One of the highest impact elements of the 40th birthday bash I threw was this little table runner (besides the marqee lights, of course). I was trying to play off of the existing place settings that the restaurant uses (simple, low-key), as well as the general mood of the place. I searched high and low for a good kraft paper runner to purchase, but when I couldn’t find something I loved, I decided to make it. The awesome thing about this is that you can make it as long or short as you want. And if you don’t know how long the table might be (or tables as the case may be) then you just make it super long and cut on the day of the event.
When I made this I didn’t know the number of attendees yet, so the table length was a little TBD. I did know from a site visit that the table was fairly narrow, so I didn’t need it to take up a lot of room. And I kind of like the skinny table runner look…has the same effect as a skinny tie, no?
what I used:
- roll of kraft paper
- card stock (I may or may not have used kids watercolor paper)
- paint (I liked just a couple colors, but have at it!) – I used white and gray from this line
- paint brushes (sponge pouncers work best) – I didn’t use these, but would next time
- exacto/craft knife
- cutting mat
- painters tape
First, grab that big roll of kraft paper. You’re going to unroll as you go here. Unroll about 2 feet (or whatever stays on your table top) and use your ruler to mark out six inches from the edge of the paper. You’ll want to put a line/dot for the six inch mark all the way up the piece of paper that you’ve rolled out). Then put your ruler along those marks to help you cut a straight line. Use that exacto knife to cut along the ruler, and don’t rush this, you don’t want to tear the paper or cut out of line. Straight edges are good for a runner!
You’re going to let the cut pieces of paper roll back up as you pull them off the table and unroll more to cut. I did this through an entire roll of kraft paper – way more than I needed, but made it easier to work with and I will definitely use for more runners in the future. Once you’ve cut the 6 inch runner from the rest of the roll, you can set the big part of the roll aside for another use.
Now to make your stencil. Grab whatever card stock you have, and your exacto knife. I wanted an organic yet organized feel to the edges of the runner, so I free-handed the shapes you see in the photo. You can do whatever you want here, and as many as you want. I settled on two sections of the pattern because it was taking forever and that’s all the patience I had – look at all those little rectangles – that’s a lot of cuts! If you do more it will save you a little time when you get to painting (because you don’t have to move the stencils quite as much).
Tape the 6 inch wide runner down with the painters tape across the length of a long table – gives you the most room to work with (you could do this on the floor too, but I have kids…not a good idea). You only need to tape in a few sections, I wouldn’t tape the whole length or anything.
Once you are happy with your stencils you can either test out a section, or just get moving like I did. I figure it’s the end you start with, and you can always trim it off if you like. Use some small pieces of painters tape to tape the stencil to the table and the kraft paper, grab some paint pouncers or sponge brushes. I found the dabbing of paint (with light paint on there) worked better than brush strokes, keeping the paint in the stencil area and not under it. Since I was looking for a more organic look it gave me a lot of latitude if I did mess up here and there. You can see it in the detail shots. You definitely don’t notice when it’s all laid out though, so give yourself a break.
note: It’s a bit easier to take the stencil off and move it to the next section when the paint is still wet, so don’t wait to do that part! Otherwise it starts to stick and that’s not fun. Also, paint the light colors first each time you reposition the stencils, then go in with dark. I used a smaller brush for the dark so it didn’t go over to the white paint.
Keep moving down the length of the paper, and take a break or two. I did this over a few nights with a glass of wine. Once dry you can keep it rolled up until your event.
Once you’re ready to use, just roll it out on the table, and use scissors to trim to the length you like. Then use some double-sided tape or my favorite, glue dots, to hold it in place. You’ve got yourself a custom paper table runner that is definitely going to get some attention!!