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22 October, 2011

A Ruffled Burlap Table Runner for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I am starting to think about my tablescape for this year. I know that my ruffled burlap table runner will be at the heart of it all, so I thought those of you who have not seen it might be interested in the tutorial that I did last year so that you can make your own. Even if you are accomplished at sewing, maybe the way I calculated my measurements will be helpful. That’s always the hardest part for me! Sooo…here goes…

runner tutorial
This diagram is based on the usual 48 inch width of burlap. First, measure the length of your tabletop and add 14 inches. You will use this measurement to calculate how much burlap to purchase. It’s good to buy extra, since burlap is sometimes not straight on the bolt. For my 68 inch table, I bought 2 1/2 yards and that was more than enough. The fold may not be at the center of the fabric, but unless it’s way off, that won’t matter. If it is, you will have to center it and press it.
  • First, cut the fabric to the desired length…your tabletop plus 14 inches. You can use this cut to get a straighter edge on both ends.
  • Next, cut along the fold, creating two lengths of fabric.
  • Then make another cut so that you have a length of 17 inch wide fabric plus a 7 inch or so remnant. You now have two 17 inch wide strips and two 7 inch wide strips.

IMG_4166 You will only use one of the 7 inch wide strips, so choose the one with fewer defects. (Burlap is just that way!) Cut the strip in half so that you have two shorter 7 inch wide strips.  Make a hem around three sides, using the selvage side and the two short sides. (Selvage is the edge of the fabric that has been finished so it will not ravel.) You will have to turn the shorter sides under twice to create the hem, pressing each time, but the selvage side will only need to be turned under once, since it won’t ravel. Repeat for the other strip. These are your ruffles.

IMG_4167 Now you are going to gather the ruffles. Burlap is too heavy to use the machine for gathering, so I used a doubled thread to hand stitch. I used a contrasting thread here so you could see. Of course, you would want to use matching thread so that you aren’t having to worry too much if any of it shows. You will have to tie the thread at the end, rather than use a knot, as it will just pull through.

IMG_4170 Gather the fabric on the thread, pulling as you go along.

IMG_4171 Fit it along the short end of one of your 17 inch wide pieces, adjusting the gathers, and then tie your thread at the other end. Pin the ruffle in place. I found it helpful to press the ruffle at this point. The hemmed side should be facing up with right sides together. (There is no real right side for the 17 inch strip. Just choose a side with fewer defects.)

IMG_4165 Be sure that you have left a seam allowance at each end of roughly 1/2 inch or so. Then stitch the ruffle to the 17 inch strip. Repeat for the ruffle at the other end.

IMG_4173 Pin the corners of the ruffles back so that they will not get caught in your next seam…

IMG_4174 …then pin the other 17 inch strip on top of the one you have been working on. Once again, you will want to put the prettier side down, if there is one.

runner tutorial 2 Stitch all the way around the fabric, leaving a 12 inch gap on one side. You will use this gap to turn the fabric inside out. I always back stitch at the beginning and end of the seam so that it will not ravel. Be careful at the corners, making sure to sew right next to the ruffle edge along the seam allowance, not getting the ruffle caught in the seam. Now, turn it right side out, pulling on the ruffles at the corners to be sure that the fabric is completely turned.  Then press with a steam iron.

IMG_4176 You will want to turn under and press the fabric along the 12 inch gap to give it a finished appearance. Finally, hand stitch that gap closed. If you wish you can top stitch the runner around the rectangular portion.

IMG_3891 And here it is! Burlap does have a strong smell at first, so you may want to air it outside for a while. Mine has been on my table for a couple of weeks now and has virtually no smell. It cannot be washed, but can be dry cleaned, so watch out for that cranberry sauce! I hope this tutorial was helpful! Let me know if you try it and tell me how yours turns out!

Remember to pin it!


  1. Thanks so much for the tutorial Debbie! Your runner is beautiful!

  2. I love your runner! I do not sew, but I have friends who do ;P

  3. Nice tutorial...wish I could sew!
    Have a great weekend, Debbie.

  4. *sigh* I'm still in "heart" love with this runner. A perfect addition to any Thanksgiving table.

  5. Debbie, your runner is so pretty and your tutorial is fantastic. Can't wait to see your tablesetting. Hugs, Marty

  6. Thank goodness I won your burlap runner giveaway last year! I do not sew so this would be over my head big time. I do love my runner and hope to use it in my Thanksgiving table this year! hugs, Linda

  7. Hi lovely lady.
    I love your runner you had put together for your Tablescape great job.
    I hope you have a great weekend.
    XXOO Diane

  8. Debbie I envy all that know how to sew! BEAUTIFUL runner! Martina

  9. I love to sew .. just finishing up my Halloween costume ... next on my to-do list, a ruffled burlap runner for our Turkey Day dinner. Thanks bunches.

  10. You do such beautiful work and it is so nice that you share with all of us. Great job. Richard from My Old Historic House.

  11. Very Cute!!

  12. I want one! Thank you for posting the tutorial!

  13. ...absolutely charming !
    Thank you for sharing

  14. So cute! I plan to try it but rather than using it for a table runner, I will use it as a dresser cover. Thanks for sharing!

  15. What is the dinnerware pattern in the table?

    1. Angela...It's Felice from Chris Madden. It is discontinued now. I found mine at Goodwill for $10! So glad you like it!...hugs...Debbie

  16. Love your table runner. Great tutorial.

  17. I love the runner and appreciate the instructions on how to calculate how much material to use. I love using burlap for projects.

  18. Its beautiful. I will try it. Thank you for the instructions.


Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment! I appreciate my wonderful readers!... Debbie