The most popular fabric in the realm of rustic is burlap. Believe it or not, this coarse fabric, more traditionally known for bagging coffee beans than bedecking elegant tabletops, is the hottest ticket out there when it comes to adding some trendy texture. Part of the reason behind this is how many options are available in burlaps today – both in density (the coarseness of the weave) as well as color. Yep… burlap is not just brown anymore. We’ve come up with a beautiful design for a simple table runner made of two layers of burlap joined with Decorative Stitching and highlighted with a splash of luxurious silk. We show it as wedding décor, but it’s lovely for a variety of occasions. Burlap, like many specialty fabrics, comes in very wide widths. The burlaps we found at ranged from 47″ to 60″ wide with the most common width being 60″. This means you can cut a number of strips from each piece.

We combined two colors: a rich latte brown for the base and a soft rose pink for the top. The two layers feature a triple line of Decorative Stitching down the center, which acts as the perfect simple embellishment and holds the layers together. The edges of both layers are fringed, a super easy process with burlap. And the ends of the runner are adorned with gorgeous silk bows.

Most modern machines come with at least a few decorative stitch options; we recommend using as wide a Stitch width as possible. We used a 9mm stitch on our Janome machine.

In our photos, underneath the table runner is an example of how we used large cuts of fabric as part of our rustic wedding decorating scheme. The table itself is covered with a standard white tablecloth – the type that traditionally comes as part of your rental package at an event venue. Over the top of this plain white tablecloth, we’ve placed a beautiful embellished sheer. The exact selection we chose is no longer available at where we selected our fabric, but there are many similar options, such as the . But there are many other options, such as the Dahlia Embroidered Organza collection. As with our original sample, this pre-embellished sheer alternative is also very lightweight, 56″ wide, and 100% polyester. With three yards, you can fully Drape a 6′ head table, turning plain white into positively stunning.

Your budget will dictate whether you choose to do this overlay treatment for every table at your reception highlight only special areas: head table, gifts, guest book, etc. Also, you could certainly reduce the size. Rather than having the overlay go all the way to floor and puddle; purchase a smaller piece, make a simple rolled Hem, and use the sheer as a table topper. The same goes for the table runner itself. It needn’t drop as far down as we show in our photos, which is certainly beautiful but does require more yardage. Perhaps this look is created only for the head table; the guest tables could have small tabletop runners with the pretty Decorative Stitching but without the bow accents. As with everything: you get to decide!

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

For our sample we used a standard 72″ x 30″ banquet table. The yardage and cuts given below are designed for a finished width that is just over half the width of the table itself; the length accommodates an approximate one-foot drop on each end. The fringe is 1″ on all sides, so this amount is accounted for in the cuts shown. Using this information, you can adjust the project larger or smaller to fit your table requirements.

  • 3 yards of 47″+ wide burlap for the runner overlay: we used 47″ Shalimar Burlap in Snap Pink
    NOTE: You can cut three full strips at our chosen width, four full strips if you go just a couple inches narrower.
  • 3 yards of 47″+ wide burlap for the runner base: we used 60″ Sultana Burlap in Natural
    NOTE: You can cut three full strips at our chosen width.
  • 1 yard of 50″+ wide silk or similar fabric for two accent bows; we used 54″ Dupioni Silk in Gold
  • All-purpose sewing Thread in colors to match bow fabric; we used a light gold
  • 30wt embroidery Thread to coordinate with bow fabric for the Decorative Stitching; we used a light gold
    NOTE: Embroidery Thread is not mandatory for Decorative Stitching, but the added thickness is a better choice for smoother coverage on the coarse weave of the burlap. A 30wt Thread is recommended. 
  • Bobbin Thread
  • Cut-away stabilizer for Decorative Stitching
  • See-through Ruler
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or Rotary cutter and mat
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight Pins
  • Hand sewing Needle

Getting Started

  1. From the base burlap (Natural Sultana in our sample), cut ONE 17″ wide x 102″ long rectangle. Be extra careful to make sure the burlap’s weave is perfectly straight (both the warp and the weft) prior to cutting; the weave is quite coarse and it won’t look good if the weave is wonky.
  2. From the top burlap (Snap Pink Shalimar in our sample), cut ONE 12″ wide x 102″ long rectangle. As above, be very careful to get the weave straight prior to cutting.
  3. From the fabric for the bows (Gold Silk Dupioni in our sample), cut the following:
    TWO 25″ x 14″ rectangles for the bows
    TWO 20″ x 14″ rectangles for the tails
    TWO 4″ x 4″ squares for the center knots
  4. From the stabilizer, cut enough 1¼” wide strips to create a 100″ long finished piece.
    NOTE: Shorter strips can be butted together and zig zagged to secure them into a longer length.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Prepare the burlap panels

