As someone who used to work as a wedding planner, Victoria has seen many weddings. She hopes to help others make wedding planning easier.
Truthfully, linens for a wedding are simply cloth items such as napkins, tablecloths, table runners, chair ties, and even chair covers. Many of the more expensive wedding venues will provide you with these when you rent the location for your wedding. You may not get all of the fancy colors and materials that are available through a linen rental company, but they will at least have white and off-white tablecloths and napkins for you to choose from.
However, too many brides would really like a better selection. For the bride with money to spend, linens come in any color you could possibly want, and in a large variety of fabrics, patterns, and shapes. But not many couples want to spend the extra money to get the colors or materials they truly want simply because of the extra cost, even though this is one of the biggest and best ways to bring in your wedding colors and make a huge difference in the atmosphere of your wedding.
When used correctly, wedding linens can take the simplest weddings from cheap to chic, giving them an elegance that could not be obtained any other way. Being a wedding planner for so long and seeing this problem come up in nearly every wedding I planned, I made it a point to discover easy ways to make my own linens to offer brides for their weddings.
Now my gift to you, and all other brides getting married right now that want customized linens for their events, is this basic guide to making your own wedding tablecloths, napkins, and table runners. Sewing your own wedding linens is easier than you might think. If you cannot find pre-made ones you like, or don’t want to spend money on renting them, use these simple instructions to create your own for an amazingly stunning wedding reception.
How to Make Square, Rectangular, and Round Tablecloths
- Tape measure
- Straight pins
- Sewing machine
- Steam iron
- Ironing board
- Washable polyester/cotton fabric
Step One: Measure your tables and get a good look at the venue you will be using to decide on colors and patterns that you will want for your project.
Tables typically come in one of three shapes being round, square and rectangular. They can come in other shapes, but those are not common. Tables also come in number of different sized depending on how many people you plan to sit at each table.
Round tables are the traditional tables for weddings, and the common size of these tables are 48" and 54". To know what size linens you will need to fit each of your tables, see the Table Linen Sizing Chart just to the right.
For instance, a 48" round table will need a 108" table linen (tablecloth). This measurement is a round tablecloth 108" from point to point all the way around.
A linen sizing chart will tell you measurements for a floor length linen (which is self-explanatory), or for tablecloths that "puddle" on the floor, so you can decide what look you would like to go for.
Step Two: Pick out and buy your fabric and thread. This is the fun part. You get to peruse the fabric stores, price match, and imagine how your wedding day will look.
I suggest buying matching thread, but if you have imagined your linens with a contrasting thread for effect, go for it! Feel free to choose fabric in all one color, mix patterns and solids, go all patterns, or mix and match different fabrics for the specific look you are trying to achieve. Remember that this is your day, reflecting your interests and personalities, and therefore as long as you love it, it's perfect.
If you are having a small intimate event, buying fabric from the store is perfect. you can be there personally, touching and choosing the fabric, colors, and patterns you really like. But if you are having a pretty large event, it might be more cost-effective to purchase your fabric online wholesale. Some sites, like http://www.inweavefabric.com, will even offer their fabric for $1-$2 less per yard.
However, whatever you choose, consider purchasing cotton/polyester blends for the best results, and be wary of fabrics that will shrink as these will get dirty and you will want to wash them after your event.
Step Three: Now that you've chosen all of your fabric and have gotten it home, it's time to measure it and cut it. Unfortunately when it is cut at the fabric store, it's usually not straight. Depending on the fabric, and the shape of tablecloth you are making, it may be necessary to cut your fabric straight.
However, for round tablecloths, this is probably not needed. Just make sure that before you do any cutting whatsoever, you mark your shape on your fabric with a pencil (or other writing utensil) so that you know you are using your fabric to its best advantage and are cutting correctly.
It's perfectly normal to redraw, erase, and redraw several times to make sure you've gotten it right before doing anything permanent.
It might also be helpful to give yourself an extra few inches all around just in case. You always want a small buffer when making big investments like this.
Step Four: Now let's prepare your hems in order to hide the rough cut edges all around your linen. Regardless of what shape you choose, you always want to hem your edges.
To do this, you will want to mark your fabric around the edges 1/2 inch in with a pencil, a sewing pin, or something else. Fold your fabric in and either pin it in place or iron it down, whichever is easier for you.
If you would rather not sew your fabric, you can also just use iron-on fabric tape to create a hem without using a needle and thread.
Step Five: Some people feel more comfortable folding their edges over a second time before sewing them down, and if you choose to do so, that's perfectly fine.
I only fold mine over once, but then I sew two lines; one right off the edge of the fold, and one right off the cut edge into the linen. You can also just sew one line right off the cut edge into the linen, which is sufficient.
If you are sewing your linens, make your choice and go ahead and sew!
You can do this by hand, but I would strongly suggest using a sewing machine so that the sewing is strong and they can withstand the washing machine after the wedding.
Step Six: I know that didn't sound like a whole heck of a lot of work, and definitely not that many steps, but you're done!
