how to: ticker tape place mat

It all starts with a pile of scraps.

scrap pile
Before I started my place mat, I sorted my scraps by color and then into two piles. The first pile should be larger scraps that are rectangular or square-ish. We'll get to those later. The second pile should be for all those little scraps - odd shapes, small sizes, triangles. I went ahead and ironed my scraps. Because for reals, mine were a mess.

I also had leftover off white fabric. From what, I'm not sure. But I had it, so I cut it into 17.5" x 13" pieces for the front of the place mat. 

tracing the shape
To begin making the place mat, I found a picture online in the relative shape that I wanted. I printed that on regular paper (sized to be around 7" x 9"), but then traced it on tracing paper. I suppose you could also use transfer paper here, but I think it helped later on to have the tracing paper. Once traced, I flipped it over, placed it on my fabric and went over the lines again. This transferred the pencil markings from the trace paper to the fabric. DIY transfer paper, basically. They come out fairly light at first, but I went over them again with plain old pencil. If you wanna get all fancy, you can use fabric pencils or pens.

To create the shape, I started with the center of the leaf and worked my way outwards. This is just sort of like a puzzle. Take a little scrap and see where it looks like it might be a good fit. It takes some imagination because they won't all really be perfect, but I started out more general and trimmed later. I added some of the vein lines to the interior of my leaf to help with placement of those pieces. I think it helps to define the leaf shape.

ticker tape placemat
Once I had a general leaf-y shape, I began to trim. I drew lines on the fabric to indicate where I should trim each piece as I went, one by one. I did end up with a few gaps after trimming, but I just filled them in as I went.

The tracing paper came in handy here because I was able to lay it over the shape and re-trace the shape onto the fabrics so I could use it as a guide for trimming. I tried to be restrained in following the outline precisely. Since it is more improvisational and abstract, I didn't want to have every curve and point perfect.

glue the pieces
Next, I glued the individual pieces down onto the fabric with a washable glue stick. I would never use glue if I wasn't planning on washing these, but they are place mats which will get dirty and see plenty of washing machine time. The glue will come out in the wash so I was a-okay to use it here. I started with the largest center piece and worked the center first, to establish spacing. I tried to leave enough equal space in between each piece so that I could stitch later and it would still have a visible gap.

(And now, like those cooking shows where they take out a fully cooked roast 15 minutes after they put it in the oven, we switch to a fully quilted leaf, because I was running out of daylight for pictures, and everyone knows photos taken at night, under artificial lighting are gross and not blog worthy.)

zig zag
Once glued, I basted my fabric to some batting and began using a zig zag stitch on the edge of each shape in a coordinating thread color. I also free-formed some sketchy veins in there.

placemat backing

Flipping the mat over, I started to lay out my backing pieces. This is where all those larger pieces I sorted out at the beginning come into play. The pieced strips were actually leftovers from my orange quilt, with a couple extra blocks of fabrics thrown in there. This one turned out pretty square and orderly, but it can be crazy. Just depends on the scraps you're working with. (I know, you could totally do a solid backing in a coordinating fabric, but this was my I want all my scraps made into something so they don't smother me project, so I pieced the back.)

Then, I added a binding (made from 2.5" scraps) and ta-da! One festive fall place mat.

ticker tape placemat
And just for kicks, here are some of the other leaf shapes I've laid out in other fall colors:

other possibilities


  1. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I've been looking forward to this tute! Now I can't wait to try it. Thanks again!

  2. Love the placemat and backing looks fabulous too! Great step-by-step tutorial, Jess and will definitely put this on my 'must make' list. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I am in love with these. But you know this already :D

  4. Thank you for the inspiration ... I will try the technique for sure!!!

  5. I love these... thanks for showing us how you did it.

  6. looks like a project that I can do. It looks great. Great tute.

  7. Love this project. I am a Pennsylvania girl, too, and miss the colorful fall foliage. I cannot wait to try this.

    1. Karol, I miss the fall so much! The brown of the desert never really changes much...

  8. Loving this!! Now I've just got to find some fall-y colours in my stash...

  9. OH my gosh. I am making this!!!

  10. I love this! I have a stack of beautiful golds, oranges, plum, and novelty fall fabric that I've been saving for a fall quilt! These leafs are wonderful inspiration!

  11. These are FABULOUS!!! I can't wait to try some!

  12. Thank you for sharing your scrappy leaf mosaics and your tutorial for making them.

  13. Absolutely great! Lovely idea this and your mats look smashing : )

  14. Simply beautiful and ingenious - thank you -it is inspiring!


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