While color and fabric type are both important considerations when buying a tablecloth, getting the correct size is critical. After all, even if your tablecloths are of the highest quality and in a beautiful color, many people get distracted if it’s in the wrong size. Furthermore, the perfect tablecloth depends not only on the shape of your table but also what visual style you are going for.
Whether you’re looking for tablecloths to use in your home, at a fun family event, or to formally decorate all the tables at a wedding venue, sizing before buying is wise idea.
Understanding Tablecloth Standards
Choosing a size for your tablecloths depends on basically two main factors: 1) The shape and measurements of your tables, and 2) What look you are going for.
- In general, tablecloths are sold in square, oval, round, and oblong (rectangular) shapes. The shape of your tablecloth should match the shape of your table, with the exception that a rectangular tablecloth can work on an oval-shaped table. You will need to measure the length and width of your specific tables, but height wise, standard tables are usually 28 to 30 inches tall.
- The look of your tablecloth directly ties in with the “overhang”, “fall”, or “drop”. All of these terms are describing the same thing, namely: the amount of material that drapes off the ends of the table. As a general rule of thumb, more casual settings have a partial drop (usually to lap length) while formal events like weddings often look better with tablecloths that touch (or nearly touch) the floor.
How to Measure for Size
Using a tape measure, find the length and width of your tables. For round tables, you’ll need the diameter (the length across the middle of the circle). For ease, write the dimensions in both inches and centimeters or refer to Razatrade’s tablecloth sizing chart.
To figure out what tablecloth size you need, first determine how much of a drop you want. For square and rectangular tables, multiply that drop by 2 and add it to the width and height. For circle tables, multiply the drop by 2 and add it to the diameter.
For example, if you want the tablecloth to reach the floor (a 30 inch drop) and have a rectangular table 30 inches wide and 72 inches long:
30 inches (the fall) x 2 = 60 inches. 30 inches (the table width) + 60 inches = 90 inches. 72 inches (the table length) + 60 inches = 132 inches.
In this situation, you’d want a tablecloth that is 90 inches by 132 inches.
For most people, being able to see how different tablecloth lengths will look is really helpful in deciding the right size, so check out this awesome Visual Tablecloth Size Chart.
Tablecloth Tips and Fixes
While you should get a perfect fit by following the steps above, if in doubt, remember that it is better to go with a slightly longer overhang.
Furthermore, if something does go awry with your tablecloths, all is not lost. Other than purchasing new tablecloths in the correct size, here are some of the most common tablecloth mishaps and ways you can fix them.
Too Small or Short
While a slightly too large tablecloth is easier to fix than one that is too short or small, there are still ways to make the piece work in your table setting.
For a tablecloth that is too short, an easy fix is to add a piece of lace or other decorative trim to the ends. Not only can lace edging make a plain tablecloth look fancier, but lace comes in a variety of types of lengths to suit your needs.
If you don’t have sewing skills or the time to add edging, you can layer a small tablecloth with a larger tablecloth, sheet, or other kind of fabric underneath. By making use of the smaller piece as a decorative topper or overlay, you can create a layered table setting that incorporates different colors or even types of fabric.
For a rectangular (oblong) tablecloth that is too small or too short, you can use it as a table runner instead. Just fold and iron it into the right size (a third or fourth of the table width) and place it down the middle as a decorative runner.
Too Big or Long
Tablecloths that are too big or long are pretty easy to fix. For those who have sewing skills or time to visit a tailor, just have the extra material hemmed up to the desired length.
If you are renting tablecloths, want to retain their resale value, or don’t want your tablecloths permanently hemmed, there are many ways to do a faux hem. Methods for pinning up the edges include using safety pins, folding the tablecloth under, or employing double sided tape.
For a more creative fix, if you have two sets of tablecloths on each table, you can bunch up the top layer into a fancy scalloped look. To create the shell-like pattern, decide how far apart the scallops will be spaced (for example, two chair lengths apart) and secure them with safety pins and little bows for a decorative touch.
If your tablecloth edges are just a bit too long, a simple fix is to just gather the excess material and tie the corners into a decorative drape. You can use ribbon, twine, cords, or any other matching ties.
Fly-a-way Outdoor Tablecloth
For outdoor events, a windy day can cause your tablecloth to flap wildly or even fly away. Fortunately there are simple ways to prevent this from happening.
Purchasing tablecloth clamps or table skirt clips is a simple way to attach your tablecloth to the table. Other options include tying weights (like decorated rocks) to the corners of your tablecloth if it already has grommet holes.
For those who would rather weigh down their tablecloths in less obvious ways, adding weight pockets is one solution. Just sew on a triangular pouch to the underside corners and fill it with rocks or metal pieces.
Lastly, you can secure an outdoors tablecloth by punching grommet holes (if needed) and using bungee cords to attach the ends together underneath the table.