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Sparkling Holiday Table Runner with Corner Tassels

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Although I have no proof, I feel certain that somewhere in my past there is an ancestor of regal bearing. Perhaps a Baltic princess or a brooding prince from the moors of Scotland. I have a deep affection for well-appointed luxury. For a formal occasion, I love the look of a table runner with place mats. The rich dark wood of the dining table sets off the fabric, and the individual linens act like beautiful little frames for the china and silver. This very elegant table runner in a sparkling platinum damask with rich mahogany accents is certainly fit for a king or a queen or... for your own royal family this holiday season.

We originally used the Antiquities collection by Michael Miller Fabrics, which featured sparkling metallic accents. This is an older collection that is no longer available, but metallic accents have been one of the top trends this year for quilting cottons. There are so many now to choose from to create your own elegant pairing. We like: Shimmer II Metallic Flowers Smoke, Spot On Metallic Medium Dot in both Blanc and Plum, all by Robert Kaufman; Glitz Metallic Chic Chevron Pearlized Confection and Brambleberry Ridge Timber Valley Metallic Coral, both by Michael Miller; and Bold & Gold Triangle Grid White by Windham Fabrics.



If you'd like to make our entrie table top, check out the Project Index for numerous suggestions. Or link directly to the placemats and bound napkins shown in our photos. 

The runner finishes at approximately 86½" x 15".

Sewing Tools You Need


Fabric and Other Supplies

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  • 1-2½ yards of 44-45" wide fabric for runner's center panel
    NOTE:  We did not want a seam in the top of our runner, so we started with a full 2½ yards of fabric to allow us to cut a continuous panel. This left us with nice chunk of leftover fabric. You could make matching placemats or even another whole table runner! Just imagine it... your best friend comes over for Thanksgiving and says, "What a gorgeous table runner." You say, "Why thank you, I've made a matching one just for you." She replies, "You are the more incredible person in the whole wide world!" Violins swell in the background. Everyone hugs. The end. Or, you could add a seam, and then you'd only need 1 yard.
  • ¾ yard of 44-45" coordinating fabric for runner's accent panels and binding
  • 1-2½ yards of 44-45" solid fabric for runner's backing: we used Bella Solids in Ivory by Moda Fabrics
    NOTE: As above, you can cut as a single panel using the larger amount of fabric or add a seam and cut two WOFs strips from the smaller yardage.
  • ½ yard of 90" wide low-loft batting: we used Kyoto Bamboo Blend batting
  • FOUR 3" - 4" tassels: we used rayon tassels in deep brown
  • All purpose thread to match fabric
  • Embroidery thread for accent stitching: we used rayon embroidery thread in taupe; the shiny finish of the rayon thread compliments the metallic in the fabric
  • See-through ruler: a 6" wide ruler would be best
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Fabric marker, pen or chalk
  • Hand sewing needle and thread for basting
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

  1. From the runner's center fabric, cut a 15" wide panel the length of the fabric (90"). If your fabric has a dramatic motif as ours did, make sure it is perfectly centered. If you are using a single yard, cut TWO 15" x width of fabric (WOF) panels and seam them together to create a finished full length panel. 
    Click to Enlarge
  2. From this 15" x 90" panel, cut TWO 3½"x 15" strips for the ends and ONE 71½" x 15" center panel.
    NOTE: If you've seamed two WOF panels, cut the smaller strips from each end then trim the main panel from each end as well in order to keep your seam centered. 
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  3. From the accent fabric, fussy cut TWO 6" x 15" panels. If you have a 6" wide see-thought ruler, use it to center the pattern for each panel.
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  4. Also from the accent fabric, fussy cut SEVEN 3" x WOF strips, again being careful to center the design motif.
  5. From the backing fabric, cut ONE 15" x 86½" panel. Or, as above, cut two 15" panels and seam to create the finished length.
  6. From the batting, cut ONE 15" x 86½" panel.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Create the binding strips

  1. Join the 3" x WOF accent strips together to one long strip. To join the strips, trim the ends at a 45° angle. Pin together, aligning the angled ends.
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  2. Sew together all the "joints" with a ¼" seam allowance. Press open the seam allowances. Trim the full strip down into TWO 90" lengths and TWO 16" lengths
    NOTE: If your fabric has a strong pattern as ours did, fussy cut ¼" from a distinct line within the motif on each strip, then line up these two "lines" at each seam. This technique will effectively hide all the joints along your binding strips.
  3. Fold in one long edge on all four strips ¾" and press.
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Assemble the runner layers

  1. Pin one 6" x 15" accent panel, rights sides together, with each end of the 71½" x 15" center panel.
  2. Sew both panels in place, using a ½" seam allowance.
  3. Pin one 3½"x 15" main fabric strip, rights sides together, with each end's accent panel.
  4. Sew both outer strips in place, using a ½" seam allowance.
  5. Press all the seam allowances toward the accent fabric.
  6. Re-thread your machine with topstitching thread in the top and bobbin. We used rayon embroidery thread in a taupe color to add some shine to the stitching. You may want to lengthen your stitch for a nicer look.
  7. Topstitch along both seams within the accent panel, keeping your stitch lines close to the panel's edge.
  8. Place the backing fabric flat on your work surface, wrong side up.
  9. Place the batting over the backing fabric, aligning all the raw edges.
  10. Place the assembled runner top over the batting, right side up, matching all the edges. Pin in place through all three layers around the entire perimeter.
    Click to Enlarge

