Wednesday, February 15, 2012

One Yard Wednesday - Giant Round Table Cloth

Maybe you have a round table in your house.  Maybe this round table is 20" in diameter.  Or maybe, like my round table, it is bigger.  Like a LOT bigger!

When my mom passed nearly 9 years ago, I inherited an antique table that was hand-built from solid oak by my 3rd-great-grandfather back around the turn of the 20th century.  He was a carpenter.  He also made for himself this amazing tool chest that had sliding trays, and slots for all of his saws.  Obviously he was very skillful!  He also had many children, which brings me back to the table.  To fit everyone around it at dinner time, the table had to be gigantic.  My mom always used a 70" round table cloth on it, and the cloth only hung over the sides by a few inches.  Yeah, it's really that big.  And that's without the 7 leaves that he built to put in it!  Did I also mention it literally weighs about 500 pounds?

So let's fast forward up to today...

The BIG DAY for SPH is coming up, and for the set, I'm allowed to use their picnic table instead of the regular coffee table.  YAY!  EXCEPT that it's octagonal. Oh...

Not to worry - I can just use a round table cloth.  I thought for sure someone in the family had saved my mom's tablecloths.  Nope.  I looked at our local stores.  All they had was vinyl, which may be shiny on camera.

Then, I remembered a trick from a class my mom and I had gone to at Minnesota Fabrics nearly 20 years ago.  Today, I'll share that trick with you.

For today's One Yard Wednesday, you will need a bed sheet.  Old or new won't matter for the technique, but if you are making this to have something nice for when company comes, you may want to consider new. That's what I did.

Also, consider the size of your circle.  It should be big enough to cover the top of your table, then hang down a bit.  This is called the drop.  The table I am covering is 48" across.  I wanted to have a really nice drop to it.  To do this, I used a twin bed sheet, and my circle is 72" across.  Your circle needs to be the diameter of your table PLUS however much you want for a drop (times 2).  I know, it's math.  I'm sorry.

Here's how that would play out with real numbers.  I need my circle to be 48" across.  If I want a 6" drop, then I'd calculate it this way:
48 + (6 x2) = 48 + 12 = 60

No bed sheet?  No worries.  You can take 2 equal lengths of fabric (how long will depend on the size of your circle) and seam them together.  Press the seam open on the back to ensure that your tablecloth will lie flat.  This works well, too, if you have a smaller table - you could easily piece two fat quarters of the same fabric together, then press the seam.

So let's get back to the project at hand...

I used a twin size bed sheet.  I knew from quilting that they are about 70-ish", when you remove the side hems.  It was cheap, too.  And in a color I know will work well with the set at the TV studio.

I washed it, dried it, pressed it and folded it in quarters (half lengthwise, then half width-wise).
I laid it out on my floor to work - remember it's a really big circle, so give yourself plenty of space to work.

Next, cut a piece of sting the length of the radius of your circle (half way across the circle) PLUS 2".  This is my sample piece.  The piece I really used had the extra 2" on it, but this picture gives you an idea of how you can measure it.

With that extra couple inches, tie a slip knot around a pencil or fabric marking pen.
Line up the other end with the corner of your fabric.

Secure this end with painters' tape or masking tape.
Now, you've basically made yourself a compass.  Remember those pointy things from school that helped to draw circles?  Hold the tape end down with your hand (if you can reach), a hubby, a kiddo, a friend, or even a heavy book.  Gently pull the string straight, and move it in an arc.  I used a Sharpie to go over my line so you can see it against the pale sheet.  Also, try to keep your fabric as flat and wrinkle free as possible.

Cut along this line.  Be sure to save your scraps.

You can see how big mine is when I spread it out across my dining room table.

So if you wanted just a circular table topper to just throw over a table, whether the table already had a cloth on it or not, you can stop here.

For something more finished, the last few steps are actually really easy.  Just a rolled hem and stitch it down.

Fold the edge of your circle in about 1/4", and press.  Don't worry if it's perfect, just try your best.

Once you've gotten all the way around, fold in another 1/4".  This process takes a while, so be patient.

At this point, you can simply stitch the hem with a straight stitch.  Be sure that the right side is facing up, so your bobbin threads are underneath.

If you want something fancier, you can choose a decorative stitch on your machine if you have one.  I liked this one, and tested it on some scraps.

You'll notice, if you look closely, that the first several started to pucker.  I adjusted the tension on my machine so that the stitches would stay nice and flat.  Then I tested some thread colors.  I wanted something that coordinated, and I happened to have this color in my stash (it's Boy Scout uniform pants green).  To do the decorative stitching takes a lot more thread than usual, and I was very blessed to have an extra spool of this in my sewing bag.
So this is the step that takes lots and lots and LOTS of patience.  Use your decorative stitch all the way around to finish the hem.  This takes quite a while, so if you need to stop part way around and stretch, do it. Remember (sorry, more math here), the circumference of a circle (the measurement of all the way around) is 3 times-ish the diameter (the measurement across).  For me, that was over 200".  I felt like I was sewing forever!

