Friday, October 26, 2012

How to sew a candy cane table runner

I love decorating for holidays, especially Halloween and Christmas.  I do not, however, love to spend a lot of money.  This year I decided to try making table runners out of my favorite crafting material that I always have on hand:  upcycled wool!  For this project I used a pair of red wool pants and a white wool blazer, probably both found in the clearance section of Goodwill.  I chose these fabrics because they are thinner than sweaters and woven rather than knit, so they don’t stretch much.  I’m sure you could use a wool sweater, but I’d be careful about substituting synthetic material such as fleece for this project.  If you do try something like polyester fleece, skip the ironing—it’ll melt.  You probably already knew that, but I learned it the hard way.  Yuck!

Once you’ve found some material that will work, you’ll also need your scissors, a sewing machine threaded up in red, and preferably a cutting board, clear ruler, and rotary cutter.  You’ll also need your iron at the end.

I decided I wanted my table runner to be 7-8 inches wide, so I cut a piece of folded fabric to that width with the rotary cutter.  The fold is at the bottom.  

I then used a piece of chalk tied to a string to mark off a curve for the two end caps of my candy cane table runner.

After cutting along that curve, I used the clear ruler and rotary cutter to cut the end cap at an angle.  Now we are ready to cut the pieces in between!

I laid them next to the first pieces and used the clear ruler as a guide to be sure I was cutting them to the right width and at the right angle.  

Once I had enough in red and white, it was time to sew!

To properly position the pieces so that they are right sides together for sewing, simply grab the lower piece and flip it up onto the piece above it.  But WAIT!  You can’t sew them together with the edges matched exactly, or the whole thing will be a little bit off.  What’s important is that they align on the seams once you’ve sewn them all together, and there's about a 1/4 inch between the edge of the fabric and where you are sewing.  Line it up with the edge of the presser foot.

Perhaps a better way of explaining it is that you should leave a pointy little cat ear poking out each time you sew two pieces together.  You want the needle to start sewing just to the left of the cat ear.

And hopefully when you come out on the other end, you’ll see something like this!

Once you have all the pieces together, it should look something like this.  It doesn’t look its best yet because we still have a couple of steps to go!

It's time to warm up your iron and iron those seams open.  (Remember to be careful with this if you are using a substitute material such as fleece!)  Ironing the seams open will help the runner lie flat on the table.  Finally, once you're done ironing, trim off all those little triangles that are poking out and while you're at it, even out any areas that might need it.

 Done!  No need to hem.  Lint roll it or wash it by hand if it gets dirty.  It shouldn't fray too much--you can always trim the edges a bit if needed later on.  Just place your favorite holiday decorations on top of your table runner and you're good to go!

P.S.  Because it is cut at an angle, this table runner is a bit trickier than the table runner I made for Halloween.  If you wanted a faster, simpler project, you could skip the candy cane motif and sew one like this in Christmas colors instead.