Saturday, December 22, 2012

Embellished Burlap Table Runner How-to

     I wanted to have something fantastic on the table for Christmas dinner this year.  I've seen a lot of burlap being used for various projects and thought to myself, why not a table runner?  From there, the idea just kind of took off on it's own and evolved several times.  At the end, though, I'm super happy with what came to be...

    There were a few firsts for me, (using burlap, fabric ink, and a new material for stenciling) so it was a bit of a shot in the dark experiment.  Sometimes shots in the dark work out!

Here's what you'll need:

Main fabric- I used burlap.  You can find it at your local fabric store.  You'll want enough to have one continuous strip across your table plus about 12" or so on either side to hang over.  (So length of table + 24")
Backing fabric- I used muslin that I had in my fabric stash.  There should be the same amount of backing as there is main fabric.
Rotary cutter and Scissors
Ruler or measuring tape.
Sewing Machine
Paint Mask- This was a first for me.  I guess this stuff is used for painting cars, but it can be found at vinyl suppliers (I used H&  You'll need enough for your graphics plus a 1-2" border around the design.
Transfer tape or contact paper
Sponge Paint Brush
Fabric ink- I used the stuff that came in my Silhouette kit, however, it's the same as you can find at the hobby store for silkscreening.
Vinyl Cutting Machine or a steady hand, utility knife, and a lot of patience- I used my Silhouette Cameo, as I am seriously lacking in that kind of patience and it was a huge design.  If it's just a small one, I could see doing it by hand, though.
Weeding Hook or needle and tweezers
Iron and/or Heat Press- I used both, though just an iron would be okay.  You'll see in the tutorial how I used them.
Freezer paper or scrap paper- To keep the ink from bleeding through onto the surface of whatever you are painting on.

Step 1- Cut your main fabric and backing to the size of your table plus 24" (that gives you 11" of overhang on either side after factoring in a 1" seam allowance) for the length and then the width you want plus 2".  (Mine was 20" wide.)  For burlap, I found that an easy way to make a straight cut was to pull on one of the end threads.  It would gather the burlap and eventually snap, but left a nice, clean straight line to follow for when you cut it.
Step 2- After your main fabric and backing are cut, iron freezer paper on to the back of your main fabric.  (Main fabric being the top fabric that you are going to paint.  See which side of the burlap you want to use... some sides are prettier than others, and iron the freezer paper onto the ugly or "wrong" side.
And keep ironing...
... until the back parts of the runner that will have the graphics on them is completely covered.

Step 3- Using your cutting machine, cut out your design on your paint mask.  You may have to cut the paint mask down to fit onto your mat.
     Also, if your design is large.... you may have to cut it in several sections.

Step 4-  Weed your design.  Using your weeding hook, remove the parts of the stencil that you will want to paint.  This part may leave you a little covered in paint mask vinyl.

Step 5-  Lay out your design the way you want it.

     Once you're happy with how it looks (keep seam allowances in mind!  Don't place it too near the edge or some may disappear into a seam), use your transfer tape or contact paper to remove the design from the backing and onto your main fabric.  (Use the squeegee over the transfer tape once it's on top of the vinyl and then peel off the backing... then place it on your main fabric and squeegee again.)  Before I put the contact paper on top of the vinyl to remove it from the backing, I like to stick the contact paper on the carpet and pull up a few times to get the stickiness down a bit.  Makes it easier to remove later.

Step 6- This is BY FAR the hardest part of making this.  Peel back the transfer tape.  Go slow, take your time.  Cut the excess transfer tape away as you're doing it. I don't have a photo of this step because I was charging my phone, but use one hand to hold down the vinyl and the other to remove the transfer tape.  This takes awhile.  Be patient.

   I do, however, have a pic of some of the words with the transfer tape peeled off while the rest wait for  transfer tape and placement.
     As you get the decals on there, go back over them gently with your squeegee, and/or press firmly with your hand to resticky it to the main fabric if it came up at all.

Step 7-  Now comes the fun part.  Using your sponge brush, apply the fabric ink to the decals, being careful to stay within the frame of the decal and not go out of the lines.  I did a thin coat and waited for it to dry.  Then did a second coat a bit thicker... blotting up and down with my brush.
     What you DON'T want to do, is paint so forcefully that you pull up your stencil... or blob so much paint that it bleeds all over the place regardless of the stencil.  The freezer paper will also help keep the ink in check.

Step 8-  Once the paint is COMPLETELY dry, peel back the stencil.  This was my favorite part by far.  So fun to see the end result peeking through.  Then, heat seal it.  You can either use an iron and iron through a protective layer of fabric (such as an old pillowcase) or a heat press if you want to blaze through it.  Make sure you use a teflon sheet if you use your heat press.

Step 9-  Now it's time to sew it together.  Pin your fabric right sides together.  Starting on one long side, sew down and around 3 sides with a 1" seam allowance.  Leave one short side open so you can turn it right-side out.  Iron.

Step 10- Tuck the unsewn short side inside 1" and press flat.  Sew as close to the edge as you can.  To finish the runner off, top stitch around the entire  runner.  I topstitched slightly under 1" to catch and hold all of the layers.  Then, you're done!

     Send pics if you guys make some!  I'd love to see them.  Enjoy!


  1. Thank you very much!
    You are an exemplary teacher.
    I love all your YouTube videos, your blog and your great Etsy products!
    Happy 2015!
    Best, Caroline Grace