I would suggest that you iron each of your tablecloths beforehand so that you don't have wrinkles linens on each table to embarrass you and ruin all the hard work you put into these beautiful masterpieces.
See the videos below for folding each correctly, and PLEASE hang them on hangers to store and take to your wedding venue.
How to Make Cloth Napkins for a Wedding
If you are truly looking to personalize your wedding tables, consider making your own fun wedding napkins. This is one of my favorite tricks for creating customized wedding tables in a cost effective way.
Nice linen napkins can add a punch to your event in a personal way. Maybe you use your favorite pattern, a mixture of your favorite colors, etc. This is a great place to use your creativity and imagination.
Making napkins gives you more control over the look of your tables and adds a personal and unique touch. The best part is that you can keep the linens for your new home!
- 1 yard of fabric per 4 napkins
- Tape measure
- Straight pins
- Sewing machine
- Steam iron
- Ironing board
Step One: If you chose to do your own wedding linens for your tables, this process can be completed at the same time you purchase your fabric for your tablecloths. If not, make sure to consider the coloring of the tablecloths you will be using.
You may even want to ask to borrow one so that you can color match it with the fabric you choose for your napkins. Choose all the same fabric for all of your napkins, or a mixture of different fabrics. Your choice.
For each four napkins that you are creating, purchase a yard and a half of fabric that is at least 45 inches wide. Make sure to also select thread for your napkins. This thread color choice is going to be more important than the choice made for your tablecloths because the napkins will be right up front in your guests' faces. Make sure that you are choosing a coordinating thread, in the same color or in a contrasting color, that will make a good impression on your guests and fit into your wedding color scheme well.
Step Two: As soon as you have your fabric at home, I know you'll want to jump straight into cutting and creating. Before you even consider making the first cut, you will want to measure and draw out each napkin onto your fabric.The easiest way to start is to trace a napkin you already have onto your fabric. If you do not have one to trace, measure out about 21 inches in both directions, and draw your squares. Cut out each of your napkins to be ready for hemming.
Step Three: There are two different ways to attack a napkin hem. You can either fold the edges up and sew (explained in a bit), or your can do a very small rolled hem. (See How to do a Rolled Hem on Sewing Machine for tips on this technique.)
For a regular flat hem, fold each edge of your fabric 1/4 inch and either pin them or iron them to keep them in place. If you choose, just like with your tablecloths, you may want to fold your edges over an additional 1/4 inch. Pin or iron your folded edges into place.
If you would rather not sew your napkins, you can always use iron-on fabric tape to create a hem without using a needle and thread.
Step Four: Now the sewing begins! I recommend using a sewing machine to create straight, accurate, strong stitches that can withstand the washing machine. These will get very dirty at your wedding.
However, if you wish to sew these by hand, I say go for it! You can either dew two lines, like I like to do for strength, or you can simply sew one. I like to sew one line just inside the folded edge of your napkin, and then one just inside the line where you folded your fabric.
If you're going to sew one line only, I suggest sewing the line a little less than a 1/4 inch from the edge.
Step Five: Finally, make sure to iron all of your napkins before using them at your wedding. To keep from wrinkling them, stack them all on top of each other completely flat, and wrap them in saran wrap until it's time to set them out for the event.
If you have a ton of napkins, wrap them in sets according to the number of guests at each table, or by an even number like 10. Write how many napkins are in each set on the outside with permanent marker.
How to Fold Wedding Napkins
There are tons of great ways to fold your napkins to add just that much more flair and personality to each guest dinner table at your wedding.
Consider some of these great ideas for learning to fold your napkins:
- French Pleat
- Goblet Fan
- Opera Fan
- Bird of Paradise
- Cardinal Hat
- and so many more fun folds . . .
How to Make Your Own Table Runners
Well put-together table runners are perfect for an elegant wedding table setting. They can come in many styles and colors and can dress up even a small budget wedding.
Elegant table runners can even be a beautiful alternative to expensive wedding table centerpieces if used correctly.
Of course you can don your tables with lush fabrics, expensive designs and intricate patterns, but when making them yourself, that is not even necessary.
The point is doing it yourself, expressing your individual styles and personalities, and saving money.
There are so many possibilities in this category that there's no way I could explain them all. Look up wedding table runners online and I'm sure you'll get some amazing ideas to spark your creativity.
In the meantime, I'm going to share an easy tutorial for creating one on your own.
- Tape measure
- Straight pins
- Sewing machine
- Steam iron
- Ironing board
- Washable polyester/cotton fabric
Step One: Just like we did for all of your other items, before you do anything else, you'll need to know how many table runners you'll need, what kind of tables they will be going on, how wide you would like them for your tables, and long they need to be to sufficiently cover your tables.
I would determine all of these things by visiting your venue and seeing exactly what tables they will be offering you. If you're renting your tables, go visit the rental company to see them in person. Only you can decide how many tables you would like a table runner for.
