What Should I Consider When Buying a Tablecloth?

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  • Written By: J. Beam
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 16 October 2019
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A tablecloth dresses up a table for special occasions and also protects a table from spills and messes. Tablecloths can be used indoors and out and can be made of either vinyl or fabric material. Tablecloths are fairly inexpensive and are found in an abundance of colors and designs. When choosing a tablecloth you need consider size, fabric, and design.

A fabric tablecloth appears more formal than vinyl. Though some fabric tablecloths are casual in style, many range from delicate and formal to rich and luxurious. Most fabric tablecloths are designed to wash well, except for lace, which may need to be soaked and washed by hand after use. When choosing a fabric tablecloth, select one that matches the style of your kitchen or dining room in both color and style. A formal dining room should have a formal tablecloth. You can choose a delicate white linen look or you might choose dark, rich colors and patterns.

Similarly, if you choose to dress your table with linen napkins and placemats, make sure your tablecloth coordinates with your table accessories. Consider layering a lace tablecloth over top of a solid colored one for added depth and texture. You might also consider buying two different styles of tablecloths appropriate for both casual and formal dinners.


If you're selecting a tablecloth for outdoor use, consider purchasing a vinyl tablecloth since fabric fades in the sunlight and is also more difficult to clean. Vinyl tablecloths can be wiped clean and used more frequently without removing for washing. Vinyl tablecloths are usually less expensive than fabric and may not last as long, but are much more conducive to outdoor use.

Remember to pay attention to the size of the tablecloth when you buy it. They come in round, square, rectangle, oval and oblong. Round tablecloths are generally either 60 inch (152.4 cm) or 70 inch (177.8 cm) in diameter. They work well on round tables, but will not fit an oval or square table properly. Similarly, if you have a square or rectangular table, you want to purchase the correct size. Square tablecloths are generally designed to fit square tables that seat up to four people. For tables that seat six to eight people, you will need oval or oblong depending on the table’s shape. Check the package for specific measurements and seating sizes.

If you have a particular look in mind and cannot find the right tablecloth, consider making your own. Even with only basic sewing know-how, you can cut fabric to fit and hem edges accordingly. Square and rectangular shaped tablecloths are the easiest to make and are often the hardest tables to fit with store-bought covers. If you decide to make your own make sure you check the washing instructions of the fabric, including shrinkage, before you buy it.

With little investment, you can buy or make tablecloths for all occasions and create an inviting and well-dressed table. You may find you enjoy the look so much, you use tablecloths and place settings at all your meals.


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Post 2

If you have a really beautiful tablecloth that you want to use for a family dinner, and want to save yourself the hassle of having to wash it when one of the kids tips their juice over, or your favorite uncle over estimates how much gravy he needs, I recommend getting a plastic tablecloth cover. This will save you a world of work.

These are available in the same location as where you got your tablecloth and are made of a heavier plastic. They are very smooth when put down and I find they don't deter from the look of your place settings.

Post 1

You can buy great seasonal tablecloths at most stores. They are usually made of plastic and are very inexpensive. While these wouldn't do for formal occasions, they are great for protecting your table from the kids.

I love the Halloween themed ones, and they are really great for decoration. These are also great if you have to set up numerous tables in the same room for a buffet, or party, and don't want to spend a fortune.

Even better, there are some thin disposable plastic or paper tablecloths that you can buy for a few dollars. I always get these for any crafting activities or things like pumpkin carving. It makes cleanup a breeze.

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