All the products we feature on Gathered have been chosen independently by our editorial team. We may get a small commission if you click on any products you see on this page. Learn more.

How to make a table runner in a weekend

Let your table twinkle with Sheila Donnachie’s dazzling DIY table runner project. And with just one quilt block to master, it’s the perfect weekend sewing challenge!

How to make a table runner

We’re here to show you how to make a quilted table runner using just one quilt block design, constructed in three different sizes. “Each block is made up of nine Square-in-a-square patches, so there’s no need for cutting individual triangles or making Half-square Triangles,” explains designer Sheila. “I used a controlled neutral pallette for my table runner with splashes of colour – all from my existing stash. A pleasing quilt will usually have a good mix of colour values. In this table runner design, the stars share the limelight with the outer corners of each block. Ordinarily, I would have thought a combination of colours like this might confuse the eye, as the design is made up of mainly neutral fabrics, but the coloured stars and charcoal fabric work well together to make the pattern stand out.”

“That said, my husband couldn’t identify the stars at first, seeing only the darker patches and a different pattern – so perhaps it’s all in the eye of the
beholder. If you want the stars to really shine in your design, then tone down the colour value in the corner fabrics.” 

This guide to how to make a table runner was and designed by Sheila Donnachie as featured in Today’s Quilter magazine

DIY table runner: step by step

You will need

  • Background fabric and sashing strips – ½yd
  • Star fabrics (Fabric A) – Five (5) Fat Eighths or scraps
  • White star background fabric (Fabric B) – ½yd
  • Light grey for block sides (Fabric C) – One (1) Fat Quarter
  • Dark grey for corners of blocks, borders and backing (Fabric D) – 1yd
  • Wadding – Approx. 50in x 16in
  • Sewing machine
  • Basic quilting supplies
  • Iron for pressing

Finished size

Approx. 14in x 48in


If you prefer, you can layer up with wadding and backing in the usual way, adding a binding. Sheila chose to “bag” the quilt top, using batting and backing only, no separate binding necessary.

How to make a table runner tutorial
Make sure you have the best dressed table with Sheila’s star-studded, DIY table runner

You Will Need

  • Fabric
  • Wadding
  • Sewing machine
  • Basic quilting supplies
  • Iron

Total time:

Sorting the fabric

Step 1

Choose four (4) fabrics for each block, referring to Fig 1. Sheila used a different coloured fabric for:

  • each individual star (Fabric A)
  • a star background (Fabric B)
  • a light grey (Fabric C)
  • a dark grey (Fabric D).
How to make a table runner figure 1

Cutting out

Step 1

From the background fabric, cut as follows:

  • Twenty (20) 2½in squares for the 12in centre block.
  • Four (4) 3½in x 6½in strips for the 6in blocks.
  • Four (4) 2in x 9½in pieces for the 9in blocks.
  • Four (4) 1½in x 12½in strips for the sashing.
DIY table runner detail

Step 2

From each of your Fabric A choices, cut as follows:

  • One (1) 4½in and eight (8) 2½in squares for the 12in centre block.
  • One (1) 3½in and eight (8) 2in squares for the 9in blocks.
  • One (1) 2½in and eight (8) 1½in squares for the 6in blocks.

Step 3

From the Fabric B, cut as follows:

  • Eight (8) 2½in squares for the 12in centre block.
  • Fifty-six (56) 2in squares for the 9in blocks.
  • Fifty-six (56) 1½in squares for the 6in blocks.

Step 4

From Fabric C, cut as follows:

  • Four (4) 4½in squares for 12in centre block.
  • Eight (8) 3½in squares for 9in blocks.
  • Eight (8) 2½in squares for 6in blocks.

Step 5

From Fabric D, cut as follows:

  • Four (4) 4½in squares for 12in centre block.
  • Eight (8) 3½in squares for 9in blocks.
  • Eight (8) 2½in squares for 6in blocks.
  • Two (2) 25in x 15in strips for the backing.

Step 6

Cut three (3) 1½in x WOF strips from Fabric D for the borders. Join and sub-cut, as follows

  • Two (2) 1½in x 12½in strips for the side borders.
  • Two (2) 1½in x 48½in strips for the top and bottom borders.

Making the snowball units

Step 1

For each Snowball unit, take one (1) 4½in square and four (4) 2½in squares. Refer to the fabric placement in Fig 1. Notice that different fabrics are used on different corners in each unit. It may help to lay out the full block and position the smaller squares before sewing. Draw a diagonal line from corner to corner on the back of each 2½in square.

Step 2

Position the small squares onto each corner of the larger square, starting with opposite corners (Fig 2). Stitch on the line and trim excess to a¼in seam allowance. Press gently towards corners (Fig 3). Repeat for the remaining two (2) corners.