If you're planning on something fancy, I would keep it to just the bigger tables (ie. head table, buffet table), but if you'd like something a little simpler, those would look just fine on all of the tables. Maybe you could do a version of both for different tables.
The width of your table runners is also a personal choice. Peruse some pictures online to see what looks the best to you before you decide and measure your tables.
A table linen sizing chart will help you determine the length of table runners you will need.
Regardless of the size or shape of the table you are adorning, take the biggest linen number for the length of your runner (ie. for a 48" round table, you'll need a 108" long runner, for a 6' rectangular banquet table, you'll need a 132' long runner).
Step Two: Now that you have all of your measurements, you get to choose your fabric. Hopefully you have put a good deal of thought into the style of table runner you would like to make because this will determine the amount and number of fabric you will need.
Whatever your measurements, make sure to add at least an inch to every one of them for hemming purposes. Don't fear adding even more just in case.
Choose a washable fabric, for the top that people will see and a liner, that won't shrink (cotton/polyester blend) if you plan to use these table runners again, and then it's time to put them together.
Step Three: When you get your fabric home, you will want to stretch out your fabric, measure it, mark it with a pencil or other fabric marker, and cut it to the right measurements. One key will be making sure that you are cutting it straight. If it's just a tad bit off, that's okay, but do your best. This is why we mark it first before doing anything permanent. Line up your top fabric and the bottom liner and pin them together like you will lay them out on your tables.
Step Four: Now, in order to make your hems without having to flip your fabric inside out, just unpin one side at a time, measure 1/2 inch in on both pieces of fabric, and mark them with a pencil. Fold your top piece under the 1/2 inch you marked and re-pin it all the way down. Then fold your liner over towards the top piece of your fabric your 1/2 inch, and pin both pieces together so that the fold are together and the edges match. (See picture to right.)
Some may prefer to line the edges with tape to hold the two sides together rather than pin them, or you can do both. It may help to iron them down with a warm iron before you begin sewing, but it's not necessary.
Do this for all four edges of each table runner.
Step Five: I would not rely solely on fabric tape wit this project as you will be connecting to fabrics together. Sewing will be necessary whether you decide to do this by hand or with a sewing machine.
At this point, you will want to sew your hems together with either one line or two. For just one, sew a line just shorter than 1/2 inch, just inside where the edge of your folded fabric would be.
For two lines, sew the first suggested line above and then add another one just inside the folded edge of both the top fabric and the liner. I like to do this simply for strength.
Either way you choose to sew your hem, make sure that it is strong and can withstand the washing machine/dry cleaner after your event. They will need cleaning!
Step Six: You will most likely want to run an iron over each of your table runners before using them at your wedding. I suggest lightly folding them in half and then hanging each of them over hangers to preserve your immaculate ironing job until the wedding.
Feel free to add embroidery, embellishments, or anything else to make your table runners even better. Enjoy!
Have you ever heard the saying "if you want something done right you have to do it yourself?" This is so true in this case!
So you don't want the plain linens your wedding venue is offering, but you don't want the cost and the hassle of renting them from a professional rental company. (You do know you have to be careful that they don't get burned or stained while in your possession or you have to pay for the linen, right?)
Or even better, even the rental company doesn't offer the colors and patterns you wanted. So just make your own! Although the first one you try might be interesting, this is SO easy you'll have the hang of it after that. In fact, I bet you'll be making these for your own home for years later.
I really hope you enjoy this process, and enjoy these tutorials! I know I did!
© 2013 Victoria Van Ness
Karen177 on February 03, 2017:
This is such a great idea! If you aren't sure what size you need to make, check out this free tablecloth calculator: https://www.goodshuffle.com/tablecloth-calculator
Victoria Van Ness (author) from Fountain, CO on February 23, 2015:
I'm not sure I understand. I'm not a wedding reception site. Lol I just wrote an article on making your own wedding table linens. I hope you also know that 2013 was two years ago.
Tomasz on February 23, 2015:
Karen Cody - We are interested in geittng a wedding estimate for a date in October 2013 and what exactly the cost of the site and wedding reception will include (i.e., cake, dinner, open bar, linens, table, appetizers, etc.)Thanks, karen
Victoria Van Ness (author) from Fountain, CO on October 18, 2013:
Thanks! I'm so glad you liked it!
Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on October 18, 2013:
Very nice hub and very creative!
Making wedding linen by self is a wonderful idea and you are right, not only for weddings, we can use these ideas for creating and decorating our own home.
Well done and Thanks for sharing!
Voted up and pinned!
Victoria Van Ness (author) from Fountain, CO on October 17, 2013:
lol I'm so glad you liked it! You know this doesn't just have to be for weddings. :) You can use these tutorials to make tablecloths, napkins and table runners for your own home. I know I've used the ones I've made over and over again. It's like having expensive professional linens at home, that I don't have to tell anyone that I made for pennies myself. lol
Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on October 17, 2013:
This looks really creative and very DYI ish. If I were a prospective bride, I know I would find this really useful.