Monday, November 12, 2012

Serendipity Table Runner Tutorial

Did you ever do an internet search for quilt ideas and be led back to your own blog?  Well, I can check that one off my list now.

I was looking to do something with a beautiful Moda Swiss Holiday charm pack I'd won in a giveaway earlier this year.  I Googled charm pack quilted table runner ideas, and after following this link and that, I ended up on somebody's Pinterest page where I saw that this nice person had pinned my own Scrap Challenge Block.

This block is pinned in real life to my design board just to the right of my sewing table, but you know how it is when you look at something so often you don't even really see it anymore?  Or how you can miss the forest for the trees, or, in my case, the trees for the forest?  Yeah, I'm kinda good at that.  I have had people I know wave at me from five feet away, but I didn't see them because I was looking over their heads to a vantage point 20 feet beyond.  I did that on election day to my neighbor.  I've done it to my niece at an adjoining restaurant table.  And try explaining that you aren't purposely snubbing someone, just being your usual preoccupied/absentminded self.  So embarrassing.

At any rate, it was nice to be reminded of that block in however roundabout a way.  Let's call it serendipity.  No really, let's call this table runner Serendipity.  (My first idea was to call it Triple X, but on thinking of the kind of traffic that might generate, it seemed appropriate to reconsider.)

I started by taking the charm pack apart and separating the squares by pattern and then by light and dark, large scale print and small scale, etc.  I determined that I could make a runner three blocks across using the Scrap Challenge Block as the basis.

Here is how it went together (click on photos to enlarge).

Each block will have a grouping of 2 light fabric squares and 2 darker squares.  I picked the large scale prints for my darker ones.  I'm calling these the background squares.

In addition, each block will use 4 other squares for the corners.  I used 2 almost "solid" squares and 2 small scale prints for these corner pieces.

You will make 3 X-shaped blocks for the table runner.  In the below photo, you can see the groupings I used for each block, arranged in 3 columns from left to right.  (Note that there are 2 identical charm squares stacked one on top of the other, which you can't really tell from the picture.  Just remember to use 2 of every fabric shown.)

Next, cut your background squares in half on the diagonal:

Then take your corner squares and cut a 1.5 inch strip off the side of each.  From the section that's left, cut a 3.5-inch square.  Further trim the 1.5-inch strips you initially cut down to 1.25 inches and set these aside.  These 1.25-inch strips can be used when you assemble the strip sets later on.

Take the 3.5-inch squares you just cut, and cut them in half on the diagonal.

This is what you should have so far:

You will also have a bunch of uncut charm squares left over.  Select about a dozen of these.

You will then cut your selected charm squares into four 1.25-inch strips.

Combine all your 1.25-inch strips, in a pile.  Well, really there's no law that says you have to make a pile, but I am a piler so that part makes me happy.

Now you can start reassembling them into strip sets of 4 strips each.  Mix it up, vary your strips, and have fun with it.

You are then going to sew your 4-strip sets back together to make 12 strippy sections for your blocks.  (You will have some strips left over, which you can use for something else, like a mini or get creative with your backing perhaps—or toss 'em; you won't hurt my feelings.)

At this point, I laid out all the pieces into 3 blocks, just to make sure I had it fixed in my mind how to sew these together.  I fiddled with the layout a little bit, swapping strip sets here and there until I was happy with the overall look of each block.

Block 1
Block 2
Block 3

Now it's time to sew the units together.  By unit, I mean one strip set, two background triangles, and two corner triangles:

First, take a strip set and sew the larger background triangle pieces along the long sides of the strip set.  Your strip set and triangle pieces won't match.  In fact, your background triangles will seem way too big.  They are.

Here's a tip:  The ends will overlap the strip set by one inch on the top and bottom edges.  I lay it on my cutting mat so I can equalize the overlap (centering the triangle placement) and pin at top and bottom.  Sew along the long edges, being careful not to stretch the bias of the triangle piece.  Just let it flow under the presser foot, nice and easy.

Press these triangles out and then trim the overhang even with the strip set.  I have rotated the block in this photo for trimming, but don't let that throw you.

Now take your corner triangles and sew them onto the remaining edges.  This time, your triangle pieces will fit better.  No need to stretch or pull to make anything match, just center the point of the triangle using the center of the strip set as a guide.  Easy peasy.

Press the corner triangles out.  And what's this?  It looks wonky, oh dear!  Never fear, we're going to whack it down to 5-7/8 inches square.  It will be okay.

Yeah, that's a weird and seemingly fiddly number, but your corner points will match really nicely this way, assuming you use a scant 1/4-inch seam allowance.  Just pay attention, especially with the first edge you trim off, that you have left a 1/4-inch seam allowance at the corner pieces.  See the asterisks on the photo below (which I magically cropped in my photo editor because I forgot to take a picture of the actual trimmed block.  I think you get the idea.)

Once all your units are sewn together and trimmed, you can then sew each of your three blocks together, then join the blocks into your table runner.

Ain't she purdy?

Quilted and bound, it measures about 32 x 11.25 inches.

If you have any questions or if something isn't clear, let me know.  And if you make one, I would love to see it!


November Finishes


  1. She is purdy, and fabulous tutorial too :)

  2. Purdy, purdy! Very well written tutorial, too.

    Good call on the Triple X thing, by the way:)

  3. Wow -- this is lovely! And you did a great job tutorializing it, too!! :)

  4. P., you amaze me every time. And how cool is that that you were led back to your own genius by someone who recognized your awesome talent.

    This is now officially on my list of things to do.

    xo -E

  5. P.S. Submit this to Moda Bake Shop :D.

  6. GREAT tutorial and a great runner! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Very purdy ;) Thanks for sharing such a great tutorial!

  8. Love this! Thanks for the idea and a great tute!

  9. You are a life saver! I have a Christmas Charm Challenge due on Dec. 8 and this might be it!!!

  10. Ive never been led back to my own blog by a google search so you are a complete star!

    Im with Elizabeth...Moda Bakeshop would love this.

  11. You are so much fun! I just asked Hubby last evening if he thought it was funny when you come across a photograph on the internet you like, and have to laugh at yourself liking your own photo. He said, "Um, Dear, that's not normal." Now I can tell him it is!

    I am going to suggest that my quilt group do this runner as our next project. It is wonderful!

  12. Thanks for the awesome tutorial! I REALLY like that block. Such a cool design and perfect for your Christmas themed fabric. I hope to quilt again one year.

  13. What a great tutorial for the table runner!!

  14. That is a beauty! I an saving the tutorial... love all the pictures it makes it much easier to follow!

  15. Love your runner! Great tutorial and think i need to try it with one of my charm packs! Thanks and have a great day


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