Fall is in the air, and Thanksgiving is near! What better way to make your dinner gatherings festive than a pretty tablecloth?  Our large, blended family requires extra tables on the porch that need a helping hand to look festive. We are thankful to live in a mild climate this time of year!

A pretty corner embroidery can dress up any inexpensive tablecloth and make your dinner guests feel extra special. They are also an excellent complement to your favorite fall table runners.

These tablecloths were made using the DBJJ Autumn Jacobean Floral (DBJJ272) set. The set includes multiple sizes of fall leaves and pumpkins corner designs and individual cute accents of fall leaves, pumpkins, sunflowers, acorns, and corn that would be perfect to add additional touches to your tablecloths or to adorn napkins or placemats. 

Materials needed:  DBJJ Autumn Jacobean Floral (DBJJ272) design set, medium weight cutaway stabilizer, pins, adhesive of choice (if desired), grids that came with your hooping system, your chosen embroidery software (used to print design templates), ruler, pencil, scissors, embroidery (or painter’s) tape and tablecloths of choice. The tablecloths pictured are inexpensive, water-resistant mock linen.

Your choice of stabilizer may vary depending on your preferences, hooping system, and machine style. I selected cutaway based on the frequent washing I anticipate with use and to give the fill stitches added support and stability on this woven fabric. This tutorial shows placement and hooping methods using standard hoops owned by most embroiderers. However, comparable results were achieved floating on fast frames with a sticky cutaway stabilizer.

The 5” x 7” corner designs were used for these tablecloths. Pay attention to the design elements of each file to ensure the placement is oriented the way you desire. For these tablecloths, the center leaf in the leaf design pointed down the length of the tablecloth (two opposite-facing designs were used to achieve this), and for the pumpkins, the two flowers also extended on the longer side. This was based on personal preference. There are no rules!

Step 1.  Preparing the design template: print the design using your preferred embroidery software. Place your hoop template with the center on the crosshairs of the design and mark each of the four sides (Figure 1). Using a ruler, trace the crosshairs to the edge of the design through your markings. Use a ruler to draw lines along marked design edges parallel to the crosshair lines, then cut along the outside lines (Figure 2). While many are comfortable with design placement without printing templates, I prefer it for a project that requires me to check the design placement to achieve my desired look.

Step 2.  Placement of the design: lay your template on the tablecloth corner in your desired position. The generally accepted standard placement for tablecloths is 5 inches from the corner. However, for these tablecloths, the center of the design was placed approximately 4 inches. This design choice was a personal preference after checking the placement of both measurements with the template. A wide acrylic quilting ruler is particularly helpful (shown), but the same effect can be achieved using a standard ruler, measuring from the design center to the edge both ways.  

You will note that most mass-produced tablecloths and sheets are rarely square, so my quilting ruler is aligned with the drawn lines on the template, and corner to center is 4 inches. Whichever method you use to measure, being consistent is vital. Use this measurement method on all corners. Once you have your design placed, pin it in place (Fig.3). This is an excellent time to put it on a table to determine if it fits your preference.

Step 3.  Hooping the tablecloth: pay attention to the orientation of your design in relation to your tablecloth. You will want to hoop the easiest way for the machine you are using. Regardless, you’ll want to keep the bulk of the tablecloth fabric out of the machine's throat. You can use the rotate design function on your embroidery machine and hoop accordingly to ensure the material is either off to the left of the tabletop machine or to the front on a multi-needle device.  

Once you’ve determined which orientation you’ll need to hoop based on your device, slip your stabilizer under the tablecloth, lay your grid in the hoop, and align the grid over your design template to hoop the project (Fig.4). You may choose to use temporary spray adhesive to stick your stabilizer to the back of the tablecloth at this point. If you do, be sure to allow extra stabilizer to extend beyond the tablecloth's corner to allow for hooping.  

While traditional hooping can be more time-consuming and complicated than other methods (e.g.,, floating), I prefer items that I anticipate lack of stabilization could be a problem. 

Hooping tips:  You want the project tight, but resist the urge to tug at the edges; you don’t want to over-stretch the fabric as it will return to its natural state and create wrinkles around your design. After hooping, press the bottom hoop up to ensure a snug fit and tighten the screw firmly. Most hoop screws allow for tightening with a screwdriver, which helps with more extensive projects to ensure the hoop is secured tightly. Use the smallest hoop that fits your project for the best stabilization.

Remove the plastic hoop template. Note that one edge of my tablecloth is inside of the hoop, and one edge is barely hooped based on the placement of the design.  If you used spray adhesive to attach the tablecloth to your stabilizer, this will help with stabilization.  For those who do not use spray adhesives, you should pin your tablecloth to the stabilizer within the hoop but outside the design's stitch area. 

You can determine where to pin before picking up your printed template. Pin with caution, as hitting a pin during embroidery may result in a broken needle, a ruined project, or damage to your machine. You’ll also notice that one edge of the tablecloth is within the hoop.  To ensure your presser foot doesn’t catch under this edge during stitching, tape that edge to your stabilizer using a piece of painter’s tape or embroidery tape (Fig. 5). 

Step 4.  Stitching the design: once you have set your selected thread colors in your machine and snap your hoop in place, it is essential that you use the trace outline feature of your machine. You want to ensure that your hoop moves under the needle around the stitch area freely. Any hindrance in the movement of the machine could distort the alignment of the stitching in your design. If you have a multi-needle machine, you should put something in front of it to support the weight of the tablecloth. If you have a tabletop machine, place the machine so that the bulk of your tablecloth is supported. Adjust as needed and let the machine trace one last time before starting to stitch. If you used pins, this is also a perfect time to verify that your pins are correctly placed outside the stitch area (Fig 6).

Note on thread colors: digitizing these designs allows a lot of creativity in thread selection. There are opportunities to blend more colors than used here for an extra textured and realistic fall look. Only six colors were used in these tablecloths, as a personal preference, using a 6-needle machine. However, if you are comfortable doing thread changes, the design easily allows for twice as many hues! Playing with thread colors is a great way to personalize your work. Try using multiple shades of green or brown in the leaves to add dimension.  

After stitching your design, cut the stabilizer about 1/4 inch around the design.  While it feels stiff, the cutaway stabilizer softens over time with washes.  

I love using embroidery to embellish home décor items and create my personalized look. Tablecloths and runners, pillows, and curtains are all easy options to change the look of a room. You are only limited by your imagination. Happy Stitching!

Venessa Saucier

Venessa Saucier is a lifelong creator immersed in the realms of machine embroidery and quilting. With an unwavering passion for artistic expression, she enjoys sharing tips and techniques with aspiring makers. When she is not stitching, she’s fishing!