Sewing a Custom Tablecloth
Whether you have an odd-shaped table or a fabric you've fallen in love with, you can learn how to sew a tablecloth of any size and shape to fit your table. These tablecloths can be used on your dining room table, outdoor tables like a picnic table, or any other table that you'd like to cover.
In just an afternoon you'll learn how to measure your table and calculate the fabric yardage you need, how to cut and sew the tablecloth to fit your table shape, and how to hem to edges for a finished look.
What You'll Need
You'll just need a few materials and supplies to sew a custom table cloth. Here's what you'll need.
- Fabric (see below for amount)
- Matching thread
Tools and Supplies:
- Measuring tape
- Sewing machine
Decide on a Fabric Type
Tablecloths come in all different types of fabric and since you are making your own, you'll get to decide what type of fabric you want to use. Just about any fabric will work but cotton, polyester blends, oilcloth, and linen are popular choices.
I've chosen a mid-weight cotton fabric for my table cloth. I like a casual look and I love how well cotton washes. I also like that I have thousands of choices for fabric styles. Cotton is also affordable, so you don't have to worry if you'd like to make several and change them out seasonally.
Measure Your Table
Take your measuring tape and measure the top of your table. Here's how to do that based on what shape of table you have. It can be helpful to draw a simple diagram when recording your measurements.
Measure the length and width of your table.
Measure from the longest side to the other longest side, going across the center of the table.
Measure from one side to another, going across the center of the table.
Decide on a Drop Length and Hem Type
A drop length is the amount of fabric that "drops" off from the tabletop. There are three common drop lengths. You'll need to decide what length you want before you figure out how much fabric you need.
- Short (8" to 12"): This gives an informal look and is great for everyday use.
- Mid-Length (16" to 24"): This length is considered semi-formal.
- Floor-Length (28" to 29"): This gives a very formal look and is usually only used at tables that no one will be sitting at.
Keep in mind that these are just guidelines. You can create a custom drop length by simply measuring from the edge of the table and deciding how far you want the fabric to hang over. I've chosen a short drop length (8") to keep with my casual look.
You'll also want to calculate how much fabric you'll need for the hem that goes around the bottom of the fabric that hangs off the table. I've chosen to do a basic hem that adds 1" of fabric to each side. You can make a wider hem or a narrower one if you want a different look.
Calculate Fabric Yardage Needed
Add the drop length and hem length to each side of the table in your diagram. Keep in mind there will be a drop and hem on each side. This is going to tell you how much fabric you need to buy.
Take a look at the length of the table with your added drop lengths and hems for those two sides. Divide that number by 36" to find out how many yards of fabric you'll need.
Now, look at the width of your table with the added drop length and hem. If it's smaller than 44" (which is the width of a normal bolt of fabric), you don't need to add any more fabric yardage to the amount you just calculated from the length.
If the width of the table is more than 44" like mine is, you'll need to double the amount of yardage you calculated for the length. This is the amount of yardage you'll need to buy to make your tablecloth.
You also have the option of buying a wide quilt backing fabric that measures 108" wide. If you do this, as I did, you only need to buy the amount of yardage you figured for the length of your table. You'll also be able to avoid having a seam running the length of your table cloth.
My table is 67" x 36" with the added drops and hems on both sides. I bought 2.25 yards of wide fabric. If I would have bought a regular-sized fabric, I would have needed to buy 4.25 yards.
Sew Together Fabric Panels If Needed
If you are using a regular fabric size and it doesn't cover the width of your table, you'll need to sew together some fabric so it will cover your table. Skip this step if you bought wide fabric.
- Cut the longest length of fabric that includes both drops and hems.
- Cut another piece of fabric the same size.
- Sew these two pieces of fabric together longways with 1/4" seam allowance to make one big piece of fabric that will cover your table and includes enough fabric for the drop and hems.
Cut Your Fabric
Now that you have enough fabric for a custom tablecloth, it's time to cut your fabric to the size you've calculated. Here's how to do it depending on the shape of your table.
Cut the length and width of the piece of fabric including the amount you need for the drops and hems.
Follow the same cutting instructions for a square or rectangle table. Place a dinner plate on each corner of the fabric and trace along the plate. Cut along this line to create rounded corners for your table cloth.
Fold the fabric in half and mark the center of the fold. Use a flexible tape measure or string to create a circle from the mark. Cut your fabric.
Hem and Finish Your Tablecloth
Now it's time to create some hems for your table cloth so it has a nice finished edge. I've chosen a basic hem and here's how you do that.
- Fold the edges of your fabric 1/2" under and press with an iron.
- Fold it under again by 1/2" to hide the fabric edge.
- Press and pin the hem.
- Use matching thread and a 1/4" seam allowance to sew the hem down, removing pins as you go.
You're done! Give your tablecloth a nice press and put it on your table. Enjoy!