Handmade Thanksgiving Tablecloth

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner
Handmade Thanksgiving Tablecloth

Holidays provide us with the opportunity to take a break from our day-to-day lives and gather in celebration with our loved ones.

We get to catch up on all the little details of life. We get to share exciting news. We get to laugh and reminisce. And most likely, we get to eat!

With food being such an integral part of holiday gatherings, attention to the presentation of it can help create wonderful memories. I still remember watching my grandmother begin to prepare her dining room several days before the first guests would arrive. She would bring out her elegant white tablecloth and spread it out over the the adults' table. She began setting out fancy serving dishes, white china plates and bowls, and my favorite, gold flatware. I loved every second of those holiday gatherings with my extended family, and the meals are always the first thing I think of when I reminisce.

My own style is much different than my grandmother's. She grew up during the Great Depression and whenever the topic of antiques comes up, she states she grew up with all that "junk" when they didn't have any money and has no desire to have it sitting around in her house now! She likes elegant and shiny. I, on the other hand, love to imagine the history that goes along with the treasures, things that my grandmother considers junk, in my own home. A person would be hard pressed to find a new object in our house, so an elegant white tablecloth would be out of place.

Rather than buy a premade tablecloth this year, I decided to make my own. I designed it to be both fitting to my rustic decor but also customizable to each holiday throughout the year. I made 3 panels of equal size and connected them with removable strips of fabric. The middle panel will be replaced each holiday with a fabric that coordinates with the holiday. However, since I will continually use those end panels each holiday, I'm able to create memories for my own family just as my grandma did with her elegant white tablecloth.

Buying enough fabric for a tablecloth can be expensive. To keep the cost down, I purchased a $5 twin bed sheet to use for my 2 outer panels. An added bonus, I was able to utilize some of the hems of the sheet!

To construct a tablecloth like this one, begin by measuring your table's length. Decide how much space you would like to have between your 3 panels, double the number, and deduct this final number from the length of the table. Divide that number by 3. This will be the finished width of each panel. Add 2 inches to the width (1 inch for each side) to allow for seam allowances. If you have an edge that is already hemmed (a finished edge of a sheet) you do not need to add extra for a seam allowance along that side.

To determine the length of each panel, measure from the seat of your chair on one side of the table, up and over the top of the table, and down to the seat of a chair on the other side. Again add 1 inch per side to allow for seam allowances.
After cutting your panels, hem each edge by folding it over 1/2 inch, ironing to crease, folding over 1/2 inch again, and ironing again. Stitch each hem in place by sewing close to the fold closest to the center of the panel.

Next, determine the approximate placement of your buttonholes for the straps and lightly mark where the center of one would be. Fold the panel in half (short edges together) to find its center. Measure from the center of the panel to the buttonhole mark. This is the distance each of your buttonholes will be from the center of your panels.

At the buttonhole location, lightly create a 2 inch long mark (running parallel to the long edge of the panel) with the buttonhole mark being the center of this 2 inch long mark. Do this for each buttonhole, taking care to make each mark the same distance from the edges of panels. There will be 2 buttonholes on each side panel and 4 buttonholes on the center panel.

thanksgiving tablecloth buttonholes

Use your sewing machine's buttonhole feature to create the buttonholes. Use a small pair of Fiskars detail scissors, such as the No. 5 Micro-Tip Softgrip scissors, to snip the center of the buttonhole.

thanksgiving tablecloth straps

Lay the panels out on your table with the desired width between them. With the panels in place, measure the distance between corresponding buttonholes on 2 panels and multiply this number by 3. Each strap will be made by cutting 2 strips of fabric to this length by 2 inches wide. Using 2 of these strips, stitch around 3 sides, 1/4 inch from the edges. Be sure to backstitch when you start and stop. Turn the strip right side out and handstitch the open end closed.

Fold the strip in thirds and handsew a button in the center of one of the end sections. Measure your button diameter plus double its height. Add 1/4 inch to this number and make a buttonhole in the center of the section at the opposite end of the button end.

thanksgiving tablecloth

Slip the finished straps through the buttonholes, button them in place, and you are ready to begin creating holiday memories of your own. If you have left over material as I did, you can use it to make matching cloth napkins by following the tutorial found here.

Supply List

Enough fabric to create 3 panels sized to fit a table (see measuring directions in article); thread, 4 large buttons