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Aug 19

Measure and sew a round tablecloth

There are so many things sewers can make that are just plain better than what you can find at the store. Add a beautiful touch to your home by making your own tablecloth. Think of the vast fabric options! And you can customize them to fit any table. This tutorial will show you how to measure, cut and sew a round tablecloth.


(Click fabrics for direct links for purchase at Warehouse Fabrics Inc.)

Monaco Dune

See below to determine fabric yardage.

The pattern

So how do you know how much fabric you’ll need?
First, measure the diameter of your table, which is, of course, the measurement through the center from end to end. Mine is 42″.
Next, you’ll want to determine the “drop” of your tablecloth, which is how far over the edge of the table it hangs. This can vary depending on formality and the type of table. A formal tablecloth, or a tablecloth for a side table, like a nightstand, may reach to the floor. For normal dining uses, you’ll want it to be from 8″-12″ long. I used 11″.

Let’s take a break, because I just have to say that every time I type the quote marks to represent inches or feet, I start thinking about that Stonehenge scene from “This Is Spinal Tap” where she makes an 18″ Stonehenge model for the concert set instead of an 18′ one because some fool got the quotes wrong. And then they have to get dwarfs to dance around it to make it look bigger. Do you want to watch it? Now we kinda have to watch it, don’t we?

I guess we should get back to work.

So we have our diameter and our drop. Now we need our hem. You can do a 1/2″ hem, or 1″. So, starting at one end of the tablecloth and going across to the other side:
hem (1″) + drop (11″) + diameter (42″) + drop (11″) + hem (1″) = 66″
or, to simplify the equation:
Diameter + 2(drop length) + 2(hem)

So my round tablecloth will be 66″ in diameter before hemming it. OK, so we’ve figured that out, but how much yardage do you need? Here’s the thing: Unless you have a tiny table, your final diameter will probably be wider than the width of the fabric you are using, so you’re going to need to piece this together. I’m going to need several pieces of fabric that are 66″ long. I cut mine a bit longer than that because I wanted to be sure I had enough. So I cut two pieces 70″ long.
If my fabric is 56″ wide (but I did pre-shrink first, so it was a bit less, plus I cut off the selvages), then I’ll do fine with two widths of fabric, with plenty to spare. So I need two pieces that are the normal width of the fabric that are 70″ long. That’s 140″ total, and dividing that by 36″ (a yard), I need 3.9 yards.

**Please keep in mind that if you have a fabric where you need to match repeats, you’ll need extra yardage depending on the repeats. Please see this post for more information.**

The process

Lay out your big piece of prewashed/preshrunk fabric. From one end, measure the length you determined above. Mine was 70″. My unhemmed diameter is 66″, but I gave myself a few inches leeway.
Use your first piece of fabric to measure your second piece. Now you have two pieces the same length. (In my example, 70″ long each.)
Take one of those lengths and set it aside. Take the other length and fold it in half, lengthwise. So now it’s half the width of the fabric but still 70″ long.
Cut the fabric in half lengthwise but cutting on the fold. Then trim off the selvages. So now you have two pieces that are 70″ long by half the width of the fabric, and one piece that’s 70″ long by the full width of the fabric — but trim the selvages off of that wide piece, too.
With your wide piece in the middle, sew each of the narrow pieces to either side.
So you end up with this.
I serged the seams so it would look nicer and wouldn’t fray.
Now fold the fabric in half so that the fold is in the middle of the wide piece and the two seams line up on top of each other. I smoothed the wrinkles out better than it shows in this photo before proceeding.
Now fold it the other way so that it’s in quarters and the folded corner is at the bottom right.
You’ll measure out from that folded corner. I like to pin a tape measure here. Honestly, if your accuracy is off by a touch, it really won’t matter on this particular project. Also see our tutorial on creating the perfect circle.
Start at one side and measure the RADIUS of your circle, which is ONE-HALF the diameter determined above. We are measuring from the center point of the tablecloth, so we only need half of the measurement.
I am doing 33″. Using a fabric marker, mark this point.
Continue around the arc, measuring every inch or so, thus creating a dotted line. Then cut on this dotted line. When you open it up, you’ll have a circle.
You might think that hemming a circle will leave you with little folds and gathers. Sometimes that happens in projects with smaller diameters where the hem width to diameter ratio is bigger. But in this case, it’s such a big circle that you won’t have that problem. I left room for a hem that’s 1/2″ (1/2″ folded under, then folded under another 1/2″). In reality, I did more of a 3/8″ hem. So fold it under and press.
Fold it under again, press and pin all the way around.
Sew the hem. Wasn’t that easy?

Other views

(Click for bigger views)

  • Marion Wilson

    I love learning something like this, it can be used for other things like a rounded valance. I am going to try this for the table cloth first.
    Thanks! Marion

  • Steph

    Any tips for sewing an oval tablecloth?

  • Robyn

    Definitely has lots of uses! Thanks for reading.

  • Robyn

    Hi, Steph. Good question! Treat it like a rectangular table but then round off the corners. Use something round to shape each corner, the way you might use a cup to round off the corners of something small, but on a larger scale.

  • Julie

    Made my first round tablecloth today thanks to this tutorial! THANKS! I love when people take the time to post photos, clear instructions, etc. that helps make my life easier! Props to you!

  • Glad it helped, Julie!

  • my diameter is 41″ and length is 28″ for my round table. so i have 98″ with 1″ seam allowance included. i only have 4yds of fabric. will this be enough? according to your calculations; i got 5.4yds i will be needing. i need to know how to join and cut the fabric and if the 4yds can somehow work. please advice. thank you.

  • Sherina,
    It depends on a couple of things. If you aren’t worried about matching the pattern on the fabric so that it looks like one continuous piece, you can get away with less fabric. The other thing to keep in mind is that although one width of fabric isn’t enough to go across, because it’s a round cloth, you won’t necessarily need to add a lot of fabric to either side. For instance, with mine, I just needed a small piece on either side. But yours is a lot wider than mine.
    Another thing — is your drop really 28″? That’s pretty long. I was wondering if it was 14″ on either side. Which would mean your diameter is 41″+14″+14″+1″ = 70. That might make a difference in your yardage needs if there was a mathematical error.

  • Great film clip – and very useful advice about the tablecloth – thanks

  • Robyn

    You’re welcome! Thanks for stopping by.

  • Great tutorial. I really thankful to you for this awesome and useful post where you provide me unknown information. Nice work.

  • Pingback: Finishing Touches in the Living Room | NaptownLove()

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