With the onset of winter here in south-eastern Australia, I find myself ‘pottering’ inside a lot more – reading, doing crafty stuff and generally trying to avoid anything that resembles cleaning, cooking or folding clothes (I hate them all with a passion).
A winter activity I do enjoy is sewing – not mending – but creating something new. I get all inspired by crafty stuff I see on a recent Pinterest binge and hey presto – I’m undusting the sewing machine and wielding the sewing scissors with wild abandon. My latest idea has been to ‘pretty up’ my kitchen table with a new tablecloth and I found plenty of DIY tablecloth sewing tutorials on Pinterest! So I set to work planning my new tablecloth and then had an (inspired) idea to sew it with bird patterned fabric. Hot diggity!! How could it get more perfect?
The following post is my attempt to inspire you to do the same!
Sewing not your thing? You might want to skip this one 😉
Step 1. Measure The Table
As obvious as it might seem, its important to know how much fabric you will require BEFORE you go shopping for it. My closest fabric shop is a one hour drive, so I’ve got to be organised here!
Tables come in all shapes and sizes and mine is bigger than most (ahem..if I was a man I’d be sounding rather boastful about now.) Custom made for fitting my large family and extras guests – it easily seats 10 – the table top measures 8′ x 4′ (2.4 x 1.2m).
But you will need MORE fabric than this! You will need to allow extra fabric length for the tablecloth to hang over the edges on all sides and add extra for a ‘seam allowance’.
I calculated for an 8″ overhang and a 1″ seam allowance for all four sides.
My final measurements were 9’6″ x 5’6″ (2.9 x 1.7m). This is (roughly) how much fabric you will need.
Step 2. Fabric Selection
Off I went to the fabric store with a vague idea of what type of fabric I wanted – bird patterned. At least I knew how much fabric I wanted!
I hadn’t given any thought or consideration to what type of fabric I should select, and it was soon obvious that there was so many to choose from. Cottons, synthetic blends, decorator fabric, upholstery fabric…Aaahhhh
What to choose?
In the end, I decided that for the purpose of my tablecloth sewing project, I needed a durable, washable, close weave fabric that would withstand the rigors of daily use and regular washing.
I also realised that fabric on the roll (known as a bolt) comes in common widths of 45″, 54″ or 60″ (1.14m, 1.35m or 1.5m). With this in min,d I knew that my preferred 8″ edge overhang was not going to be possible, but it didn’t really matter, a shorter overhang would still be fine.
A 60″ tapestry weave upholstery fabric with an interesting bird pattern caught my eye. It was a machine washable, 98% polyster 2% rayon with a beautiful lustrous sheen. And at half price! As a bonus, the reverse side of the fabric was just as nice as the front, in a funky sort of way. I bought 9’8″ (118 inches or 3 metres)
Check it out online here.
Of course, there is plenty of other awesome birdy theme fabric out there! Did you know you can buy fabric through Amazon? They really do sell everything! Take a look at these nice designs.
A tip: Most tablecloths are made with any pattern being non directional – meaning that the pattern won’t be upside down at any seating position. I wasn’t fussed too much about a particular pattern or color and was happy to have all my birds aligned to one direction.
Front side of fabric:
And the reverse side:
Step 3. Fabric Preparation
Before you get cracking on the sewing machine, it’s a good idea to do some fabric preparation first. Did I mention that I’m no sewing expert? Well I’m not, and I like to cut corners, so I skipped the prewash step. Skip it too at your own peril.
Square Up The Raw Edge
The cut edge (raw edge) of the fabric is often not cut perfectly straight and to get a perfectly symmetrical rectangle of fabric, you might need to straighten up the raw edges. You can do this by folding the fabric length in half so that the raw edges meet. Align the selvages (also known as selvedge) of the fabric (the non-cut side edges) together. This will highlight whether the raw edges are uneven and need to squared up to an even edge.
Once the raw edges are even it is a good idea to sew a simple zig zag stitch along those edges to minimise fraying during the next step – prewashing.
Some fabrics have a tendency to shrink after washing. Shrinkage also occurs to some fabrics if dried at a hot temperature, such as in a hot clothes drier.
To minimize the chance of ending up with a tablecoloth that shrinks after the first wash, it’s recommended to prewash, dry and iron the fabric according to manufacturer instructions.
Now we get to the fun part! It’s time to pin up the edges of our fabric in order to form a nice finished edge.
As mentioned earlier I allowed a one inch hem allowance for each side of the fabric.
With the wrong side of the fabric facing up, I measured and folded over a 1/2 inch of fabric and then folded that over again by another 1/2inch and pinned it – effectively making a double folded hem with the edge of the fabric hidden.
Here’s how it looks:
Step 4. Sewing
Sewing the hems on your tablecloth should be fairly straightforward. A plain, straight stitch and a steady hand is all that is required! I’m assuming that this sewing project isn’t your first attempt at using a sewing machine. If it is – good for you – hopefully you have already learnt the basic steps of setting up your machine and feel confident in being able to control the fabric to sew a straight stitch.
Now get your stitch on…
- Check your sewing bobbin to make sure you have a full bobbin of the required colored thread! There’s nothing worse than running out of thread mid hem or having an unexpected and mismatched color!
- If your stitches are uneven, overly tight or loose, or if the needle breaks when sewing, check that the sewing needle size is suitable for the thickness of your fabric. A heavier fabric such as the one I have used required a size 18 (No 110) needle.
- Use the hemming guide on the sewing plate to help you get a straighter stitched hem.
Below: Sewing the hem with the aid of the built in hemming guide.
- Remove pins as you go.
- The corners of the tablecloth will be bulky due to the multiple thickness of the fabric. You may need to ‘help’ pull through the fabric to prevent it from getting stuck in one spot and sewing a hundred stitches on top of each other. Just don’t pull too hard as this can damage your fabric, break your needle and generally upset your machine.
Below: A successfully straight hem with nearly invisible stitch line.
Enjoy Your New Bird Pattern Tablecloth!
The hard work – (it really wasn’t that hard) is all done and you should now be admiring your new DIY bird patterned tablecloth!
Here’s a pic of mine in situ on that extra large table. I love it!
Sadly the rest of the family aren’t as keen as I am on my choice of fabric… I think I heard mutterings of ‘why the heck do we need even more bird stuff in the kitchen…’
What do you think?
Til next time,