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ruffled tablecloth {sort-of tutorial}

    The one element I knew I wanted for Audrey’s party was a white ruffled tablecloth.


    Perhaps you have seen them elsewhere and there are many good tutorials for how to make one {I referenced this one}.

    Here’s the deal about this sort-of tutorial: I took photos of the each step in the process and then made a terrible mistake and deleted them from my camera. Boo. I was actually really annoyed at myself because there were a lot of good photos on there of family stuff, another project and our not-so-little puppy holding still {rare}. Double boo.

    So, I don’t have an actual step-by-step tutorial with photos to share, but I’ll walk you through each step in words and a few diagrams.


    Here’s what you’ll need:

    :: fabric – I used two long rectangular tablecloths {$17 each on sale at target}
    :: sewing machine, thread, scissors
    :: patience

    {a note on the fabric: you could use any type of lightweight fabric – muslin, cotton, linen – and save on the cost. I went with premade tablecloths because they were right in front of me at target and I liked that they are stain-resistant which means my finished product might hold up better than if I went with muslin}.

    STEP ONE: map out your needed dimensions for the base of your tablecloth {depends on the size of table you’ll be covering with the tablecloth}


    Your tablecloth length will depend on how long you want it to be {makes sense, right?}. If you want yours to be floor length, measure from tabletop to floor. I made mine short so the kids could still slip their legs under during lunch.

    STEP TWO: measure ruffle dimensions


    In general, you’ll need 1.5 to 2 times your length in fabric to make a full ruffle.

    You will need to cut ruffle strips to cover all four sides of your table. If you have long enough fabric, you can cut continuous strips to wrap around the entire table.

    STEP THREE: cut out all pieces.

    STEP FOUR: sew all four side panels together to form a long rectangle. This will be the base to sew your ruffles on

    STEP FIVE: hem each ruffle strip. I planned on doing this step, but then decided that would take too long, so I skipped it. Hence the million frayed threads.

    STEP SIX: start ruffling. This is the tedious part. Set your machine to the longest stitch and run a straight stitch all the way along the top of each ruffle strip. Do not back stitch. Gently pull one of the threads to gather the fabric, being careful to not break the thread.

    STEP SEVEN: sew ruffles onto side panel, starting with the lowest ruffle and working up. Be sure to overlap the ruffles to hide the raw edges.


    STEP EIGHT: sew the long panel {with ruffles on it} onto the top piece. Put right sides together and do your best to sew along the top ruffle seam so that the raw edges are covered. I made my tablecloth with an overlap opening where the ends of the panel cross. Goodness, I’m not sure that makes any sense. In other words, the long panel wraps all the way around the table with about a six inch overlap and raw edges. You don’t even notice it.

    Now trim your threads and you’re done!


    Hopefully this sort-of tutorial is helpful. I know photos always help so feel free to ask any questions in the comments and I’ll give my best instructions.

    10 thoughts on “ruffled tablecloth {sort-of tutorial}”

    1. Oh wow! Absolutely gorgeous tablecloth. It makes me want to LEARN how to use my sewing machine. LOL!! I’ve had the sewing machine for about 23 years and it’s only seen light twice. After much frustration, I put it away in the garage. …OR… I could ask my mom to make me one. BWAHAHAHAHAH!!

    2. LOVE YOUR TABLECLOTH IDEA! I hope I don’t offend anyone, but thought I would offer just a few helpful hints about gathering ruffles…
      #1. If you will use quilting thread in your bobbin, it will be much sturdier when you begin to pull the thread to gather.
      #2. ALWAYS pull the bobbin thread – it runs straight along the fabric, while the top thread loops down through the fabric, around the bobbin thread and back up to the top of the fabric. If you pull that thread, it will just jerk the bobbin thread tight and your thread will, most likely, break.
      #3. This will take longer BUT IT SOOOO WORTH IT! If you will run a second row of stitching, parallel to,and about 1/4″ (usually the width of one toe of your presser foot) away from the first row (being sure to sew again on the same side as the first row), you will then have TWO threads to pull simultaneously, parallel to each other. Not only will this make it easier to gather those long, long ruffles; once they are gathered, it will leave a nice, flat, gathered area between the stitched rows for you to sew the ruffle to the tabletop piece.

      The only other suggestion I would have is, if you will mark your table top and your ruffle fabric into equal segments, then pin (or even tailor-tack) them together at those marks before gathering, it will help to evenly distribute your gathers, and make it much easier to sew the ruffle to the table top.

      This instruction comes from about 15 years of traveling around the country teaching for the Smocking Arts Guild of America, where we were bound and determined to put two gathered 45″ widths of fabric at the bottom of a size 2 basic yoke dress that was only about 20″ around. I actually always used three rows of stitching, using the center one as my guide for attaching the skirt to the yoke. This method has worked for me for curtains, dust ruffles, and numerous other applications. I keep extra bobbins loaded with quilting thread, just for this purpose. If you want a really full ruffle, you will need a minimum of a 2:1 ratio; maybe even a little more, if you want to have extra at the corners.

    3. Hey Emily , did you try recovering the pics off the card ? I’ve done it a few times too and got practically all photos back. Just don’t take any more photos using that card. I used zar recovery download it, then plug in your card (its free for photo recovery on cards) it takes awhile as it finds all the photos but then you save them. Wishing you the best . And neat ruffled tablecloth.

      1. If you haven’t reformatted, there’s a very good chance of recovery as your other reader commented. You can also try the website for the brand of your memory card or look on the package if you still have it for info on data recovery software (should also be free).

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