Fall leaf table runner and napkin rings
Jo’s peacock-themed centerpiece that she shared with you yesterday is gorgeous, but we’re a bit more traditional in the Chica household, so I wanted something a little different for my dining table. I decided to make a very simple table runner adorned with fall leaves, and then I went ahead and made matching napkin rings (and napkins!) to go with it. This was a super easy sewing project and a great one for beginner sewers. Most of the work is done with felt (that doesn’t require hemming) and hot glue.
Start by measuring your table and determining how big you want your runner. The width should generally be in the 12-18″ range, and the length should be about 12-24″ longer than the length of the table. For my table, I wanted the runner to be 66″ x 14″. You’ll want to cut the fabric two inches longer and wider than the finished runner, so for me that meant I would need a 68″ x 16″ piece of fabric.
I chose a really pretty striped pattern at the fabric store, and got two yards (72″) of it, which would be plenty for my runner. Then I went to the felt section and picked out four coordinating colors. I used eight 9″x12″ sheets of felt (two in each color). When I got home, I cut my fabric down to the 68″ x 16″ size I needed.
The next step is to cut out all the cute felt leaves. This is a lot easier to do if you have a template, so of course I made one for you guys!
Print the template and cut out the leaf shapes. Then pin them to the felt and start cutting. If you’re savvy with getting the most of of your felt, you can get about 15 leaves from each sheet. How many leaves you need altogether will depend on how big your runner is.
Here’s a tip: The oak leaf and maple leaf have fairly smooth edges, but the aspen has a zig-zag edge that’s kind of a pain to cut with regular scissors, but suddenly really easy if you use pinking shears. Just cut around the pattern piece and then trim the bottom with regular scissors!
Don’t these leaves look so pretty just piled up? I cut about 10 of each pattern in each color, which is 120 total. You may need more or less depending on the size of your runner.
Now on to the runner itself. The only sewing we have to do here is to hem up the edges. That’s not so bad, right? Pick one side to start with, put the fabric face down, and fold over about 3/8″ or 1/2″ of the edge. Use the sewing machine to sew that down. When you get near the end of that side, pinch the corner between your fingers and hold it like this:
Fold that pinched corner down and hold it ever-so-carefully with the tip of your finger, and continue to sew SLOWLY until you get to that corner. Keep sewing until you get about two stitches onto the folded-over edge. And oh my goodness, please be careful here and don’t sew your fingers!
Now make sure the needle is in the “down” position (going through the fabric), then lift the presser foot. The needle will hold the fabric in place and you can pivot it 90 degrees so you can sew the next side of the fabric. Put the presser foot back down and continue heming the next edge.
Continue like this around all four sides. Then do it again! Yup, you’ve got it sort of hemmed after the first pass, but to properly encase the rough edge of the fabric, you’ll need to fold it over again, and hem it all the way around again. Use the same corner-folding technique and you’ll end up with nice finished results on the front and back.
Ok, now to the fun part… gluing on the leaves! Crank up the hot glue gun and put a little dab on the back of a leaf. Stick it right on one of the long sides of the runner, so that it hangs off the fabric a little on the side.
Continue with alternating colors and shapes, angling them a little to the left or right, until you get a nice row of leaves. Continue all the way down one side, then do the other. I chose not to add leaves to the two ends of the runner, but you can if you wish.
Your table runner is done! You can stop here, or if you’re still feeling crafty, you can realize that the leftover fabric and leaves you have could be used to make napkins and napkin rings. They’re easy, too, and will really make your table decor pop.
For the napkin rings, start with a 3″ x 6″ piece of fabric. Fold it in half lengthwise, with right sides facing, and pin in place.
Now use the sewing machine to sew along the pinned edge, then flip the tube inside out so that the pretty side of the fabric is showing. Align the seam in the middle of the tube and flatten. It’s kind of hard to see in the photo below because I used striped fabric, but the seam is running right down the middle of the top.
Fold the flattened tube in half, with seam touching seam. Take it to the sewing machine and sew the ends together.
Open the piece (which is now a loop) and put the seam in the middle of the top. Flatten with your hand. Put a little dab of hot glue under one side of the seam and press it down so that it doesn’t stick up.
Now take two of your leftover felt leaves (or cut more if you have to) and arrange them so they are a little off-center. Put a dab of hot glue between them and press in place.
If you want to have your napkin rings serve double-duty as placecards for your table, you can also use puffy paint or a marker to write a name on the top leaf. If you’re planning to do this, just be sure you use a light-colored leaf on top!
Squirt a generous amount of hot glue on either side of the seam on top of the fabric ring. Press the leaves down on top of that. The glue will hold them in place and completely hide that ugly seam. Nice!
And with that, your napkin rings are done. See, wasn’t that easy?
So now what do you do with the fabric you still have left? You probably bought a long piece of fabric and only used a little of the width, so you’ve got a big piece left. So why not make napkins while we’re at it? They’re easy and really add a lot of style to your table. All you have to do is cut squares of fabric (at least 14″ x 14″, or larger if you want) and hem up the sides. Use the same hemming technique you used for the table runner, but this time make the folded edge as narrow as you can, so that your napkins aren’t bulky on the edges.
Now tuck the napkins into the napkin rings and set your table. So pretty!