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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 any gathering or 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. 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 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 on 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.

The exact Wave Runner striped fabric we originally used from Premier Prints is no longer readily available, but it is a standard canopy style stripe that can be found from a number of manufacturers. We do recommend staying with a heavier home décor weight fabric over something like a quilting cotton. We found a nice selection of stripes from Joann Fabrics.

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, cut on the stripes rather than on measured inches.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • 1½ yards of 54″+ wide medium-weight striped fabric; as mentioned above, our original canopy stripe was from Premier Prints, but similar striped outdoor and home dec options are always readily available. We found a nice selection of stripes from Joann Fabrics
    NOTE: Our stripes were approximately 1½” wide. We suggest a width of 1″ – 2½”.
  • 1 yard of 54″+ wide light to mid-weight linen or similar fabric in a coordinating color; we originally 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″+ wide 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. Also remember, our ingredients list, cutting list, and steps are based on a finished runner of 102″ x 16½”. This width should work for most tables. And although the 102″ length is pretty average for formal runners, if you wish to adjust your length, you’ll need to adjust the length of each cut to your new dimension.

  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. Working with our 1½” stripes, each rectangular panel included six yellow stripes and five white stripes with ½” for a seam allowance on each side. All the stripes are running vertically.
  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 slightly 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, we cut the length of each strip to 17½” to match the larger panels cut above; this will 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 interfacing 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 motifs where the stitching stops 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 known 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 outer yellow stripe (within the white 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 (shown above) 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 these 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 should also 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 stitched-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 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, chopstick or point turner to gently push out the corners so they are nice and sharp. 
  12. Press flat, rolling the seam toward the runner back.
  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

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Linda Bryan
Linda Bryan
3 years ago

This looks so good and so different from other table runner ideas. It really reminds me of the pared-downlook of pricey printed Scandinavian decor items of my childhood, “midcentury modern” and after. The colors you chose are spot-on! A quilter would, of course, pad out this puppy along the stripes, etc. but the flatness is part of the aesthetic here. I’m already thinking about someone who would really love receiving this, in a shorter version, to brighten her table during Covid isolation in this cold winter.

Liz Johnson
Liz Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Linda Bryan

Hi Linda – thank you so much. This is one of favorite table linen projects. Often, simple and sleek is vest 🙂

3 years ago

I love this. Thank you.

Liz Johnson
Liz Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  lv2sewnv

@lv2sewnv – Thank you. Let us know if you give it a try; we’d love to see a picture!

3 years ago

Like the project. I think you could also make your own strip fabric as well. Since going shopping is not here yet. I’m not sure I could wait for the fabric to be sent. So glad your showing us to use what’s built in our machines no matter what brand we own. I think we forget what we have built in. Thank you.

Liz Johnson
Liz Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Hi Jane – Thanks so much! Yeah… we hear ya; getting fabric at the moment does take a bit of waiting for sure, but I think some outlets are beginning to get caught up. But of course you could strip piece your own stripes 🙂 We hope you’ll give it a go!

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