DIY Project: Placemat Cushions

Have you popped into Spotlight lately? For readers outside of Australia and unfamiliar with Spotlight, think: Hobby-Lobby-meets-Bed-Bath-and-Beyond. They currently have a selection of woven placemats that look great on the table and, with 20 minutes of hand sewing, can be transformed into fabulously textural throw cushions. Read more for project details.

Love these placemats from Spotlight

Texture has been a buzz word in interior design for the last few years and textural cushions have become significant for their ability, not just to add colour, but to pull a room together by contributing visual weight to a room’s textural balance. But where to find these textural beauties? And would you need a master’s degree in macramé to make them yourself?

The idea for these D.I.Y. cushions came from a recent trip to Spotlight (as mentioned above: Hobby-Lobby-meets-Bed-Bath-and-Beyond) but you can also find woven placemats at stores like IKEA, Target and most places that sell table linen. A Halloween display blocking the main walkway caused me to detour past the tea-towels then around the corner where some hand-woven cushions caught my eye. Except they weren’t cushion covers—they were placemats! And, better still, they were on sale! The 'Ruby' placemat pictured above was reduced to $4.89 - normal retail $6.99. I ended up grabbing a few different designs and the average price was around $6. (Don't forget to join Spotlight's free members’ club to access discounts.)

Lightbulb moment! I stopped by the floristry aisle to pick up some jute string and raffia, followed by cushion inserts. I even managed to find a plastic yarn needle without asking for assistance. (A small win, but it counts.)

Spotlight placemat cushion shopping list

STEP 1: Hand stitch the placemats together

I chose hemp rope in a colour that matches the placemat fibre, but you could also use jute or cotton. Hemp/jute is easy to work with—all you need is a plastic yarn needle or a burlap needle.

Step 1: Stitch placemats together
Start by fastening the placemats together with a knot and then continue to whip stitch the two edges together. Do not stitch all the way around. You want to leave an opening for the cushion insert.

Step 2: Add cushion insert

STEP 2: Prepare and insert cushion

Choose a cushion insert to suit the size of your placemats. I choose size 14 cushion inserts—better to be a big big than too small. If you choose a placemat backed with fabric, you could add polyester fibre filling directly into the cavity but, given that the placemats I chose are woven, I was concerned that the fluff would escape through the holes.

In true no-sew fashion, I cut a small hole in the cushion insert, removed some of the filling so that the inner would fit, then stapled the corners of the insert to create a roughly circular shape. I inserted this into cushion opening.

Step 3: Stitch to close

STEP 3: Close the cushion by hand sewing

The only thing left now is to finish hand sewing the opening and finish with a double knot. You may also like to have some fun creating extra adornments. I played with raffia fringing and some hemp tassels.

Hot to make placemat cushions

When the project was finished, I had made four cushions from handwoven placemats for $52 (USD$36) and had supplies (hemp rope, needles and polyester fibre) leftover for future projects.

How to make placemat cushions

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