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Decorative Stitched Striped Table Runner

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Start with a simple yet bold fabric, add some distinctive decorative stitching, and the result is a stunning table runner that's a perfect backdrop for an upcoming Easter gathering or any occasion that calls for a pretty table setting. Remember, "Life is short; use the good china!" We chose a canopy style striped fabric, which is easy to find in a myriad of colors. The Wave Runner collection from Fabric Depot is an excellent option. Thanks to our amazing Janome studio machines, we found the perfect stitch pattern, picked a strong contrasting thread color, and sewed our long lines of embellishment with perfect form and precision... even when running for over 100 inches! Industry-leading stitch quality is one of the main reasons we are so happy to be an exclusive Janome studio.

A bold striped fabric is really the ideal choice for this project. Not only does it provide strong lines to follow for your decorative stitching, it's a motif that is eye-catching without being overwhelming. You get great color, but the stitching can still shine through as the highlight motif.

The finished width of the runner is approximately 16½", which should center nicely on most dining room tables. 

The 102" length is also a standard for formal runners, but the three panels that make up this full length can be increased or decreased to best fit your table.

Length should also be adjusted based whether you want the runner to sit flat or to drop over the ends of the table. We tried our setting with both flat and drop options, and were equally happy with the results. 

Our thanks for Janome America for providing our Sew4Home studios with a full compliment of wonderful sewing machines! If you are new to this brand, we strongly recommend visiting a Janome Dealer for a "test stitch." We talk with new and returning sewers all the time who are frustrated by their results and blame it on their own lack of skill. News Flash! It's probably not you; it's your machine. As with any artistic endeavor; the better your tools, the easier the process, and the more professional the outcome. Our Janome machines get major credit for the beautiful outcomes you see here at Sew4Home. Across thin voile hems or heavy canvas seams, we have smooth needle penetration from the first stitch to the last.

We always recommend starting each new project with a new needle in your machine, but for great decorative stitching, this step is particularly important. 

Our sample runner finishes at approximately 102" x 16½". To create the best look, it is cut on the stripes rather than on measured inches.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • 1½ yards of 54"+ medium-weight wide striped fabric or similar, we used 54" Wave Runner Stripe in Sunshine
    NOTE: Our stripes were approximately 1½" wide. We suggest a width of 1" - 2½".
  • 1 yard of 54"+ light to mid-weight linen or similar fabric in a coordinating color; we used 52" Brussels Washer Linen Blend in Ivory by Robert Kaufman
    NOTE: You will notice above that we suggest 54"+ but the fabric we selected is only 52". Hey! We used the entire width, including selvedge, of our 52" wide fabric, which takes careful cutting. If you are concerned about your cutting skills, select a fabric that is at least 54". If using a narrower fabric, such as a 45" width, get 2¼ yards.
  • 3 yards of 20"+ mid-weight fusible interfacing; we used 45" Pellon Décor Bond
  • ONE spool of all purpose thread to match fabric
  • TWO spools of contrasting thread for the decorative stitching; we used a charcoal gray
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

NOTE: As mentioned above, the designer look of this runner is dependent on a careful fussy cut of the stripes.

  1. Square off the end of the striped fabric so you are starting against a nice, straight edge. 
  2. From the striped fabric, cut ONE WOF (width of fabric) x 35" piece. 
  3. From this piece, fussy cut THREE rectangles across the width. If working with the same 1½" stripes as we had, each rectangular strip should include six yellow stripes and five white stripes with ½" for a seam allowance on each side. 
  4. As we mentioned above, with the strong stripe motif, you should cut according to the stripes, allowing the width to vary a bit as needed. Our stripe pattern made each rectangle approximately 17½" wide x 35" long. Your stripe pattern may include slight more or fewer stripes, simply remember to center your stripes and to account for the ½" seam allowance on each side.
  5. From the remaining striped fabric, use the see through ruler to CUT TWO narrow rectangles for the horizontal end panels. For our stripe pattern, we centered one yellow and one white stripe then added ½" for a seam allowance along each side. This provides what will become the "height" of the horizontal panel (approximately 4" in our sample). Then, cut the length of each strip to 17½", which wil become the "width" of the horizontal panel. 
    NOTE: For extra accuracy with the striped fabric, rather than using a rotary cutter, we drew in our cut lines, then used scissors to cut along the drawn lines.
  6. From the backing fabric, cut the following:
    ONE 17½" wide x 35" long rectangle for the center panel
    TWO 17½" wide x 39" long rectangles for the two end panels
  7. From the interfacing, cut the following:
    ONE 16½" x 102" length 
    TWO 3" x 16½" strips 
    NOTE: Your width may vary based on your stripes - you want the width to be 1" smaller than the width of the fabric panels; as you remember from above, our cuts were 17½".

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Top panel

  1. Find the three 17½" x 35" striped panels. 
  2. Place the panels right sides together, end to end, along the 17½" sides to create one long panel. Take extra care to align the stripes.
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the two seams. 
  4. Press open the seam allowances.
  5. Place the seamed top panel wrong side up on a flat but "iron-able" surface. You could even place towels onto the floor for this step. 
  6. Find the interfacing. Center the long panel on the wrong side of the top panel. There should be ½" of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all four sides. 
  7. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the interfacing in place. Start in the center and work toward each end. 
  8. Find the two end panel fabric strips and the corresponding thin interfacing strips. Center an interfacing strip on the wrong side of each fabric strip. As above, there should be approximately ½" of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all four sides.

