tablecloths

At a formal dinner, the tablecloth is expected to overhang the table edge by 15 inches or more. An overhang of 9 inches is more practical and appropriate to everyday dinners, but when the “drop” shrinks to a few inches the table looks peculiar. The chart below shows how large a table can be, with three different depths of drop.

Rows in pink indicate so-called “banquet sizes,” which are not usually sold at outlets like department stores. These sizes are available at stores catering to restaurants. Unfortunately, they sometimes only sell by the dozen. Sources can be found by searching the internet.

Square tables

Rectangular tables

Oval tables

Round tables

Square tables (card tables)
Tablecloth size Maximum table size at minimum drops,
nearest whole inch
6″ drop 9″ drop 15″ drop
36″ by 36″ 24″ by 24″ 18″ by 18″ 6″ by 6″
45″ by 45″ 33″ by 33″ 27″ by 27″ 15″ by 15″
52″ by 52″ 40″ by 40″ 34″ by 34″ 22″ by 22″
54″ by 54″ 42″ by 42″ 36″ by 36″ 24″ by 24″
60″ by 60″ 48″ by 48″ 42″ by 42″ 30″ by 30″
64″ by 64″ 52″ by 52″ 46″ by 46″ 34″ by 34″
70″ by 70″ 58″ by 58″ 52″ by 52″ 40″ by 40″
72″ by 72″ 60″ by 60″ 54″ by 54″ 42″ by 42″
80″ by 80″ 68″ by 68″ 62″ by 62″ 50″ by 50″
90″ by 90″ 78″ by 78″ 72″ by 72″ 60″ by 60″
Rectangular Tables
Tablecloth size Maximum table size at minimum drops,
nearest whole inch
6″ drop 9″ drop 15″ drop
52″ by 70″ 40″ by 58″ 34″ by 52″ 22″ by 40″
60″ by 84″ 48″ by 72″ 42″ by 66″ 30″ by 54″
60″ by 94″ 48″ by 82″ 42″ by 76″ 30″ by 64″
60″ by 102″ 48″ by 90″ 42″ by 84″ 30″ by 72″
60″ by 108″ 48″ by 96″ 42″ by 90″ 30″ by 78″
60″ by 120″ 48″ by 108″ 42″ by 102″ 30″ by 90″
60″ by 142″ 48″ by 130″ 42″ by 124″ 30″ by 112″
60″ by 144″ 48″ by 132″ 42″ by 126″ 30″ by 114″
70″ by 64″ 58″ by 52″ 52″ by 46″ 40″ by 34″
70″ by 72″ 58″ by 60″ 52″ by 54″ 40″ by 42″
70″ by 84″ 58″ by 72″ 52″ by 66″ 40″ by 54″
70″ by 90″ 58″ by 78″ 52″ by 72″ 40″ by 60″
70″ by 94″ 58″ by 82″ 52″ by 76″ 40″ by 64″
70″ by 96″ 58″ by 84″ 52″ by 78″ 40″ by 66″
70″ by 104″ 58″ by 92″ 52″ by 86″ 40″ by 74″
70″ by 108″ 58″ by 96″ 52″ by 90″ 40″ by 78″
70″ by 114″ 58″ by 102″ 52″ by 96″ 40″ by 84″
70″ by 120″ 58″ by 108″ 52″ by 102″ 40″ by 90″
70″ by 126″ 58″ by 114″ 52″ by 108″ 40″ by 96″
70″ by 144″ 58″ by 132″ 52″ by 126″ 40″ by 114″
90″ by 132″ 78″ by 120″ 72″ by 114″ 60″ by 102″
90″ by 156″ 78″ by 144″ 72″ by 138″ 60″ by 126″
Oval (Half-circle ends on long dimension)
Tablecloth size Maximum table size at minimum drops,
nearest whole inch
6″ drop 9″ drop 15″ drop
52″ by 70″ 40″ by 58″ 34″ by 52″ 22″ by 40″
54″ by 96″ 42″ by 84″ 36″ by 78″ 24″ by 66″
54″ by 120″ 42″ by 108″ 36″ by 102″ 24″ by 90″
60″ by 84″ 48″ by 72″ 42″ by 66″ 30″ by 54″
60″ by 94″ 48″ by 82″ 42″ by 76″ 30″ by 64″
60″ by 108″ 48″ by 96″ 42″ by 90″ 30″ by 78″
60″ by 120″ 48″ by 108″ 42″ by 102″ 30″ by 90″
60″ by 144″ 48″ by 132″ 42″ by 126″ 30″ by 114″
70″ by 84″ 58″ by 72″ 52″ by 66″ 40″ by 54″
70″ by 94″ 58″ by 82″ 52″ by 76″ 40″ by 64″
70″ by 108″ 58″ by 96″ 52″ by 90″ 40″ by 78″
70″ by 120″ 58″ by 108″ 52″ by 102″ 40″ by 90″
70″ by 144″ 58″ by 132″ 52″ by 126″ 40″ by 114″
90″ by 132″ 78″ by 120″ 72″ by 114″ 60″ by 102″
90″ by 156″ 78″ by 144″ 72″ by 138″ 60″ by 126″
Round Tables
Tablecloth size Maximum table size at minimum drops,
nearest whole inch
6″ drop 9″ drop 15″ drop

36″ round 24″ diameter 18″ diameter 6″ diameter
48″ round 36″ diameter 30″ diameter 18″ diameter
54″ round 42″ diameter 36″ diameter 24″ diameter
60″ round 48″ diameter 42″ diameter 30″ diameter
70″ round 58″ diameter 52″ diameter 40″ diameter
78″ round 66″ diameter 60″ diameter 48″ diameter
90″ round 78″ diameter 72″ diameter 60″ diameter
96″ round 84″ diameter 78″ diameter 66″ diameter
108″ round 96″ diameter 90″ diameter 78″ diameter
120″ round 108″ diameter 102″ diameter 90″ diameter
132″ round 120″ diameter 114″ diameter 102″ diameter

 

The dimensions above apply only to tablecloths for dining. For example, a tablecloth used to provide a “modesty panel” for persons seated at a table on a dais obviously needs a drop on one side that reaches almost to the floor, approximately 29 inches. If an ordinary rectangular tablecloth is used for this purpose, the corners will drag on the floor. Rectangular tablecloths can be specially cut with rounded corners for this use, but “table skirts,” not tablecloths, are used commercially.

sources

Table-cloths are manufactured in sizes from the 8-4 measure, or two yards square, up to 8-16 measure, or two yards by four, and even longer. Some are four and a half yards in length.

Hester M. Poole, in Household News, vol II, Jan. 1894, page 698.

The size the author gives, “8-4,” is expressed in quarters, that is, quarter-yards = 9 inches, a unit still in use by quilters. So in modern terms the 8-4 dimensions are 72 inches by 36 inches, and the 8-16 would be 72 inches by 144 inches. Because the writer was addressing homemakers sewing their own pillowcases, sheets, etc, the dimensions are probably of unhemmed cloth. If so, finished the 72-inch dimension would be close to the modern 70 inches. The narrowness of the smaller size is interesting, barely enough to accommodate two diners face-to-face.

home | home index | search |  contact drawing of envelope |  contributors | 
help | privacy | terms of use