Wednesday, March 14, 2012

One Yard Wednesday - Easy Spring Table Runner

Remember that sheet we made the tablecloth from?  You might want to dig out the scraps...

So fish out the remnants of that sheet we made the tablecloth from.  Then find some fat quarters, half yards, or pieces that are close to fat quarters and half-yards.  Or some jelly roll strips.

Here's what I pulled out.
Obviously, all your fabrics need to be prewashed and pressed.  I knew mine had been washed recently, so I only had to iron.

Trim your sheet fabric so that you have a long rectangle by removing the curved portion.

Then remove the side and bottom seams.

Now, I have to warn you.  This is where you have to use math.  I know.  I'm sorry.  Aren't you glad I'm not dropping this in your lap on a Monday morning before you had your coffee?!

Measure the table you are making the table runner for.  I did mine for my dining room table, which is about 61" long.  Now decide how long in relation to the length of your table you want your runner to be.  I wanted mine to be most of the length of the table.  Since I like numbers that are simple, I decided I wanted my runner to be about 3/4 that length.  Forty-eight (48) is roughly 3/4 of 61, so I cut the sheet fabric to 48 1/2".  This includes a 1/4" seam allowance. I did this by placing the fold at 24 1/4".  The photo shows 25", but I'm sure you get the idea. Cut the open end at your 0 line of your cutting mat.

Then, you need to cut the fabric you will use as trim around the outside edges.  And here's more math.  I really am sorry...

First, measure your fabric.  This is the fabric I had originally decided to use.  You can see from the photo that it's 33" long by 13" wide.
If I decided that I wanted my border to be 2", I'd want to cut my strips 2 1/2" wide.  I also need enough length to go all the way around my new giant rectangle.  Remember calculating perimeter in geometry?
2L + 2W = P

For mine that works up to be
[2 times 49.5] + [2 times 9] = 
99 + 18 = 117"

This is great because:
I know - you are shouting "WAIT A MINUTE! WAIT A MINUTE!  There are two different equations in that photo!"

Here's how it all fits together.  I want my strips to be 2 1/2" wide.  My fabric is 13" wide.  By dividing the width by the width of the strips, I'll get 5 strips when I cut.  That's a decent number of strips!  So far so good, right?  Ok, these 5 strips are 33" long.  When I sew these together, I need to know that when they are all combined, they will be long enough to go all the way around my table runner.  I need 117", and with this piece of fabric, I've got 165".  That's more than enough,even with seam allowances.

When I looked at my table runner, though, it just didn't seem wide enough for my taste.  I upped my border to 4 1/2".  Guess what - this piece of fabric wasn't going to be big enough.  So I found one that was.  If this is the case at your house, there are options.  You can do what I did, which was find a bigger piece in my stash, so my border would be all one color.  You can also use oddments of fabric to make a patchwork border.  You can do the sides one color and the ends another.  It's your table runner, so you decide what you like best.  If you need to, audition your fabrics BEFORE you cut them.  Take the extra few minutes to be sure that you will get your desired results.

So back to our project!

I cut 4 strips of fabric, 40-ish" long and 4 1/2" wide.  I sewed them together, two at a time, using chain piecing.  If you've never heard of this technique, you will LOVE IT!  It can save you so much time when you are piecing quilt blocks, projects using jelly roll strips, and all kinds of other places.  I even use it when I'm making the body part of Little Dresses and the legs of Little Boy Shorts when I'm doing a whole bunch of them at once.  Like I said - it can be such a timesaver you will find new and creative ways to apply it to your sewing.  Oh, and it also saves you a boatload of thread, which also saves you money.  BONUS!

Chain piecing means that instead of stopping your sewing, cutting the thread, and then starting another piece, you simply do a few stitches after you go across the end of one set of pieces and start the next set of pieces. It looks like this.

So you've sewn your strips together with a 1/4" seam allowance.  Press the seams open.  Find the center on the lengthwise side of your sheet rectangle, and match the seam to that center point.
Using a 1/4" seam allowance, sew the two pieces together starting at one end of the sheet piece and going all the way to the other end on the lengthwise side.  Trim off the ends of your accent fabric at the edge of the sheet fabric.  Don't worry - you'll use these shorter pieces in a minute.

