Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Ha, ha. A different kind of runner than what I usually write about: table runners!

It all started at Halloween. Remember my proud, tall pumpkin?

I don't mean to be too gross, but in the interest of full disclosure, the pumpkins went downhill really fast - literally over the course of, like, 36 hours. I have no idea what happened, but it was disgusting.

I don't think his big old grin helped his structure. Anyway, I'd rather not ever think about that pumpkin again. The point is, I was in the mood for some new table decor after that fiasco, and I was intrigued by the idea of table runners.

I'll pause to apologize quickly to my mother, who has been a fan of table runners for many years. My siblings and I used to wonder why one would ever need a table runner, unless that person needed something to wear as a scarf or shawl. Mom! I'm sorry we poked fun at your runners!

Anyway, I got a couple of yards of fabric (thanks, Joann Fabric coupons!) and googled tips for making a table runner. I started with a gray chevron print, and I'm not sure why, because making the zigzag edges look even made this particular project harder than my first runner probably should have been. Really, it is mega-easy and the assembly took me about 20 minutes. I sewed two edges together, flipped it inside out (so the seam was inside the runner), and folded the short ends in about an inch and sewed them shut, too, before sewing a seam along all four edges to finish it. I didn't want the runner to hang over the table (though that seems to be how most look) so I kept the entire length just shorter than the table.

Here's how it turned out:

This link shows you how to do it without sewing at all. I was browsing that link when I got to page 2, when the author wrote, "Since I was planning to paint my table runner, I chose a thick white duck cloth, also known as sail cloth or canvas."

What? Paint a table runner? Duck cloth!?

I had been searching for a print fabric that incorporated that orange-red-purple combo of which I'm so fond - but now it turns out I could just paint my own runner! I got some small tubes of acrylic paint and a couple of sets of Martha Stewart stencils and got to work.

Stenciling is satisfying largely because of the moment just before you pull the stencil away to see how your work looks. See? You really want to know what's underneath the stencil! (I did, anyway.)

I tried a table runner with a random hodgepodge of designs on it.

For awhile, it wasn't quite working out. I like it now, but I think I might like more pattern or just less white space. It was definitely fun to practice using the different stencils and see what application techniques worked and which ones smudged.

Then, with half a yard left of duck cloth left, I decided to try a more regular pattern. Ready for the before and after for each one?




You get the idea. I should note that most of the stenciling was done with my faithful Canine Craft Loather by my side.

I should also note that the stenciled runner was not a super quick project. If you are stenciling designs in close proximity to other designs (like both of my runners), you have to let the paint dry or at least set before putting another stencil on it. I did most of the second runner on a leisurely weekend day, when I could swoop by the table and do 10 minutes of stenciling at a time, and then finished it up in little windows over the next few days.

Then I ironed the edges and sewed those down, and it was done!

I still have fabric for a gently holiday-themed runner that I'm planning to tackle soon. Stenciling a runner makes it a longer project, but if you're just working with plain old fabric, I learned that it's a quick, cost-effective way to change up and add some color to a room. (Next up: white duckcloth and more orange paint for University of Tennessee checkerboards!)


  1. Oh my word...these are STUNNING....I know what I want for Christmas!! Reminds me of the papel picado<3

    1. How funny - I didn't have the papel picado in mind, but that must be part of why I was drawn to those stencils!

  2. those are indeed reaalllly pretty! also i laughed at the poor pumpkin flop, i'm sorry he collapsed!

  3. WOW that is impressive! I am terrible at crafts. I love your runners!!!