Friday, December 19, 2014

C & B Marianna Table Runner Tutorial

A while back, I received a Crate and Barrel advertisement in the mail.  I glanced through it while eating lunch one day, and promptly ripped this page from the book:

Item "C" are the new Marianna Table Linens.  This one got my brain a-ticking....  I can do this!  Ruby, my sewing machine, can do a ton of fancy stitches, so I knew that we could make something like this!

Instead of using linen, I used my favorite home decorating fabric, painters drop cloth.  I had a bunch already, from a curtain project that was not to be, so I pulled one of these out for my project.  Now, if you have never worked with a painters drop cloth, here is some info you might need:
  1. You need to wash them a few times so they are less stiff.  Once you do, they will be soft and lovely!
  2. Whomever sews the hems on drop cloths does not have any concern in making them straight.  Since you are making table runners, you will need some straight edges.  So, do not assume that any edge of your drop cloth is straight, you will need to do that yourself.  Here is what I do:  I cut the hem off of each side, really close to the stitching line.  You could also rip out the stitching (they use big stitches) but I am lazy and time is valuable, so I don't do that.  Drop cloths are made of a somewhat loose weave, of two strands crossing both directions.  You want to grab a set of those 2-strand pieces and gently pull it out, all the way down the fabric, leaving a little gap in the weave.  Somewhere close to the edge, snip a tiny bit (like 1/2 inch) in the direction you want to straighten.  Start with one of the long sides.  See how the weave looks like a woven tick-tac-toe?  Grab one of the lengths (2 strands together) and gently pull it out of the fabric.  This is a bit if a slow process, as the strands will break several times.  When they do, you will be able to find where they break by following the gap you have made already.  Use a straight-pin to loosen the strands again, and then pull some more.  Here is a video that also explains this process.  Once you  have pulled the strands totally out of the fabric, cut the fabric down the little path that you made.
Now that you have a straight long side to your drop cloth, you can use the same method for cutting your table runner.  The Marianna table runner is 14 inches wide, so I measured 16 inches, to allow for 2 half-inch double hems on each side.  If you have a really big cutting mat, you might be able to just cut the fabric straight without pulling the strand.  I was not certain my cut would be straight, so I pulled the strands.

Fold and press a scant 1/2 inch hem on each long side, and then fold again, press and sew.  Drop cloth, because of it's loose weave, ravels a lot so you want to make sure you get good hems on each side.  Do not hem the short ends, however.  At this point, just do some sort of finishing to the end, i.e. zigzag, overcast, serger, etc.  This is your table runner prep.  Now you can start the fun part!

Figure out what fun stitches you want to do!  I used 4 different stitches, 6 different thread colors, and made 11 total stitch paths.  If we call my stitch patterns A, B, C, and D, here is how I planned my paths:
The underside/wrong side of the table runner was always a cream colored thread (I found Coats and Clark 8010 to be a good match for my fabric), so the color is only on the top.  These fancy stitches use a LOT of thread, so make sure you have some newer spools, especially of the bobbin thread! 

Now just start sewing, randomly moving around the table runner.  Start at one short edge and wind your way down to the other end.  I sort of plotted out where I was going with each color, by placing pins down the runner in places where I thought I might want to change direction.  You can just wing it, too! 

When you finish sewing on  your last color, hem the short sides of the runner as you did the long ones.  And you're done! 

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