Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

April 4, 2012

DIY Tablecloth From Too-Narrow (Hilarious) Fabric

This is highly classified, so you have to promise to keep this between us.  Promise?  Years ago I bought a few meters of this hilarious cowboy fabric because I liked the colours, it was on major clearance (a fabric store was having a going-out-of-business sale) and, well, the cowboy really looks like my father-in-law.  I'm not sure if he'd be amused (I'm thinking no), but I just thought it was so hilarious.  Still do, actually.  I'd show you a photo of him, but there's no need.  He looks just like this (the biggest cowboy, hat in the air):

For years I haven't known what to do with the fabric, but I'm really getting into tablecloths because teak is a softer, slightly fussier wood and if one more person sets their drink down beside their place mat, on to the teak (argh!) I will scream or cry.  So tablecloths are my new best friends.

This fabric was too narrow to just hem the edges and call it a day (darn), so here's the clever way my Mom & I pieced it together:

Cutting out & Piecing Together the Fabric:

We cut the fabric into four quarters, but had to have the fabric pattern direction change to make it work.  So, if you're sitting at the table, the tablecloth in front of you is from two pieces and to your right the pattern is right side up.  To your left, it is vertical so, to the person beside you, it's the right way up on their right.  Make sense? 

Here's a sneak peak at the finished product for a sense of orientation, although you can arrange the pattern any way you desire (you could even piece together scraps of different prints):

Making a Fell Seam:

Then we sewed together two quarters and repeated, so we had two halves.  Then we sewed the two halves together.

My Mom did a really fancy (to me, anyway) seam so that underneath the tablecloth you don't have a bunch of threads and mess.  It is called a "fell seam" and the result looks like the seam along the outside of your jeans.

Here's how:

1. Sew two pieces of fabric together, leaving a generous seam allowance.
2. Once sewn, trim one layer of fabric after the seam.
3. It should look like this.
4. Fold the longer side in half and use it to cover the cut side.
5. Iron the folded edge over the trimmed edge.
6. Then iron it flat against the fabric.
7. Lastly, sew the folded edge flat onto the fabric.

When it's done, it looks like this:

Hemming with Single Fold Bias Tape:

To make it easier to hem a curve (my tablecloth is round, but you can make a square or rectangular one and use the mitered corner tutorial), we used single fold bias tape.  Iron it, because it will have kinks from the packaging.

1. Pin down one edge, to the right side of the fabric, following the curve.
2. Sew in place.
3. Check to make sure it is sewn down everywhere and it nice and neat (no puckering, etc).
4. Sew all the way around and then overlap the ends.
5. Flip the bias tape to the wrong side (the same action you do to make a regular hem) and iron in place.
6. Sew the bias to the fabric, sewing close to the edge. 

 And then it looks like this:

Now I have a super funky tablecloth to protect the teak!

Here it is all set and ready for a meal.  It looks cute with my turquoise and green pieces:

My dear, sweet mother is going to sew some napkins, too (using this tutorial) but for now I think these vintage yellow ones look so sweet.  The little embroidered flower tones down the cowboy-ness, although I'm not trying to make it more feminine.  The feminist in me loves that I'm rocking a fabric likely made for a little boy's room.

And here's my old-lady secret: I use a vinyl table covering underneath the fabric for added protection.  Really messy folks (you know who you are) just get the vinyl. . .



  1. This fabric is fantastic... such a fun surprise & colour in your room! With 4 monkeys I too would be adding the vinyl underneath. ;-)

    1. Thanks! Yup, the vinyl is pretty cool. Makes me super eerily calm when spills do happen. I'm all, whatever, no worries . . .

  2. Hilarious! The fabric has fantastic colors and I really do like the print. It's totally OK to be OCD about your lovely table. Awesome tutorial!

    1. Thanks!!

      It is hilariously unexpected, right? I'm trying to add more "fun" elements.

  3. I love it. I was recently at Crafty Planet in NE Minneapolis to buy fabric for chair cushions, and I think I spied this fabric. I love it with your painting and the general serenity of your home decor. Nice job, Tanya!

    1. Thanks!!

      You really spotted it? That's awesome. I bought this about 10 years ago (so shameful, I'm a major procrastinator) so it's neat that it is still in print.

  4. Love the cowboy fabric. It's the perfect touch of whimsy and seems to go with the painting behind your table like they were made for each other. Nice tutorial!

  5. I'm all for anything in your house that makes you smile (smirk) everytime you see it. I have sons, we have vinyl. Nuff said ;)

  6. Awesome- I love your funky tablecloth. If I had a teak table I'd be pretty adamant about protecting it too.

  7. hard core cowboys are soooo cool. My life would definitely be better if I had them on my table ... who's wouldn't? Great sewing tutorial ... it's scary how much you make me feel like I could actually attempt sewing.

    1. Thanks!! How about if I also chant, "do it, do it, do it"? Enough peer pressure to take a stab at it?

  8. First, I LOVE that painting in your dining room. Second, thanks so much for this tutorial. Our dining room table -- also made from super sensitive wood -- is 44 1/2 inches wide, so I was trying to figure out how to piece together my own tablecloth from 44" wide fabric. Adore the cowboys.

    1. Thanks! The painting is by my Hubby's grandfather: Bert Weir.

      I'm so happy the tutorial helped!

  9. I LOVE Cowboy Print Fabric... (thought I was the only one)... I once found an old cowboy & Indian print on a man's shirt at a yard sale... cut it up into as many squares as I could get and pieced squares of denim in between to make a small lap quiltlining the back w/ a faded maroon cloth. I have no use for this lap quilt, but I just love to look atit because of the unique antique cowboy print. Glad to know I'm not the only one who appreciates these old cowboy prints...Great tutorial. You are my kind of girl.... Hugs, Sherry in Fl.

    1. I thought I was the only one!! I'm so happy to no longer be alone. Your quilt sounds amazing - I love the idea of mixing in denim. I really wish I knew how to quilt because it's such a great use for leftovers. Thanks for your comment - you made my day!


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