Monday, June 23, 2014

Gift Idea: Constellation Table Runner

I realize I haven't posted anything in over two months!  Mostly, I am aware of this because my mom has been reminding me every other day.  So:
This one's for you, Mom!
But really, this was literally for her.  I gave my mom this table runner for Mothers' Day.  She loves the stars.  I often think she wishes I would have been an astrophysicist instead of a biophysicist.

I was inspired by Elsie and Emma over at A Beautiful Mess (here and here).  I'm not going to show any before pictures because it would just be clear and/or white on white and it doesn't photograph well (or, more likely, I am not that good at photography).  To do it my way you will need


  • Fabric - I used a 36in wide piece of muslin torn (and biases torn off) to yield about a 18in wide runner.  You can make it as long as you like but I would recommend about a 9in overhang on each side of your table.
  • Thread and a means of stitching to keep the raw edges from unraveling too far- I used a white thread that had polyester which made it not take dye... at all.  You might wish to use cotton.  Or you might wish to wait until you have the finished dye project to match the thread color.  Or you might like the contrasting thread color.
  • Dye - I used RIT Navy Powder but this had some complications.  Not only did this obviously not turn out navy, but the dye required me to simmer the cloth, but the dye resist I used runs a bit in hot water (though it needs soap to really be displaced).  But in the end I really liked the effect this caused -- it really made the piece look hand made.
  • Dye resist - I used Tulip's Tie Dye Resist.  This actually needed far less product to accomplish its goal than I originally thought.  Just use enough to cover the space and it will soak in eventually.  Check back later to make sure it saturated where you want covered.  If you make a mistake, you can start over by removing with soap and water.
  • A star chart - You can get one from google image searching.  I tried to make mine so that constellations that would actually appear next to each other in the sky would appear next to each other on the table runner.  And I included my mom's favorite constellations.


  • Prewash in hot water, dry, and iron your fabric to prevent any unaccounted for shrinkage and remove any fabric treatment that might prevent your dye from taking.
  • Size your fabric - I just tore mine to 18in x (table length + 9in +9in)
  • Secure the edges somehow - I stitched along all the edges (with about 1/4in allowance) with my sewing machine.  I expect that the 1/4in will fray in time but that it will not fray beyond that point.  You may wish to actually hem the piece (if you are not exceedingly lazy, like me).  In this case, be sure to account for the hem in the measurement of the fabric).
  • Apply your dye resist in your desired pattern, following the manufacturers directions.  This took me several evenings because I didn't have enough table space to do the whole runner in one shot without disturbing undried resist.  
  • Dye your fabric according to manufacturers directions.
  • Set your dye according to manufacturers directions
  • Remove the dye resist according to manufacturers recommendations - I don't know where I went wrong on this, but somewhere between setting the dye and removing the resist, my beautiful navy faded to a much paler, purplish-blue.  It turns out that I love it that way - it reminds me of a summer twilight - but it certainly wasn't the intended effect. Most likely, I should never have washed the thing in hot water but that is what was required to remove the dye resist.
  • Iron.  Or don't.  I rather like the crinkly effect.

Alternative ideas

  • Start with navy fabric and use bleach pen to create the pattern.  I was worried I would mess up too badly.  And you won't get the cool dye looking effect but this might be fun if you are going for a really clean look.
  • Use rhinestones and/or fabric paint for the stars or lines connecting them to really make it pop.
  • Wear it as a scarf.  I love scarves!

I am linking up to these great parties!


  1. It is about time u blogged. The runner looks even more awesome in real life. xoxo-Mom

  2. Very neat idea, going to try making a scarf like this.

    1. That will be so neat. Please, let me know how it turns out!



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