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Patio Party: Side Table Drape

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You've heard the joke: 'what is an occasional table the rest of the time?' Well, while you're laughing, that poor table is sitting there naked. It's time to make those small occasional tables attractive and important members of your patio party. It's one of the simplest sewing projects you can do.

This project is essentially a large square or rectangle of fabric (depending on the shape of your table), hemmed along all four edges. It's job is to cover a small occasional table and it does it quite well. It's so easy to do, you can makes lots to suit your mood – or the mood of your table. It works for outdoor tables and their indoor cousins.

Use the diagram as a reference to determine the size of the fabric table drape that you will cut, and follow the steps below.

Our sample was made using beautiful fabric from Heather Bailey's Freshcut collection. For information on where to buy, read How to Create a Fabric Pallet.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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  • Fabric for table drape: the amount of fabric needed is based on your table size and the drop length you desire; see measuring instructions below: we used Heather Bailey's Freshcut in Graphic Mum-brown/turquoise
  • All purpose thread in matching or contrasting colors for hemming edges
  • See-through ruler
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Fabric marker, pen, or tailor's chalk
  • Iron and ironing board

Getting Started

  1. Use your measuring tape to measure the length (A on diagram below) and width (B on diagram below) of the top of the table you want to cover.
  2. Decide on the "drop length" you would like for the table drape. This is the length of fabric that will hang down from the edge of the table equally around all four sides (C on diagram). Somewhere between 8"- 12" is appropriate for a normal sized occasional table.
  3. Add a ½" seam allowance around all 4 four edges (D on diagram below).
  4. Therefore, the formula for the cut piece of fabric for the table drape is as follows:
    Drape Length: Table length + drop length (x2) + 1" (½" seam allowance x2)
    Drape Width: Table width + drop length (x2) + 1" (½" seam allowance x2)
  5. For our example, we are covering a 24" length by 18" width table, with an 8" drop length all around. So our cut piece of fabric would be:
    Drape Length: 24" + 16" (8" drop length x2) + 1" = 41"
    Drape Width: 18" + 16" (8" drop length x2) +1" = 35"
  6. Using your see-through ruler or yardstick and fabric marker, draw the square or rectangle shape based on your measurements onto the wrong side of your fabric.
  7. Cut around the drawn edges of this square or rectangular shape.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

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Create a simple hem around all four edges of the drape, however you would like. Here are two suggestions:

  1. Fold and press right side of fabric to backside of fabric ½" all around drape edges to make a "single-turn" hem edge. Then edgestitch ¼" in from folded edge.
  2. Fold and press right side of fabric to backside of fabric ¼" all around drape edges, and then fold and press this ¼" folded edge a second ¼" to make a clean, "double-turn" hem edge. Topstitch along all four folded edges.

You can also take a look at our article How to Make a Simple Hem.

Hints and Tips

If you are making this table drape for a single party, and do not intend to use the drape to cover the table again, just use the "single-turn" hem option #1 above to save you time. If you intend to use your table drape over and over again (and why not), the "double-turn" hem option #2 above will give you a more finished, professional look.

Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation & Instructions: Gregory Dickson



Comments (2)

nonna-gail said:
nonna-gail 's picture
If U R going 2 the trouble of "creating" a beautiful tablecloth, why would U not put that perfect hem on it? It doesn't take any longer to press that extra 1/4" flip. If U R anything like me, U will B worried the whole time that someone will see that U didn't "finish" your work properly..LOL!!!!(Like my mama, she never fails 2 check out every new thing I create)