Tablecloths aren’t just there to protect your tables; choosing high-quality table linens is an important part of any table setting. They can be used to add a decorative element to your table décor, accentuate your theme, bring a sense of formality (or lack thereof), and add a touch of color to your event.
With a variety of patterns, colors, shapes, textures, and cloths, table linens are a great way to set the stage for a memorable meal that your guests will enjoy. Whether you’re celebrating a wedding, planning a professional conference, or hosting a gala, your tabletop décor will make a big impact on your event.
HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT SIZE TABLE LINEN OR TABLECLOTH FOR YOUR EVENT
Before you jump into designing, renting, or purchasing table décor, you need to find out what size you should be on the lookout for. There are two steps to this process: determining the size and shape of the tables you are using for your event and choosing the length of the table linen.
DETERMINE TABLE SIZE AND SHAPE
The shapes of tables can vary widely based on what you choose to display at your event. The most common table shapes for events are round, rectangular, or square tables. Oval tables are also growing in popularity.
Similarly, table size depends on both your event space and how many people you want to sit together. Smaller tables encourage deep conversation among smaller groups of people, while larger tables can build a sense of community.
CHOOSE THE LENGTH OF THE TABLE LINEN
Tablecloth “drop” is a term used to describe the length of your table linen—in other words, how far the tablecloth hangs down from the edge of the table. Casual events lean toward lap-length drops, or about 15 inches on each side. More formal events, on the other hand, have floor-length drops, which are usually around 30 inches.
When choosing a tablecloth drop, consider both the dining style as well as the occasion you are celebrating. Your guests will appreciate the difference.
A GUIDE TO MEASURING YOUR TABLE FOR LINENS AND TABLECLOTHS
When you have selected the tables you want to have at your event and after you have determined the tablecloth drop you want to achieve, it’s time to get to the nitty gritty work of measuring your table. How you measure a table for linens depends on its shape.
MEASURING A ROUND TABLE
Round tables are easy to measure. Simply measure the table diameter to get your main number. Then, add twice the length of the drop you want to achieve to that diameter to determine the tablecloth size needed.
Here’s the equation: table diameter in inches + (desired drop in inches x 2) = tablecloth size needed.
For example, if you have a round table 48 inches in diameter and are looking to create a 30-inch drop, you want to purchase a 108 RD tablecloth (48 + 30 + 30).
MEASURING A RECTANGULAR TABLE
When you measure a rectangular table, the end result will be two numbers in a width by length format. There are two equations to consider—one for length and one for width.
To find the width of the tablecloth you need, follow this equation: width of table in inches + (desired drop in inches x 2) = tablecloth width size needed.
To find the length of the tablecloth you need, use this equation: length of table in inches + (desired drop in inches x 2) = tablecloth length size needed.
For example, a rectangular table that is 72 inches (6 feet) long and 30 inches wide would require a tablecloth that is 90 inches in width (30 + 30 + 30) and 132 inches in length (72 + 30 + 30). At most tablecloth and table linen designers, this final tablecloth size would be written as 90 x 132.
TABLECLOTH AND TABLE LINEN SIZE CHART
To make the tablecloth sizing process easier, we’ve listed the most common table sizes and shapes alongside the best sized table linens for formal events.
Table Size and Shape
Tablecloth Size (Formal Length)
36-inch round table
48-inch round table
60-inch round table
72-inch round table
6-foot rectangular table
90 x 132
8-foot rectangular table
90 x 156
36-inch square table
48-inch square table
108 RD or 132 SQ
Note that for square-shaped tables, you often have a choice between round tablecloths that will only touch the floor in the center of each size and square tablecloths that are customized to evenly touch the floor. Additionally, the rectangular-shaped tables are assumed to have a width of 30 inches, as is the general standard.
STANDARD VS. CUSTOM TABLE LINEN DESIGNS AND SIZES
While tablecloths that fit standard sizes and shapes are easier to find, custom linens can often be created to fit unique table needs. If your table of choice doesn’t fall under one of the more common categories, there are other design elements you can consider to make sure your table décor looks spectacular.
For example, if your table is wider than most, you can use multiple table runners instead of one tablecloth. Or, for oval-shaped tables, a rectangular cloth that pools a bit on the corners may be your best bet. Additionally, choosing simple table linen paired with an eye-catching table runner can be a great way to match your theme while also taking unusual table sizes and shapes into account.
Whatever tables you choose for your event, selecting a pattern and design that fits your color scheme and impresses your guest is key to creating an event that your attendees will never forget.