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What Size Table Cloth Do I Need?

When you’re styling a table, you should always start with the tablecloth. 

Do you want a clutter-free table with a stylish table runner? Or the decadent elegance of delicate lace tablecloth? A robust, coated kitchen tablecloth, or a dainty dining room with an embroidered tablecloth?

Your choice of tablecloth can help set the tone of a whole room. And it’s not just about the colour, the pattern or the style of the tablecloth. From a chilled, casual short cloth to a carpet sweeping formal length, the size of the cloth can have a big impact.

You need a tablecloth that fits and that’s not always easy. Here’s our handy guide on how to find the right size cloth for any table, whatever shape, height or size.

How do you figure out what size tablecloth you need?

The only way to really find out what size tablecloth you need is to grab a tape measure.

There is no such thing as a ‘standard table size’ so there is no such thing as a ‘standard tablecloth size’ either.  The only way to guarantee a good fit is to measure up first.

If you have a square table, you can get away with just measuring one side. If it’s a rectangular table, you need to get the length and width measurements.  

If it’s round table you’re looking to cover, just measure the diameter.

Once you’ve got these measurements you need to work out your ‘drop length.’ That simply means, how much cloth you want to drape down over the side of the table. 

When you’ve worked that number out, double it to allow for overhang on each side. Then, add that to the measurements of the table. That will give you the perfect tablecloth size for your particular table. 

TABLETOP TIP:

Length (+ double the drop) x Width (+ double the drop) =  the ideal size for your rectangular tablecloth.

OR

Diameter ( + double the drop) = the ideal size for your round tablecloth.

How much should a tablecloth hang over?

Any tablecloth should have a slight overhang of material that drapes down the side of the table. This is also known as an additional ‘drop length’.

This extra fabric will help keep your tablecloth in place. It will also help the cloth catch any wayward food that might escape the fork of an overeager diner. Trust us, it is a lot easier to stick a tablecloth in the washing machine than it is to scrub a stained carpet.

When it comes to the length of that drop, it’s a formality and style choice. Generally, for an informal or casual table setting, 6 inches on all sides is the perfect drop length. For a more formal table setting, 8 to 12 inches is more common. 

For the ultimate fine dining experience, you may even want your cloth to drape all the way down to the floor. Just make sure it barely brushes the carpet. If it’s too long, and trails across the floor, it risks being caught up in chair legs or diners’ feet and could potentially send your silverware flying.

How do you shorten a tablecloth?

Sometimes you’ll spend hours searching for your dream tablecloth pattern, only to find a cloth that’s a little too long for your dream dining table.

Luckily, shortening a tablecloth is a relatively simple task. Here’s a quick guide with easy steps for a professional finish.

Step One:  Measure how much length you need to remove. For a round cloth, it will be the same amount all of the way round. For a rectangular cloth, you might just want to lose some fabric from two of the sides (length or width). 

Step Two:  Subtract about an inch from the length you want to lose. This will give you enough fabric to neatly hem the cloth. 

Step Three: Mark out the length you want to lose using dress chalk or pins. Cut off the excess.

Step Four: Turn the edge of the material up by half an inch. Iron or press the fold. Turn it over again, by another half an inch then press and pin. This will give a neat hem to the bottom of your cloth, and stop it fraying. 

Step Five:  Sew the hem in place. Your dream tablecloth should now be fully realised (in length as well as pattern!).

Can you put a square tablecloth on a round table?

The reality is that a square cloth on a round table will give an uneven finish, and the point corners will affect your drop length. 

If this is the look you’re going for then sure, drape that square cloth on that round table. 

But, if you want a neat, uniform drop all the way around your circular table, you’ll have to buy the matching shaped cloth.

The wonderful thing about tables is that they can be as decorative as they are practical. We hope our tips help you find the perfect tablecloth to suit your style and turn your drab functional surface into a stunning design feature!

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