Introduction: Zig Zag Table Runner
I make these double sided table runners for the holidays and special occasions, Some as gifts and some I sell for what $$ I put into them, its mainly another hobby to keep my brain from rusting.
They take about 6 hours total time to make and I usually make several tops when the material is on sale and finish them when the batting and backing is on sale,
I buy pre-cut 5" squares called charm packs from a place called Missouri Star Quilt Company. They have daily sales and are very reasonably priced with a giant assortment of everything quilting, Jenny the owner makes tons of videos on how to make really cool stuff including this runner, you should really check out their site.
This makes 1 double sided table runner appx. 56"x18"
the skill level is intermediate ++
you should be familiar with quilting techniques
I will be making the first one, the other 2,music lover and wine country have the tops finished but are not layered and assembled yet.
Step 1: Supplies
O.K. so there are a million options for threads and materials and tools, do what works best for you but heres what I used here
1- charm pack 42-5" squares , they come in a variety of sizes and counts,, the 42-5" has no leftovers
this pack is named Evening At The Opera
1-strip batting 21"x60", here I used soft n crafty, you can sew several scraps together for these just don't make the seams too bulky
1- yard backing material, **NOTE** I have used fat quarters, whole 60"x 21" strips, and 1 linear yard 44"x36" cut in half then sewn long ways to make these 22"X72", use what you have.
tips.. make these different holidays on both sides or different fat quarters in your holiday theme for variation
all purpose corresponding thread
clips and pins
iron, ironing board
pen, bone folder, chop stick or pointed object to push out the points
60" flat surface for the layout
optional walking foot attachment for the quilting,
Step 2: Arrangement
When you open the pack you will have 3-4 pieces of each basic color, start by laying them all out in no special order just yet. The fun part is next.
we will be working with the squares turned side ways with the points on top and bottom,
the pattern is like this, 2 in the first column 3 in the second column 2 in the third 3 in the 4th and so on until you come to the end which will be 2, (see pic) you will see the zig zag shape taking place now.
you can add or take away columns to make it shorter or longer just make sure they are sets of 2 and 3 for uniformity and adjust batting and backing length.
Once you have them layed out you can try to arrange them into some sort of a color scheme, All I can say is good luck! you can arrange them for hours and not be totally satisfied with the evenness of the colors,
Try walking away or squinting your eyes, give your eyes a rest and come back, Just don't be too Anal about it, you will go crazy and never even get started. Just don't put exact pieces or pattern directly side by side, sometimes turning a square 1/2 a turn to move a bright corner around fixes a problem..
NOW TAKE A PICTURE and have it on your camera, phone or computer for reference, this is important later on when you get started piecing it all together
Step 3: Assembly Part 1
The reason for taking the picture is, you are going to be moving stuff around quite a bit and things can get a little confusing. A reference picture really comes in handy so you don't put stuff where it don't belong,
Staying organized is the best policy and keep a tidy workspace.
I prefer to chain stich whenever possible, it saves time and thread, chain stitching is basically sewing several parts of a project at one time without lifting the needle then putting the smaller parts together to make bigger parts and so on.
First off stack your squares in order into 9 piles 2,4,5,5,5,5,5,4,2 as pictured,
next using a 1/4 inch seam allowance, set on 2.5 stitch length and following your reference picture sew your columns together one square at a time or chain stitch in sets of 2 then the 2s into 4s then add the fifth square on the end of the 4 square strip, be sure to not lose the orientation of the squares, there is no need for backstitching or lock stitching since all seams will be covered by another seam sooner or later, Do this with all 9 piles to make your initial 9 strips
Step 4: Ironing
LOTS OF STEAM
Ironing is an important part of quilting,
There are several steps to follow to make sure everything lays flat and your points line up perfectly
I imagine there are countless techniques but this is the way that works best for me.
pressing your seams in opposite directions on each column will give you a flat seam when you attach them together, and they will butt up against each other when sewing, then on the top side you will have exact points, as long as you keep your 1/4 inch seam allowance at all times here's how it works.
My first strip I fold the seam upward and press it then the second strip I iron the seams downward then the next upward and so on until I get to the end.
I like to use wonder clips instead of pins when possible to save time and my failing eyes don't have to work so hard trying to put pins in exact positions.
