How to Make a (Very) Quick Table Runner for the Holidays

comments (26) November 12th, 2014     

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MaryRay Mary Ray, contributor
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A remnant of a heavy jacquard is the perfect fabric for my runner. It softens up beautifully after washing but retains some shine and has enough body to hold its shape.
Finish the long edges, turn under once, and topstitch in place.
Fold in half lengthwise, right sides together, and sew with a 1/2-inch seam.
A remnant of a heavy jacquard is the perfect fabric for my runner. It softens up beautifully after washing but retains some shine and has enough body to hold its shape.

A remnant of a heavy jacquard is the perfect fabric for my runner. It softens up beautifully after washing but retains some shine and has enough body to hold its shape.

Photo: Mary Ray

This project is so quick it's almost embarrassing. But, let's face it, during the busy holiday season we need some fast projects, too. All it takes is a great piece of fabric and some thread. Not so easy to find? Check out decorator fabric stores. Or look for used draperies at a resale shop. You don't need much for this project, and you can always piece a couple of compatible fabrics together. Keep in mind that home dec fabrics are often stiff because of added sizing or other applied finishes. However, prewashing once or twice on the gentle cycle and tumble drying will soften most fabrics while maintaining the body. And, since you want to be able to wash the runner after each use, prewashing is a good idea no matter what type of fabric you choose. I recommend washing a test piece of the fabric first-at least a 6-inch square. That way, if the fabric doesn't respond well to washing you'll be able to use it for something else.


pillow More home decorating projects:

• How to Make a Snowstorm
• Make Leaf-Print Napkins for Your Holiday Table
Applique a Throw Pillow

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There's no standard size for a runner; it all depends on your table, but be sure you straighten the fabric before you start by pulling a thread or squaring from the selvage. If you need to seam two lengths together, I suggest dividing the second length in half, adding a piece to each end of the full length, rather than having one seam in the center of the runner. This runner starts with a long rectangle and ends up with a point at each end.

1. Hem the long side edges. If the fabric is somewhat heavy, serge or zigzag the raw edge and turn under 1/2 inch and topstitch in place so you have the least amount of bulk.

  Finish the long edges, turn under once, and topstitch in place.

2. To create the point, fold in half lengthwise, right sides together, and stitch across. Press the seam open. Turn right sides out and press.

  Fold in half lengthwise, right sides together, and sew with a 1/2-inch seam.
  Press the seam open and finish if necessary. The selvage creates the finish on my runner.
  Turn right sides out and press for the perfect point.

3. Set the table and enjoy!


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Comments (26)

genalorainne writes: What's embarrassing is that I haven't came up with this idea on my own.
Posted: 12:33 pm on April 30th
OzAnnie writes: What a wonderful, easy project! Thank you so much.
Posted: 5:55 pm on November 14th
Loey writes: It works because the opposite corners of the end are now attached to one another. Pick up a piece of paper, fold it lengthwise, as instructed, then put tape over the short edges to hold them together. Open the fold, to lay it flat, and you will see that you have to fold the end into a point.
Posted: 7:29 am on November 17th
CountryGal2 writes: I think a light bulb just went off and I got it! Kly,I was confused with it too. Sew the point shape and turn right side out. Voila!
Posted: 7:39 am on November 22nd
CountryGal2 writes: I am a visual person. I am having difficulty with this pattern that seems so simple to others. Can anyone give me step by step in detail please. I would really like to make this. Thanks!
Posted: 7:33 am on November 22nd
margepoc writes: KLY, I don't know if you have figured it out or if you have given up at this point, but I have another way of explaining the technique. First you take a rectangle and you fold it lengthwise, then you take the corners on the short side and line them up and sew across the short end. When you turn the side out, then you have a point. If you still cannot picture it, do a search for a video for "dresden plate" quilt. The video for dresden plate quilt blocks often show you sewing the top short end of the fan pieces together lengthwise and then inverting into a point. It is almost like you're using the short fabric ends to create a self facing. I hope this helped.
Posted: 1:56 am on August 24th
kcastillo0319 writes: What a great, quick project. I too had a difficult time visualizing how sewing across the short end was going to create the point, so I folded some paper. Works like a charm. 1) Hem the long edges. 2) Fold lengthwise. 3) Seam across the short end. 4) Open and push the point out. For those who don't want to sew the short seam, you could actually just fold the triangle at each end, and hand tack where the two edges meet. I think the directions on this page are faster, though, as I would always prefer machine sewing over hand sewing.

