The Victorian era saw a period of heightened textile usage: doilies, runners, scarves and antimacassars. "Antimacassar" isn't a term that frequents our vocabulary--according to Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, it's "a cover for the back or arms of a chair ... to prevent them from being soiled by macassar ... oil from the hair." Men's hair oils led to the ruin of many Victorian chairs. Today, the antimacassar is known as the armrest cover. You can learn how to sew a chair armrest cover from table runners and give your home the look of a Victorian parlour with the efficiency of modern fabric.
Fold the table runner in half and cut on the fold. The resulting product is two halves that are 16 inches wide by 27 inches long.
Pin the ends of each half under, against the wrong side, so that no raw edges of the crochet are exposed. Nothing needs to be done to the finished sides or finished end.
Sew, using the zigzag feature on the sewing machine, or hand sew with a straight stitch, using a one-inch seam allowance, across the width of the pinned end. Remove pins as the sewing progresses.
Iron the hemmed seam to set stitches and place the armrests covers over the armrest of the chair.
Measure the arm of the chair and the table runner.
Fold the runner in half and cut on the fold. Using the measurement of the chair armrest, adjust the length to fit the armrest, plus one inch. Cut any excess fabric so you have two equal pieces.
Pin the ends of each cut half under, against the wrong side of the fabric, so that no edges are exposed. Nothing needs to be done to the finished sides or finished end.
Sew, using the straight stitch feature on the sewing machine, or hand sew a straight stitch, using a one-inch seam allowance, across the width of the pinned end. Remove pins as the sewing progresses.
Iron the hemmed seam and the entire armrest cover (unless fabric care label indicates not to iron) to set stitches. Place the armrest covers over the armrests of the chair.
The wonderful thing about sewing with purchased table runners is that most of the work is done for you. You can use table runners with intricate embroidery and tassels to give the chair armrests a formal appearance. Try using holiday runners that you can purchased at end-of-season sales for pennies on the dollar to sew armrest covers for your chairs for the next holiday season. You can use reversible table runners with a bit of clever camouflage when sewing the cut ends--use a length of bias tape or lace to cover the sewn seam.