For the Home

Outdoor Tablecloth Hack

When we’re having a picnic out back, I like to use a tablecloth to cover my table. But the pesky wind seems to always blow it around. So I took a store-bought tablecloth and sewed elastic around the edges, making it fit snug as a bug around my table. Now I don’t have to worry if the wind picks up and my food is saved from any cloth flaps whipping right into my pasta salad!

Sewn Table Cloth Hack

Supplies for Tablecloth Trick:

  • any size tablecloth – mine is a plastic vinyl with the fuzzy cotton underneath
  • sewing machine
  • 1/4 inch width stretch elastic , I used almost 2 yards (you can use as wide as you want, but 1/4 is a good measurement.)
  • safety pins – at least 2

Table Cloth Supplies

First, you need to sew a 1 – 1 1/2 inch seam around the edge of the tablecloth, wide enough to fit the elastic through. But, you don’t sew it completely shut. Leave at least 3-4 inches of the seam open, for an area to put the elastic up and through.

Sewing Table Cloth

Handmade Table Cloth

Also, since this is a circular cloth, it’s hard to sew a straight line. So I found myself needing to fold over my fabric just a little around the seam, about every 8-10 inches. (If you have a better way to sew around a circle, please let me know!)

Table Cloth Sewing

You’re ready for your elastic. Pin a safety pin onto both ends of the elastic. One you will leave all by itself on the elastic, the other, you’ll pin to the edge of the tablecloth. This is so you don’t end up loosing your spot, messing up all that work you just did.

Table Cloth Pins

Once your end pin is securely in place, thread the front pin through the hole of the seam. You need to finger your pin all the way through the entire tablecloth… yes, it takes some time. You scrunch your pin through, then while holding onto your pin with one hand, push the fabric back the opposite way. It does start to get a little extra scrunchy, but that’s just how it is when you’re threading a lot of elastic through a a lot of cloth.

Table Cloth Elastic

Elastic and Cloth

After you’ve made it all the way around, pull the pin all the way out of the seam again, now on the other side. Here, you can either test your tablecloth by pinning the two ends of the elastic together and seeing how it fits on your table, OR you can go ahead and sew your elastic ends together. I just zigzag through them 5-6 times back and forth. Trim the extra elastic, then sew up the hole that was left.

Elastic with Table Cloth

Sew Elastic

Sewing a Table Cloth

Now it’s ready for your table. I’m so happy with how it turned out. No matter the weather elements, my tablecloth will be staying securely in place!


  1. This was a great idea for our dinette in our motor home. Plus I had extra material to make place matching place mats.

  2. Hi – Have you tried something similar to this using a cloth tablecloth (no padded vinyl)? I’m wondering if it would be better to have it tie under the table like an ironing board cover…. Mom wants a picnic cover but I have a feeling she won’t want the plastic vinyl which I personally would prefer)… I’m going to make one for park picnics first.

  3. i’ve made a lazy susan for my 70″ round table..i either buy a ready made cloth, or buy fabric,i buy the round pine wood at lowes, buy the mechanism for the bottom with the ball bearings, attatch it to the bottom of the round wood. than i make numerous round table covers for it. i add elastic to the material…you can have a tablecloth for the lazy susan to fit any holiday, birthday, or any other theme you want.
    my hand gets a little sore pulling the elastic while sewing but get a lot of compliments on them.i just tell them to not look all started when
    i went on the internet to find a finished lazy susan that was 36″ round, and all of them were very, very expensive. i got this brain storm, and has worked out beautifuly..i am now making one for my daughters 60″ round table which will take 30″ round wood…lowes didn’t have a 30″ round wood, so i bought the 36″ round wood and a man at the woodworking shop is going to make it a 30″‘ for me.
    i did not stain my wood, but am going to stain the one i make for my daughter…mine is always covered with a tablecloth that i make…

  4. Denise – You could try that, I bet it would work for a square table over those corners. If you try it, let me know. I’d love to know if that works, I’m always out for something done easier!

  5. Love this idea!! And the bar stool variation, too! Also, could be made for indoor tables for when do crafts- to have easier clean up and no hanging tablecloth corners for little ones to walk by and tug on!

    For the longer wooden rectangular picnic tables, do you think it would suffice to put elastic around the two “short” ends and the corners? (Sort of like some fitted sheets are). Or would you need elastic to run the entire perimeter?

  6. So it’s been six years since my college costume class, which I wasn’t very good at to begin with, but I think for sewing circles you’re supposed to “clip” the corners to make it a straight fold instead of gathering (if that makes any sense). I’m sure it’s more succinct in my textbook, but I’d have to find it!

    I love this idea even if it’s just for adding color outside. Very nice!

  7. Melissa – Yes, just like a giant shower cap! Love that!

    Kim – I don’t like those clips either, never stay put.

    Jen – Good idea to use this project inside the house too! I’ve never had an indoor table cloth because I usually have a small baby tugging at it. Now I’m going to have to try that!

    Thanks all, for your great comments!

  8. I love so many of your ideas and projects, but this one really takes the cake! I’m going to do the same for my kitchen table. Our table cloth is always sliding around and I’m always nervous about losing our dinner to the dog!

  9. AWESOME!! I love this idea!! I hate when the tablecloth is blowing and ruining your food. Those little clips they sell are a joke. Thank You for this awesome project.

  10. Such a great idea. I need to do this for the one on my table, my kids always are pulling and fighting over it being on straight at meals.

  11. Thanks for the motivation! I have been looking for a fitted tablecloth just this morning, being too lazy to even think about altering one I already have..But now I am Motivated to make my own! Thanks! Your Table looks great! Now we just need some nice, warm, predictable weather ;)

  12. I did this for my kitchen stools. It is sort of like a shower cap on my stools.

    My cushions on my kitchen stools were getting SO dirty. I remade the cushion covers and now I can throw them in the wash. It has been wonderful!

  13. Great idea! I especially love the idea of pinning the end of the elastic to the seam. I’m sure I would have lost the end a few times before that thought hit me upside the head :)

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