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How to Trim Rickrack Placemats

Learn how to trim rickrack placemats and napkins. It is easy to do, and you don’t need special sewing skills to create them! 

How to Trim Rickrack Placemats the Easy Way

I wanted vibrant placemats for a red and pink Valentine’s Day table, so I added a red rickrack trim to light pink-colored placemats. Surprisingly, the rickrack was easy to work with, and the placemats were simple to transform into the vibrant look I hoped for.

How to Trim Rickrack Placemats

What is Rickrack?

Rickrack is a zigzag trim that comes in different sizes and colors. It is also known by other spellings, including ric rac and as two words–rick rack. Additionally, it is called a zigzag or waved crochet braid. It is similar to a chevron pattern except that it has rounded corners instead of sharp points. Use it to trim placemats and napkins to customize and dress up your table linens in colors you like.

How to Trim Rickrack Placemats

How to Trim Rickrack Placements Using Bought Placemats

The easiest way to get started trimming placemats is to use bought placemats. Use rectangular or square placemats instead of round ones because the trim is easy to work with when tacked on in a straight line. You will need the following items:

  • Placemats
  • Ric-Rac trim
  • Fabric glue
  • Needle and thread
  • Scissors
How to Trim Rickrack Placemats

How to Calculate Rickrack Yardage

To create a dramatic look, trim the placemats with a large-sized rickrack. For these placemats, I used a red 1 and 3/8-inch super jumbo rickrack on pink placemats. To make eight placemats that are 14 x 19 inches, I used 17 yards and had a little rickrack left over. Here are the steps to see how I calculated the amount of trim I needed.

Rectangular Placemats

1. If using rectangular placemats, measure the short side and multiply it by 2 (14 x 2 =28 inches).
2. Then measure the long side and multiply it by 2 (19 x 2 = 38 inches).
3. Add these numbers to determine the placemat perimeter (28 + 38 = 66 inches).
4. Multiply the perimeter by the number of placemats (66 x 8 = 528 inches).
5. Allow 8 inches per placemat for trim overlap (2 inches per corner).
6. Multiply the overlap by the number of placemats you plan to make (8 x 8 = 64 inches).
7. Add the perimeter to the overlap number (528 + 64 = 592 inches).
8. Convert inches to yards ( 592 inches / 36 inches = 16.44 yards).
I need 16.44 yards of trim for this 8-placemat project. Rickrack trim is often sold by the yard, so round it to 17 yards. This also gives you a little extra for any loss to fraying.

Square Placemats

To calculate square placemats, measure one side and multiply it by 4 to determine the perimeter. Then follow the above steps to determine the amount of trim needed.
How to Trim Rickrack Placemats

How to Trim Rickrack Placemats and Prevent Trim Fraying

Often rickrack will fray when you cut it. Use fabric glue to prevent this from happening. To use this glue, cut the rickrack to remove any fraying and immediately apply the glue to the cut end on the front and back sides. Let it dry before using. The trim end becomes stiff and usually changes from white to clear when it dries. Dried glue can darken the edge, but this will not affect the look of the placemats because the ends are tucked under.

How to Trim Rickrack Placemats
Apply fabric glue to stop the trim from fraying.

How to Trim Rickrack Placemats Temporarily and Permanently

Temporarily Attaching Rickrack

Temporarily attach the rickrack to the placemats by tacking it with a needle and thread, as shown below. This can be advantageous because the trim is easy to apply and remove without damaging your placemats. However, the rickrack trim is still sturdy enough to allow repeated use of the placemats and spot cleaning.

How to Trim Rickrack Placemats Using a Needle and Thread (Temporary Method)

Follow these steps to attach the rickrack with a needle and thread.

  1. First, thread a needle with the same color thread as the trim to prevent the stitches from showing.
  2. Tie a knot at the end of the sewing thread. (You don’t have to knot both strings together; just knot one end.)
  3. Prepare the rickrack using scissors to cut off any fraying and apply fabric glue. Let it dry.
  4. Turn the trim edge under and place it in one of the front corners of the placemat.
  5. Bring the threaded needle up from the bottom of the placemat through the trim. 
  6. Stick the sewing needle back down in the same place (to prevent large stitches from showing) and pull it to the back. 
  7. Repeat until the trim is securely tacked.

Start Sewing the Trim Across the Placemat

After you secure the starting corner, start sewing by placing a stitch in each wave. You will make large stitches on the back of the placemat, but on the front, the needle should be inserted into the trim at the same place it is pulled through.

How to Trim Rickrack Placemats when Turning a Corner

When you get to a corner, fold over the rickrack trim over on itself and stitch it in two or three places to tack it down.

How to Trim Rickrack Placemats

Finishing the End

Follow these steps to finish the end of the trim in the last corner:

  1. Cut a little extra trim for turning under.
  2. Apply glue to the end on the front and back sides.
  3. Turn the trim under to hide the end.
  4. Overlap the end with the attached trim to give it a continuous look like the other corners.
  5. Sew a few stitches to secure the trim.
  6. End the sewing on the back of the placemat by making a few stitches in the same place to secure the thread–this is equivalent to making a knot. Snip off the sewing thread. 

Removing the Rickrack

When you want to change the look of the placemats, it is easy to remove the trim. Turn over the placemats, cut the thread, and pull it out. A seam ripper works well for the corners since they have extra stitches. Additionally, small needle nose scissors make snipping seams easy too.

Red and Pink Valentine's Day Table House of Elyn RynRed and Pink Valentine's Day Table

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