101brett baraDIYdiy projectssewing 101

sewing 101: paper-stitched place cards

by Brett

Thanksgiving dinner may be just hours away, but there’s still time to add some last-minute DIY details to your table. If you find yourself with a few free moments tonight or tomorrow morning, that’s all the time you need to whip up these super-quick place cards. In this project, we’re sewing directly onto paper, which is fun and easy and can be done with a sewing machine or by hand. You can make each of these cards in mere seconds, so really, they’re about as easy as opening a can of cranberry sauce. Happy Thanksgiving! — Brett Bara

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!


  • card stock
  • a variety of patterned papers
  • a few different colors of coordinating thread
  • sharp scissors for cutting paper
  • double-sided tape or glue stick (optional)
  • sewing machine or sewing needle


About Sewing on Paper

Sewing on paper with a sewing machine is very easy and quite similar to sewing fabric. Just set your stitch length a bit longer than normal (something around 3.5 mm is good) and stitch away! Depending on the texture of the paper you’re sewing, the layers may tend to shift; in this case, use a tiny amount of adhesive (such as double-sided tape or glue stick) to hold the layers together before sewing. Keep in mind that sewing paper tends to dull your needle so after a paper project, you should put a new, sharp needle in your machine before your next fabric-sewing project.

If you don’t have a sewing machine, it’s easy to sew paper by hand. To do this, first adhere all your pieces with adhesive. Next, place the paper on a cushion or piece of foam and with a T-pin or a needle (use a thimble to save your fingers), pre-punch the holes along the path where you will place your seam through the paper. Then, thread your needle and simply weave in and out through the holes.

1. Cutting

To begin, cut your card stock into your desired shape and size. I made mine 3 1/2″ x 2 1/2″.

Then, cut out the embellishments. To make the pinwheel shapes, just cut a freehand circle and then snip notches all around the perimeter. To make the flags, simply cut small triangles.

2. Sewing

All that’s left is to sew the cut-out pieces to the place cards. If you’re sewing by machine, remember to load your bobbin with the same color thread you’re using in the needle (if you skip this step, the mismatched bobbin thread will show through on your stitches).

For the flags and pinwheels, just sew a single line of stitches across all the pieces.

To make the plaid or the stripes, simply sew straight lines — you can just eyeball the placement. Add each color one at a time; to avoid re-threading your machine a zillion times, work assembly-line style and sew all the cards using the first color, then switch to another color and sew all the elements using that color, etc.

To finish off each seam, carefully trim the ends of the thread. Note that the thread tends to unravel since its ends are unsecured; if you plan to use these cards for one event only, this shouldn’t be a problem. If you want to save the cards and use them again, you can make the ends more secure by pulling both threads through to the back side of the card and tying them in a small knot before trimming.

Tent Variation

To make tent-style cards, cut card stock pieces to 3 1/2″ x 5″. Using a straight edge and a scoring tool or the tip of a spoon or butter knife, score down the center of the card, dividing it into two 3 1/2″ by 2 1/2″ sections. Fold along the scored line to make the tent shape, then stitch on one side of the tent.

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