Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Simple, Hand-Stitched Table Runner

Reading in the Garden, by E.K. Johnson (1825-1896)

Make this simple table runner or cloth in just a small amount of time.

One thing that enables a woman to be home, without having to work for wages outside the home, is the fact that not everything has to be bought. Many things can be made from materials. In the time it would take to go to a store and find something that suits the home, and for just pennies instead of dollars, things like this can be made. Making things serves a two-fold purpose. Firstly, it provides things you need or want, and secondly, the hand work, if done in the right mind-set and in the right mood, provides leisure, regulated only by the interruption of necessary meals and needs of family members. I have good memories of mothers and grandmothers with busy hands, yet always having a watchful eye and ear on their homes.  This kind of sewing provides recreation that is useful.  

This table runner is a cloth that can be used to line the top of a fireplace mantel, or a shelf, or put down the center of an end table or coffee table. Cloths like this protect wood surfaces from water or scratching, and like crocheted doilies, also provide a bit of elegance for the eye. This was one of the hand-sewing projects I sent home with the 8 year old girls who came to my house for homemaking lessons. Each time they came, they got to take home a completed project, even if it was not perfect. That gave them a little success and now they are way ahead of me. One of them is now 13 and she is making costumes, and children's play-tents. Once she learned the basics, she could follow instructions in a pattern and she had no limits for what she could make. Now, even if she goes to the coast for a holiday with her parents, she takes along her crafts and sewing projects for some quiet time.

The iron is sewing's best friend, in all these projects, because it straightens the fabric and presses the creases in or out, as you need. It gives a beautiful finished look to a project, even if the stitching is not exactly perfect. So, the first thing you need to do is press your fabric with a hot steam iron. Use 100 percent cotton or linen or other natural fabric. I am using cotton here.

To get your fabric even, clip a bit and tear it. Then press the edges to flatten them. If you do not want to tear your fabric, you will have to use a pattern or straight edge of some kind to trace for evenness. To determine the size you want, just drape a piece of fabric over the table or piece that you are going to use it for, and mark with pencil where you will need to cut it.  I dont use patterns for this kind of thing, but there are patterns available. You just need a strip of fabric about 3 feet long and 1 foot wide. Mine is just small, for a very narrow ledge I am going to cover.

Now iron one fourth inch hem all around the piece. Turn down again one fourth inch and press firmly with a very hot iron.  It should flatten well enough for hand sewing. Draw stitches on with a pencil, if you need a guide. Notice the stitch lines are on the inside fold of the hem. If you stitch too close to the edge of the cloth, you will not be catching the inner folds, so be sure to keep the stitching on the inside edge.

To hide the knot in your thread, stick the needle under the fold and pull it through.

You can weave your needle back and forth in the stitches, taking up several at a time, with this running stitch. Pull the needle through but flatten the gathers. You will learn to gather another time.

Or, you can use an over-cast stitch, which catches the cloth and then the hem, in one stitch. Look up the over-cast stitch to get instructions for it.

The overcast stitch is shown on the lower side here. Press the sewn side, then turn the runner over and press again. At this point, your project can be considered completed, and you can use it immediately somewhere in your house.

 If you want it a bit more decorative, fold it in half lengthwise and press with the iron a small crease at the short side:

Fold down one side along that center crease,

and then, fold the other side to match. Take a couple of large stitches to connect the two sides at the end and also catch the main material to anchor it.  Press again. Repeat at the other end of the runner.

Stitching from the other side, attach a fabric rose or button, and a thread or yarn tassel, if you like.

For an easy tassel, run a thread through each end of a hank of co-ordinating embroidery thread. These do not cost much--sometimes only 33c each at discount stores.

Tie each end with a firm knot of the same thread, leaving all 6 strands together.

After securing it with a firm tie, cut the entire hank of thread in half.

With more matching thread, tie another knot, approximately a fourth of a way down , on each piece, like this, and knot it well.

Trim the ends to make it all even, and with your fingers, comb the threads together to blend them all in so that there are not any obvious holes showing in the tassel.

Thread that first tied section into a large-eyed needle and sew it through the end of the runner, pulling up the tassel til it is even with the point of the runner. Remove the needle and tie several firm knots in the thread on the under side.

In spite of the fact that this looks fairly simple, if you are a beginner, you really do need someone to show you how to do this project. 

The round doily will be demonstrated later.

Use trims like this that coordinate with the fabric, if you want to add more to your project. Use a matching thread to apply your choice of trim.

This gathered satin trim can be added all around the scarf.


Anonymous said...

Very pretty runner! This is an excellent tutorial. I like the tassles. They are a nice touch. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

What a lovely table runner! Thank you so much for your sewing tutorials. We need some projects to work on inside during the hot afternoons. I'm already thinking of sewing up a few simple things to try and sell this year at a local consignment store that takes handmade items.

I'm also thinking of trying my hand at a Regency gown from a Sense and Sensibility pattern.

My daughter will be working on a dresser scarf tomorrow. We are looking forward to your next tutorial!

Anonymous said...

Oh these are sooo cute!!! I MUST sit down and make them ....thank you Lydia for a lovely and useful sewing project...the photos of the steps were really clear too...and making the tassles was very unique, as I have never seen them made by anyone. I especially love that pretty satin ruffled edge one can apply to the runner!
Lynn M

Anonymous said...

Thank you Lydia for sharing this sewing tutorial. You make it look so easy and fun.

I love that you always give the "why" to every project. Thank you for being so gracious to care and share all these wonderful things about homemaking. It just makes us feel so special, and feminine.

Anonymous said...

You always pick the prettiest fabric and colors to show your projects.

Thank you for sharing. Keep up the great tutorials too. We love these.

Mrs Miller said...

What a great idea! It has proven to be an inspiration for me to use a small piece of vintage linen I have that is decorated with dogwood blossom print.

I am one who DOES use doilies or clothes on the back of my high back chairs. I usually use vintage napkins or other linen and attach them with an upholstery tack/screw. Easy to remove and launder.

Thanks for a beautiful website of inspiration.

Mrs Miller said...

Thanks for providing some inspiration for me to use a piece of vintage linen I have that is printed with a dogwood blossom pattern!

I am one who DOES use cloths/doilies on the back of my high back chairs. I attach them with upholstery screws/tacks. They are easy to remove to launder.

Thanks for the beautiful, inspirational website! ~*Blessings in His Name, Mrs. Miller

Jennifer C. Valerie said...

Oh wow! Now this is a simple project that I can do. I'll be working on on for my dining table. I am so excited.

candy said...

some great ideas...i just may make a table runner myself!