Rick Rack Placemat and Napkin – How-to

Rick rack, or “ric rac” if you prefer, is so simple: up-down-up-down-up-down”. Yet whatever it adorns is suddenly transformed with a vintage pop and lightheartedness. I think it’s the perfect way to add a smile of color to otherwise plain placemats and napkins whether you are going for modern and bold or sweet and old-fashioned. And, not only does the addition of rick rack make a big impact, it makes one without too much effort. What could be better? If you can find a couple hours on a Sunday afternoon you can have a whole set of new placemats and napkins just in time for dinner.

Here’s how you do it:

MATERIALS

Select a fabric, or fabrics, for your placemats and napkins. I chose to use coordinating fabrics but you could also have them match. You’ll need additional fabric for backing the placemats. You could easily think of the placemats as reversible!

I used 100% cotton, quilting weight fabric for my placemats and napkins. I like the feel and they wash and iron pretty easily. You could also use fabrics that are a blend but keep in mind that napkins work best if they are absorbent, which is one of cotton’s best properties.

You can use medium or large sized rick rack (about 1″ wide).

  • 1 yard of 44″ fabric and 1 yard of coordinating backing fabric will yield 6 placemats.
  • 1 yard of 44″ fabric will yield 12 cocktail sized napkins; ¾ yard will yield 8; ½ yard will yield 4
  • 1.5 yards of 44″ fabric will yield 6 dinner sized napkins.
  • You’ll need enough rick rack to border the perimeter of each of your placemats and napkins, plus an inch of overlap for each:
    • 57″ for each placemat (9.5 yards for 6 placemats)
    • 41″ for each cocktail sized napkin (7 yards for 6 napkins)
    • 73″ for each dinner sized napkin (12.5 yards for 6 napkins)

CUT

  • To make the placemats, cut rectangles that measure 12″x16″ of your fabric and matching ones for the backing.
  • To make the napkins cut squares of fabric cocktail (10″x10″) or dinner (18″x18″) sized, or something in between if you prefer. The napkins pictured are cocktail sized.

SEW THE PLACEMATS

Pin the rick rack around the edges of the right side of your placemat fabric aligning the edges of fabric and trim. Rather than attempting to curve or stretch the rick rack around each corner, fold it over itself at a right angle at each corner. Start and finish somewhere other than a corner. I think the lower edge is a good place to have the rick rack overlap and tuck inside the placemat. Overlap the ends a bit and cut. Pin the ends so they extend outside the perimeter of the placemat. When you sew and turn right side out the ends will then be encased inside the placemat.

Pin the backing fabric to the placemat right sides together,”sandwiching” the rick rack between the fabric layers.

Stitch all the way around the perimeter of the placemat with a .5″ seam allowance (this should place the stitching down the middle of the rick rack if your trim is 1″ wide”double check before stitching and adjust your seam allowance if necessary) leaving a 2.5″ opening for turning the placemat right side out. (Note that I didn’t trim the seam allowance or clip the corners “easy!” I like the slightly rounded corners as a result.)

Turn the placemat right side out.

Press, turning the raw edges of the 2.5″ opening under to the wrong side. Pin the opening closed.

Top stitch the placemat close to the edge being careful to catch both sides of the pinned opening.

SEW THE NAPKINS

Zig zag stitch or serge around the edges of your napkin fabric to prevent fraying.

Zig zag stich the raw edge of your rick rack. Pin the rick rack around the edges of the right side of your napkin fabric aligning the edges of fabric and trim. Fold over the rick rack at a right angle at each corner. Start and finish somewhere other than a corner. Overlap the ends about .5″ and cut. Zig zag stitch this raw edge on the rick rack. Fold over the ends so the raw edges are on top and pin. (When you flip the rick rack over towards the backside the raw edges will then be hidden. )

Stitch down the center of the rick rack all the way around the napkin. This stitching should leave a seam allowance of about .5″ depending on the exact size of your rick rack.

Flip the rick rack to the wrong side of the napkin and press. Note that the corners will be a bit rounded.

Top stitch on the right side of the napkin close to the edge, being sure to catch the edge of the rick rack folded underneath.

Give everything a final press and then deck out the table with your new rick rack placemats and napkins!

Return to the slideshow