tutorial: DIY custom party tablecloths…the improv way

In early June, we will celebrate a major day in my family. The event’s starring player has forbidden me from saying too much about this happening, but he does think it’s fine for me to write about the tablecloths. So here we go.

We are throwing a large party, sort of like a wedding, but not a wedding, and I really wanted it to be as pretty and personal as possible — on a budget.  Rented tablecloths (at least the ones that aren’t too pricey) are plain, polyester, not nice. And purchased tablecloths? Too expensive. We’re talking about 10 to 20 tables that need to be covered.

So what else could I do but sew?

First, I ordered two bolts of gingham fabric,  $50 to $60 each, and was able to make four cloths from each bolt (one was 20 yards, and the other was 23 yards). By the way, ordering online is the way to go in this case…MUCH cheaper than even the discount fabric warehouse we have nearby. I ordered one (on sale!) from Fashion Fabrics Club, and one from FabricDirect.com.

I wanted to cover 60″ round tables, but also use some cloths for the rectangular buffet tables, which measure 30″ wide by 96″ long.  And I wanted to make it really easy. So I decided to sew big square tablecloths–I could use one cloth on the round tables, or two on the buffets. Since the fabric was 44″ inches wide, I decided to make the squares about 88″, minus a couple of inches for seams and hems –so roughly 86″ inches square. Roughly.

Here’s how it’s done:

1. Measure and cut two 88″ lengths of the fabric (or whatever length is 2 times your fabric’s width).

2. Stack the two lengths of fabric, right sides together, pin them, and, with a straight stitch,  join them along one selvage edge with a 1/2-inch seam. This will form the center seam of the tablecloth.

3. Press open the seam allowances. You could trim them with pinking shears if you like, or overcast the edges with an overcast presser foot. I just left mine alone.

4. Hopefully the selvage edges on your fabric are pretty nice–mine were, so I decided to leave them as is on two sides of the square, and hem the raw edges on the other two sides. (Of course, you can hem it all the way around, if you are little more diligent than me). Press in 1/2″ hems along both raw edges (or, for you diligent types, all four edges). I used the little pressing template I made from cereal-box cardboard, because I’ve yet to buy myself one of those nifty gauges most sewists use.

5. Sew the hems in place with a zigzag stitch.

6. Then press the hems to get a nice crisp edge.

7. That’s it. Multiply as needed to cover all the tables at your fiesta. (Then take a photo and fiddle with your color settings and effects just for fun).

Each tablecloth took about 30 minutes to sew  (fastest time: 28 minutes, 34 seconds–yes, I started timing myself) and cost around $15.  So if you have a wedding, bar or bat mitzvah, big birthday bash, or other big multi-table extravaganza coming up, keep this in mind. Hey, if I can do it, so can you!

This entry was posted by Debra.

4 thoughts on “tutorial: DIY custom party tablecloths…the improv way

    • Thanks so much, Laura! Yes, my mind is already spinning with reuse possibilities… I’ll keep a couple as tablecloths, but the rest I’ll probably cut up to make new stuff. I’m thinking a shower curtain to replace our grungy old one, maybe a cute skirt, a new covering for a bench cushion…endless options!

  1. I think I want a green gingham skirt- Little a-line number with an invisible zipper on the side! These are great, Debra. I love that you timed yourself. That sounds like something I would do, being a bit competitive, even when there is no one else involved.

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