Thanks for the idea, and like the others, I'm going to raid my stash. I'm making gifts for Christmas (to open early when it's actually Christmas fabric so they can use it on Christmas day) and I think I'll do one of these in Christmas fabric for a friend. Thanks again. Kay
Posted: 9:42 am on November 20th
McCarty writes: I just made one in 15 minutes - start to finish! Great quick project. I think I'll make one every holiday, or every time I want a quick pick-me-up look. Thanks so much! Now off to look through my stash for those tassels I never used. They'll make a great addition to this project.
Posted: 11:04 pm on November 19th
AllyKatKids writes: You don't sew the long sides together, you turn under the edges of the long sides. Next step is to fold in half lengthwise, wrong sides together and then sew across bottom. When you turn fabric to right side it folds around itself and then forms the perfect point. Amazing. I love it.
Posted: 6:52 pm on November 19th
mobile52 writes: How do you make the point on both ends, when you sew both ends you can't turn it right side out.
Posted: 11:39 am on April 21st
Judy2345 writes: This table runner looks so easy.....but where do I put the seam to make the pointed ends. To say I am brain dead would be an understatement. I have folded paper and fabric and can't figure out how to do it.

Posted: 9:51 am on November 25th
CaroleA writes: I could not figure it out I read it a couple of times then I took a piece of paper and folded it across did this double so it would stay and I opened it up and sure eneough there was a perfect point, this can be used many ways in sewing. Thank you
Posted: 8:28 am on November 25th
WearyMary writes: Wow, great pattern thank you! Yes, that does make a perfect point, and I haven't even made it yet. All you need is a little imagination, and you'll see how it clearly makes a perfect point :) When you open the right sides up, you'll fold the wrong sides down and over, creating a triangle on the back, and a perfect point on the top.
Posted: 1:31 pm on September 19th
RedbirdRobin writes: I'm so glad I found this on the web. I was not sure sewing straight across the end would get a point, but walah! it does. I used a Christmas tablecloth 120" by 60" that I bought at Marshall's for $12.99 and made valances for my kitchen windows, 1/2 bath windown, doorwall and a table runner with fabric left over. I like to use tablecloths because they are cheaper than buying fabric and already have some hems. Thanks for the great directions. Sometimes we just have to trust.
Posted: 3:47 pm on December 10th
Kinde1 writes: Don't overlook the box stores and linen departments in department stores for fabric. Often you can find a small size oblong or square on sale (I've paid $10 or less) that you can use for the runner. Just cut a rectangle the width and length of runner you need first. Then make matching napkins with any leftovers. Just hem or serge the napkin squares.
Posted: 10:53 am on December 6th
ginaT writes:
The instructions are correct but maybe a photo of the reverse side of the runner showing the 'pointed selvedged seam' would have helped the visualisation more.
Especially for beginner sewers :)

A very pleasing project that is simple and easy to do (once mastered)that can be made spectacular with yummy fabric.

Now to raid my stash ;)
Posted: 5:24 pm on November 24th
KharminJ writes: Sangl has the right idea - one more photo, plus add the words "across the ends" to the last seaming directions. It's a natural jump to assume you're also sewing up the long side, but you don't. It took me a couple of reads to notice, too.

Posted: 4:29 pm on November 24th
conshef writes: What a great table runner and what an easy way to get a good point at each end.

Your directions are NOT way off base, they are right on. Kinderspirit needed to actually make the item before critizing the method. Their engineering mind obviously didn't turn and press the end after sewing the seam.

Thanks for a great project!
Posted: 11:49 am on November 24th
MaryRay writes: Hey Kly,
Sorry about the confusion. But, trust me, if you fold the runner in half lengthwise, right sides together, stitch and turn right side out you will get a point. Try it on a scrap of fabric just pinning the ends together. Or on a piece of paper, fold the corners toward the center and you get the same result.

Posted: 11:18 am on November 24th
sah writes: just read the instructions for the table runner. directions for the point are correct. when you turn the fabric right side out, the seam just sewn will lay down the middle of the runner and make that perfect point after pressing.
Posted: 10:19 am on November 23rd
kinderspirit writes: I'm just a novice at sewing without a pattern and I too, KLY, noticed these directions are WAY off base.

Look, if you're gonna make posts of patterns please make them complete, or perhaps don't make them at all.

I'm just glad I have a engineering mind and quickly noticed that you're making a box and not a point.
Posted: 3:44 am on November 23rd
klattimore writes: Thank you for the idea, I'm having my first Thanks Giving this year at my house and I think the beautiful table runner you helped me make will take the pressure of the turkey if it goes to Heck! I't s really pretty I used an old curtain of bark cloth and put a tassle on each end. Beautiful! Thank's again.
Posted: 8:18 pm on November 22nd
Tina_Hilton writes: Whoops - I meant to post the following comment-

What a wonderful use of the home dec remnants I have squirreled away. Thank you for another elegant project.
Posted: 12:14 pm on November 22nd
Tina_Hilton writes: So cute! I have always wanted a felting machine but have resisted because of space constraints.
Posted: 12:09 pm on November 22nd
Sangl writes: Hi Mary! Love the idea----if you add one more photo, between the last two photos, showing how you press the 45 degree angles into each end, I think it will clear up the last step for KLY.
Posted: 3:01 am on November 22nd
KLY writes: I'm sorry, but I just can't see how this could possibly work. If I sew directly across the top and bottom edges the way the picture shows, I will get a box, not a point. When I iron it it will be a rectangle. How do you iron it?
Posted: 2:19 am on November 22nd
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