Decorative stitching

  1. The fused interfacing will not only add the proper body for the finished runner, it also acts as a stabilizer for the decorative stitching.
  2. You will be working with a very long panel. Set up your machine on a large work surface so the fabric can feed easily through the machine and out the back. You don't want the fabric to "bump" into any obstacles. That could cause the stitching to become uneven. We used a dining room table. 
  3. Apply interfacing to a small scrap of the striped fabric and test out some of your favorite stitches. After our testing, we decided on stitch #217 from the built-in collection on our Janome Horizon Memory Craft 8900 QCP. On your machine, look for options that stop stitching at the end of the pattern, and also any option that brings you back to the start of the stitch pattern. This will make it easier to join stitches should the need arise (see our bobbin-out tip below).
  4. Re-thread the machine with the contrasting thread in the top and bobbin thread in the bobbin. 
  5. Attach a Satin Stitch foot (also know as a decorative stitch foot). We used the Janome Open Toe Satin Stitch, which has great visibility for long lines of stitching. 
  6. Use the inner edge of the foot to guide your line of stitching along the edge of the yellow stripe. Stitch a line of decorative stitching along both sides of each white stripe. Keep your stitching inside the white stripes; it should not go into any of the yellow stripes. 
  7. Repeat to stitch along both sides of every white stripe.

What if I run out of thread or need to start over?

  1. Most machines have a selection of decorative stitches from simple satin stitch patterns to the more elaborate patterns, such as the one we used for our table runner. But not all machines have the sophisticated programming of some of our Janome models that allows you to stitch a single pattern, stitch to the end of a pattern and stop precisely, or start over at the beginning of a pattern. (Visit your local Janome Dealer to see these features in action.)
  2. This is where a test sample is so important. The test lets you see how the pattern stitches out. By watching carefully, you can usually see the end of a pattern as it comes along. But how do you start over at the beginning? There are two techniques: 1) remove the project and sew onto a scrap of fabric until the pattern ends; replace the real project under the needle again at the "break," and the stitch will resume at the beginning of the next pattern. 2) Turn off the machine. When you turn the machine back on and select your decorative stitch, it will automatically start at the beginning.
  3. In the photo below, you see an example of running out of bobbin thread in the middle of a length of decorative stitching. The arrow points to the end of an individual pattern. 
  4. 'Un-stitch" (carefully pull out but do not cut the stitches with your seam ripper) back to the end of the pattern. Pull the thread ends to the wrong side of the fabric and tie off. 
  5. Starting at the beginning of the pattern (as described above), center the needle at the pattern end and resume stitching. 
  6. When the stitching is complete, those "start-over" thread tails can be pulled to the wrong side of the fabric and tied off. When complete, the joint should be invisible!

Attach the end panels 

  1. Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the runner in the top and bobbin. Attach the regular presser foot. 
  2. Find the two end panel strips, which should have the interfacing fused in place. 
  3. From the right side, sew a line of stitching where the white stripe meets the ½" yellow seam allowance. This is a reference line, so when the fabrics are placed right sides together, you can stitch along this reference line, knowing you are stitching exactly along the stripe. Do this on both strips.
  4. Place one strip on either end of the panel, aligning the reference-line edge of the end panel with the raw edge of the runner. Pin in place. 
  5. Stitch the end panels in place, running your seam directly on top of the reference line of stitching. 
  6. Press the seam open, pressing the end panels away from the main runner.
  7. Re-thread the machine with the contrasting thread in the top and bobbin thread in the bobbin.
  8. Sew a line of decorative stitching on each side of just the white stripe.

Create back panel and finish

  1. Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the runner in the top and bobbin. Attach the regular presser foot.
  2. Similar to the reference line you stitched on the end panels, stitch a reference line around the entire runner. This line should run where the outer stripe meets the ½" seam allowance.
  3. Decorative stitching can slightly alter the overall dimensions of the base fabric. Find the top panel and measure the center section. Originally it had a measurement of 34", but our sample had "shrunk up" to now measure 33". It was also narrower by ¼". 
  4. Locate the three panels for the runner back panel. Adjust the dimensions of the shorter panel to match the new dimensions of the top center section. 
  5. Go back to the runner top again, this time measure the length of each end, including the end panel. Make adjustments if needed to two remaining longer panels of the runner backing. 
    NOTE: On all adjustments, remember to figure in the ½" seam allowances!
  6. If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to best match the back fabric in the top and bobbin.
  7. As you did with the top panel, sew the three back panels together end to end, using a ½" seam allowance. Press the seam allowances flat. 
  8. Place the runner top and the runner back right sides together, matching the seams and the raw edges all around. 
  9. Sew the two panels together with the runner top side facing up so you can run your new seam exactly on top of the reference line of stitching.
  10. Leave an 8" opening along one long side for turning. Remember to pivot at each corner and to lock your seam at either side of the opening. 
  11. Trim all four corners and turn right side out. Use a long, blunt-end tool, such as a knitting needle or chopstick to gently push out the corners so they are nice and sharp. 
  12. Press flat, rolling the seam toward the runner backing. 
  13. Press in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with sewn seam. 
  14. If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to best match the runner in the top and thread to best match the back fabric in the bobbin.
  15. Edgestitch around the entire perimeter of the runner. This holds the two layers in place, further prevents the back from rolling to the front, and closes the opening used for turning.
  16. Press flat again. We recommend using a pressing cloth against the decorative stitching and adding steam for a professional finish. 


Project Design: Alicia Thommas 
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Michele Mishler


Comments (2)

Kris Valle said:
Kris Valle's picture

What a beautiful and simple project. Is there any other foot you would recomend? Or just the standard open toe foot?

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