Thanksgiving Squirrel Placemats Tutorial

In 6 days, RR and I are off to New York. We’ll be spending Thanksgiving with friends, visiting old haunts out on Long Island and then spending 5 days in the city for some sightseeing and shopping. I’ve not been back for 18 months, so to say I’m excited would be a bit of an understatement!

Now, I may be English, and we Brits don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, but since our time living in the USA it has been my favourite holiday. It’s a chance to spend some quality time with friends and family, enjoy good things to eat, and take a moment to pause and reflect before the craziness of the holiday season descends upon us. To me, it’s like Christmas without all the stress and hassle. I love it! So we’re really looking forward to spending Thanksgiving this year with our dear friends Mr and Ms S, and their lovely kiddos, Master C and Miss S.

In preparation for Thanksgiving 2013, I have been making Mr and Ms S some special placemats. Some special squirrel placemats. Red squirrel placemats, in fact. Oh yes!

Why squirrels, you may ask?

Well, for years now we have been engaged in on-going banter with Mr and Ms S about the superiority of our beautiful British Red Squirrels over the American Grey. Never a chance is missed to remind them of the evils that befell our beautiful native reds after the arrival on British soil of their dastardly American cousins. The near-wholesale annihilation of our lovely ickle Nutkins, pushed to the fringes of the UK by the big, bad greys, who now spend their days scampering round parks in gangs and trying to steal sandwiches from innocent picnickers…

But I digress. I have been making squirrel placemats. And while the internet is probably awash with tutorials showing you how to make placemats, I was rather pleased with the ones I have made and thought it might be fun to share.

So, without further ado, here is how to make my official 2013 Thanksgiving Squirrel Placemat…

To make 6 placemats, 12″ x 9″ finished size, you’ll need the following:

  • Squirrel fabric (I used this one from Tula Pink’s The Birds and the Bees collection) – ½ yard or so – it’s hard to be exact because it depends how many squirrel repeats you get on your fabric cut, but ½ yard should be plenty.
  • Matching border fabric (I used Tangier Ikat Orange Diamonds by Dena Designs) – 12″.
  • Backing fabric (a pink Bella solid which was lurking in my stash) – 19″
  • Batting and spray glue, or fusible fleece – I just used batting remnants, but it would probably be easier with fusible fleece if you have any.

Here are my fabrics:



  • Cut 6 rectangles from your squirrel fabric, each measuring 9 ½” x 6 ½”. I fussy-cut mine so I got a pair of squirrels in the centre of each placemat. Like this… It looks like they’re having a good old natter, doesn’t it?!


  • Cut 6 x 2” strips from your border fabric; sub-cut each of these strips into 4 rectangles measuring 9 ½” x 2”
  • Cut 2 x 9 ½” strips from your backing fabric; sub-cut both of these strips into 6 rectangles measuring 12 ½” x 9 ½”
  • Cut 6 rectangles from your batting or fusible fleece, each measuring 12” x 9”

Sew your placemats

Start off by sewing a border strip to the bottom and top of each fussy cut squirrel rectangle, using a ¼” seam. Pin if you like; personally, I’m too lazy, I just line it up as I go 🙂

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Press towards the border fabric. The mat should now measure 9 ½” x 9 ½”.

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Now sew the side borders on, again with a ¼” seam, and again press towards the border fabric. The placemat top is now finished, and should measure 12 ½” x 9 ½”. Square up if necessary.

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Make the quilt sandwich

Put your placemat top, wrong side up, onto a cleanable surface, and spray lightly with basting glue (I used the kitchen floor…) On top of this, centre your batting rectangle. There should be a ¼” around the edge of the placemat that isn’t covered by batting.

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(If you’re using fusible fleece, centre this on the wrong side of the placemat as above and iron in place as per the product instructions.)

Then, put the placemat top and batting/fleece right sides together with a rectangle of backing fabric. Pin in place.

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Sew around the edge of the placemat with a ¼” seam allowance, leaving a 4” gap at the bottom, so you can turn it right sides out. I marked this with red pins so I wouldn’t forget! Backstitch at the start and the end of your sewing line.

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Clip across all four corners diagonally, being really careful not to cut your stitches. This is to reduce bulk in the corners when you turn your placemat right side out.


Finish your placemats

Pull the placemat through the gap you’ve left so it’s now right side out. Using a knitting needle or something similar, push out the corners so they’re nice and pointy.


Turn in the raw edges of the gap on your placemat ¼”. Press the placemat well.

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Top stitch all the way round the edge of the placemat, about 1/8” in. This will close your turning gap without you having to hand-stitch it closed. I use a stitch length of 2.7 for this.

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Then quilt the rest of the mat however you like. I topstitched the other side of the border, then I echo quilted the squirrel shapes at ½” intervals, because I really wanted them to stand out. But it occurred to me that this would be a great time to practice free motion quilting…


Et voilà! Squirrel placemats finished! Happy early Thanksgiving, everyone!!!!

Linking up, as ever, to Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday

4 responses

  1. Bwahahaha, the reds strike back!

  2. These are lovely – perfect fabric for Thanksgiving too!

  3. What great use of the squirrel fabric!

  4. […] Celebrated a wonderful Thanksgiving with our lovely, lovely friends (and the Thanksgiving Squirrel Placemats went down a […]

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