Finding a tablecloth in the right size, shape and fabric is sometimes a challenge. If you find some fabric you love, you can use iron-on hem tape or an anti-fray product to make a tablecloth -- even if you can't sew.
Things You'll Need
Cotton, linen or flannel fabric
Pencil or fabric pen
1/2-inch iron-on hemming tape
Anti-fray product, tube or bottle (optional)
Step 1: Preparations
Measure the length and width of your table to determine the size of your tablecloth. Add 8 inches for overhang, or drop, and 1 inch for a hem on each side. If your tabletop is a 36-by-36-inch square, for example, you need a 36-by-36-inch square piece of fabric, plus 8 inches for drop across the width. Add a 1-inch hem with an 8-inch drop across the length and a 1-inch hem. All this equals 54 inches of fabric.
Fabric is generally sold in widths of 45 or 60 inches. To determine how much fabric you need for the project, divide the total number of inches by 36 (36 inches equals a yard). In the example, you would buy 1 1/2 yards of fabric.
If your table is wider than the fabric you have selected, you can piece two fabric panels together to get a tablecloth in the desired width. Cut two pieces of fabric in the length needed. Place the pieces together, right-sides facing. Place hemming tape between the fabric pieces at one edge and iron them together following the instructions on the hemming tape. After adhering the two pieces together, press the resulting "seam" allowance to one side so the tablecloth will lie flat.
If adhering two pieces of fabric together to make the tablecloth wider, be sure to match up patterns of printed fabric on what will be the top of the tablecloth. The "seam" -- the taped or fused portion -- needs to be the center of the tablecloth. If this is not possible when the patterns are matched, you will need a third fabric panel. Instead of having a center "join," match the pattern on each side of the tablecloth, making a seam on both sides of the table. This will help the tablecloth lie flat without an off-centered interruption in the middle of the table.
- Take your table measurements with you when searching for fabric. If you get confused about how much to buy, ask a store associate for help in calculating your fabric needs.
- Linen-blend or cotton-blend fabrics are fine to use and will help prevent your tablecloth from wrinkling, but make sure they can withstand ironing if you plan to use iron-on hemming tape.
- After buying your fabric, take it home and launder it to remove shrinkage. Ironing it after it is dry prepares you to begin your tablecloth project.
Step 2: Mark and Cut
Smooth the fabric out on a flat surface with the printed or "right" side down. Stretch the measuring tape across the fabric and mark the needed measurements with the pencil or fabric pen. Mark your measurements on at least three spots on each side so you can connect them for a straight cutting line. Trim away excess fabric.
If your tabletop is round or oblong, center the fabric on top of your table, wrong-side up. Place a sturdy object in the middle of the table to hold the fabric in place. Hold the tape measure to the edge of the table and measure down 9 inches from the edge. Mark the measurement. Continue doing this at 3-inch increments all around the material. Move the fabric to a flat surface and connect the measurement marks to get a straight cutting line. Cut out the rounded tablecloth shape and proceed with hemming.
Step 3: Crease and Hem
Place the fabric on the ironing board, wrong-side up. Fold up 1/4-inch from the edge and press it flat against the wrong side of the fabric. Fold the fabric up 3/4 inch from the edge over the raw fold. Press into place with the iron. Open up the last fold and adhere a strip of hemming tape, according to the manufacturer's instructions. Iron the tape in place in small sections and keep checking to make sure the tape is aligned correctly and is adhering the fabric fold together. Rounded corners require extra time. Fold and tuck fabric as needed on the backside to create the curves needed to complete the hem.
- For an easier no-sew alternative to hemming tape, especially if you're making a round or oblong tablecloth, finish the cut edges of the fabric with a bead of anti-fray product. This is sold in both tubes and bottles where most fabrics are sold. Follow the product's directions to edge the cut sides of the tablecloth to prevent fraying.
- Fabric glue can also be used for hemming or splicing together tablecloth panels, but the time it takes to dry before moving on creates an additional challenge.
- Use caution when operating an iron.
- Be sure the hot iron does not touch an uncovered piece of hemming tape. The adhesive will stick to the iron and rub off on other objects if the iron is not properly cleaned.
- Anti-fray products are flammable and should not be used near an open flame. Allow the product to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions.