Presentation is everything: Whip up a stunning tea towel table runner

A tea towel table runner is pretty enough to give your dining area a festive vibe, but less fussy than a tablecloth and a smidge more celebratory than some plain old place mats. You can accent the unique shade of wood your table is made from with this runner and use it as a landing strip for a trio of hefty pillar candles, a stunning bouquet of flowers or your best serving trays and casserole dishes.
Rather than spending big bucks on a ready-made runner, this DIY requires just a bit of simple sewing and reconstruction of cut tea towels. You may already have some tea towels on hand, but even if you don’t, springing for several won’t strain your wallet, and they come in countless colors and patterns. The addition of some complementary trim, such as fringe, braided velvet or playful pom-poms, makes an extra-special finishing touch. Whether you serve simple snacks or slaved-over delicacies atop this runner, the welcoming mood it creates will ensure that you enjoy them just a bit more.
- 3 standard-sized tea towels, each 18-by-28 inches
- Cutting mat
- Ruler
- Pencil
- Fabric roller cutter
- Several dozen straight pins in a pin cushion for easy access
- Sewing machine
- Serger
- Small cutting tool
- Tabletop ironing board
- Iron
- Decorative trim
DIY Everywhere
1. Place the cutting mat on your work surface, so it's protected.
2. Measure two 26-by-12-inch rectangles and a 12-by-12-inch square with the ruler. Mark these measurements with the pencil on each of the tea towels.
3. Cut out the measured pieces with the fabric roller cutter. You will cut one piece from each towel. Be sure to trim any colored edging from the pieces.
4. Remove the cutting mat, and place the towel pieces on the work surface.
5. Pin each rectangular fabric piece to opposite sides of the square piece. Make sure the patterned sides of the towels are facing each other before you stitch the pinned pieces together.
6. Use your sewing machine to sew the pinned seams together.
7. Serge the sewn seams.
8. Release the connected fabric pieces from the serger by cutting the thread with the cutting tool.
9. Place the tabletop ironing board on the work surface, and heat up the iron.
10. Put the sewn pieces down on the ironing board, so the plain fabric underside is facing upward.
11. Use the iron to press the seams out toward the edge of the table runner.
12. Fold about ½ inch of the long side edges of the table runner in, and press with the iron. Continue turning and pressing sections of the edges until both sides of the runner are turned in and thoroughly pressed.
13. Sew along the edges of the turned seams to finish both sides of the runner.
14. Cut two 12-inch lengths of trim to match the runner’s short ends.
15. Pin the edge of one of the trim pieces to an end of the table runner, making sure the trim is turned up toward the center of the runner.
16. Cut away any excess trim with the cutting tool.
17. Repeat steps 15-16, but pin the trim on the other end of the runner.
18. Sew the trim along each of the edges, then turn them under and topstitch so the trim is facing away from the center of the runner.
19. If necessary, trim stray thread or excess trim from the runner’s ends with the cutting tool.
20. Place your table runner down the center of your table and grab candles, plates and silverware, pretty napkins and anything else you use to create an exceptional tablescape.