How to Make a Quilt-as-you-go Table Runner

How to Make a Quilt-as-you-go Table Runner main article image
Posted on April 26, 2021 by Candace Sanders

This is a fast and easy method for making a table runner or dresser topper for your home. You can easily finish it in just one day or less.

Supplies Needed:

  • Cotton quilting fabric (your choice) or jelly roll (2 ½ inch wide) for strips
  • Cotton fabric for backing and binding
  • Low loft batting (such as Warm and Natural)
  • Cutting mat
  • Rotary cutter
  • Quilting ruler
  • Spray adhesive
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread

The amount of fabric and batting you will need for this project will be determined by the size of your table runner. The runner shown here is approximately 18-inches by 34-inches. All the directions listed here will be based on this quilt size. You will need to make adjustments if your runner will be wider (or smaller in width) or longer. This was made to cover the top of a dresser and uses fabrics from a 2 ½ inch wide jelly roll.   A total of 9 strips were used.  If you will be cutting your own strips you will need at least 1/8 yard of each fabric. You will get two pieces from each strip. 

The first step is to cut the batting. This was cut the width of the runner (18 inches) but several inches longer than the length (about 38 inches here). I wanted to make sure that the strips would finish at the right measurement and that the batting would not be too short. You will trim this later.

Cut a piece of backing fabric. The backing here was cut from a 5/8 yard of fabric. Cut it a couple inches larger than the batting. Press fabric to remove wrinkles. Lay the fabric face down on a flat surface. 

Spray adhesive on one side of the batting. Remember to do this in a well-ventilated area. Place the batting sticky side down on the wrong side of the backing fabric. Make sure you do not have any wrinkles. Turn the fabric and batting over and use your hands to smooth it out.

If you are cutting your own fabric for the strips you will need to use your cutting mat, quilt ruler and rotary cutter to cut 2 ½ inch strips. You can decide to cut your strips any width you want and even vary the widths so that you have different sizes. Just remember to recalculate fabric needs if you do this. Cut your strips to the size of your table runner’s width (18 inches here). I was able to cut two pieces from each strip. You can press your cut strips using a fabric spray starch (Best Press was used here) to give them more body but this is optional. They seem to lay better with the starch.

Decide how you want your fabrics to be placed on your runner. Stack your strips in the order you will be using them or you can randomly pick as you sew. Use a thread that matches the backing unless you want a contrasting look.  Start at the middle of the batting and center your first piece right side up. Lay the next piece face down on the first piece lining up the edge. Stitch along the edge using a ¼ inch seam. Flip the second strip over and finger press and pin in place. Do not iron!  Ironing will cause the batting to distort. There is a press and roll tool you can purchase that can also be used for pressing the seams. Work from the middle and continue to add strips until you reach your desired length. You can place strips in a random order or repeat a pattern on both sides as was done here. To help the last strip remain flat top stitch close to the edge.

Trim the batting and backing to size using your rotary cutter. Square up if needed. At this point you could add additional top quilting to your piece but it is not necessary. Entirely your choice.

The next step is to attach the binding. Cut enough 2 ½ wide strips that when joined together will go around the entire runner plus excess. It takes three strips for this size runner. Since a jelly roll was used, there were not enough matching strips for one continuous binding. Instead, it was decided to make a pieced binding using three different fabrics. The strips were cut 20 inches long for six total strips. They were alternated then joined together to make the long binding piece. You could use as many different fabrics as you wanted for a multi-pieced binding. To join the strips, place right sides of two strips perpendicular to each other. Sew a diagonal line from the top inside corner where the two strips meet to the bottom outside corner. See photos below.  Trim and press seam open.  Press binding in half wrong sides together.   

Attach binding to the front of the quilt by starting on one of the longer sides. Lay the binding unfinished edge along the edge of the runner leaving about a ten or 12-inch tail.  Sew using a ¼ inch seam. There are many YouTube videos that will show you how to do corners of a quilt binding (also on how to attach binding strips together). If you have never done binding before I would recommend that you watch some first before proceeding. Basically, you sew to within ¼ inch of the next edge, pivot towards you and backstitch off the top edge. Fold binding up at a 45-degree angle. Fold binding back down and line up binding edge to quilt edge. Start stitching where you ended at the top edge. Continue stitching around all sides leaving another ten to 12-inch tail at the end. I actually referred to a YouTube video to find out how to attach the ends of the binding. Search for “Joining the Ends of Binding” and follow the instructions on the video. It is fairly easy once you know how. You may already know how to do this correctly but I needed a refresher for myself.

Fold the binding to the back and either hand sew or machine sew in place. There are some who prefer to sew the binding on the back and turn it to the front and machine stitch in place. Do whatever works best for you.

Be as creative as you want with this project. You may find many other surfaces to make runners for, I am lazy when it comes to dusting so this helps me a lot. Just take it off and shake it or throw it in the washer. Be as creative as you want in deciding which fabrics you want to use. I hope you have fun!

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How to Make a Quilt-as-you-go Table Runner
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