A table runner is a great alternative to a tablecloth. What if you have a beautiful new table that you don’t want to hide? With a table runner, you can dress up your table without completely covering it up. Table runners can also help to protect your table from serving dishes that might be a bit too hot.
Follow this step-by-step tutorial, and you can make a beautiful but simple table runner in no time.
What You’ll Need
• Focus Fabric that is 12” x 44”. Focus fabric is the star of your table runner.
• Backing Fabric that is 18” by 44”.
• Thread that matches the backing fabric.
• An iron.
• A sewing machine.
• Dressmaker pins.
• A ruler or tape measure.
• A rotary cutter (optional).
• A cutting board (optional).
Choosing the Fabric
The first step in any sewing project is choosing the fabrics.
• The focus fabric, the “main attraction” of your table runner, should be 12 inches wide and about 44 inches long. (An inch or so of extra length won’t hurt.) A fabric with a pattern will work best.
• Choose a backing fabric that will compliment the focus fabric. Simply choose one of the colors from the pattern of the focus fabric, and use that as the backing color.
Making the Table Runner
• Spread the backing fabric out on a flat surface. Its right side (the side you’ll want people to see) should be facing up.
• Lay the focus fabric right side down on top of the backing fabric.
• Pin the two pieces of fabric together on their right and left sides, making sure the top and bottom edges are also lined up. Don’t worry about the backing fabric being bigger than the focus fabric. It will all make sense in just a little bit.
• Sew the fabric on both pinned sides. Use a seam allowance of between ¼ and ½ of an inch, whichever one you’re most comfortable with. After sewing, you will have a fabric tube.
• Turn the fabric tube inside out, so that the “right sides” of both fabrics are facing out.
• Lay the tube on a flat surface, so that the backing fabric is on the bottom, and the focus fabric is on the top. When you smooth the fabric down, some of the border fabric will be visible on the sides. These are your borders.
• Arrange the fabrics so that the same amount of border is showing on both sides. You can use a ruler or tape measure for this step if you don’t think you can do it by eye.
• Use an iron set to steam to press the unfinished table runner, focusing on the seams (the folds) on each side. You want the seams to be sharp and crisp.
• This step isn’t necessary, but it will help the table runner hold its shape during washing. Sew a stitch down the length of each border. Try to get the stitch as close to the focus fabric as you can.
Finishing the Ends
Now it’s time to finish the two ends (the top and the bottom) of your table runner. There are basically two ways to do this, depending on which you like best…and which you find easiest.
• Option 1. Fold the edge towards the backing, about ¼ of an inch. Give the seam a good pressing, and then sew the hem. This is the easiest way to finish off your table runner. But, if you want to do something a little fancier, there is another option.
• Option 2. If the edges are ragged or uneven, you can use a rotary cutter to trim them. Then use a zigzag stitch to finish the edges off. This way, your table runner will be more or less reversible. If you want to quickly give your table a new look (or there’s a stain on the front of the table runner that you don’t want anyone to see) just flip the table runner over and you’re set.
More Table Runner Tips
• Choose a fabric that will hold its shape, like cotton. A cotton-polyester blend will work too. And home décor fabrics make great table runners.
• Given that table runners are so easy to make, and use so little fabric compared to tablecloths, you can have a collection of table runners for every season, holiday, or special occasion. Just choose a few themed fabrics to match the occasion, and you can make three or four table runners in a single afternoon.
• A single table runner looks great running down the center of a table. But three or four matching table runners can look great running across the width of your table. And, if your table runners are longer than your table is wide, that’s okay. Just let the ends of the table runners hang off the sides of the table.