If I had a dollar for every “easy” project I’ve abandoned, I’d be a bazillionaire by now. When I know a project is going to be difficult I’m prepared to spend hours working on it – undeterred by complexity or convolution. On the other hand, if a project has been labeled “easy,” I suddenly have the attention span of a gnat, and I find myself giving up as soon as I become mildly confused. As a result, I tend to rate projects with a painstaking honesty. If I find a project to be difficult, poorly drafted, or unnecessarily confusing, you’ll be the first to know. So believe me when I say that the Jennifer Sampou Modern Madras Reversible Table Runner is a quick, fun and easy project!
Love at First Sight
This lovely, quilted, table runner lured me in with its trifecta of perfection: nice designer, gorgeous fabric, and relatively small size.
I met Jennifer Sampou, the fabric and table-runner designer, at Quilt Market in 2019. Her booth was full of quilts made with her ombré line of fabrics, called Sky, and I loved them all. I kept circling back to the row her booth was in, and finally, she was alone and available for a chat. I sat down, introduced myself, and gushed about her fabrics. Lo and behold, she lives in the town next to Lafayette, California, where I grew up. I went to high school with her husband!
I bought her book, and started dreaming about creating a class around her double-sided ombré table runner. Then, the pandemic hit, and I put my class idea on the back burner. This “easy” project continued to beckon me, however.
Easy Does It
When I started thinking about our 12 Makes of Christmas, I hoped I could include the table runner, but I hadn’t tested it yet. We ordered the fabrics, which took a long time to arrive (supply chain issues). Still not trusting that the project was truly “easy,” I started cutting up the fabric. A short time later (an hour?), I was done. So far, the project was living up to its reputation.
A few days later, I started arranging the fabrics on my design wall, which turned out to be the most difficult part of the project. Jennifer arranged the fabrics from dark to light, sort of. I’m not a natural artiste, and I found arranging the ombré tones challenging (is this one darker? Or that one?). Luckily, Maisie has an artistic eye, and she was able to quickly see the “best” order.
To get ready to use my tried and true chain-piecing method (you may have seen my YouTube video on this very technique), I took the pieces down from the design wall in three rows of 18 and placed them to the right of my sewing machine. You can chain-piece a single block or an entire quilt using the same method!
I pressed the seam allowances differently than Jennifer suggested in her instructions. Instead of pressing some units away from the narrow strips and other units toward the narrow strips, I pressed each row in opposite directions so I could nest the seams when I sewed the three long rows together.
Creating the quilt sandwich was a surprise. For a regular quilt sandwich, I cut out my backing fabric a few inches larger than the quilt top on all four sides, tape it to a table or the floor, smooth the batting over the backing, and smooth the quilt top over the other two in preparation for safety-pinning. With this project, the pieced back is the exact same size as the front, which meant I had to be more precise than usual to get them lined up. This was especially difficult because I cut the batting larger than both, so I couldn’t see the backing that was taped to the table.
I made a regular ‘quilt sandwich’, quilted it at a 60-degree angle, and bound it with the leftover Ombre Sky in Opal fabric. Additionally, in a stroke of inspiration, I used Insul-Bright as batting for the table runner thus making it heat-proof! Now, beautiful AND functional, it can hold hot dishes and will protect my table.
The End Result
In the end, I decided this table runner ticked all the boxes on our “12 Makes of Christmas” list. It’s easy, gorgeous, and a great gift, although I don’t plan to give mine away any time soon! Our Table Runner Kit includes Sampou’s Ombre Quilts Book, Insul-Bright batting, and a half-yard bundle with all seven necessary Sky fabrics.