A Fun Quilt-as-you-go Table Runner


A step by step guide to making this free table runner using the quilt-as-you-go method. Make this no stress free table runner today!

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A Fun Quilt-as-you-go Table Runner

Do you get frustrated working on complicated quilt patterns? Does your brain get tired and slow down and say "I wanna break!"?

Let's make a table runner that's simple, requires little thinking and is a quilt-as-you-go … what could be better than that?

A Fun Quilt-as-you-go Table Runner


But first, I want to confess my photographic shortcomings. This first one I took: Tossed it onto the ironing board, clicked and said OK. Not OK.

table runner bad photo


So the strips in the in-progress photos bear no resemblance to the finished table runner; not in size, color or number. I took many, many shots as I was going, but neglected to check them close enough and even my hubby, who is magic with Photoshop, couldn't fix them. Result: Runner was finished and no in-progress pictures. Thus the "pretend" ones. Shot by The Man.

From now on, I'll call him when I'm ready to shoot something!

OK, now on to our project.

I'm sure most of you who have quilted for any length of time at all have those "Jelly Rolls" of fabric. How could you not? It's impossible to resist those luscious coordinated colors! And if there are "Nickel Squares" and "Layer Cakes" to match? Oh, boy. There went the budget!

Of course, you can also cut your own strips from yardage or from fat quarters. And if you do this, you can vary the width to maybe make it more interesting.

General table runner guidelines state the width of the runner should be 1/3 the width of the table and the length 8 to 10 inches longer than the table.

But table runners can be any length you want them, and they might not even be for a dining table. You can use the runners on a dresser, a sofa table, a piano, a bar, etc. My dining table is eight feet long. I don't want to do a 106" table runner. Not now, I don't. I want my runner to be 14" x 36" to fit a small table.

The first thing to do is select your strips. These are usually 2 1/2" wide and 42" to 44" long.

Choose a backing fabric. I like using a print that ties in with the strips, but anything will work. It needs to be cut 22" x the width of the fabric, or 44". Cut batting approximately the same size. Yes, I know it's oversize, but it may draw up some during the sewing of the strips.

Set your machine up as you would to quilt, using a walking foot if one is available. It makes the sewing so much easier. A walking foot moves the top fabric in synch with the feed dogs below the fabric to help prevent puckers, etc. If you don't have a walking foot in your tool chest, put one on your Santa list.

Layer backing fabric and batting. I use a little glue on this to hold them in place. Nancy Zieman said it wouldn't hurt the sewing machine and so far it hasn't. I use plain school glue sticks.


We are going to use a Log Cabin method to piece our quilt. First, choose a strip, cut it to 24 inches long and center it on your batting, right side up. You can eyeball this; the batting and backing sandwich is a little larger so the "centering" doesn't have to be perfect. Use little dabs of glue down the strip to hold it until you sew.

table runner 1


Next, choose the fabric you want to go at the top of that first strip and cut one 2 1/2" square. Sew it to the top, right side down, through all layers. Flip over and finger press. Choose the same fabric strip or a different one to go down the left side of the center strip. We will assume from now on that the strips are all 2 1/2" wide. Cut one to 26 1/2-inches long.


Put the 26 1/2-inch piece right side down and align edges along the left side of the center strip and the square at the top. Stitch this, fold it over and finger press.

table runner 2


We are working counter-clockwise here; it doesn't matter which way you go as long as you continue in the same manner.

Cut from any strip a 4 1/2-inch rectangle; place it right side down at the bottom of the two strips and sew; flip over and finger press.

Pick your next long strip for the right side and cut it to 27 1/2"; sew it to the right side of the center strip; right side down and edges even. Flip and finger press.

Continue in this manner. Next would be a 6 1/2" rectangle at the top, then a 29 1/2-inch strip.

Then an 8 1/2" rectangle followed by a 31 1/2" strip.


Next, a 10 1/2" rectangle and a 33 1/2" strip.

table runner 3


Finally, a 12 1/2" and a 35 1/2" strip.

See the pattern here? Now, it is all pieced and quilted.


Last step: Binding. I trimmed the batting even with the quilt top. The backing was trimmed to 1-inch wider and longer than the top. I folded this inch of fabric twice to the front and stitched, carefully tucking in the corners to look neat.

table runner 4


Of course, a traditional binding will work great, too.

More quilting could be added, but as far as sturdiness goes, I think it's fine.

Did you have fun? I sure hope so, because I did!

Need fabric? Find a quilt shop near you or browse online quilt shops.

table runner 4
table runner 4


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The fabric on the back of a Quilt Sandwich (Top, Batting and Backing).

Same As: Lining
The layer in the middle of a quilt sandwich between the Top and Backing layers consisting of wool, polyester, blends, silk, or cotton.

Same As: Stuffing, Filling, Wadding, Filler
Binding is used as both a noun and a verb. As a noun it is the fabric that's used to cover the raw edges of the quilt sandwich after it's quilted. This edging fabric is referred to as the Binding (noun). As a verb it is the process of putting on this fabric, and it referred to as Binding a Quilt.
Feed Dogs
The mechanical teeth under the area of a sewing machine which move to pull the fabric through the machine. For free motion quilting or embroidery or needle darning these feed dogs are lowered or covered.
Moving a hot iron while it has contact with fabric. Often ironing can stretch and distort fabrics and seams. A better alternative is to press, where you just lay the hot iron down and lift straight up from the fabric.

See Also: Pressing
Jelly Rolls
Strips of precut fabrics assembled into a roll (usually 2 1/2" x 44").
Log Cabin
A quilt pattern in which narrow fabric strips, or logs, surround a center square to form a block. These may be pieced from strips or sewn onto a foundation of paper or fabric.
Method of using an iron to press seams and blocks. This means simply pressing downwards on the seam with the iron from above and not moving the iron back and forth which can distort the block or seam.
Quilt Top
The top layer of a quilt Sandwich.
Traditional description of a quilt: a sandwich consisting of a Quilt Top, Batting (filling), and a Backing.
A construction technique in which long, narrow pieces of cloth are joined lengthwise, sometimes with long rows of quilt blocks, to form a quilt top. The term "strip" can be used to describe the long pieces of fabric between blocks (see Sashing) or to describe the small, narrow remnants used in string patchwork.

See Also: Sashing
Walking Foot
A special foot which can be attached to a sewing machine which helps to feed the top layer of a quilt fabric sandwich evenly with the feed dogs feeding the bottom fabric.
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