Whether you’re hosting a formal affair or just a casual family dinner, a tablecloth goes a long way in tying the dining room together. The good news is tablecloths are one of the easiest projects you can sew — here’s how to make sure yours is done right.
What You Need
Pro Tip: Since tablecloths are likely to get soiled from food, select a fabric that can be machine washed and dried. (If there are a lot of kids, you can also go with a wipeable material.) All cotton is best but it tends to wrinkle, so you could consider blends or fabrics that are treated to resist wrinkles. A cotton/polyester blend works particularly well.
1. Measure Your Table
This will determine the size and shape of the tablecloth, as well as the amount of fabric yardage required.
If the finished width measurements of your table exceed the width of the fabric, you’ll need to piece together panels. 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.
How to Measure a Square or Rectangle Table
Measure the dimensions of the table’s surface (both width and length). Then, determine the amount of drop (overhang) you desire. For an informal tablecloth, an overhang of 12″ or slightly less is sufficient. For a more formal version, the drop can go to the floor, hanging just 1″ above. (It’s easier to measure down to the floor, then subtract 1″ from the measurement.) Panels of fabric will most likely need to be pieced together, producing seams along the length of the tablecloth.
Determine how much fabric you need with these calculations:
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 and add 2 times the desired drop measurement, 2″ for the hem and 2″ 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 the yardage.
2. Prep the Fabric
Making a tablecloth is pretty simple, but it can get more complicated if you need to add panels. A seam down the center can look tacky, so it’s better to add panels to each side of the cloth as shown in the illustration above. The two side panels should be equal length.
Try to position the lengthwise seams along the table edges rather than on the surface — this will look more attractive, especially if you’re piecing solid colors of fabric. A patterned fabric makes the seams less noticeable, but you’ll need to match the pattern along the seam lines.
Pro Tip: When using printed 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.
Join these panels together with French seams, or press the seam open and overcast the edges with a serger to prevent fraying.
3. Sew the Tablecloth
For a tablecloth that requires no additional panels to be pieced together, once the fabric is cut to the correct dimensions, you simply have to sew the hem. Options for hemming a tablecloth are endless, and they can impact width and length dimensions. The most common way to hem is to finish the edges with a ½” double rolled hem.
Pro Tip: If you’re applying a trim or other edge finish to the hem, take the finished width and length measurements and multiply that by 2. Then take that number and divide by 36 for the amount calculated in yards.