How to Make a Kantha-Inspired Table Runner

Create a showstopping modern heirloom with scrap fabric, two simple stitches and zero machines or complicated techniques. Global vibes: check. Totally on-trend: check. Upcycling has never looked so good!

Photo by: Lauren Oster

Lauren Oster

Materials Needed

  • large piece of cotton fabric the length and width of the finished runner
  • cotton fabric scraps
  • iron
  • scissors
  • clothespins
  • long, large-eyed embroidery needle
  • embroidery thread or floss
  • optional: rotary cutter
  • optional: ruler
  • optional: self-healing cutting mat

Photo by: Lauren Oster

Lauren Oster

Prepare and Piece Fabric

Pre-launder and iron both the large piece of fabric that will form the base layer of the runner and the smaller scraps that will come together to form the top layer (Image 1). Tip: A rotary cutter, ruler and self-healing cutting mat can take the guesswork out of cutting up the scrap fabric if you prefer straighter and more precise piecing (Image 2). Leave raw edges on the base layer, then fold over and iron the edges of the scraps (Image 3). Arrange the scraps atop the base layer, matching the outer edges of the scraps to the outer edges of the base. Clip them in place with clothespins (Image 4).

Join Base and Top Layers

Thread the embroidery needle with a 3’ strand of floss, knotting the end. Begin the first stitch by bringing the needle up through the top layer of fabric one inch from the edge (Image 1). Create a running stitch by passing the needle through both layers of fabric in a straight line (Image 2), then pulling extra thread taut (Image 3). The bottom of the runner will have a mirror image of the stitches on its top layer (Image 4).

Create Additional Rows

When the last stitch in the first row is one inch from the edge of the runner (Image 1), turn the runner 180 degrees, pass the needle down through the top layer of scrap fabric, then begin the second row by coming back up beside the beginning of the last stitch in the previous row (Image 2). Continue adding rows, passing the needle up and down through both layers of fabric in a pattern that alternates with the stitches in the previous row. When the floss begins to run short (Image 3), make the first half of a final stitch by passing the needle through the top layer of fabric, then knotting a new strand of floss to the previous strand (Image 4).

Tip: Because the runner is reversible, its “messy side” is the area sandwiched between the top and bottom layers of fabric, and all knots and stitches that jump between rows should begin and end in between those layers. As you make your way across the runner, note that while its surface doesn’t need to be covered with stitches, you do need to stitch across the borders of each piece of scrap fabric, as those stitches are what will hold it in place.

Finish Edges

Create a clean hem by folding half an inch of the top layer down, then folding half an inch of the bottom layer up and sandwiching the folds together. Begin the edging by pulling the needle down through the bottom layer (Image 1). Make a blanket stitch by pulling the needle upward through both layers, then passing it through the loop created in the floss (Image 2) and pulling the floss taut (Image 3). Come back through both layers of fabric from below, passing the needle through the loop once again, and blanket stitch around the perimeter of the runner (Image 4). Tip: Ironing the folded fabric and clipping it together with clothespins will keep the hem steady as you edge the runner.

Photo by: Lauren Oster

Lauren Oster

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