The possibilities for decorating your tablecloth are limited only by your imagination and budget. Consider the use of the table as well as its appearance when you choose your fabrics.
Decorative trims can be very effective and are easily added. Consider adding ruffles to the edge of a table. Refer to the section on ruffles in Chapter 5 and add them to your tablecloth in the same way. Fold the ends of the ruffle inside if it's double, or under if it isn't, and blind-stitch them together where they meet.
Lace or other ready-made trims placed in the overhang can add interest. Be sure to mark the distance from the edge so the trim is straight and even. Depending on the type of trim, corners can be overlapped or folded under. For heavier trim, sew it across two opposite sides of a rectangular table. Turn under the raw edges of the trim for the other two sides, and use them to cover the raw edges of the trim sewn to the first two sides. If you are adding lace that you want to see through, sew the lace as described here, then carefully cut the tablecloth fabric away from under it, leaving ½″ of fabric along the stitches. Tuck the raw edges under to the stitching, and sew them down and to the lace.
It would be easy to accidentally cut your lace when you are trimming away the fabric. To prevent this, once you have started enough to have an opening, slip a piece of cardboard between the lace and the tablecloth fabric and move it ahead of your scissors.
For lightweight trims, begin in the center of one side by turning the raw edge of the trim under and stitching the lower edge along the markings for the trim. Just before you reach the corner, fold the trim to fit around the edge, adjusting the visible fold so it resembles the mitered corners described for the hems. Pin the upper edge of the trim in place at this fold and continue stitching, pivoting the needle when you turn the corner. Just before you reach the place where you started, turn the raw edge of your trim under so it bumps up against the folded edge. Stitch the upper edge of the trim. If the spliced edge or the corner folds look as if they might separate, secure them with a few blind stitches.
Trims added to the overhang of round or oval tablecloths will need to flex and be easily gathered. Avoid any that are stiff or heavy. Run a row of stitches along the top edge of the trim to help you ease it into place. On the tablecloth, mark the lower line for the trim with chalk. Sew the trim along this line with a straight stitch close to the edge. Ease the upper edge of the trim into place using the gathering stitches.
Coordinating Fabric for Trim
To add a stripe of coordinating fabric to a square or rectangular tablecloth, cut the tablecloth to the size inside or above the trim. Cut the coordinating fabric into the desired width, and sew strips to two sides of the tablecloth using French seams. Press the seam allowance in the direction of the trim and stitch it down. Repeat the process with the other two sides, again with strips of the main tablecloth fabric, and then hem the edges.
The same process doesn't work for round or oval tablecloths because of the difficulty of cutting curving fabric to fit exactly.
Using two tablecloths can be very effective. This is generally done by covering a round accent table with a floor-length tablecloth and topping that with a short, square one. For a Victorian look, use a lace cloth for the top cloth. Two coordinating fabrics of equal weight might have a more country look, depending on the fabric. Don't dismiss it as a possibility for a small dining table.
Since you are making your own tablecloths, it's an easy matter to make matching accessories for the table. Plan ahead, and buy your fabric all at once.
Napkins can be hemmed with a narrow version of the tablecloth hem. Consider making them out of linen or other soft fabric and trimming them with a strip of your tablecloth fabric. Simply turn the long edges of the strips under and sew them to the linen napkins before you hem them. Cloth liners for breadbaskets can be made the same way.
Place mats, centerpieces, and runners can be made like the reversible tablecloth or edged with seam binding. A piece of batting or heavy flannel between the layers will add some shaping.
Breadbasket cloths made by layering coordinating fabric are particularly effective because both sides show as the corners stick out of the basket. Consider using a basket lined with your two-sided cloth and filled with fruit for a centerpiece.