  1. Lay the base burlap panel flat on your work surface.
  2. At one end, fold the panel in half to find the center point of the width. Or measure from each side (8½” in from each side for our sample). Place a pin at this center point.
  3. From the center point, measure ⅝” to the right and ⅝” to the left and place a pin at each of these points as well.
  4. At the both the left and the right points, pull up one strand of the burlap, then gently pull it all the way out, creating a thin channel to each side of the center point.
  5. Find the 1¼” x 100″ length of stabilizer. Starting 1″ from the end, pin it in place down the length of the base panel (it should end 1″ from the opposite edge). The strip should fit perfectly between these two channels, insuring your stabilizer is straight from one end to the other. Pin in place.
  6. Place the overlap burlap panel (Snap Pink Shalimar in our sample) over the top of the base panel.
  7. As above, find the center point of the width at one end of the overlap panel.
  8. Line up this center point, with the center point of the base panel.
  9. Carefully smooth and pin the overlay on top of the base from end to end. There should be 2½” from the edge of the overlay to the edge of the base panel on both sides.
  10. It is very important that the two layers are carefully matched and centered. It’s best to work in small sections of about a foot at a time. Confirm the side measurements match (2½” on each side in our sample) and lightly pin along the outside edges. Then, pin down the center section of that same one foot section. When all three layers (the two burlaps plus the stabilizer) are securely pinned in the center, un-pin the sides and reach between the layers to remove the original Pins that were just holding the stabilizer in place on the base. Repeat this process in one-foot segments from one end to the other. When you’re done, your layers are pinned together through just the center.
  11. Thread your machine with embroidery Thread in the top and Bobbin Thread in the Bobbin. Choose a decorative stitch.
  12. We used three rows of stitching, which was appropriate for our chosen stitch. If your chosen stitch is quite a bit wider or narrower, you may want fewer or additional rows. Practice first on scraps to determine your stitching pattern.
  13. Following the instructions for your machine, create the rows of Decorative Stitching. If doing three rows, it is best to stitch the center row first, then the two outer rows.

Fray the edges

  1. Fraying burlap is quite easy. Simply pull out a few strands at a time until you reach your desired width on each side. We used 1″ on all sides of both the base panel and the overlay panel.

Pleat the ends of the overlay

  1. On each end, measure 10″ up from the frayed edge and Pleat each side, bringing in the frayed sides within about 1″ of either side of the Decorative Stitching.
  2. To do this, pinch a small bit of the burlap about 1″ away from the Decorative Stitching.
  3. Pin this pinch Pleat in place and then pinch up additional pleats – like an accordion or fan fold.
  4. Continue until you reach the frayed side edge.
  5. Pin in place through all the layers, then Hand stitch to secure.
  6. Repeat on the opposite side, and then on the opposite end of the runner.

Make the accent bows

  1. Collect the pieces for the bows, tails, and center knots.
  2. Find one 25″ x 14″ bow rectangle.
  3. Fold it in half widthwise, right sides together, so it is now 12½” x 14″. Pin together along the 14″ side, leaving a 2″ opening in the middle for turning.
  4. Stitch together, using ½” Seam allowance. Remember to lock your Seam on either side of the 2″ middle opening. You have created a tube.
  5. Press the Seam allowance open and flat. Roll the Seam to the center back.
  6. Pin along both sides.
  7. Using a ½” Seam allowance, stitch both sides.
  8. Press all the Seam allowances open and flat. Clip the corners.
  9. Turn the bow Right side out through the opening in the center back Seam.
  10. Using a long, blunt-end tool, gently push out the corners so they are nice and sharp. Press the bow flat ( the horizontal Seam should still be at the center back and the raw edges of the opening should be folded in so they are flush with the sewn Seam).
  11. Whip stitch the opening closed.
  12. Repeat to create the second bow.
  13. Find one 4″ x 4″ square.
  14. Fold in half and pin in place.
  15. Using a ½” Seam allowance, stitch along all three raw edges, pivoting at the corners and leaving a 1-2″ opening along the 4″ side for turning. Remember to lock your Seam on either side of the opening. Clip the corners.
  16. Turn Right side out through the opening. Push out all the corners so they are nice and sharp. Press flat, turning in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn Seam. Slip stitch the opening closed.
  17. Repeat to create the second center knot.
  18. Find one 20″ x 14″ rectangle for the tails.
  19. Fold the tail rectangle in half lengthwise, right sides together, so it is now 20″ x 7″.
  20. Using a Rotary cutter and clear Ruler, slice a small angle from each 7″ side.
  21. Pin right sides together along the two diagonally cut sides and the 20″ side, leaving a 2-3″ opening in the center of the 20″ side for turning.
  22. Using a ½” Seam allowance, stitch along both sides and along the main length, remembering to pivot at the corners and to lock your Seam at either side of the 2-3″ opening.
  23. As above, Press the seams open and clip the corners.
  24. Turn Right side out through the center opening.
  25. Gently push out the corners so they are all nice and ship and Press the tail piece flat so the seams run along the edge. Also Press in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn Seam.
  26. Slip stitch the opening closed.
  27. Repeat to create the second tail piece.
  28. Find one completed bow, one loop, and one tail. Place the bow Wrong side up (Seam side up) on your work surface.
  29. At the exact mid-point of the bow, accordion Pleat from top to bottom.
  30. Slip the loop under the mid-point of the bow and pin one end to the top of the accordion folds.
  31. Find the mid-point of the tail and accordion fold in the same manner. Place the tail over the accordion folded bow, pleating it as needed to fit against the bow.
  32. Bring the free end of the loop around to meet the pinned end, securing both layers: the bow and the tails. Whip stitch the ends of the loops together.
  33. Flip over and smooth out the tails so they hang down on either side and fluff out the bow.
  34. Repeat to Finish the remaining bow.
  35. Place one finished bow at the Pleat point of each panel and Hand stitch securely in place through all the layers.


Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild

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