Easy-care fabrics with a solid color or small pattern dresses up your table.

How to Make a Square Dining Tablecloth

by Kathryn Hatashita-Lee

You can quickly add a field of color to your dining table with a customized tablecloth sewn from a square of fabric. Careful measuring helps you create the graceful overhang from the table’s edge to the preferred finished length. Tablecloth fabrics typically measure quite wide to reduce the need to join smaller panels. An attractive, washable fabric paired with a durable lining helps set the tone from formal to casual chic, and also enhances that special time with your family and friends around the table.


Measure the length of any side of your square table. If the table is round, measure the diameter that divides the circle's area in half. Record this length in inches in your notepad.

Sit on a chair at the table’s edge to help you visualize the drop of the tablecloth from the top of the table to the finished edge. For example, the finished edge can skim the top of the chair seat, end just above your lap or extend down to the floor. Measure this drop and record this dimension. This drop represents the overhang from just one side. Multiply this drop in inches by 2 to calculate the total overhang from opposite sides of the table.

Add the table length plus the total overhang plus 1 inch for seam allowances to calculate the cutting length of the fabric and lining. This cutting length equals the cutting width for a square tablecloth. Divide this sum by 36 inches to calculate the yardage. Round up the yardage to a whole number. For example, if the calculation is 2.7 yards, round up to 3 yards to allow for shrinkage and errors.

Bring your dimensions with you to the fabric store. A label on the fabric, or on the bolt or roll usually specifies the width in inches. Select a washable fabric and lining.


Wash and press the fabric and lining. Set the fabric face-down on a large flat, surface. Position a metal square to help you mark with a washable marker a large square based on the cutting length and width.

Measure to double-check the fabric square’s dimensions before you cut. Cut the fabric with scissors, or a rotary cutter and cutting mat. Set aside the scrap fabric.

Place the lining on a large, flat surface. Position the fabric square face-down over the lining to form a template. Pin the two layers together with straight pins every 2 or 3 inches all around. Cut the lining to the same dimensions as the fabric on top. You will see two squares stacked. Set aside the scrap lining.

Adjust the sewing machine to a regular straight stitch, such as a 2.5 value for a stitch 2.5 millimeters in length, or approximately 10 stitches per inch. Test-stitch on the scrap lining and fabric to check for even and balanced stitches.

Sew the pinned fabric and lining 1/2 inch away from the raw edges to create a 1/2-inch seam allowance on all four sides, but stop stitching to leave an approximately 12-inch gap to turn out the layers later. Remove every pin as the fabric feeds along the needle plate.

Trim the four corners to help reduce the bulk and form sharper corners when the layers are turned inside out. Take care not to snip the stitches. Press the seam allowances to help embed the stitches.

Insert your hand into the gap and gently pull the fabric and lining right sides out. Insert a small ruler or square edge into the gap and gently push into the inside corners to form a sharper corner on the outside. Press the tablecloth.

Fold in the raw edges of the gap to hide them from view and to keep the square shape. Gently press these folds in the gap area. Pin the folds together to close this gap.

Change the machine’s top spool of thread to color-match the fabric color. Change the bobbin thread to match the lining color. Position the tablecloth with the fabric side up at your machine. Stitch this gap closed approximately 1/4 inch from the folded edges. Remember to pull out every pin as the fabric feeds across the needle plate. If you prefer top-stitching all around the tablecloth, continue stitching 1/4 inch from each side edge.

Press this lined tablecloth, then arrange it on your square table. If the stitched gap looks uneven, try to position this section away from view.

Items you will need

  • Metal tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Notepad
  • Calculator
  • Washable fabric
  • Washable lining
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Metal square or yardstick
  • Washable fabric marker or tailor’s chalk
  • Fabric scissors, or rotary cutter and cutting mat
  • Straight pins
  • Thread, color-matched to fabric
  • Thread, color-matched to the lining


  • If this project is your first tablecloth, select a solid color fabric to avoid the problem of centering a patterned fabric.
  • To join narrow fabric panels to form a larger panel, do not sew seams that run down the center of the tablecloth. Try cutting one panel in half, then seam each half to the side edges of the other panel.
  • Create a reversible tablecloth by cutting two similar fabrics in different colors. You do not need lining because the second fabric will lie face-down on your table.
  • Sew matching napkins with any leftover fabric. Cut squares, such as 20-inch squares for dinner napkins, then sew a rolled hem with a hemming foot attached to your sewing machine.


  • Keep all sewing supplies and the iron away from children and animals.
  • Never leave an iron plugged in when you step away.

Photo Credits

  • Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images