Tutorial: Economy Block Playmat

I made this playmat a while back using Elea Lutz' gorgeous fabric collection, 'Strawberry Biscuit' for Penny Rose Fabrics. My playmat appears to have become a hit on Pinterest and I have had a few requests to share the tutorial for it. So here it is - you will find the detailed step by step instructions towards the bottom of this post.

This playmat is based on a classic quilt block: the economy block. I love pairing classic blocks with repro fabrics, and this block is just perfect to showcase fussy cut centres!

I had originally intended to turn my economy blocks into a cot quilt, but half way through sewing Alice came into my sewing room to keep me company (as she frequently does), and started stroking the animals and flowers in the centres of my finished blocks. Light bulb moment - a quilted playmat / picnic mat would be a pretty cool addition to our growing quilt collection! So that's what I ended up making.

If my kids were younger, I would have sewn in a layer of crinkle material between the batting and the quilt top, which I think would be a great addition to a playmat such as this. Babies go nuts for that stuff!

I kept the quilting simple and light. Just straight line diagonal quilting in the ditch, with a little hand-quilting around the centre motif of each block. I didn't want to quilt it too heavily as I want it to get that "puffy-vintagey-much used-much loved" look over time.

As a final touch, I added a little applique washi tape detail on each corner of the quilt.

I hope you liked my playmat! If you would like to make one too, here are the steps.


Finished size 37" x 37"
All seams are 1/4"
RST = Right sides together

Fabric Requirements

All requirements based on fabric 42" wide (WOF)

- Fat quarter bundle of Strawberry Biscuit
- 12 " x WOF of Riley Blake Swiss Dots - Aqua on cream
- 39" x 39" batting
- 39" x 39" crinkle material (optional)
- 39" x 39" backing (1.25 yard if using Strawberry Biscuit)
- 12" x WOF binding
- Sheet of transparent template plastic (optional)
- DMC Perle cotton no 8 (for hand quilting)
- 5" square piece of fusible web


From the Strawberry Biscuit fat quarter bundle
16 - 4 1/2" squares in assorted colours (A) - see fussy cutting tip in step 1 below.
16 - 5 3/8" squares in assorted colours (B)
32 - 5" squares in assorted colours (C)
4 - 1" x 4 1/4" rectangles in assorted colours (applique tape detail)

From Riley Blake swiss dots in aqua on cream
2 - 2 1/2" x 32 1/2" strips (side borders)
2 - 2 1/2" x 37" strips (top and bottom borders)

4 - 2 1/4" x WOF strips

Fusible web
4 - 1" x 4 1/4" rectangles (applique tape detail)


1. If you are 'fussy cutting' the central A squares, I highly recommend making a template from a sheet of transparent template plastic. My template measures 4 1/2" square, and I have marked lines 1/4" all the way around (for the seam allowances) so I can see the section that will be visible after the block has been sewn together. Position the template on the fabric and adjust until you are happy. Trace all around the template with a fabric marker, cut along the traced lines, then trim to 4 1/2" exactly using a quilting ruler (tracing around the template typically adds a mm or two to the square which needs to be precisely trimmed back).

2. Cut each B square twice, along both diagonals, to yield 4 triangles.

3. Cut each C square once across one diagonal, to yield 2 triangles.

4. Lay out your A, B, and C squares on the floor and arrange until you are happy with the colour and pattern distribution of your blocks - you need to make a 4x4 grid of economy blocks. Take a quick photo so you don't forget the layout!

5. To make an economy block, sew a B triangle to the top and bottom of an A square, making sure the triangles are centred. Press seams outwards towards the triangles. Trim off the dog ears.

6. Sew the remaining B triangles to the remaining sides. Press seams outwards towards the triangles.

7. A little precision is needed to trim off this unit so only a 1/4" allowance remains all the way around. Place your quilting ruler on top of the block, lining up the 3 1/2" line (shown with arrow) with the two opposite corners of your A square. Trim the edge, leaving a 1/4" allowance from the point of the A square. Repeat for all four sides.

8. Pin a C triangle to one edge of the unit from step 7, RST. I pin on this side (and not on the triangle) so I can make sure my stitches just catch the point where the two stitch lines meet (where the second pin is pointing to). Sew together with 1/4" seam.

Repeat for the other three triangles, following the same process as steps 5 and 6.

9. Time to do the final trim to leave a 1/4" allowance all the way round. This time use the vertical 2 1/4" line as your guide (shown with arrow) - line it up with the right edge of the A square, and that should give you a 1/4" allowance on the right edge of the block. Trim the excess fabric. Repeat for the other three sides.

10. You should have a very precise economy block measuring 8 1/2" square. Make 16.

11. Lay out your economy blocks on the floor in a 4 x 4 grid. Sew the blocks in each row together. Press seams in alternating directions (e.g. first row to the left, second row to the right).

12. Sew rows 1 and 2 together, and rows 3 and 4 together. To make sure the points of your economy blocks all line up perfectly you must check the seams are matching at each intersection. Use lots of pins. Press seams open.

13. Sew the two halves of the quilt from the previous step together. Press seam open.

14. Sew the two side borders to the right and left. Press seams towards the borders.

15. Sew the top and bottom borders. Press seams towards the borders.


16. Make a quilt sandwich with your quilt top, batting, and backing, pin or baste together well. You may want to add a layer of crinkle material between the quilt top and the batting if you would like the playmat to make that cute crinkly sound!

17. Machine quilt in the ditch along all the diagonal seams (continuing the stitch line into the borders).

18. Hand quilt around each central motif using DMC Perle Cotton No:8.

19. Apply fusible web to the wrong side of your applique rectangles. Trim each rectangle down to 3/4" x 4". Peel off the backing papers, position on the corners of the quilt at a diagonal angle, and fuse in place with hot dry iron. With a short stitch length stitch as close to the edge as you can, all the way round.

20. Join the binding strips with diagonal seams. Press the entire binding in half lengthwise, wrong sides facing. Starting half way down one side of the quilt, place the binding strip on the quilt, raw edge to raw edge. Sew it onto the quilt, mitreing the corners. Join the ends of the binding with a diagonal seam, fold it over to the back of the quilt, and slip stitch it by hand along the back edge of the binding.

And your playmat is ready!


  1. Sedef, this is so cute, very inspiring, as always
    I love this size block. Thank you so so very much for sharing your

  2. This is simply adorable! Thank you so much for sharing this tutorial! ❤️


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