18 June 2013

DIY wedding week 2013: making custom table linens

The third wedding week, celebrating our third wedding anniversary, continues!

Given my well-documented love of neutrals, it probably comes as no surprise that I had great difficulty choosing wedding colors. COLORS. You know, those tones I avoid using in my d├ęcor lest they make my eye twitch? While I can appreciate a good blue or green, and occasionally dabble in red, there were literally no colors I could get excited about. The only thing I liked was NO COLOR.

I realize that’s weird. I’m sorry, I know.

At the same time, the idea of a black and white wedding was also unappealing because it seemed so stark and boring. So I dwelled and fretted until I came up with the solution that would eventually serve me well for decorating our home later: I would stick with neutrals, but have wedding textures and patterns. My texture of choice was lace. And my pattern of choice, as it was for many 2010 brides? Damask.


(Even our cake was neutral but textured!)

Damask was everywhere in our wedding. The invitations had little damask ornaments, the programs had damask binding, but the most obvious damask was in our table linens. I wanted black and ivory (NOT black and white, that is TOTALLY DIFFERENT, DUH) damask linens! But I didn’t want to pay the $15-20 per table runner that most sellers wanted.

Thank goodness my mom can sew! But thank goodness I did the research and math to make it easy on her. Here’s how we teamworked our beautiful table linens!

First, do yourself a favor and choose a pattern or color that comes in outdoor fabric. Waverly makes several beautiful ones, including the pattern we chose!


P. Kaufman and Premier Prints also make some favorites of mine. And I’m sourcing these at Online Fabric Store, where I buy a lot of my fabrics. No paid endorsements, I just like them!


sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

No worries, there are plenty of solid colors if you’re more a color person than a pattern person. Just make sure it’s OUTDOOR FABRIC. I cannot stress that enough. Why? Because it’s thick enough to require no lining. Our ivory runners were on black tablecloths, but no black showed through because it was so thick.


Trust me, outdoor fabric is totally the way to go!

If you do want to make runners out of patterned outdoor fabric, there’s something else important to think about. Check out the horizontal repeat:


The width of the horizontal repeat – and the width of the fabric bolt – tells you how many runners you should make, and how wide they should be. The fabric I chose had a 13.5” repeat in a 54”-wide bolt, which mean we should make four runners per width of fabric to have the pattern centered nicely (13.5 x 4 = 54).

As for the length, our tables were 60” across, so we chose to make 90” runners to have a bit of a drop on either side. 90” is 2.5 yards, so 5 yards of fabric would make eight runners, and ten yards would make sixteen. Get it? And price check: ten yards of fabric is approximately a hundred dollars, which comes out to $6.25 per runner. Can’t find runners for that price on Etsy!

I don’t have a photo of the runners alone, so instead you have to see it with my cute cousins-in-law in the background. Both the runners and they are beautiful, yeah?



We ordered a few extra yards to make the cake table coverlet (a 48” square) and a few short and wide runners for some other tables (three per width, so the pattern wasn’t centered... but nobody would notice but me. And my mom.)


Finally, you may have noticed that pretty black edging along our runners. That was our shortcut to keep my mom from having to hem ALL the edges. Instead of using pricey bias tape, I bought a spool of 1.5” wide satin ribbon, and my mom folded it over and stitched it right on.


Granted, this required a bit of skill with the sewing machine at the corners, but my talented mom pulled it off well!


I think if it had just been me, I’d have used my beloved iron-on hem tape, so I’m glad my mom was willing to take on the challenge of sewing!

And I’m glad that I let go of the idea of wedding colors, which made way for the idea of a wedding pattern and beautiful custom linens.


Best part: our linens had a second life in two other weddings! I sold the runners and table coverlet to two different brides – one in Kentucky, one in California – for just over the cost we paid to make them (lest my mom’s time). Well, I sold all but one runner... which often makes an appearance at our anniversary dinners! Because awww.

So there you have it! All my secrets to making your own table linens: outdoor fabric, paying attention to the pattern repeat, and using ribbon as bias tape. Now you too can make your tables pretty on a budget!

1 comments:

Tina said...

I loved being able to do whatever you told me to - it was my joy!
One other contribution to this celebratory week that I'd like to make, if I can here, please, is to suggest others do what we did in wedding financing. This was YOUR wedding that I wanted you to have... within MY budget. Besides my having to know what every little thing cost (would have given me many a sleepless night for over a whole year ahead of time looking for more economical/compromising ways to do things and caused discussions surely driving you and me further apart than Greenfield is from Nashville already...), writing you a check shortly after your engagement and "gifting" it to you two saved everybody a whole lot of pre-wedding grief. Also allowing me to add my two cent-opinions freely w/o the unattractive $ leverage. Ultimately, it was totally YOUR wedding/budget, to stay within or go beyond - at your expense... only adding to my pure MOTB bliss. And leading to helpful blog posts such as this one.:-)Surely one of the more modestly brilliant decisions I ever made at keeping EVERYBODY happy.;-)<3 Jus' sayin'...