How to Make a Table Runner

DIY Table Runner Tutorial

Table runners are one of my favorite home decor sewing projects that are easy, fun, and fast to sew! Today I’m going to teach you how to make a table runner with a step by step tutorial (including a video!) and all the Q&As you need to guide you from the very beginning to a finished runner you’ll be proud of!

DIY Table Runner Tutorial

I love to create sewing and DIY projects, from my herringbone headboard to my fireplace makeover, to wall hangings. Today’s table runner tutorial is always a quick winner for a both satisfying and rewarding project.

How hard is it to make a table runner?

Great news! DIY table runners are one of the easiest home decor projects you can make. If you can sew 4 straight lines and complete 4 steps, you can make a table runner! It’s a perfect project for beginner sewers, and still a favorite of those who have been sewing for years.

The trickiest part will be sewing through multiple layers of fabrics, especially if you’re using heavier weight fabrics, and also just dealing with long lengths of fabric. BUT these things provide great practice for even beginners and is easily conquerable as you follow my instructions.

DIY Table Runner Tutorial

What supplies do I need to make a table runner?

You really only need a few things to sew a table runner for yourself. You’ll need the main fabric (read on for info about types and amounts), backing fabric, your sewing machine and thread, scissors, an iron to give the runner a crisp, professional finish, and a heavier than normal needle if you’re using home-decor weight fabric (I’d recommend a size 14 in that case). And of course pins or clips, which are especially helpful when sewing long lengths of fabric together.

What fabrics work best for a table runner?

The sky is the limit when it comes to fabric choices, but I prefer to use woven fabrics that are on the heavier side, such as home-decor weight, twill, or even denim or corduroy. Linen and quilting cottons are lighter weight but are also a favorite for many that will create a beautiful table runner.

Heck, I’ve even used burlap to create a fun ruffled table runner.

DIY Table Runner Tutorial

What backing fabric should I use?

If you’re using a home-decor weight or heavier fabric, it usually works well to use a broadcloth or quilting cotton for the backing. You can still use an equally heavy fabric, but since the thickness of the main fabric will be enough to give structure to the runner, it’s not necessary.

If you’re using fabric such as a quilting cotton or similar weight, you can still use a broadcloth or quilting cotton for the backing, but the finished runner will not have as much structure. In some cases, such as if you’re using linen, this might actually be preferred, especially if you want the fabric to have a softer drape over the table ends.

If you want the runner to have more structure but are using a quilting cotton, you can use a twill or even canvas for the backing and it will provide the structure you’re looking for without the need to use interfacing. There are a lot of cute quilting cottons, so sometimes this is a handy way to use the cute prints you want while still having a table runner with structure!

DIY Table Runner Tutorial

How wide should a table runner be?

Generally, it’s recommended for a table runner to be 1/3 of the table width. So for a 36″ wide table, a 12″ runner is a common width. Of course, you can adjust this to be wider or narrower but that gives you a good starting point.

For this table runner tutorial we’ll use a finished width of 12″.

DIY Table Runner Tutorial

How long should a table runner be?

More good news, when you’re sewing you’re own table runner, you can make it length you want! But if you’re wondering what the most common lengths are, it really depends on the length of your table, so grab your ruler.

If you want your DIY table runner to sit on top of your table without draping over the ends, I recommend to make it 12-24″ shorter than your table length (closer to 12″ for a smaller table and closer to 24″ for a longer table), to allow for 6-12″ of table beyond the runner on each end.

If you would prefer your finished table runner to overhang over each end of the table, I recommend to make the runner 12-24″ longer than your table length (again, closer to 12″ for a smaller table and closer to 24″ for a longer table), to allow the runner to drape 6-12″ past each table end.

DIY Table Runner Tutorial

How many yards of fabric do I need to make a table runner?

Now it’s time for some good and bad news. The good news is that if you’re making a table runner out of one continuous fabric length, you’ll likely have enough width in the fabric to make at least 2 or more runners out of that length.

