tutorial: linen table runner (for thanksgiving or any kind of giving)

Two ways to approach this table runner:

A. Stitch it for your holiday feast, set it out on the table all modest and bashful, and listen to the compliments roll in.

B. Make it as a gift. That’s what I did. This runner (or a placemat or tea towel made the exact same way) is kind of a lifesaver if you want to give something handmade but don’t have a ton of time for making…

The project is based on the Cider Season Table Runner, p 186 in ye old Improv Sewing book.

To make it, you’ll need:

1/2 yard of linen (at least 56″ wide), selvages left on (I found nice all-cotton linen at Jo-ann’s)

1/8 yard of contrasting linen for appliques (or linen scraps)

2 spools of contrasting thread

Paper-backed fusible web
How it’s done:

1. Make the appliques

Wash and press all the linen. Following the package instructions, fuse the web to the wrong side of the applique fabric.

2. Cut the appliques

To make the flowers, cut some circles…my runner has six, two bigger (about 3″ in diameter) and four smaller ones (about 2″). To cut them, I used this super nifty tool I picked up while we were cutting large numbers of dots for our dot scarf workshop. It’s a circular rotary cutter, and it’s quite awesome:

Especially great for people like me, who have KCS (klutzy crafter syndrome). Cutting perfect circles is really, really hard for me. So this gadget (a splurge at about $30 on Amazon) is good to have. You are probably much more adept in this area, so just find two jar lids in sizes you like, trace them, cut with scissors, and you’re good to go.

3. Hem the runner

Press the long raw edges 1/2″ to the wrong side and trim the corners. The selvages will make nice finished edges on the short ends, so no need to hem there unless you really want to. Sew a line of a utility or decorative stitch 1/2″ in from each long edge, catching the folded under hems in the stitching.

4. Place the appliques

Set the pieces on your runner a find a placement you like, then pin them in place. If you want them to be centered, give yourself a an easy guide by folding the runner in half lengthwise and creasing it.

5. Sketch the stems and leaves

Chalk some guidelines for stitching the stems and leaves however you like.

Lower your presser foot pressure to zero (or drop your feed dogs or use a free-motion foot, if that’s better on your machine). Stitch over your guidelines with a straight stretch stitch (which gives a nice bold line, but uses a fair amount of thread) or a straight stitch (which is what I used, only because I was nervous about running out of my green thread, and I knew I wouldn’t have time to get to teh store for more!).

6. Fuse and finish the appliques

Peel the paper backing off the circles. With a hot iron and a damp pressing cloth (or any piece of cotton fabric), fuse the circles according to the fusible web package directions.

With a contrasting thread, add to the appliques any details that strike your fancy, using the same free-motion sketching technique. I also added my recipient’s name at the bottom of the runner, just to make it a tad more personalized.  Wash the runner on a delicate cycle. The appliques will roughen up along the edges, giving the whole thing a nice texture.

Ready for feasting or gifting, whichever you choose.

P.S. With your linen you should also whip up a placemat or two for the MERRILY WE SEW ALONG CHALLENGE.  There are PRIZES. Enter by NOVEMBER 14!!! Go here for more. 



This entry was posted by Debra.

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