An easy DIY tutorial for a raw edge linen tablecloth
I have a thing for nice linens. No doubt I inherited this penchant of mine directly from my Grandma who lived with us for the last 14 years of her life.
Grandma embroidered all our sheets and pillowcases and sewed many a napkin and tablecloth for our use. It’s because of Grandma that my kitchen has been basically paperless for the past 15 years or so.
I made linen cocktail napkins a wee bit back, and with Fall approaching, I’ve been hankering for a linen tablecloth as the canvas for my Thanksgiving table. I liked the washable linen I used for my cocktail napkins and decided that the same fabric would work just fine for a linen tablecloth.
So without further ado, here are my instructions to make a linen tablecloth and napkins.
My dining room table measures 42″ wide by 77″ long, so I bought 2.5 yards of fabric which is 58″ wide. In the perfect, Williams-Sonoma world my table cloth would’ve been closer to 70″ wide to give me a longer drop, but I have enough formal tablecloths and so I was fine with the drop being just a tad shorter.
I had initially planned to put a simple hem all the way around the tablecloth. But before I was going to do that, I wanted to wash it, so I just put in a loose zig zag on the raw edges. But, as is usually the case with me, something unexpected strikes my fancy and I change course.
Part of my zig zag stitch came loose in the wash and a wee bit of the raw edge became frayed…and I liked it! Keeping the edge frayed instead of hemmed also had the added benefit of not losing any further width in the hem.
A note about ‘washable’ linen. The linen I used is 55% linen and 45% rayon. The rayon helps the linen be a little more ‘drapey’ rather than ‘crisp’ and doesn’t wrinkle quite as much as 100% linen. It did shrink a wee bit in the wash, but not enough to be significant. I washed it cold water and tumble dried it on a very low heat. I can very easily see setting a table and not ironing this tablecloth. It has just a wee bit of scrunch to it when not ironed, but not enough to be considered ‘messy’.
Here’s What You Need To Make Your Linen Tablecloth and Napkins:
- Washable linen in desired length. I bought 2.25 yards for the tablecloth and another 1.5 yards for 8 18″ square napkins.
- Sewing Machine
- Thread in complimentary color
- Seam Ripper
- T-Square or L-Square Ruler
Here’s How to Make your Linen Tablecloth and Napkins:
- The hardest part of this whole project is getting your cuts straight. Line up the selvedge edge of your fabric with your T-Square or L-Square and cut so that the unfinished end is as straight as possible. No judgment on our very rusty L-square…Terry found it at a work site!
- I did not have one edge on any of the napkins or the tablecloth that was perfectly straight, so once I start pulling threads, I was really able to see how crooked I was. No problem…you can fix that later.
- Determine how wide you want your fringe. Now, if you’re not careful, you could pull too many out. If your sides are fantastically straight, you could run a thread along the sides before you start fringing and that would prevent the fringe/fray from going any further. But if you don’t know how straight your sides are until you start pulling threads, I wouldn’t sew that finishing stitch until the end.
- Once you have your edges as straight as possible, you can start pulling your threads…the fun part. You’ll notice that your selvage edges will have a thread, usually a contrasting color, running the length of the fabric. You’re going to have to get that thread out. I just went in with a seam ripper and ‘broke’ it at various points and was able to pick it up a pull it out in many different areas. Which reminds me that this part is tied with getting your cuts straight in terms of being the hardest part.
- For the fun of it, I kept the thread I pulled out of the tablecloth and napkins just to see how much I took out. Once I was done, I put the thread in an onion mesh bag and hung it on a tree outside so that my local birds can have linen-lined nests. When my 16-year old son saw what I was doing all he said was, “You are such a hippie” while he shook his head. I don’t know about that, it’d just seemed like it would be a sin to just throw it away.
- Once you’ve pulled your threads so that the shortest portion of your fringe is as long as you want all your fringe, run a seam just inside of the fringe on the tablecloth fabric to prevent any more unwanted ‘fringe-ing’. Sorry for the off color of this photo! I know not to have my sewing machine light on in photos, but had a lapse.
- Now you can cut your fringe so that it’s more even. I just eye-balled it, but you could use a gridded cutting mat or the L-Square if you’d prefer.
This is a seriously easy and relatively immediate gratification kind of project. Get started now for the holidays!
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