The bad news is that if you’re planning to just make one, you’ll end up with extra fabric (but is that really a bad thing?? Hello throw pillows!). You can always use a shorter length of fabric and piece the strips together to create the length you need, but you’ll have visible seams which you may not want (but hey, some nice topstitching can also make it look on purpose, so it can definitely be done).

For the purpose of this tutorial, I’ll share how to make a table runner using one continuous piece of fabric, but feel free to patchwork your way to whatever length you need!

The handy chart below shares some common table lengths, and amounts of fabric you’ll need (I’ve provided some extra length to accommodate average shrinkage from pre-washing).

DIY Table Runner

Do I need to use batting in a table runner?

I don’t personally usually use any kind of batting inside when I’m sewing a table runner, but many like to as it gives extra structure and volume to the finished runner. In this case, I recommend to use a 100% cotton batting and treat it as one with the main fabric.

Because the style of runner I’m teaching you in this tutorial has the main fabric wrap around to the backside, you’ll end up with slightly bulkier edges in the finished runner, which isn’t necessarily bad, but something to be aware of.

Should I pre-wash my table runner fabrics?

If you’re planning to ever wash the table runner in the future, then definitely pre-wash the fabrics before sewing them. This will help the fabrics to not shrink after you’ve sewn your runner, and prevent the runner fabrics from warping and not laying as flat and crisp.

DIY Table Runner Tutorial

Are table runners still in style?

Yes yes yes!! One thing about sewing table runners that I love is that you can create many different ones to match different holidays, trends, styles, and just about whatever you want. I still pull my ruffle/burlap runner out every Thanksgiving, and I’m sure I’ll continue to do so for years to come!

You can even place a runner over a tablecloth for a layered look. Table runners are still in style and a popular choice for everything from day to day decor to pretty holiday tablescapes.

DIY Table Runner Tutorial

So, want to make a runner that’s fast, easy, and cute? It’s just four steps. Here we go!

How to Make a Table Runner

Supplies: (affiliate links below)

Main fabric – I used plaid luxe flannel from JoAnn, see notes above for fabric recommendations and chart above for recommended yardage and size to cut
Backing fabric – see notes above for fabric recommendations and chart above for recommended yardage and size to cut
Rotary cutter/ruler/cutting mat
Measuring tape

Follow along with the video tutorial (or view it on our YouTube channel here!) or use the illustrated steps below!

*Pre-wash all fabrics in the same manor as you plan to wash the finished table runner and cut main and backing fabrics using measurements in the chart above.*

1. Right sides together, pin and stitch main fabric to back along each long side, matching raw edges and using a 1/2″ seam allowance. Remember that the main fabric will be wider than the backing fabric when the long edges are matched.

2. Turn runner right side out. Press flat, with 1″ of main fabric wrapping around to back of runner on each side and seam allowances towards center of runner.

3. From front, topstitch along each long edge, 1/4-1/2″ from edges.

4. Press one short edge 1″ to backing side. Press again 1″ to back side. Repeat with other short edge of runner. Stitch along each folded edge, close to inner fold.

How to Make a Table Runner

Great job! The back of your runner will look like this…

DIY Table Runner Tutorial

These DIY table runners make great gifts (for others and yourself :)), and are easy to switch out for any holiday or occasion.

DIY Table Runner Tutorial

Now that you’ve learned how to make a table runner, you can make them for every occasion and decor style!

DIY Table Runner Tutorial

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  2. Hi there! I was really excited to try this, I think your runner looks amazing! However, in my samples, they do not look so amazing. I’m not sure if I’m missing something (since I’m new to sewing) or not. Can you recommend any videos to help me make a great looking table runner with backing. Thank you!

    1. I think what might help me is, how do you match up raw edges when the front is bigger then the back? Does that make sense? Thank you!

      1. Sarah Beth – you just need to match up the long edges, which are the same length. The short edges on each side will gape, which they’re supposed to. So as long as the long edges are matched along the raw edges (with the front fabric gaping since it’s wider than the back), you’ll be good!

  3. These look great! However, I’m confused by the ” 7″ runner” peon of the instructions. 7 inches seems awfully small…

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  9. You forgot to correct the 2nd 7″ in the front cutting directions; it still says 7″ instead of 7′. :)

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