Stay Connected

Monday, November 21, 2022

8 Unconventional Tablecloths for an Extra Long Table

Perhaps you can relate: I use the second leaf in our dining room table about 2 to 3 times per year, extending the table to seat 8 or 10. Otherwise, we use the table with one leaf for seating for 6. 

For Thanksgiving this year, we'll be using the extra leaf so we can maintain a smidge of extra distance between both parties (son and DIL plus 4 of us) while eating. With the 2 leaves installed, the surface dimensions are 44" wide by 84" long. A table cloth should ideally have between 6 to 10 inches overhang. So, my table would need a cloth that is between 56" to 64" wide and between 96" to 104" long. 

So here are some options:

thin cotton quilts -- the standard size of a quilt is 70" by 90". This would give me an overhang on the sides of 13 inches and on the ends of 3 inches. I used a pastel, thin cotton quilt for the table at a baby shower many years ago.

flat bed sheets (the top sheet) -- twin size sheets are typically 66" wide by 96" long. Twin extra-long (like what many dorm rooms at universities have) is the same width, 66", but 5-6 inches longer, 101" or 102". For my purposes, the extra-long would be preferable, as the top edge of a flat sheet has a differently-sewn finish than the other three sides. With an extra-long, I could fold this top edge under 6 inches and baste or duct tape this flap in place. When I set up a folding rectangular table outdoors, I often use flat bed sheets as the table cloth. With this particular table, because the legs are not terribly attractive, I use a wider sheet that almost comes to the ground on the overhang.

colorful wool or cotton blankets without the satin top edge -- twin size blankets are typically 65" buy 90". The width would work for my table and the length would allow a very small overhang on the ends of 3 inches each end. I've used colorful cotton throws positioned on the diagonal as a table topper before. This can look especially attractive for a festive dinner, such as Cinco de Mayo.

fabric yardage -- any fabric yardage that is 60 inches wide works for my table. With fabric I already own and don't want to cut to size on the length, I can fold under one or both ends to achieve the ideal overhang on ends. Don't many of us have a stash of fabric waiting to be sewn into something special?

wrapping paper roll -- the standard width of a roll of wrapping paper is 30 inches. The length varies, but many are between 96 and 100 inches long. Two rolls of paper can be slightly overlapped and taped on the underside, creating a near invisible seam down the center of the table. The fun thing about using wrapping paper is that you can customize it to the celebration. In addition to colorful gift wrap, brown craft paper is also an option. After the meal, unspoiled portions of the wrap can be rolled back up and used for gift-wrapping later. This is especially fun for a child's birthday party. I used craft paper for my son's 3rd birthday and gave all the kids crayons to decorate their places at the table.

curtains, rod pocket or clip hang variety, not pinch pleat-- rod pocket and clip hang curtain panels come in a variety of sizes. Common widths for panels include 48 inches, 56 inches, 58 inches, and 60 inches. Standard lengths are 63", 84", 96", 108", and 120". The 48' width would be too narrow for my table, but the other three widths would work. A lace panel would be pretty on a dining table. A lace curtain panel is on my "seek" list for thrift stores and garage sales.

canvas painter's drop cloth -- drop cloths come in a variety of sizes. The 6 ft by 9 ft (72" by 108") would work on my table, with longer overhangs along the sides (14 inches overhang along each side). Pinterest is full of inspiration for turning a canvas drop cloth into a table cloth. I love this look. I saw an especially pretty table topper that was made from a drop cloth. The owner fitted the cloth to the top of the table with a short overhang all around. Then around the bottom edge, she added a ruffle of the canvas. It had a shabby chic sort of look.

if the table surface is in good condition, placemats work very well and most of us have several. Ditto on table runners -- any fabric yardage can become a runner by folding the two long sides under to make the runner's width equal about 1/3 of the table's width. For most of my growing up years, my mother used delicate straw placemats on this same table.

My dining room table was my parents (bought in 1966) and has quite a bit of wear. I prefer to cover it with a cloth to conceal this wear. For Thanksgiving, I've chosen to use a 3.5 yard length of dark plaid wool yardage from my sewing supplies. For many years, I've intended to sew something for myself with this wool. I will someday. For now, it makes the perfect Thanksgiving table cloth for my extra long table, with its dark colors harmonizing with my brown transfer ware dishes. The side edges already have a selvedge finish, so there are no hanging threads. I've folded about 18 inches under at one and of the table to make the length of fabric fit. 

Obviously, the best table cloth for 2 uses per year is something I already own, can obtain inexpensively, or can be reused for another purpose. I likely wouldn't go out and retail-purchase a curtain panel or extra-long twin flat sheet if I couldn't use them other than as a table cloth 2 times per year, especially since I could just buy an actual table cloth that fits for the same price. However, I might buy any of the above items at a thrift store or garage/estate sale, if the price was right and the measurements worked for our table. I would buy wrapping paper, craft paper, or a canvas drop cloth to use again afterward for wrapping or painting, if I was needing items for those purposes. 

How about you? Have you used sheets or other unconventional coverings as tablecloths? 


  1. I have covered tables with either brown kraft paper or white rolled kids art paper and then left crayons out for decorating. Both were a hit with children and adults.-Kathryn

    1. Hi Kathryn,
      You know, I would find that fun, too!

  2. I agree. I like the combo of your dishes with that fabric table cloth. I have used sheets before as table clothes. However, couple of years ago, I got some big table cloths at Aldis for about $8 a piece. There are a couple of patterns and they coordinate well together. They are indoor/outdoor so they work particularly well when we have several tables set up outside. I also use them inside. When we redid our kitchen, we also refinished our table, so I don't feel the need to cover it up like I did before.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      That was a great buy at Aldi for table cloths. And extra nice that they can be used outdoors, too!
      I need to refinish our table. I just haven't decided how I want to do it. It needs a change. Good that you and Ward refinished yours.

