11 September 2010

How To Make an Upholstered Table Skirt

As I'm working on various projects for my living room, I thought it might be nice to show the steps involved in some of them. One project that is definitely not too difficult, even for beginners, and will achieve a glowing result, is making an upholstered floor length tablecloth.

I started with a table made for me by my husband, Jack. Since the entire table is going to be covered, there is no reason to use high quality woods. However, you should use a good quality, heavy plywood for the top to ensure that it will not warp down the road. Also, Jack made mine extra sturdy, as it was originally for our family meals.

For this project, I removed the old upholstered cloth, and chose a new silk to complement my living room furniture. The first step in making the new covering is to wrap the top with a flannel interlining, pulling it tightly over the edges of the tabletop, and stapling it to the underside of the table. This gives a lovely, smooth surface which will then make the silk lie elegantly, and disguise any imperfections in the plywood underneath.

Starting at each of the four compass points, put one or two staples in each "side". Then continue working out away from these four points, pulling your flannel tightly as you go, so that there are no bumps or ripples in the top surface. (I use a power staple gun, but a manuel one will do just as well.)
Next lay out the fabric you wish to use over the tabletop and center the design, if necessary. Cut out a circle leaving enough fabric to pull under, and again staple underneath once or twice only at the four compass points. Again, work out from these four points, moving from one side to the next frequently, so that you are pulling and stapling all around the table evenly. Do not turn the table upside down to complete this step, as you will want to keep an eye on the surface of the fabric, making sure it is smooth.

Since I was using a stripe, I had to be extra careful to pull the fabric evenly all the way around. Otherwise, the stripes would have become wavy. If you pull too tightly, or not enough, it is easy to remove staples with a screwdriver.
Next comes the table skirt. Measure from the tabletop straight down to the floor, adding extra inches for a hem at the bottom, plus one inch for gathering and turning over at the top. I chose to run my fabric with the stripe horizontally, so I pinned the fabric to the table top at various points in the stripes, and also took into consideration the trims I planned to use, so that the stripes would fall exactly at the heights I wanted at both the top and bottom edges. Another fabric with an all-over design, or a solid would not need to be planned out so definitely before cutting the yardage.

Cut a length about two and a half times the circumference of the table top, for the gathered skirt. Then, sew wide basting about 1/2" in, and another about 3/4" in from the top edge, that will be used to gather the cloth. (If you are using a lining, cut it the same size as the outer fabric, and baste through both layers, back-to-back. I usually do not use a lining here, as it makes the cloth too bulky when stapled onto the table, and it really isn't necessary.)

Starting from both ends of the length, and holding the two threads from the top of the fabric (not the underside threads) push the fabric along the threads inward toward the center of the skirt, gathering it up, as you go. After the fabric has gotten to the approximate length you need to go around your tabletop, even out the gathering, so that it is generally consistent all the way along. The last step here is to slowly sew, with fine stitching, over the gathering to hold it in place.
Now gently pin the gathered skirt around the circumference of the tabletop, so that you can tell exactly where to sew a seam from top to bottom, connecting the two ends of the length, so that your skirt is now one continuous circle. Iron the seam flat on the inside. Lastly, hem the cloth to the desired length.

At this point, you are ready to upholster the skirt onto the table. Begin by placing the seam at the back of the table, as it will be seen in your room (if there is a back). Holding the cloth upside down, and draped over the tabletop (so that the underside is facing up) staple the cloth to the edge of the tabletop, once or twice. Flip it over to the right side, to make sure it is at the level you want. If so, continue on, stapling all around the edge of the table.

Next, flip the cloth down and staple again, all around the outside. This will ensure that your gathering lies flat under the trim you will apply later. Make sure your staples fall within the width of the trim that will be covering them, so they won't show later. (If you do not want to apply trim around the top, you will have to place your staples on the underside very closely together, as well as right next to the top edge of the tabletop, to ensure a nice drape, when the skirt is turned right side out.)
After the skirt is evenly and tightly stapled to the table, it's time to glue on the top trim. You can see from the picture below, that I used a lot of staples, so that I would end up with a perfectly smooth surface for my trim to cover.
I used a flat gimp, gluing about 10" at a time, and holding in place to make sure that it was exactly even around the top edge of the table. My favorite glue for most craft projects involving fabric is Fabri-Tac. It's available at JoAnn's, Michaels, A.C. Moore, etc.
To make a custom trim for the bottom hem of the skirt, I glued a large rickrack to a wide piece of grosgrain-like flat trim. I could have used the rickrack alone, but I felt that that would impart a more casual, country look to the hem. After the rickrack was adhered to the flat grosgrain, it had the look of a scalloped edge with a straight top, rather than a zigzag.

My final step was to attach this trim to the bottom of the skirt. I usually do this after the skirt is completely done, so that I can make sure it is exactly touching the floor, without dragging or being too short. The trim can be either sewed or glued onto the skirt, but I usually prefer gluing, as it doesn't show.

Et voila - the finished skirt!


  1. I love this pretty table cover. Especially the trim at the bottom edge - very clever!

  2. so cute!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! love this. thank you for your comment today.

  3. Oh My! It is gorgeous! Thank you for sharing the "how to". laurie


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