Setting the seam, I don't know the science behind it but the pro's do it so this novice does it too, I think it gets the material hot and steamy to help getting a sharp crease, with the piece flat press on the stitch line firmly, don't wiggle just press down, then open your piece and press the fold to the desired direction, Remember 1 column up next down and so on,
Do this with all 9 strips
Step 5: Final Top Assembly
I have made a picture for the layout of this and you should have your reference picture available,
Your first strip that has 2-squares attaches to the 2 middle squares of the second strip with 4 squares
Next the second strip with the 4 squares attaches even with the top of the third strip with the 5 squares
Then the rest of the strips are attached to the second square down on the next one, all the way across until all strips are connected.
I hope that wasn't too confusing, just follow the picture
PINNING and USING CLIPS
As I said earlier I like using wonder clips, I got a bucket of them on ebay for dirt cheap, they make closing bag edges easy and for projects like this its a real time saver, I show how to use a pin for this but I use a clip.
heres how I get sharp points,
make sure to keep your strips positioned correctly and only do one strip at a time to avoid a date with the old seam ripper.
Lay your 4 square strip over onto the 2 square strip face down into the correct position, Butt the folds going in opposite directions tightly into each other, (see pic 1), picture 2 shows the connection with a pin and picture 3 shows with a clip
I like to use the clips on every joint all the way to the end to ensure the joints stay tight and my edges stay flush,
no backstitch or lockstitch is needed here either, when you get to the end of the line just stop or sew off the edge as I have done here,
Do this for all 9 strips remembering to check strip alignment and orientation before sewing them together.
now is a good time to snip off all of those pesky little tag ends so they don't show up on the front of your runner.
Step 6: Top Side Final Ironing
Once you are at this point, all that is left is pressing all of the seams flat,
Do as you did in the first pressing of the strips, setting the seams and pressing your folds in one direction, at this point it don't matter which way the folds go, just start with one of the 2 square ends and have at it, you will notice they will lay in a nice uniform layer, I lay it on the table in front of me and pull it over the ironing board and let it drape down to the floor as I go, your joints should lay like those in the last picture.
Step 7: The Layers
Now lets put the layers together
Lay your batting down, it should be wide enough to extend at least an inch on all sides of the top, we will trim off the excess later on.
You can sew smaller pieces together to make one large one using up scraps but don't make the seams too bulky.
So, lay it out flat and smooth out any wrinkles, then lay your backing material down on top of that Face Up, As I stated earlier you can use any style of backing you want or several pieces sewn together, just make sure to have a piece about an inch larger the top all around and smooth this out as well, you don't want any wrinkles here as they will appear later and hard to get out after ironing.
So, batting down, backing down face up then lay your top down face down,(right sides together) and smooth this out too, there should be about an inch or more of backing and batting extending from all sides
Pin or clip every inside corner and outside point (see pic) together to prevent movement while manhandling the runner during zigzagging.
Trim off any excess batting/backing down to about a 1/2 inch or so to reduce bulk (see pic)
Starting about 1 1/2 inches in on one end, make a backstitch/lockstitch, you will be pulling the runner through the hole here and you want the hole ends to stay together while doing so.
We will be leaving about a 6-8 inch opening to do so.
Staying with your 1/4 inch seam line, zig and zag and follow all around the entire project, keeping your needle down when making the turn at the points and inside corners. the 2.5 stitch length helps you stay precise with the 1/4 inch seam and you will be able to achieve the sharpest points when you turn this out through the hole.
Once you get all the way around you will stop about 1 1/2 inches into the end piece and backstitch/lockstitch, this will leave that turning hole (see pic)
Step 8: The Final Trim
Detail in the final trimming is important to achieve the sharpest points.
We will be trimming all of the excess batting and backing away from the top, as close as possible.
EXCEPT for the area you left open for the turn hole, leave this about 1/2-3/4 inch or so long, this will aid in tucking it closed and keeping it in place when its turned and you topstitch it shut.
Now, on every outside corner, clip off the point as close to the thread line as possible without nipping the thread, this will reduce bulk when pulling your points out,
On every inside corner, cut into the V right up to the thread line as well without nipping the thread, this will give room for spread when pulling your inside points later,
Don't worry about weakening the edges we will be topstitching these later and sealing the whole thing.
