cotton quilt batting (see cut dimensions below)

hand-sewing needle

small scissors

Cutting Instructions:

If you are new to quilting, it's very important to have the right cutting tools. You'll need a self-healing cutting mat, a rotary cutter and a wide clear ruler. These are essentials for quick, accurate cutting. To cut squares efficiently, keep the fabric folded at the center, cut it into long strips first, then cut those strips into squares. 

Cut the following:

24 squares of patterned fabric, 5 ½” each

72 squares of solid background fabric, 2” each

1 piece of backing fabric, 10 ½” x 60 ½”

1 piece of quilt batting, 10 ½” x 60 ½”

My book, 1, 2, 3 Quilt explores more patchwork and quilting projects with shape as the building block. You’ll learn all of the quilting basics, then progress to more complex projects while creating bags, skirts, pillows, and of course, quilts -- all designed to be useful in your everyday life.

You can take a look at the Quilting Basics skillset videos for tips on cutting fabric, sewing 1/4" seams, and using the ladder stitch, which we'll use in the last step. See you next week with an update!



  • [Fabric Choices]

    Fabric choice can make a huge difference in your overall quilt design. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to have so many possibilities, but I usually try to make a couple of blocks in various fabric combinations before investing the energy to make an entire quilt.

    Here, I played around with a monochromatic block and another block with a single patterned fabric (designed by Carolyn Friedlander) paired with a variety of bright solids. I made one block of each, then made these digital images to see how they might look as a completed runner.

    Next week I'll talk about how slight variations to a quilt block layout can make a big difference in the overall quilt design.

    Fabric variations for the Folk Modern Table Runner.

    10 years ago
  • A monochromatic block and another with patterned center and bright solids.

    10 years ago
  • Let's sew the block together! Now that you've selected and cut your fabric, we'll put together the basic block that will make up the table runner. We'll make six blocks and then put them together and finish the runner next week.

    Seam allowance: 1/4"

    Step 1: Stitch.

    As shown in the photo in the sidebar, you'll take one small 2" square and place it on a corner of the 5 1/2" square. (If you have directional fabric, be sure to place it correctly.) Stitch the squares together, along the diagonal of the smaller square, from corner to corner, as shown by the arrow in the photo. You may want to mark this line with chalk or a marking pen.

    Quick Tip: When sewing quilt blocks, you do not need to backstitch at the beginning and end of your stitches because they will be connected to other pieces, which will lock the stitches in place. 

    Step 2: Trim & Press. 

    Repeat with two more small squares, then trim the excess fabric as shown in the next photo, leaving a 1/4" seam allowance. Press the seams open from the back, then press again from the front side.

    Step 3: Repeat & Join.

    Repeat steps 1 and 2 with three more 5 1/2" squares. Next, lay the squares out as you want to assemble them, then begin to join them together as shown. First join two pieces, press open the seams and then join this pair with another set of two. Be sure to align and pin the seams together, remembering that the stitches will be 1/4" from the edge so the seams should match there. 

    Step 4: Press.

    Press the seams open on the back of the finished block. Then press again from the front.

    Quick Tip: When pressing fabric seams for quilting, it's often best to press the seams open so that they will lay flatter, creating less bulk when top quilting. But if you have a white or lighter fabric, you may want to press to one side (towards the darker fabric) so that the seams don't show through the fabric on the front. Also, if you press to one side, you can easily match seams when joining blocks by nesting the two seams together, just be sure that the seams are pressed in opposite directions.

    Repeat the steps above until you have six completed blocks. Then come back next week and we'll finish the table runner!

    10 years ago
  • [Variations]

    Last week I talked about the importance of fabric choice in quilt design. This week, I experimented with a few simple modifications to this basic block to see what a difference these slight changes could make in the final design. 

    First, I used just two squares in opposite corners of the larger squares, and also increased the cut size of the smaller square to 3", which creates more of an "X" design, as shown on the left. Then I changed the larger square to a rectangle with cut dimensions of 4 1/2" x 6 1/2", and ended up with the block you see on the right. 

    So you can see how these minor changes can alter the overall design. With fabric and layout choices, there are infinite possibilities in quilt design.

    10 years ago
  • Here are the final steps to finish the table runner:

    Step 5: Join Blocks.

    Lay out the blocks as you want them to be assembled in your finished runner. With right sides facing and seams aligned and pinned together, sew one block to another along one side. Press this seam open and sew another block to this joined piece. Repeat until you have sewn all six blocks together as shown. Press seams open and press flat from the front side.

    Step 6: Pin Layers Together.

    Pin the three pieces of the runner together in the following order: batting on the bottom, followed by the backing piece of solid fabric with right sides facing up, then the patchwork front piece with right sides facing down (so right sides of fabric will be together and batting will be on the bottom layer). Smooth the layers and pin them together as shown. It's best to sew with the patchwork layer facing up so you can see how the finished seam allowance will look on the front. 

    Step 7: Sew Layers.

    Still using a 1/4" seam allowance, sew along the edge to join the three pieces together. Start on one side about 12" from a corner, then sew around the perimeter of the stacked layers, but leave an 8" opening to turn the runner right sides out. Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of your stitches. Clip the corners as shown and press the seam open.

    Step 8: Turn & Stitch.

    Next, pull the runner right sides out through the opening as shown. Gently poke out the corners with a point turner (a chopstick or other pointed but blunt tool will work). Press the seam flat, and pin it closed around the opening. Stitch together the opening by hand using the ladder stitch. If you'd prefer, you could just edgestitch by machine around the entire perimeter.

    All done! Please join us and make your own version of this table runner. Submit your photos for a chance to win a copy of my first book 1, 2, 3 Sew!

    10 years ago

Discussion 4

  • Izzy commented 10 years ago

    Awesome project! Love it 

  • Beth Mizuno commented 10 years ago

    Thank you for this project.

  • Collette Howie commented 10 years ago

    great tutorial and lovely runner great advice as always x

  • Patty Radish commented 10 years ago

    I follow your blog and have been waiting with much anticipation for this tutorial!

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