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Dress Up Your Dining Room With a DIY Tablecloth

As the fall season kicks into full gear and the holidays soon upon us, there are plenty of opportunities to dress up the dinner table. A tablecloth that reflects the spirit of the season adds a special touch to any dining table, and making a DIY tablecloth is one of the easiest sewing projects you can tackle.

By learning how to make a tablecloth, you ensure it fits your table precisely and can coordinate either with your tableware, your room or the occasion in many instances better than you would with a store-bought one. The key is to get the measurements right and to give the edges a clean, professional looking finish.

round tablecloth

Dazzle them with your dining area decor!

classic table linens

Sew 5 timeless table linens as you follow along with your world-renowned instructor in the online class Classic Table Linens.Enroll Now »

How to make a tablecloth

1. Select the right fabric

The first most important step is to select fabric that is appropriate for a tablecloth. Most tables require material that is relatively wide, so look for fabric that is at least 54 inches in width.

Since tablecloths are likely to get soiled from food, select a fabric that can be machine washed and dried. All cotton is best, but tends to wrinkle too much, so consider blends or fabrics that are treated to resist wrinkles. A cotton/polyester blends works particularly well.

2. Measure the table

Measuring the table accurately is the next step. This will determine the size and shape of the tablecloth as well as the amount of fabric yardage required. For tables where finished width measurements exceed the width of the fabric selected, panels will need to be pieced together. Well-made tablecloths are ones where the overhang measurement is the same around the entire perimeter of the table and hangs just above (and not on) the chair seats.

Measuring tabletop width

Measure the tabletop width…

table drop length

…as well as the “drop.”


How to measure a square or rectangle table:

  • Measure the dimensions of the table surface, both the width and length.
  • Then determine the amount of ‘drop’ or overhang you desire. For an informal tablecloth an overhang of 12 inches or slightly less is sufficient. The drop should hit just above the seat cushion. The tablecloth should not fall onto the chair seats.
  • For a more formal tablecloth the drop can go to the floor. Floor-length tablecloths should hang 1 inch off the floor, so take off an inch from the drop measurement. In this case, however, panels of fabric will most likely need to be pieced together producing seams along the length of the tablecloth.
  • To the width measurement add 2 times the drop measurement plus 2 inches for the hem finish and 2 inches for seam allowances if panels will need to be pieced together.
  • For the length, add 2 times the drop to the table’s length measurement plus 2 inches for the hem finish. Use this measurement to determine the amount of yardage required.
  • If pieced panels are needed, double the above measurement for the yardage.

How to measure a round table:

  • For a round table measure the surface diameter.
  • Add 2 times the desired drop measurement.
  • Add 2 more inches for a hem finish and another 2 inches for seam allowances if panels need to be pieced together. The diameter of this measurement is the yardage requirement.
  • If pieced panels are required double this amount for yardage.
  • If a trim added to the hem edge is desired determine the hem edge circumference by multiplying the complete table diameter by 3.14. This will be the length of the trim needed in inches. Divide that number by 36 to determine the number of yards.

3. Add panels (if necessary)

Though making a tablecloth is a pretty simple process tables come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes that can impact whether panels will need to be added and where those panels are placed. 

If panels are needed to provide sufficient width, there are a few things to keep in mind…

  • Since a seam down the center length of a tablecloth is, well…ugly…add panels to each side of the cloth as shown in the illustration below. The two side panels should be of equal width.illustraton of tablecloth panels
  • The width of the fabric will somewhat determine where the side panels are to be placed. If possible, try to position the lengthwise seams along the table edges rather than on the top surface of the table for a more attractive looking tablecloth. This is especially helpful if you are piecing a solid colored fabric.
  • When panels are required, using a printed or plaid patterned fabric makes the seams less noticeable, but require the patterns be matched precisely along the seam lines.
  • When using printed or plaid material that needs to be pieced together, always add the pattern repeat measurement times 2 to the yardage requirement. This will ensure the patterns can be matched precisely along the seam lines.

4. Finish the tablecloth

For a tablecloth that requires no additional panels to be pieced together, once the fabric is cut to the correct dimensions, the only sewing that needs to be done is the hem. Options for hemming a tablecloth is endless and can also impact width and length dimensions. The most common way to hem a tablecloth is to finish the edges with a ½” double rolled hem.

Some tips for finishing your tablecloth:

  • If a trim or other edge finish is to be applied to the hem, take the finished width and length measurements and multiply that by 2. Take that number and divide by 36 for the amount calculated in yards.
  • Finish the seam allowance edges of the joining seams with either a French seam, or press the seam open and overcast the edges with a serger to prevent them from fraying when laundering.
  • While the most common way to hem a tablecloth is a double rolled hem there are so many other ways to finish the hem. Binding the edges with a contrasting color or pattern is another popular option. Other ideas include serging the edges. Though rather simple, many store-bought cloths are finished in this way.

You might also enjoy our post on how to sew a fitted tablecloth.

Dazzle them with your dining area decor!

classic table linens

Sew 5 timeless table linens as you follow along with your world-renowned instructor in the online class Classic Table Linens.Enroll Now »

5 Comments

Dawn Gantzler

I have been working on an Embriodered Christmas tablecloth for my daughter for almost two years. Today I discover it will be too small in both length and width. Her table is 72X42 and my kit is 70X52.
I want a 10″ overhang all around. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.
Dawn

Reply
Charity Korsholm

Add a border to match.

Reply
Gretchen Webb

Why dont you make a table runner down the center to widen the cloth, and then use a coordinating fabric or the same runner fabric to create a border trim to elongate the cloth? I know this is an old post, but just wanted to put in my two cents. I am wondering how it turned out?

Reply
Rachelle

I have a rectangle dining room table 128 inches long. I want to make a tablecloth for it but i’m having a hard time finiding a pattern. I have bought tablecloths but they are plain! Any suggestions. I have the fabric.

Reply
Royan Abdillah

thanks for share.it’s very simple to follow. i hope i can make my custom tablecloth 🙂

Reply

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