How to make a table runner Figures 2-4

Step 3

Repeat to make all nine (9) units, taking care to position the colours and diagonal lines. You should have the following (Fig 4):

  • One (1) centre unit with a Fabric A square with Fabric B corners.
  • Four (4) side units with Fabric C squares, two (2) Fabric A corners and two (2) background corners.
  • Four (4) corner units with Fabric D squares, one (1) Fabric B corner and three (3) background corners.

Assembling the block

Step 1

Join the patches together in rows of three (3), using a ¼n seam allowance. Press row seams in opposite directions, and then, matching seams carefully, join the rows together (Fig 5). Press seams in one direction, or open, as preferred. The block should measure 12½in at this stage.

How to make a table runner figure 5

Step 2

Using the same technique described in steps 8-11, repeat to make two (2) 9½in blocks and two (2) 6½in blocks. Note: these blocks use B squares in place
of background squares.

Step 3

Using a ¼in seam allowance, add a 3½in x 6½in background piece to the top and bottom of the two (2) 6½in blocks. Press towards the background fabric.

Step 4

Using a ¼in seam allowance, add a 2in x 9½in background strip to the top and bottom of the 9½in blocks (Fig 6).

How to make a table runner figure 6

Step 5

Join the blocks together using the four (4) 1½in x 12½in background sashing strips between each block (Fig 7). Check the measurement of your joined blocks, it should be 46½in x 12½in. If not, adjust the borders to fit your own patchwork.

Tip: When adding unpieced strips of fabric, e.g. sashing or borders, to a pieced block or quilt, consider stitching with the pieced side of your work uppermost. At first, this may seem counter intuitive, but it will allow you to avoid cutting off points and twisting seams.
How to make a table runner figure 7

Step 6

Add the side border strips first and press towards borders (Fig 8). Measure the width and adjust the top and bottom strips if necessary. Stitch and press towards the border strips. Your top is now complete.

How to make at a table runner figure 8

Quilting and binding your DIY table runner

Step 1

Cut a piece of batting a couple of inches bigger all around than your quilt top. Sheila chose to use an 80/20 batting but, if you prefer something a little more protective on your table, you may wish to use an insulated batting.

Step 2

Place your pieced top onto batting and smooth out flat. Decide whether to quilt through just two (2) layers or wait for the backing to go on. Sheila decided on a bit of both and started off quilting two (2) lines on each sashing strip.

Quilting Sheila’s star pattern

“Deciding on a quilting design can be tricky – I’m not a very adventurous quilter and years ago when I started teaching patchwork and quilting, I came up with a simple and quick design that lends itself to a pieced patchwork block. In class, it became known as ‘Sheila’s Star’ and featured in many of my students’ quilts. Fig 10 shows a diagram for the star, should you like to use it.

“Starting at the top right corner (indicated by the red dot), follow the arrows until you arrive back at the start. Mark in chalk or with a Hera marker and use a larger stitch than for piecing, say 3 to 3.5. (Repeat to yourself – corner to middle to corner to middle etc, until corner to start/finish!)

“Try drawing it a few times on paper – the repetition will cause muscle memory to kick in and will help you stitch in the correct sequence. This design works well in any area where you have a square or rectangle to quilt.” 

How to make a table runner Figure 10

Step 3

Secure the top to the batting by stitching all around the edges, 18in away from the raw edge of the pieced top. Stitch along each side separately. Sheila stitched each long side in two (2) stages, starting from the centre. These precautions ensure a nice, wrinkle-free finish.

Step 4

Prepare your backing by using the two (2) 25in x 15in pieces. Join together along the short edges, leaving a gap of about 4in in the centre of the seam (Fig 9). Sheila used a seam allowance of 38in and pressed to one side.

How to make a table runner figure 9

Step 5

Centre your backing, right side down, onto the right side of the quilt top. Smooth and pin. Turn over and sew with the batting side on top, using the stitch lines you made when you secured the top to the batting. Stitch a ¼in inside the previous stitch lines, completing one side at a time instead of pivoting at each corner.

Tip: Using the same fabric for borders and backing will result in a much tidier finish.

Step 6

Trim all around to a ¼in seam allowance and clip the corners at 45-degrees. Turn through the gap made in step 20 and hand stitch the gap closed.

DIY quilted table runner

Step 7

Press carefully, rolling the edges out as you go. Add some further quilting and you are done! 


DIY table runner tutorial

Sheila Donnachie has always loved making things and has journeyed through the crafts of dressmaking, soft toy making and cross stitching before landing on patchwork about 17 years ago. She has recently retired after 12 years of teaching patchwork classes in Ayrshire, Scotland, and is loving having more free time to herself. Visit Shelia’s blog to read more about her projects, learn from her tutorials and find a link to her Etsy shop, too. See more of Sheila’s work at