Set a Stylish Thanksgiving Table
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Set a Stylish Thanksgiving Table

Celebrate at the table by dressing it up with these great ideas.

Embroidered Tablecloth

Setting the Table with Style
The centerpiece of artificial
vegetables, brass candlesticks,
and two bud vases of fresh
flowers are nestled into a
cocoa-brown velvet sofa throw.

A bountiful Norman Rockwell-inspired Thanksgiving display makes this table especially inviting and sets the stage for a picture-perfect holiday. The hemstitched linen tablecloth and napkins were created on an embroidery sewing machine, or they can be sewn by hand. Either way, they promise to become cherished heirlooms for future generations.

To make a 108 x 54-inch tablecloth and eight 24-inch-square formal dinner napkins

What You Need:

  • 6 yards 58-inch-wide linen or linenlike fabric
  • 7 spools #112 Mettler embroidery thread (200 meters each, 30 wt.)
  • 3 spools #512 100-percent-cotton Madeira Heirloom thread (200 meters each, 80 wt.)
  • Size 80 universal sewing machine needles
  • 1 wing sewing machine needle, size 120/19
  • Size 80 embroidery sewing machine needles
  • Tear-away stabilizer
  • Temporary spray adhesive
  • Air-soluble marking pen
  • Adjustable magnetic sewing machine stitching guide
  • Adjustable seam gauge
  • Seam solvent
  • Embroidery disk with 30 mm (1.2-inch high) lettering design of your choice (we chose a Clarendon font)
  • Maple Leaf design #LV591, available for instant download at, or other motif of your choice

Preparation Instructions:
Setting the Table with Style
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Diagram 1

Note: This project was completed using a Husqvarna Viking, Designer 1 Sewing and Embroidery machine and Husqvarna Viking customizing software. You may use another embroidery machine of your choice.

1. For the tablecloth, pull a thread and cut along the pulled line to establish a true crosswise grain line. Measure a 112-1/2-inch length of fabric, pull a thread, and cut along the thread line. For the napkins, measure four 26-1/2-inch lengths of fabric, pull a thread, and cut along the thread line. Cut each 26-1/2-inch length into two 26-1/4-inch widths. (See Diagram 1.) Trim off the short raw edges along the selvages, but do not cut through the selvage.

2. Using a universal needle and heirloom thread in the machine, clean-finish all raw edges on the tablecloth and napkins.

Setting the Table with Style
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Diagram 2

3. Miter corners: For each napkin, with wrong sides together, fold edges in 1 inch and press. For the tablecloth, with wrong sides together, fold edges in 2 inches and press. (Note: Just press about 6 inches out from each corner.) For each napkin and tablecloth: Open the hem so you can see the pressed crease. Fold over the corner so the fold line passes through the point where the two pressed creases intersect, as shown in Diagram 2; iron in place.

Setting the Table with Style
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Diagram 3

Mark a 1/4-inch seam allowance and cut off the corners. Sew along the pressed crease, as shown in Diagram 3.

Setting the Table with Style
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Diagram 4

Repeat until all corners are mitered; press seams open as shown in Diagram 4. Turn right side out and press the hem.

4. Hem: Secure the hem by topstitching close to the selvage or folded edge. To hemstitch, use a wing needle and pin stitch (stitch D6 on the Designer 1 machine). Adjust stitch width and length both to 3 mm. Position the fabric right side up; position the seam guide 1 inch from the needle, and tape to secure. Begin stitching about 5 inches from one corner. The lengthwise stitch should enter the fabric slightly to the left of the first row of stitching. Crosswise stitches should extend 4 to 5 threads to the right into the hem allowance. Make one stitch beyond the corner point. Lift the pressure foot and needle. Turn the fabric 90 degrees, lower the needle, and begin stitching again. Repeat for all napkins and tablecloth.

Embroidery Instructions:
Setting the Table with Style
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Diagram 5

Note: Leaf motifs and "Give Thanks" should be positioned in the drop of the tablecloth. Measure the table, determine the length of drop, and change placement as necessary. Leaf motifs should be positioned in napkin corners.

1. For the tablecloth and napkins: Use an embroidery needle with embroidery thread; use heirloom thread in the bobbin. Download the leaf motif from the Internet or use another motif. Test all motifs by making a sample; adjust thread tension or size if necessary.

2. For tablecloth (before beginning, see Diagram 5): Program the machine to sew Give Thanks. Mark placement guide lines with an air-soluble marker. Hoop the stabilizer, apply temporary spray adhesive, position the fabric, and embroider the motif. Repeat until all 12 Give Thanks motifs have been embroidered. Prepare the sewing machine to embroider three leaves. Make a sample; adjust size or thread tension as necessary. Position the motif between each pair of Give Thanks; embroider.

3. For napkins: Prepare the sewing machine to embroider a single motif. Hoop the stabilizer; position one corner of the napkin on the stabilizer. Embroider one motif in the corner of each napkin.

4. For napkins and tablecloth: Trim threads; remove stabilizer. Dot thread ends with seam sealant to secure stitching.

Flower Arrangement

Setting the Table with Style
Only three flower varieties
(roses, stock, and lilies) were
used in two colors to keep this
Fruit and Floral Centerpiece

Easy elegance best describes this holiday table setting. The table runner is a folded tablecloth -- a good solution when you don't have a cloth large enough for a leaf-extended table. The centerpiece can be created at home using a small glass and bowl. Inexpensive ornaments personalized with the guests' names in gold metallic pen act as place markers and take-home gifts. Arrange the stunning centerpiece of sugared grapes and fresh flowers quickly and easily with this method.