 Press your seam towards the border fabric.  Then, press the raw (unstitched) edge under 1/4".
Fold the border strip in half, with the pressed edge overlapping the seam.  Press.  It should look like the border stip on the left.

Pin this edge if desired.  To stitch, you can use just a plain straight stitch, a zigzag stitch, or a decorative stitch.  I chose a decorative stitch, and stitched the border in place with the right (front) side facing.  How you sew this closed will be up to you.  Trust your judgment - you'll make the right decision.

We are going to repeat this procedure on a smaller scale for the ends.  Use one of your small leftover pieces from your side borders, and center it on one end of your table runner.  Fold in the sides to make a more finished edge.  Pin in place, and sew the seam with a 1/4" seam allowance.

Press the seam towards the border fabric, and press a 1/4" hem on the raw edge, just like the long side.  Fold in half and press, just like before.

Now this is where you can do this a few different ways.  You can straight stitch the seam.  You can zigzag it or use a decorative stitch.  Also, you can choose where you stitch.  I chose to only do the decorative stitch in the center because I am also using it on the outside edge as well.  You can decide where and how you'd like to stitch.  Don't you feel so empowered?!

This is what mine looks like at this point.
To make the outside border, I turned the pins you see above 90 degrees to hold the edges in place, then I did a decorative stitch all the way around the outside edge.  You can do straight stitch, zigzag or whatever your beautiful heart desires.  This stitching will not only make your piece look more finished, but it will close those side gaps on the ends.  If you are concerned about the spaces in the seams on the back on the short sides, you can take a needle and thread and hand-tack them with matching thread (so your stitches don't show on the front).  I chose not to - I don't mind some embroidery now and then, but I'm not that crazy about hand-sewing.  That's why I have a machine.

So let's discuss a few options that we haven't already talked about.  Don't have the leftovers of a sheet?  Use fabric from your stash, cutting it and seaming it in the center if needed.  You can also use a pillowcase that's been cut apart - remove the side seam and about 1/2" off the center fold, and also the hemmed end.  Similar to what we did for the Little Dresses.  We already talked about making a pieced/patchwork border.  Feel free to change up the size based on what you like and what you have on hand.  We talked about stitching options - use matching or contrasting thread, whichever you'd prefer.  I loved how this baby pink thread added to the vintage feel of the rose fabric.  I could very easily have used the "Boy Scout Pants Green" I used on the tablecoth originally.  Make yourself a bunch of these, one for every season.  Make them smaller to use as placemats.  Use a sheet to make a rectangular tablecloth, and use this technique to add a fancy border.  Use this border technique to add a fabric hem to a denim skirt, or an apron.

Have fun!



Rose Jesky said...

This is grate I love finding ideas for all those extra fabric scraps I have been keeping. Your blog is so grate! I'm your newest follower. I would love it if you came and followed me to @

Farmgirl Heidi said...

That table runner is BEAUTIFUL Ann! I cannot lie, the math part hurt my brain a bit, but I loved the fun way you wrote about doing all the math. You kept me in stitches all the way through this awesome tutorial. Thank you.

Katmom said...


Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

I'm so hopeless with sewing. You made a lovely runner!

Nancy said...

I love this! What a great way to either use up that last bit of material or those little bundles they sell at the sewing stores. Well done and thanks for sharing at Rural Thursdays. Hope to see you again. :)

Jenn Erickson said...

Thank you so much for sharing your talent and creativity on “A Little Birdie Told Me…” Tuesday this past week! It means a lot to have you be one of our birds of a feather! I hope the party has brought some good things your way.
Jenn/Rook No. 17

Jacqueline @ said...

What a neat idea for scraps! Your tutorial is very helpful, and the finished piece is lovely :) Thank you for sharing it!

Trish - Mom On Timeout said...

So cute! And perfect for spring :) Thank you so much for sharing at Mom On Timeout!