  3. Years ago when "country" decorating was the hot thing, I used a woven blanket throw placed diagonally across my table as a tablecloth. I've also done the brown craft paper table covering with crayons. I don't know if you have a 5 Below store near you (sort of like a dollar store but the top limit is, or used to be, $5 for any items you purchased--that has changed with the surge in prices everywhere), but they sometimes have a chalkboard table runner in their party area. My husband turned 50 during the height of the pandemic so to add a little fun to our lives, I got that and had my kids decorate it.

    1. Hi Kris,
      I haven't heard of the chalkboard runners. Those sound like they'd be fun and different. No 5 Below here. But perhaps there's something similar if I look around more.

  4. I have a round table that has two extensions but this year I need room for 10 and that won't be large enough. I think I'll leave the table round and add a big rectangle table. I have a small house with a small kitchen/dining area so that will have to work. I have table cloths but not super large so two different colored ones will have to do. It will be mix and match this year. Glasses will be mix and match too since I don't have a full set of anything. I might be luck if I have 10 plates. Silverware is mix and match too! I just never had matching sets of anything my whole married life and it doesn't bother me in the least! Our home is cozy and that's all that matters. It will be a simple day with lots of good food (which will also be mismatched!). I wish I had some of that paper so I could put that out because I think that would be a hit with my mismatched family.

    1. All of my dishes and silverware are mix and match, too. Works for us!

    2. Sometimes I see "tablescapes" online and I wonder just who these people are who spend so much time and effort into decorating their tables like that? Where the heck do you put the food (which is what my family is there for)? I am way more comfortable with a cozy, mismatched style--I'm there to visit with loved ones, not to admire the place settings. I do pull out my china for our big holiday meals but that's because we have it and I believe in using things you own. I inherited my mom's silverplate silverware so I guess I'll use that, too. But honestly, it doesn't matter to me what someone's table looks like.

    3. Hi Alice,
      Your home sounds very cozy and inviting. One of the bonuses to not having everything perfect, I've discovered, is we relax and enjoy ourselves more. If everything looks new and perfect, we're afraid to just use it all. I'm envious that you have such a large group to celebrate with. It will be very festive.

  5. I've seen craft paper used, and in the past have used a plain flat white sheet to cover plywood on some short saw horses. Not uncommon here to eat sitting on the floor instead of on chairs, luau and tatami room style. Back in the day when I was a kid, all our parties and gatherings were that way. Not so much these days, tables and chairs are preferred. But in our home, we still eat on the floor when there is a group gathering. Instead of tatami mat, we have our carpet and we're fine with that. I think growing up with so many different nationalities and customs, we have learned and adopted a mishmash, which we just call local style. In fact I'm new thinking how confusing it must be for a person to be of several ethnicities such as having a Chinese grandmother, who is part Hawaiian, married to European (English and Swedish), and now you're married to Japanese (my DIL). It took several generations to be so mixed race, but that is pretty much the majority here. It must be difficult to adapt to a single racial society. This is what happens in my brain these days. I don't stick to one subject.

    Back on topic, I think all your "make do" substitutions are good ones, and no matter what you choose, your table will look lovely and lovingly done. We're not celebrating again. Our inlaws keep them busy enough, and we still have not eaten inside a restaurant which was our means to gather pre pandemic. Maybe next year.

    Have a good day,

    1. That's so interesting, Laura! I would love being a part of your celebrations and learning about cultures that are different than mine.

    2. Aww thank you Kris!!

    3. Hi Laura,
      I love hearing how others celebrate holidays and festive occasions. As a child, eating while sitting on a mat would have added to the fun. My own family came from several different countries. My mom always tried to include something traditional from each arm of the family in planning holidays. Remembering how people cooked and celebrated 100 or 200 years ago is a part of my childhood holiday memory bank.

      We have friends that entertain in restaurants. I've recently begun to see how this could improve hosting for myself. Yes, a restaurant meal is more expensive. But you don't have to clean up the house as you would if expecting guests to come to your home. That would be a real plus to me. Maybe after this winter we all can get back to normal.

  6. Great idea from everyone. My trick for a "fancy" table cover is also using a plain off white (almost tan) flat sheet and then placing a bridge table (as referred to as a card table) cover diagonally (pointed end pointing toward head of the table). Looks pretty nice in my opinion. Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

    1. This is a great way to dress up the sheet-as-tablecloth. And it sounds very pretty, too.

      I do have a couple of my mother's bridge tablecloths from 50 years ago. Many of them were more decorative than regular tablecloths, often with a family member's hand embroidery around the edge.

      Happy Thanksgiving to you, too!


Thank you for joining the discussion today. Here at creative savv, we strive to maintain a respectful community centered around frugal living. Creative savv would like to continue to be a welcoming and safe place for discussion, and as such reserves the right to remove comments that are inappropriate for the conversation.


Be a voice that helps someone else on their frugal living journey

Are you interested in writing for creative savv?
What's your frugal story?

Do you have a favorite frugal recipe, special insight, DIY project, or tips that could make frugal living more do-able for someone else?

Creative savv is seeking new voices.


share this post