What You Need:

  • Small glass with straight sides
  • Clear glass bowl
  • 3 yards lightweight floral wire
  • Sugared grapes
  • Selection of fresh flowers
  • Scissors

Setting the Table with Style
Photo 1

1. Rinse grape clusters in water and lay them on paper towels to dry. When they have dried, dip them in beaten egg whites, then in white sugar. Allow them to dry for several hours or overnight on a cooling rack.

2. Clean the flowers and stems of wilted petals, thorns, and excess leaves. Separate the flowers by color and variety.

3. Arrange the flowers with your left hand acting as a vase; see Photo 1. Do this by placing one large bloom, such as a lily, so that it is held loosely in the area between your thumb and pointer finger. Continue adding one or two stems at a time, alternating the variety and color. Turn the bouquet frequently so that you can check all the sides for color placement and holes.

Setting the Table with Style
Photo 2

4. Wrap the finished bouquet stems with floral wire starting just under the blooms and wrapping snugly about 4 inches down the stems. Secure the wire by pulling it up between the stems and cutting. Trim the stems straight across so the bouquet will stand in the glass of water.

5. Assemble the arrangement by setting the glass in the bowl. (Wipe off any excess moisture from the glass, as this will break down the sugar on the grapes.) Arrange the sugared grapes around it, as shown in Photo 2.

Tablecloths & Coordinates

Setting the Table with Style
Gold for elegance and swirls for
whimsy -- start the new year in

Ring out the old and ring in the new with this brightly colored table setting that works equally well for a myriad of other seasonal celebrations. Tissue gold lame is an excellent choice for a quick, no-sew table cover. For a small round table like the one shown, tape the selvage edge, pleating as you go, to the apron of the table, then pouf the bottom of the tableskirt, tucking the opposite selvage edge under. Fold another piece of fabric in half (fabric should measure 45 inches square after folding) and lay it over the top of the table. Cover the whole table with a painted organdy overlay (see Dressed-Up Coordinates).

Dressed-Up Coordinates
Setting the Table with Style

Dots and swirls, motifs pulled from the designs on the plates and glasses, are painted onto iridescent organdy napkins and a tablecloth overlay with fabric paint.

Setting the Table with Style
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Napkin Diagram

1. Cut 18-inch-square napkins and an overlay to fit your table. Lay the fabric pieces on wax paper while applying the paint, and leave them until completely dry because the paint will soak through the fabric.

2. Finish the edges by running a thin bead of iridescent fabric paint along the perimeter of each piece. Squeeze dots of paint onto the corners of the napkins in red metallic. Squeeze paint swirls randomly in the center of the napkins, as shown in the Napkin Diagram and on the overlay in gold metallic.

3. Allow the paint to dry overnight, then trim the edges to clean up frays or unevenly dried paint.

Caring for Fine Linens

Setting the Table with Style
Keep your linens beautiful
with proper care.

With proper care, your fine linens will become family treasures for generations to come. While there are many textile options available today, linen maintains its popularity because it launders beautifully, and with age it becomes softer and more luminous. Because linen is a natural fiber, it will require a little more work than fabric blends, but the results are well worth it.

To Launder Linens:

  • Use pure soap or gentle detergent; soap works best in soft water.
  • Launder stains when fresh; once they set, they can be difficult or impossible to remove.
  • Use oxygen-type bleaches for white linen; chlorine bleaches can cause yellowing.
  • Use very warm or hot water.
  • Rinse completely to remove soap and residual soil. This helps to prevent age spots. Avoid wringing.
  • Either line dry or lay flat to dry, just until slightly damp.
  • To keep linens looking white, dry them in the sun.
  • Many linens are also suited to dry cleaning. Point out any stains, so they can be treated properly. If white linens turn gray or yellow during dry cleaning, it might be an indication that solvents need to be replaced.

To Iron Linens:

  • To prepare, be sure your iron is clean and smooth; check for mineral deposits, which can cause brown spots. Use a well-padded ironing board and a smooth, heat-reflective cover.
  • Do not use the steam feature on your iron; instead, use a clean spray bottle filled with distilled water to moisten fabric as necessary.
  • Begin with dampened linen. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator or freezer for 6 to 24 hours before ironing. This will make ironing easier and prevent mildew. Remove from the freezer 2 hours before ironing.
  • Use spray starch for crispness or spray-on fabric sizing for a softer look.
  • Most linens can withstand a medium to hot iron setting (test the setting in a small, inconspicuous area). Iron on the wrong side first, then on the right side to bring out the sheen. Iron dark linens only on the wrong side.
  • To press embroidered areas, place a soft towel on the ironing board. Place the embroidery, right side down, on the towel; press on the wrong side of the fabric.
  • Use a press cloth to protect lace and seams.
  • Linens should be ironed until almost dry; air them until completely dry.
  • Place a table next to the ironing board when ironing large tablecloths. Roll finished sections of cloth over the table rather than allowing them to drop onto the floor.
  • Minimize creasing ironed tablecloths by rolling them around a tube or hanging them.
  • If you accidentally scorch the linen while ironing, use colorfast bleach (most linens will tolerate this, but some embroidery colors might not be colorfast), then launder. Because scorching damages the fabric, not all scorches can be removed.

To Store Linens:

  • Always launder or dry-clean before storing. Remove starch before storing; starch attracts moths and can weaken cloth.
  • Store in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area.
  • Use pure linen, cotton, or muslin, not synthetics, as covers, or use acid-free tissue paper (regular tissue can yellow linen).
  • Do not store in plastic bags, cedar chests, or cardboard boxes. Fumes from plastic can rot and cause streaking; cedar fumes and acids in unvarnished woods cause yellowing, as does the acid in cardboard.
  • When storing for a long time, refold linens occasionally.