How To Make a Table Runner from Fabric Scraps

As a serial hoarder of fabric scraps, I'm forever trying to find ways to use them creatively, despite my limited sewing skills that come in somewhere south of average. A last minute table runner is a perfect solution since uneven seams can easily be camouflaged by the stray crumb or dribble of gravy.

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This table runner was inspired by a class that I took last spring with phenomenal quilter Denyse Schmidt. The approach is pretty free-form, which is perfect for someone like me who has trouble finding the patience to follow a pattern, let alone cutting straight lines.

What You Need

Materials
Scraps of Fabric 1/2 to 2 yards, plus a larger piece for the back (if desired)
Thread

Tools
Sewing Machine
Rotary Cutter
Sharp Scissors
Cutting Mat
Iron
Pins

Instructions

1. Using the rotary cutter, cut the fabric into different size strips and lay them out loosely to determine the design. Be careful to always cut away from yourself.

2. Sew the pieces together, starting with the smallest scraps and working in the larger ones as you go. Cut additional small scraps to even out the strips. It helps to press the seams as you go, but it's not necessary.

3. When the patchwork is complete, you can leave it as is — trimming and and fringing the edges — or cut a piece of fabric for the back, I used a simple piece of muslin. Cut the backing fabric to size, measuring carefully and trying to keep the lines straight — this will help keep the edges of the runner straight, even if the lines of your patchwork are crooked. Pin it to the patchwork, front sides together and trim the edges as necessary so the are even.

4. Sew most of the way around, leaving a few inches open.

5. Turn the fabric inside out through the open hole, push out the corners into points with a bone folder or your fingers. Turn in the seams of the open hole and press all the edges thoroughly, the runner will now resemble a large pillowcase.

6. Flatten the runner by top-stitching all around, about 1/4-inch from the edge. Press one last time.

Notes
• If you have a larger scrap and want to make an even simpler runner, skip the patchwork (steps 1 & 2) and just sew it to another piece for the back — or trim it neatly, fringe the edges and you are done.

• Make a patchwork from a single piece fabric by turning the pattern in different directions, or even flipping the fabric to contrast the back and front.

As I mentioned above, my sewing skills are not top-notch so please chime in with comments offering additional sewing or patchwork advice and expertise!

Images: Sarah Rainwater

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