**NOTE** I do all of my nipping and trimming on these corners and points from the batting side because it is much easier to see the thread line and I can be more precise.
Take your time here and double check everything, it is quite a hassle to fix this later.
Step 9: The Turn
Now reach into the opening you left at one end between the backing and the top,and grab one point at the other end, slowly and carefully pull the whole thing through a little at a time, turning it right side out.
Right about now its fairly ugly, but don't worry about the shape just yet,
With your fingertip first, start pushing all of the points out into place, it will start taking shape now somewhat.
Then with your pointed object of choice, I use a cooking chopstick, work each point to a sharp point by wiggling and twisting or picking with a pin or however you see fit. Just get them all to your liking,
The inside corners are another challenge, they look misshapen and deformed, but there is a way to fix this if you cut into those V,s far enough and your 1/4 inch seam line stayed true, Here's how.
Grasp 2 points and firmly pull them away from each other, this will get them started to lay down, roll the v between your fingers a bit and repeat pulling one point at a time until you are satisfied, it will take some maneuvering but this will work if you keep at it. Look on the back side as well, some wrinkles appear here at times, The next step is ironing it flat for quilting and topstitching, some imperfections can be corrected then too.
Step 10: Final Ironing
Ok. so you are happy with the results of turning this runner the right side out. Time to iron it flat so we can topstitch the edges and quilt it.
Starting on the opposite end of the opening, go ahead and iron out all the wrinkles and any areas that need attention, along the edges make sure the bottom isn't rolled into top view or the top rolled over onto the bottom.
Make sure that you don't iron any creases into the backing at this point,
When you come to the opening where you turned it at, fold the top 1/4 inch into place inside and press it so you have a crisp straight line, this will also heat the batting and backing layer enough so that you can fold it inside to match the top. Once you are satisfied with the positioning, go ahead and steam it into submission then pin or clip it into place. you will sew here first.
On to the final touch!
Step 11: The Final Sewing
Now that you have the hole pressed and happy with your ironing job we will topstitch the edges to add décor and seal the whole thing up, starting about 1/4 before the opening you have pinned shut, make a backstitch/lockstitch, not at the 1/4 inch seam allowance but at 1/8th inch or so, the reason for this is that you have only 1/4 inch folded inside and the normal seam allowance may not catch the edge and secure it properly, so just seal this portion up at 1/8th inch and when you turn the corner go ahead and jump up to 1/4 inch, 1/8th inch all around seems to sew in the bulkiest portion of the edge and tends to hammer through and veer off course a bit. Go all the way around the runner and finish up at the end with a backstitch/lockstitch
I changed to black thread to match my backing material better.
There are many ways to do quilting obviously, if you have a quilting machine then you surely don't need me for this part,
I do this part using a method called stitch in the ditch, which is basically sewing a straight line inside the seam lines, this leaves my charm patterns un blemished. I have in the past used decorative stitches and zig zag stitches but here i'm sticking with the ditch.
The method I learned is going to allow me to quilt the whole thing by moving the needle just 2 times, as you see in the pictures I have used red wire to show my sewing pattern,
Start in the middle of one ends 2 square, where the opening was, make a lockstitch and follow it across to the end of the line, with your needle down, make the turn and go in the other direction to the other edge, repeat this process until you reach the other end of the project, lockstitch it and cut the thread.
Go back to the other end and start in the middle of the other 2 square end, make a lockstitch and repeat this process again until you reach the other end, lockstitch and cut your thread. This gives you long criss crosses.
For the third part, start in the middle of the 2 -2 square sections, dead center,lockstitch and start off in either direction, follow that line side to side until you reach the other end, you will end up in the middle there too, leaving your needle down turn the runner around and go back the other way until you have reached your starting point, lockstitch it down and you are done, the entire top is quilted into nice neat squares.
**NOTE** this quilting style leaves the edge connections with the topstitching seam line a little messy, See picture. those inside corners don't line up evenly with the ditch, I make the jump across that little gap as close as possible and don't fret over it too much, Its a table runner not an evening gown.
The other option is to sew each row individually which certainly cleaner, I just do it this way,
You might want to iron it again since you just manhandled it through the machine a bunch of times.
This runner took me about 6 1/2 hours to make and about 25 bucks in supplies
Hope you have fun making this, if you have any questions send me a message and ill try to help you out