Summer Sewing: Island Hopping Table Runner


I’m not going to lie, I was a little intimidated when deciding whether or not to sew this table runner in our new Island Hopping collection!

Island Hopping Sampler

Considering my sewing experience lies squarely within the realm of clothing and alterations, plus a simple one-patch flannel quilt top; I knew this would be a… learning experience for me. But, I also knew I could definitely do it as long as I took my time and didn’t rush anything. After some healthy encouragement from Judy and a few others here in the CT office, I decided to just go for it. The term “YOLO” would apply, right? Or maybe YOQO? (You Only Quilt Once. I know, I’m terrible.)

Anyways, I knew immediately this had to be a gift for my mom. She’s a cardiac nurse who really does live by the “work hard, play hard” mantra: from pretty regular overtime hours to her squeezing in her vacation time when she’s not logging long run hours. She loves Hawaii (can you believe she ran a marathon in Maui last year?!), just about anything that reminds her of the sun or warm tropical feelings, and she also has a particular sweet spot for Elvis. AND she’s been wanting me to make her a table runner, so clearly this was sweet sewing serendipity all over the place.


After her marathon, my mom had her own entourage.

After her marathon, my mom even had her own entourage to go with that enormous medal!

Armed with the firm ProTip from Deborah to starch all of my fabric ahead of time, I got to cutting. Let me tell you, starching makes a HUGE difference in general; but especially when you are not accustomed to dealing with smaller fabric pieces.


I am always re-reminded that cutting fabric is sadly my least favorite part of just about any sewing project. I see this as a total win though because I can listen to an audiobook AND that means the “worst” is already over by the time my pieces are ready to sew! Score!



With fussy cutting, strips, and all the adorable little 2.5” squares cut out; I was ready to get to work.


I used a handy 7.5” square ruler for fussy cutting and a 2.5” square ruler to ensure my pieces were perfectly squared up. Totally worth the marginally extra effort.

Much to my pets’ chagrin, I shut them out, turned on some thematically appropriate Martin Denny tunes, and proceeded to lay my pieces out in my work room on the freshly swept floor. My cats REALLY wanted to lay right in the middle of them.

Exotica by Martin Denny Exotic Sounds of Martin Denny


The pattern image of this table runner and even my photos here don’t really do the vibrancy of this collection justice. As someone who REALLY loves her blacks, whites, and greys; I was admittedly dazzled by how striking our Quilter’s Candy faux burlap in cherry looked against the large focal squares.


One thing that helped me immensely was to take a layout reference photo on my phone as well as number the 2.5” block sections on both the pattern and the back of the sewn sections with a little writing on masking tape to keep them in the right order in between sewing when I pressed. I didn’t get a photo of this, unfortunately.

Another thing to keep in mind, is how much the direction you press actually matters! I caused myself a ridiculous amount of frustration because I overlooked my pressing one time and could NOT get two strips to butt up correctly and quite literally re-sewed a section 8 or 9 times (seriously!) until I realized what I’d done.


Even with my clever masking tape and pattern numbering, I also managed to do this:



This was an amusing and easy fix, but this is why taking your time is always good, which thankfully I did.  🙂

Mistakes aside, I really had a lot of fun sewing this tropical table runner, especially when my two big points matched up almost perfectly:

Sweet sweet matching.

Sweet sweet matching.

Putting the border and binding together came quite quickly.

Island Hopping

I did really really simple stitch-in-the-ditch quilting, but if I was a more advanced quilter, I would have done something aquatic-like in the border (like swirls or bubbles) and extended the linework into a crosshatch through the focals. I was able to hand-bind this beast over the course of a long movie.

All in all, I am super happy with how it turned out, especially considering this is my first FULLY completed quilty project and it was pretty enough to be a great model in our catalog. If you love bright and cheery fabrics, you will not regret sewing your own table runner and bringing a taste of the tropics to your summer gatherings, seriously!


Stay tuned for some accessories I made to go with this table runner.


  1. Wendy Nau - May 21, 2015

    well written my daughter:)) I’m going to have to have a party now
    & decorate around this beautiful table runner, I see my Margarita Machine coming into play 😉 Thank you so much

    • Dawn - May 21, 2015

      Hey thanks Mom! What an awesome excuse for a party, I’d say. You better start learning the ukulele for a party trick!

  2. Kelly O. - May 21, 2015

    this fabric line is fabulous and will make the most perfect Hawaiian postcard quilt!

    • Dawn - May 21, 2015

      Oooh! That’s a fantastic idea, Kelly! Please share photos on our facebook page if you decide to do it.

  3. Kathy - May 21, 2015

    You did a great job on your first completed quilty project! We all make mistakes, and we all learn from them, and continue to grow. I’ve been sewing/quilting for 45 years and STILL make goofs! I sent in my order for this kit last night and can’t wait to get it!!

    • Dawn - May 21, 2015

      Thank you! I definitely learned a lot and look forward to my next table runner. Glad you were able to grab the kit too, it’s been selling like hotcakes! Apparently we’re all ready for summer, eh?

  4. Amanda Best - May 22, 2015

    Beautiful table runner and a great post, thanks for sharing and good luck on future projects!

  5. Ann - May 23, 2015

    Congratulations on successfully completing this project…It looks great! Good photos to show your process. I especially like the red fingernails and presser foot close-up!

    • Dawn - May 26, 2015

      Thank you, Ann! I am so happy with this runner, seriously! Thanks, it was a lovely coincidence with the nails matching the project so well 😉