How to Make Cheap Table Runners

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A table runner is an alternative to a full tablecloth.
A table runner is an alternative to a full tablecloth. (Image: Elegant dining table image by Paul Hill from Fotolia.com)

Table runners can complement a tablecloth or function alone for a more casual look. They are simple to make and don’t have to cost a lot of money. Find inexpensive fabric discounted at fabric and retail stores or repurpose an old sheet, quilt, tablecloth or set of curtains to make a table runner that costs next to nothing. Table runners add an elegant touch to a table, and making one allows you flexibility with fabrics and colors.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Iron
  • Spray starch (optional)
  • 1 to 2 yards of fabric
  • Scissors or rotary cutter
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Pins

Measure the length of the table. Add two times the length of the desired overhang. The overhang is how much of the runner drops down off the end of the table on each side. The width of the runner should be about 18 inches.

Wash and iron the fabric. For stiffer fabric, add a little starch when you are pressing it.

Cut two pieces of fabric to the measured length with sewing scissors or a rotary cutter, adding 1 inch for the seam allowance.

Cut the short ends of the fabric strips. Take one end of the fabric and fold each corner up until it meets, forming a triangle. Do this with both ends on both pieces of fabric.

Press down hard on the folds to make a crease. Cut the fabric on the crease. The fabric for the table runner will now be two long strips with a triangle at each end.

Fold the fabric edges in 1/2 inch all the way around, ironing them down to the wrong side of the fabric. With the wrong sides facing each other, match up all the corners and pin the fabric pieces together.

Sew around the edges of the table runner with the needle 1/4 inch from the outside edge. Pull the pins from the fabric as the sewing machine foot approaches. Knot the ends of the thread and snip the thread to trim.

Tips & Warnings

  • The standard table runner is 18 inches, but some tables are wider or narrower than others. Change the width of your runner to match your table.
  • For a no-sew option, use fusible bias tape to keep the two pieces together instead of stitches.
  • Choose two different fabrics for the table runner to make it reversible.

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References

  • "Teach Yourself Visually Sewing"; Debbie Colgrove; 2006
  • "Craft Challenge: Dozens of Ways to Repurpose a Pillowcase"; Suzanne J.E. Tourtillotte; 2009
  • "Fabulous Fabric: No-Sew Decorating in a Snap!"; Laura Scott, Vicki Blizzard,; 2003
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