I love the look of a crisp, clean tablecloth.  I also love my children.  For years, it seemed, I couldn’t have both around at the same time.  And while I did briefly consider having the kids eat every meal outside; I knew that that probably wouldn’t seem too cool and my neighbors would deem me the “bad mom.” No one wants to be the “bad mom.”  NO ONE.

My first effort was to Scotchguard it.  I layered that stuff on like butter to toast.  It didn’t really seem to make a difference, and failed me when paired against tomato sauce for the first time.

So I moved on. I tried out the cheap vinyl cloths you can get at Walmart.  But it was so crinkly. It just didn’t look as nice.  My toddler also found it incredibly fun to poke holes in it.  And it made weird sounds.

I then decided to try one of those thick, clear vinyl coverings to put over my fabric tablecloth.  It retained weird wrinkles and slipped around like crazy.  I found it always seemed to be hanging off about a foot too far, no matter how much I adjusted it.  And, it also looked cheap.  Think–the 1970s plastic couch covers at the in-laws house on Everybody Loves Raymond.

I was about to give up my dream.  Then I remembered–I’m a DIY person.  I’m a problem solver.  Surely there had to be a better way, and I was the woman to find it!

I made like my teenager self, and composed a list of all the things I desired in the perfect mate tablecloth.

Wipeable tablecloth in a dining room with 4 chairs and a centerpiece.

The Ultimate List of Qualities for the Perfect DIY Wipeable Tablecloth

  1. Aesthetic: it needs to look beautiful.  I want to smile everytime I see it and think, dang girl, you did good.
  2. Wipeable:  this element is essential.  It’s the reason all my fabric tablecloths failed me.  If I can’t wipe it, I might as well store it for the next 20 years until I’m a full-blown empty nester.  It not only needs to be wipeable of the dry stuff, but water resistant.  That way spills aren’t absorbed.
  3. Affordable:  I’m not about to spend over $100 on a tablecloth folks. It’s just not going to happen.
  4. Easy to make:  Ain’t nobody got time to quilt and handembordier a tablecloth.  This thing needed to be fast and easy.
  5. Vegan:  I’m on a bit of a hippie train lately, and wanted the product to be on the somewhat sustainable side.  Since it’s resuable, and doesn’t have to be laundered to be clean, this met the bill.  It looks and feels like leather, but it’s vinyl.

An open concept kitchen and dining room are shown. Cream colored tablecloth and white painted kitchen.

So…are you ready for what I decided on…drumroll…

Vinyl Upholstery Fabric from JOANN.

Ya’ll, I literally cut off the selvage edges and was done.  Check out this quirky movie for the whole tutorial.

The hardest part, is knowing how many yards to buy.   The fabric I bought, is 59 inches wide.  I’ve found that most standard rectangular tables are between 42-48 inches wide.  So don’t stress about the width.

All you really need to focus on is the length.  Remember that a yard is 36 inches, or 3 feet.  For my long table with the leaf in use, I bought 3 yards, and it was more than enough.  Most standard size rectangular tables are about 72 inches long, which is 2 yards, so if you get 2.5 yards, you should be more than good to go.

Once the selvage edges were removed, I had 7 inches of tablecloth flowing over each side widthwise.  So when I cut my fabric lengthwise, I added 7 inches for each end.  So 14 inches overall.  That way, the tablecloth would hang 7 inches over each side of the table.  It’s not a huge deal. I just really wanted every side to have the same amount of cloth hanging over it.

JOANN has several color options, but this is the color I picked out because it’s a fresh neutral.  It also feels like leather, but is 100% quality vinyl.  Here’s the affiliate link to the exact fabric I used.

PS: Upholstery fabric is currently 50% off on JOANN.com, and if you use promo code MHSM334, you’ll also get 25% off your total purchase for “pick up in store” items.

A long rectangular table is shown with a cream colored tablecloth and a floral center piece.