Sunday, February 02, 2020

License Plate Placemat Tutorial!

This last batch of 6 brings me to the 24 that I need!

I am sincerely loving working with all of the row-by-row license  plates from participating quilt shops that have come my way.  I can’t thank everyone enough for all of these locations that have ended up in the 24 placemats, bringing us all together to give my Quiltville Inn guests a smile and a giggle.

I know they will love the captions and shop names and fun play-on-words sayings on each and every one.

I started thinking I needed 24, because constant washing may have these cute mats looking quite the worse for wear over time.

The truth be told? I don’t know how they are really going to hold up.  We shall see.

But I am already working on a table runner idea with the bumper crop of plates still beckoning me to “Come play!”

Click HERE for Printer Friendly Version.

The assembly is easy -

You’ve seen me do string piecing before – We’ve used these techniques in many of my previous mystery quilts, or book patterns.

This tutorial assumes you have a basic knowledge of string piecing on foundation papers.  If you don’t, check out my book String Frenzy which covers both the kind of piecing used in the center blocks, and the top and bottom borders.

For each placemat you will need:

2 row-by-row license plates trimmed to 8’’ x 4 1/2’’ (Some may be a bit narrower than 4 1/2’’ and that’s okay – we trim the string border to fit .)

Sashings: 2 strips 1’’ x 8’’ and 2 strips 1’’ x 17’’

Binding: 2 strips 2’’ x 40’’ from width of fabric, or enough 2’’ strips from fat-quarter to yield approximately 60’’ of binding.

I used the same fabric for binding as I did for the sashing strips.

Foundation papers:

4 squares 4 1/4’’ x 4 1/4’’
2 phone book pages (or foundation paper) approximately 8’’ x 11’’.  If your phone book pages are smaller, just use more pages to get the desired result.


When string piecing, use a very small stitch length for easier paper removal.

Treadling blocks on my 1910 Singer 66 with lotus decals.

Place two strips with right sides together, centering the strips over the paper foundation, from corner to corner. Stitch through all layers using a 1/4’’ seam.
Fold top strip out and press.

Cover the 4 squares with strings. Trim to 4 1/4’’ and remove paper. 

Stitch the four string blocks together.  Some of my placemats had the string blocks forming an X, some a diamond. It’s up to you.

String block center will measure 8’’ square at this point.

Stitch an 8’’ sashing piece to either side of string block center.  Press seams toward the sashing just added.

Stitch a license plate to each sashing piece with the bottom of each plate toward the center of the placemat.  Press seams toward the sashing strips.

Measure placemat through the center from side to side.  Take note of this measurement.

If your placemat measures less than 17’, trim the long sashings to this new measurement.  Stitch long sashings to top and bottom of placemat.

Outer border string piecing:

Place two strips with right sides together across the center of the page from side to side (Across in the shortest direction.) Stitch through all layers using 1/4’’ seam.  Press top strip over and continue to completely fill the page with random strips and strings.

I found I needed 2 pages to get the number of strips I needed, and it also increased my variety.

Short strips can be joined end to end and used as one long strip across the page. USE EVERYTHING!

Trim the edges of the pages and cross-cut into 2 1/2’’ strips.  Remove paper. Join the strips end to end into one long length.

Cut 2 borders 17’’ in length from the pieced strips. (Or use your adjusted measurement from trimming your long sashings if needed.) I found that sometimes I had to shift the ruler for the best placement down the string piecing, avoiding seams too close to either end of the 17’’ border length.

I also found it helpful to avoid bulk at the ends of the borders by pressing the last seam on either end toward the center of the border.

Add the top and bottom borders to the placemat. Press seams toward the long sashings.

Yesterday afternoon’s first four with prepared bindings!

And then there were six!

Mass quilting on the long arm!

Feel free to quilt these as desired.  The size is small enough to easily be managed on your home machine.  I have had great success placing the mats in rows, 2 mats across ,and letting the machine quilt all the way across.

It’s also a great way to use up scraps of batting – we all know how those tend to hang around needing a project to use them up.


Join the binding strips from end to end with diagonal seams. (Click to the Tips & Techniques tab and search for binding hints!) Trim excess fabric 1/4’’ beyond seams and press seams open.

Press the binding in half by bringing long raw edges together.  Apply to placemats with 1/4'' seam for 1/4'' finish.  

If you wish to machine finish the binding, stitch the binding to the back of the placemat first, and roll it to the front to top stitch. I enjoyed several evenings of simple hand stitching to finish my bindings for the result I like best.

I love these!!

Finished size: Approximately 13’’ x 17’’.

If you missed it – we’ve got a Quiltmaker Bundle Gift-Away happening on Yesterday’s Post.  Enter to win there!

You’ll also find the information for the Free Motion Quilting Academy , now in registration for the Spring 2020 session, starting February 17th.  Your placemats would be a great project to learn Free Motion Quilting!  If you would like to know more, or even participate in Module 1 for FREE, also click to Yesterday’s Post to know more.

Our half-price pattern for February??  I’m still trying to catch my breath from being gone for the better part of 2 weeks.  Check back with me for that TOMORROW!

Quiltville Quote of the Day -

When things that used to make you happy, no longer bring the same amount of happiness - it's okay to switch gears and try something new!

Your happiness is still up to you!

Did you hear that Punxsutawney Phil did NOT see his shadow this morning?

He predicts an EARLY SPRING!

Thank you, Phil!

Have a lovely Sunday, everyone!


  1. Bonnie, do you have a link for how you wind your binding in that particular way?

    1. I do mine the same way. I just wind it around the palm of my hand. You can also cut a pool noodle into six inch lengths and wind it around one of those, then just stick a straight pin into it to hold it on there.

  2. Thank you for this tutorial! I shall definitely be downloading the pdf when it’s ready. 😁

  3. Your placemats are so happy, just like the joy you bring to all Quiltvillians!

  4. I have obviously missed something...where or how do I get/make the actual license plate to start with???

    1. These are license plates sold by Quilt stores that participate in the Row by Row program. You can google Row by Row and find some stores

  5. Love Love Love the placemats - sew much fun! I'm intrigued now on what a table runner would look like :)

  6. Where would one find these license plate panels? They are adorable.

    1. These are license plates sold by Quilt stores that participate in the Row by Row program. You can google Row by Row and find some stores near you or find stores when you travel.

  7. Such a great way to continue enjoying those fabric license plates. Thank you Sharing your idea and providing instructions!

  8. Don you wish you could visit each of the quilt shops to gather the license plates?

  9. These are so cute I’m sure your guests at Quiltville inn will love them. Great tutorial thank you.
    Love and quilty hugs
    Anne xxx

  10. Can't wait to see the table runner/top using the row by row plates. Thanks for all you do for us!

  11. The Tennessee plate, "Grit and Bind" is a nod to the NBA Memphis Grizzlies. Their "motto" is Grit and Grind.


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