Whether you are planning a formal event or simply want to hide a scratched tabletop, table linens are a versatile decorating tool. Table linens are manufactured in a wide variety of colours, shapes and designs. Tablecloths, napkins, placemats and table runners are available in standard sizes designed to fit most tables.
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Most tables are built in standard sizes and shapes. The same holds true for tablecloths. There are four basic shapes. Square tablecloths are available in a traditional 52-by-52-inch size. This accommodates a standard square table that seats four diners. While there are other standard sizes available, the two most common rectangular sizes are 52-by-70 inches and 60-by-84 inches. Tablecloths for oval tables, also known as racetrack tables, are available in sizes of 60-by-102 inches, 60-by-120 inches and 60-by-144 inches. Round tablecloths are available in a number of sizes, with 70-inch and 90-inch diameters being the most common. When measuring a table for a tablecloth, it is essential to consider the length of the drop. The "drop" is the amount of fabric that hangs over the edge of the table. An 8-inch drop is considered the minimum for a proper fit. A drop of 10 to 12 inches is considered normal. A floor-length drop is commonly used for formal affairs. This is 29 to 30 inches, the standard height of tables.
A linen napkin may seem extravagant, but cloth rather than paper napkins add a touch of elegance to any affair. Napkins come in a variety of sizes depending on the occasion. Cocktail napkins are the smallest and are commonly 6 inches square. Luncheon napkins are used for formal luncheons or brunch and typically measure 18 inches square. The standard size of a dinner napkin is 22 inches square. Buffet napkins are the largest, measuring 27 inches square.
Linen placemats are a fun alternative to tablecloths for a casual get-together. Placemats are readily available in a variety of shapes and sizes. Although there are no hard-and-fast rules, if you are unsure of the best shape to use on your table, there is a general guide. Round placemats are most appropriate for round tables. Round placemats are available in a standard 14-inch diameter. Square placemats work best on square tables and are available in a standard measurement of 13 inches square. Rectangular placemats are the perfect choice for a rectangular table and are available in dimensions of 12-by-16 inches and 13-by-19 inches. Oval-shaped placemats are most suitable for oval tables and are available in a standard size of 12-by-18 inches.
Also known as scarves, table runners have been used for centuries as a means to decorate a table. A table runner may be used alone or with coordinating place mats. They are frequently used with a tablecloth to add a touch of colour at formal events. Table runners are traditionally placed lengthwise on a table, but may be used widthways to disguise a leaf. Standard widths are 10 inches, 12 inches and 15 inches. Standard table runner lengths measure 54 inches, 72 inches, 90 inches, 108 inches and 120 inches.
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