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).
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.
Secure this end with painters' tape or masking tape.
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.
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!