Bind the edges and attach the tassels

  1. Re-thread your machine with regular sewing thread in the top and bobbin.
  2. Find the two 90" lengths of binding. Center the binding and pin it, right sides together and raw edges aligned, to each long side of the table runner. The binding will extend at each end beyond the table runner. This is correct.
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  3. Using a ¾" seam allowance, stitch each length of binding in place.
  4. Press the binding away from the runner. Then, wrap the binding over to the wrong side of the runner, covering the raw edges. The pre-folded edge of the binding should cover the line of stitching on the back and extend beyond it just slightly. Hand baste this folded edge in place. In our photos, you can see the bright blue thread we used for our basting stitches showing through on the right side of the runner.
  5. Re-thread your machine with topstitching thread in both the top and bobbin.
  6. Working on the RIGHT side of the runner, edgestitch the binding, starying about ⅛" from the binding seam, which will then catch and secure the back of the binding.
  7. Trim the ends of the binding flush with the ends of the table runner.
  8. Place a tassel at each corner of the table runner, with the loop facing the raw edge of the runner and the tassel facing the body of the runner. Center the tassel on the binding, and pin in place.
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    NOTE: If you are using a store-bought tassel, leave on the cellophane wrapper until all construction is complete. This keeps the silky threads out of the way.
  9. Re-thread your machine with regular sewing thread in the top and bobbin.
  10. Find the two 16" lengths of binding. Center the binding and pin one length, right sides together and raw edges aligned, to each end of the table runner. The binding will extend at each side beyond the table runner. The ends of the tassels are sandwiched betweent he layers.
    Click to Enlarge
  11. Using a ¾" seam allowance, stitch each length of binding in place, catching the tassel loops in the seams.
  12. Press the binding away from the table runner.
  13. With the binding strip laying flat, away from the runner, fold the tassel down over the top of the binding and tack it in place by sewing back and forth across the loop ¾" away from the seam. Repeat to secure all four tassels in the same manner.
    Click to Enlarge
  14. Fold the binding strip in half (you're kind of folding it back on itself), right sides together, and stitch across the short ends, using a ½" seam allowance, which should be flush with the finished edge of the table runner. Trim the seam allowance close to the stitching.
    Click to Enlarge
  15. Turn the binding ends right side out and wrap the binding over to the wrong side of the runner, covering the raw edges.
  16. As above with the long sides of the runner, the pre-folded edge of the binding should cover the line of stitching on the back and extend beyond it just slightly. Hand baste this folded edge in place.
  17. Re-thread your machine with the topstitching thread in both the top and bobbin.
  18. Again as above, working on the right side of the runner, edgestitch along the binding from side to side, catching the tassels again to better secure them in place.
    Click to Enlarge
    Click to Enlarge
  19. Remove all basting threads from the completed table runner.

Hints and Tips

  1. We were able to find tassels that matched our fabric, but that's not always the case. To make your own, take a look at our tutorial: How to Make a Tassel.
  2. If you are new to binding, you might also want to read our full tutorial on binding.

Project Design: Alicia Thommas  
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Michele Mishler


Comments (5)

Karen W said:
Karen W's picture

As tablerunners are much-appreciated gifts, I've made lots of table runners & have used iron-on fleece, regular fleece, felting, thin batting & a wide assortment of interfacings.  All of them worked, but you must keep in mind the desired weight & stiffness. As Liz said, puffiness is not good.  In my opinion, the iron-on was the least satisfactory -- it was nice & smooth until it was laundered.  If the batting instructions say quilt every 4-10", you'll want to do some kind of stitching, whether echo stitching, a grid or something to anchor the batting or just use another product (possibly embroidery -- this could be a creative opportunity). I find polyester batting shrinks the least & it's good that you're taking the time to pre-wash/ shrink fabrics used. Depending on fabrics chosen, you might consider using a fabric protector, like Scotch-Guard. 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:

@ Karen - thanks so much for sharing your wisdom! 

annabanana said:
annabanana's picture

So I was excited to make this and already purchased fabric, etc., but now I'm realizing that this may not be machine washable, and that's important to the recipient of this potential gift!  I'm not including the tassels, I'm prewashing all the fabric, and I got 100% polyester batting so there shouldn't be any shrinkage... but is the binding around the edges enough to keep the batting from bunching up during machine washing, or should I do some quilting to make sure the batting stays in place?  (I've never quilted before, but I have a walking foot and feel pretty confident that I can pull off some minor straight-line quilting with a little practice test.)  Could I use a layer of fleece instead of the batting, and would that be a better option?  Please help!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:

@ annabanana - The runner finishes at just 15" wide, so it really should be fine with just the binding. I guess it depends on the amount of laundering you think it will be getting. Usually, fancy holiday linens don't get heavy washing - and sometimes can just be spot cleaned. If you are concerned, you could certainly run stitching in the ditch of the accent panel seams at each end. This would be the least noticible. Batting is better than fleece - you don't usually want a lot of loft on the table runner.

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