Sew Your Own: Downtown Tablecloth Tutorial

The Finished Product!
The Finished Product!

Let's Get Started!

Tired of the traditional department store tablecloths that look like they belong in your grandmother's house? (No offense Grammies everywhere, you probably wouldn't want these either). If you're looking for a great housewarming gift or just a way to add a new look to your place, try this fun and easy project. Here's how:

1. Always wash and dry your cloth as it will be laundered once your project is finished. Then iron it all out. Sometimes you (and be you I mean me) might be tempted to skip this step. Don’t do it. You’ll regret it when you have a puckered up project after one wash.

2. Measure your table. You can adjust the drop (amount hanging off the table) to whatever you like, but I chose 6″, which is pretty standard. This means that I added 6″ to each edge, or 12″ overall. So their 42″ table wants a 54″ x 54″ tablecloth. I wanted a 3″ border, so the main fabric will be 48″ when all sewed together.

3. Once you decide on the finished dimensions, you add in for seam allowances. I like a 1/2″ seam allowance so that means adding a full inch to the cut piece (one 1/2″ for each side)

So the actual pieces you cut are as followed:

1- 49″ x 49″ main fabric (mine is an Amy Butler design)
4- 56″ x 4″ border fabric
1- 55″ x 55″ lining fabric

4. Fold one lining piece and the main fabric in half and iron in a tiny mark showing in the halfway point. Line up the fabrics rights sides together, matching the center points, and pin

Lining up and pinning
Lining up and pinning

5. Sew down the length with a 1/2″ allowance. Pull the pins out as you go and keep tension on the fabric to keep the layers even. Repeat with the opposite border piece. Press the seams open.

Seams pressed open
Seams pressed open

5. Repeat with the opposite border pieces.

4. Now for the mitered corner. Don’t be afraid, seam rippers were invented for a reason. Grab the opposite corners and fold the tablecloth in half on the diagonal. Taking care to match up the seams, iron a crease in and put in a few pins to keep the corner in place when you sew. Using a ruler and a fabric marker, draw a diagonal extending from the crease of the main panel. Pin.

Lining up to sew
Lining up to sew
Line drawn on with a fabric pencil
Line drawn on with a fabric pencil

5. Sew along the line you drew, starting at the seam between the border and the main fabric. Once you’re done, flip it over and check it out. It took me a few times to get it just right, but once you see it you’ll know what went wrong. If you’re happy with it, trim the seams to about a 1/2″. Repeat with all four corners.


6. Iron out the whole exterior and make sure you’re completely happy with those corners and that they have produced some rockin’ right angles.

7. Lay your lining right sides together on top of your exterior. Getting it all lined up can be a bit of a trick, but I suggest pinning each corner and then smoothing it out with your hands or a ruler from the center. Once you’re happy with it, pin all the way around.

8. Sew all around, but leave about a foot of seam on one side unsewn. This way you can pull it inside out. Make sure you turn the corner of the seams on the mitered seam.

9. Clip the corners off as close the corner as possible without clipping the stitches. Trim down the seams to about 1/4″. This will allow for sharper corners and edges.

Clipping the corners
Clipping the corners

10. Turn the whole thing inside out. Now you need something to push the seams out. I prefer my fingers, but there are tools designed for this task, and a butter knife will work just fine. Run your finger/butterknife carefully down the entire seam from the inside, especially on the corners. This will create sharp corners and edges.

11. So now it’s almost done, but there’s about a foot of seam that’s not sewn. What to do? Some people would slip stitch this. Since I’m bad at slip stitching, I choose to topstitch around the edge of the entire tablecloth. To do this I ironed out all the edges, pinned them every so often and took special care to turn in the seam and iron in the open portion. Then I topstitched very close the edge all the way around. And woohoo! You have your very own downtown cool kids tablecloth!

Another view.
Another view.

Comments 10 comments

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 7 years ago from the short journey

Very NICE "uptown" project. Woohoo indeed! Looking forward to more of your work!

J Sulivan 7 years ago

Wow this is really great stuff I would love to see some sarongs!

mulberry1 profile image

mulberry1 6 years ago

Great looking finished product...thanks for the instructions!

Lily Rose profile image

Lily Rose 6 years ago from East Coast

Great hub - excellent direction! I would love to sew more, but frankly don't have the time or knowledge. I recently volunteered to sew valances for my niece's new room and, although they were simply rectangles (lined) I had an extremely hard time keeping the two the same size!

How do you keep you lines straight when sewing a long edge or line?

On a Lark Design profile image

On a Lark Design 6 years ago from USA Author

I definitely ran into that problem when working on this table cloth! I found that the key was being patient, having a large flat work surface (the floor works if you don't have a big table) and using cutting mats to make sure you get right angles. Also, getting a fabric pencil or pen helps because you can draw everything out and then fold it to make sure the angles are good and everything is even. It helps to fold your fabric and cut that way so that both sides will be the same. Hope that helps!

LPogue profile image

LPogue 6 years ago from Missouri

I love making my own tablecloths. Quite often, I will make them unlined, though. Lining has to be something that won't slip easily, like flannel, or the tablecloth slips and slides and you wind up straightening it everytime you walk by. Instead of a cloth border, for special events and holidays, I use a three inch flat lace that coordinates with the fabric. I enjoyed reading your hub. Hmmm. I think I have some fabric for a tablecloth...

Maria Harris profile image

Maria Harris 6 years ago from Houston

I have a very long diningroom table, so I always make my own tablecloths. Thanks for the beautiful pattern andinstructions. Fantastic hub, thanks!

aleida_77 profile image

aleida_77 6 years ago from Los Angeles

These are really clearly written instructions, and the finished product is beautiful. Thanks for such an informative hub.

relica profile image

relica 6 years ago from California

I love the blocking effect of this tablecloth, though I did notice that you have to be very exact with your measurements and cuts. Thanks for sharing theis great pattern. Great hub.

Tanya Bolduc 6 years ago

Thank you so much for this tutorial, especially the mitred corners parts. I made a lovely one of my own based on your design for my sister-in-law and it turned out amazing! I'm now putting one together for my mother. It's so much nicer with the border and the liner is a classy touch. I used embroidered fabric for main fabric and the liner hid the threadwork underneath. The top stitching 1/8" around the top and bottom the of the border added a clean, tailored look. I've just started sewing and this is a great project because it teaches exact measurements and the all-important mitre technique. Great job!

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