When browsing for great fabric for a seasonal table runner, we often find ourselves in the home décor category because of the bold designs and striking colors you can find there. These traditionally heavier fabrics are where most people turn for larger projects, such as curtain panels or upholstered items, so the motifs tend to be bigger and the tones more dramatic. Not only is it beautiful fabric, it’s also often thicker, tougher, and more durable. Batting is usually necessary with runners made of standard quilting weight cottons in order to protect the tabletop from hot or wet dishes. But with this fabric, two simple layers provide plenty of protection… unless, of course, you plan on serving sizzling fajitas at the table for your holiday dinner!
To figure the correct length to fit your table and the yardage needed, measure the table then add 6″ – 8″ for a 3″ – 4″ drop at each end; the ruffles will add another 10″ to each drop. Our table was 64″ in length. To that we added 8″ for a 4″ drop on each end. The seam allowances will take up a minimal amount so don’t stress about that in your figuring.
You’re not quite done yet, because the centering of your fabric’s motif is essential to this design. In our sample, we needed 72″ of yardage (64″ of table + 8″ for the drop) PLUS the measurement of ONE motif repeat. If you shop online, look for a ruler next to the fabric swatch so you can easily figure the motif size. If shopping in store, bring a mini tape measure with you. Our motif was approximately 12″. So, we needed 72″ + 12″ or 84″. We rounded up a bit and went with 2⅜ yards (85½”). Most home décor fabrics are quite wide (ours was 54″), so width will not be a problem when cutting your two long rectangles. You might even have fabric left over for other projects… yay!
We original used a bold motif from Premier Prints in a bright Christmas red; Premier always has a great selection of strong colors and designs and are easy to find at your favorite online or in-store retailer.
To soften the overall scene, and because you know how we love to mix our textures, we added deep double ruffles to each end of the runner in a featherweight washer linen blend (55% linen with 45% rayon). This is an elegant accent, and the linen is so soft, even if it drops down near the lap of a dinner guest, it’s no more noticeable than a tablecloth would be hanging at that angle.
Our runner finishes at approximately 18″ wide x 92″ long (72″ runner plus 10″ ruffles on each end).
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- Rolled Hem foot; optional but helpful for the tiny hems on the ruffled ends
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 2⅜ yards of 45″+ medium-weight home décor fabric; see the introduction above for how to figure the length for your table
- 1 yard of 45″+ lightweight linen in a coordinating color
- 1¼ yards of ¾” wide coordinating velvet ribbon or similar
- All purpose thread to match fabric and ribbon
- See-through ruler
- Measuring tape
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Iron and ironing board
- Straight pins
NOTE: As mentioned above, the designer look of this runner is dependent on a careful fussy cut of a big, bold motif.
- From the main fabric, fussy cut TWO 19″ wide x 72″ long panels (adjust this length measurement as needed for your table; notes on how to do this are listed above in the introduction). The fabric’s motifs should be centered and evenly spaced along the length of the runner.
- From the linen blend, cut the following:
TWO 27″ wide x 11″ high rectangles
TWO 27″ wide x 7″ high rectangles
- Cut the ribbon into TWO 19″ lengths.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Place one of the 19″ x 72″ panels right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Pin one length of velvet ribbon across each end of the runner panel, positioning the ribbon ½” up from each raw edge.
- Thread the machine with thread to match the ribbon in the top and bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch. Edgestitch along both sides of the ribbon on each end of the runner.
- Find the four ruffle rectangles.
- Make a narrow hem along one 27″ side of each rectangle. To do this, fold under the raw edge ⅛” and press well.
- Then fold an additional ⅛” and press again, concealing the raw edge within the folds.
NOTE: As mentioned above in the the Supply List, if you have a Rolled Hem foot, you could also use it to make this tiny hem. Check out our tutorial on how to create Rolled Hems by Machine.
- Repeat to fold narrow hems along the sides of all the ruffle rectangles.
- Re-thread with thread to best match the linen in the top and bobbin. Re-set the stitch length to normal. Edgestitch the folded hems in place. To do this on very lightweight fabric, it’s helpful to use a scrap of fabric as a starter piece. Place a small folded scrap of fabric under the foot and sew across. Stop towards the end of the scrap, but do not remove it from under the presser foot.
- Find the first of the ruffle pieces and butt the start of its narrow hem against the starter scrap of fabric. Continue stitching from the scrap across to the main fabric. The scrap of fabric allows you to gently pull the main fabric from the back until the feed dogs have a chance to grab and begin stitching along the tiny hem.
- Add the next ruffle piece as you approach the end of the first piece. Continue in this manner until all hems are edgestitched. You should end up with four rectangles, each hemmed on three sides.
NOTE: Some heavier fabrics may require a little bit wider hem, but the beautiful washer linen we chose allows for a very tiny hem.
- Place the two wider ruffle strips right side up and flat on your work surface. Place a narrow ruffle strip on top of each wide ruffle strip, also right side up. Align the top raw edges and hemmed side edges. Pin in place along the top edges of each pair.
- With a long stitch length, run two lines of machine basting along the top edge of each ruffle pair. Keep both basting seams within the ½” seam allowance. Do not lock your seam on either end. You’ll use these threads to gather the panels into the correct ruffled width.
NOTE: If you are new to gathering, take a look at our Machine Gathering tutorial.
- Place the ribbon-trimmed runner panel and the plain runner panel right sides together. Align all the raw edges of the two layers. Pin along both long sides, leaving a 5″ opening on one side. Both ends are open.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, sew each long side. Remember to lock your seam at either side of the 5″ opening on the one side.
- Press the seam allowances open and flat.
- Press back the raw edges along the opening so they are flush with sewn seam.
- Pull the basting threads of one double ruffle so it matches the width of the sewn table runner.
- With the runner still wrong side out, open up one end. Place the ruffle over the ribbon-trim. The shorter ruffle should be facing right side down against the ribbon. Pin in place, evenly distributing the gathers. The raw edges of the ruffled panels should be flush with the raw edge of the runner. The hemmed sides of the ruffled should be aligned with the runner’s side seams.
- Bring the back of the runner down into place, sandwiching the ruffle between the layers. Pin through all the layers.
- At each side, fold the seam allowances back so they wrap the end of the ruffle.
- Stitch across the end. Sew with the ribbon-trimmed side facing up, so you can see the previous ribbon stitching lines. The new stitching line should be ⅛” to the right of the previous ribbon stitching to ensure the ribbon is not caught in the seam. This means it will be just ⅛” narrower than a traditional ½” seam allowance.
- Trim the seam allowance back to ¼”.
- Repeat to insert the remaining double ruffle at the opposite end.
- Turn the table runner right side out through that 5″ opening in the one long side. Press flat.
- Pin the opening closed so the two folded edges are flush.
- Edgestitch along each long side of the table runner.
- Then stitch across each end, running the seam just to the inside (just to the left) of the velvet ribbon.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Michele Mishler