But, I think you'll agree with me, it's worth it!  Here's the finished cloth, folded again so we could get a good picture.

Here's a close-up of the finished hem.

While I was stitching, my mind began to wander, and I thought of some ideas for this project.  Want matching napkins?  Buy matching pillowcases, and cut squares or rectangles of desired size.  Then, simply hem them the same way.  Repurpose two old bed sheets (same size), following the steps above.  The sheets don't have to be pretty, or even match.  Stains would be ok, but no holes.  When it's time to stitch the hems, pin them together, wrong (back) sides facing.  Now, you have a reversible picnic/beach blanket.  You could throw it over a picnic table, too.  Do the same thing with 2 smaller circles, and use it as a baby throw.  This would be wonderful for going over the handle of a baby carrier.  Make several smaller circles to use as placemats.  Use your jelly roll stash to make binding for the hem for a big pop of color.

Like I said, it took a looooooong time to go around that hem, so I had lots of time to daydream!

Enjoy your new tablecloth!



Michelle said...

This project would of saved me a lot of time over Christmas.We have a lace table cloth that had red flowers on it. I looked every where for the right color of red to put under it. I could of used a sheet I already had. Thanks for posting this. It's a great idea.I am now following you on Linky Follower. I would love it if you followed me back. I always enjoy meeting new Bloggers.

Heather's Blog-o-rama said...

What a great idea and project!!!! I found your blog via the Country Homemaker Blog hop today :) :) Hmm...I have a really old belonged to my great-grandparents...and they almost never bought anything new. So it's probably way older than anyone realizes. In any case, a nice table cloth would help preserve it :) :) Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather :)

Kimberly said...

Very clever! Thanks for all the great tips!

Rosemary@villabarnes said...

Very nice. Love the edge.

crystal said...

So impressive! I would LOVE for you to share this awesome mommy solution in my Mommy Club link up! Or any other ideas. Stop over!


Erin said...

This is so great! I could use a new tablecloth but they tend to be a little pricey. This could be a more economical solution. :-)

Erin at

Erin said...

Great tutorial, Ann! Really enjoyed reading it and this gives me something to do with the vintage sheets I find when thrifting. :)

Take care,
Erin @ Carolina Country Living
(visiting from Creative Things Thursday - link #18)

Melanie @ bear rabbit bear said...

I love repurposing things! So glad that you linked this to Things I've Done Thursday~

Tara said...

I agree! Great tutorial! Very neat! I love the homemade compass circle!

Shabby chic Sandy said...

I make everything out of sheet:) TFS!

Unknown said...

Great idea and tutorial! Glad you shared at Shine on Fridays!!

Michelle L. said...

Wonderful tutorial! and I love all your extra 'bonus' ideas!

Barbara Neubeck said...

I wait until sheets are on special and I buy as many as I can afford at the the biggest size I can afford. I usually go for plain colours and I use these for anything
&Everything.Curtains,lounge covers,chair covers,dress-up outfits for g-kids,Summer clothes and in an bed sheets.Love 'em...
God Bless
Barb from Australia

Barbara Neubeck said...

I use sheets for all kinds of craft projects and decorating around the house. You will always find new, plain coloured sheets in my cupboard.
So useful, as you say for tablecloths. Then there's chair covers and serviettes,lounge throwovers, curtains and I've used half a printed sheet as a centre panel on a plain sheet to make light summer bedspreads.....the list goes on. I love sheets!!!
God Bless
Barb from Australia

Maureen Wyatt said...

Thanks for a wonderful tutorial! As challenged as I am with math, I think I can do this. I'm pinning with your link so I can remember this and send others to your great site! ~ Maureen

cathy@my1929charmer said...

What a great idea and project. I have made tablecloths but not from sheet. I have so many decorative stitches on my machine and never use, a great way to now use a few of them. Thanks for sharing your creative inspiration at Sunday's Best!

Unknown said...

How cool!! It looks so nice. I am going to have to give this a try. Thanks for sharing with us at Link It UP Thursday.

Six Sisters said...

This really is such a good idea! Thanks for sharing it at Six Sister's Link Party! We hope to see you again next week!
-The Sisters

Marsha Cooper said...

I love this! Great instructions too.
I really appreciate you linking up with my Frugal Friday post.


Love it! Sheets have always been a staple in sewing projects for me too. If you can find them on sale especially that helps too doesn't it? Love your post. Thanks for linking up with the UFO sewing challenge.

Farmgirl Heidi said...

Hello Ann,
You WON the February UFO ROLL CALL Challenge giveaway!

Please contact me via my e-mail at with your mailing address so I can send your prize off into the mail on Monday. Congratulations and THANK YOU so much for sharing your wonderful ideas!