How to Decorate a Table

Tablemats and napkins make the perfect table setting for an informal meal. They are simple to make and can be a good way of using off cuts and remnants of fabric.
Tablemats can be made from plain or patterned fabric and are most effective when machine quilted with a layer of wadding (batting) sandwiched between the top and bottom pieces of fabric. The layers help to protect the table surface beneath the plates. Bind the edges with matching or contrasting fabric or ready-made bias binding. Alternatively, choose ready-quilted fabric and follow the instructions for binding given here to finish the edges.
Napkins are simply a hemmed piece of fabric, usually square and made in a cloth which coordinates with the table mats or a tablecloth. Give some thought to the practical purpose of napkins and always make them from fabric which is washable. Polyester and cotton blends are a popular choice for informal napkins, but nothing beats the look of pure, crisp linen for a formal occasion.

  1. Decide on the size of the tablemat and cut out two pieces of fabric. Along the short edge of one piece, mark evenly spaced points 25 mm/1 in apart using a ruler and a sharp pencil. Join the points to make lines running across the fabric.
  2. Cut a piece of wadding (batting) to the same size as the fabric and sandwich it between the two fabric pieces, with the wrong sides together and the marked piece on top. Pin together then tack (baste) between alternate pencil lines.
  3. Lengthen the stitch on the sewing machine, then work parallel rows over the pencil lines using a matching or contrasting thread. Round off the corners by drawing around a cup or small plate, then trim away the surplus fabric.
  4. Cut out and join the bias strips until it is long enough to go around the tablemat. Fold the strip so that the raw edges meet in the middle and press. Open out one folded edge of the binding and pin it around the tablemat with the right sides facing and raw edges aligning. Fold back the raw edges where the binding meets.
  5. Fold over the binding to the wrong side of the tablemat. Pin and stitch the binding in place by hand as shown. Turn the tablemat to the right side and strengthen the edge by working one row of machine stitching around the edge close to the inside fold of the binding.