"I love my cats because I love my home, and little by little they become its visible soul." Jean Couteau

Thursday, October 31, 2013

brightening up a room with a tablecloth

I love our dining room/sitting room combo area. For some unknown reason, I really wanted a red dining room, and Zach let it happen, and it makes me happy. However, I have often felt that the room feels dark. Maybe 'dark' isn't the right word because there are so many windows and, during the day at least, it's very light and bright in there. Maybe more what I mean is 'all the same tone.' I love the red walls and our hardwood floors and most of our furniture (not totally loving you, slip-covered loveseat, but you're a project for another day). But the floors and most our wood furniture has red undertones. Add in the chocolate brown loveseat and current chocolate brown tablecloth, and even with the sun shining brightly, it still feels like too much of the same dark colors. 

The sitting room side of the room does OK with the reds and golds from the window seat, chair, and throw pillows and the cream and yellow of the side tables, but the dining room side feels too red and brown. For awhile, I thought about painting the dining chairs white and recovering them with a yellow-patterned fabric. Zach was not a fan of that idea. He said, "But YOU picked out those chairs and stained them!" It's true. But that was before we had this house. And a red dining room. And reddish-brown hardwood floors and a reddish-brown giant china cabinet. However, I was afraid that I'd paint the chairs and then hate it, and then it's so much harder to go back to the stain. So then I thought, well, maybe I'd just recover the plain beige seats with a bright pattern. I even ordered a bunch of swatches. But then I thought some more and realized that it would be even easier and less permanent to just get a new tablecloth. DUH! 

So I searched the inter-webs and Home Goods for a tablecloth that would be a nice pattern and just the right yellow-gold to go with the side tables and pillows from the other side of the room. And came up empty-handed. No problem; a tablecloth is super easy to make, so all I needed to find was an appropriate fabric. Back to the Internet, plus JoAnn and Hobby Lobby. I almost bought some fabric at Hobby Lobby back in August, but something about it just didn't seem right. I forgot about it through September, when Zach and I went on a spending hiatus. Then I came back to it as we started to plan to have a bunch of friends over at the end of the month. I ordered some more swatches, this time from fabricguru.com to find the right color. 

None of the swatches I ordered were both a good color and good pattern, but one was a good color, so I went back to fabricguru and searched for just that color and found three promising possibilities. I called Zach in for his opinion and, as often happens when I do that, as he was mulling over the choices, I realized which one I liked best. As occasionally also happens, Zach then picked the same one. 

The fabric came 54" wide. This TLC page recommends making your tablecloth 12" wider and longer than your table. Our table is about 36" x 58", so I ordered 2 yards (72"). The first thing I did when the fabric arrived was wash it, in case it shrunk. And, boy, did it shrink! At 72" long, I should have had 7" overhang on each end. After washing, I had maybe 3" overhang. The width shrunk quite a bit too, but I'd had more leeway there, so it wasn't as big of a deal. Obviously, if I did this again, I'd order more fabric. 

With all the shrinking, I ended up not cutting the fabric at all. I assumed that the uncut sides were perfectly straight and started by hemming them in about 0.5", then folding that up another 0.5" to make a really nice edge. 

Then I used my old brown tablecloth to make the cut edges straight. I pinned the short side of the brown tablecloth about 0.5" in on the already-pinned straight side, then futsed around to get it all laying nice and flat. This created a straight edge along the cut side. I pinned the cut edge up to meet the brown tablecloth edge; in some places, this hem was about 0.25" and in other places it was more than 0.5". Then I moved the brown tablecloth out of the way and folded up the hem another 0.5" for a nice edge. I did the same thing for the other cut end. 

At this point, I hadn't actually sewn anything yet. I pinned all four sides first, so when I got to the sewing part, I could just sew the hem around all four sides in one shot. I used some yellow-gold thread from my cushion project. The fact that the color matched pretty closely was nice validation that I'd picked a good tablecloth color. 

I do wish the tablecloth was a little longer, but it's still acceptable, and it definitely brightens up the dining side of the room, so overall, I'm pretty pleased.



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