A proper dining table to eat at is a really great thing to have in any home, but it's easy to get bored of putting the same old place mats and crockery on it, day in, day out.
Of course, it's a bit of an inconvenience to start throwing out perfectly good bowls and other items just because you've had them for a while - so why not make a brand new focal point for your table and liven it up that way instead?
A table runner is a really easy craft project that you can enjoy while the evenings are still dark, but will look polished and sophisticated once it's ready to lay out. You can even make them in a variety of colours so you've got some to swap around in case of spillages or when new seasons come around.
And if you haven't sewed since school and feel your abilities are a little lacking, you can always get hold of some of the great styles proliferating on the high street from stores including John Lewis, Debenhams and even Ikea.
How to make your table runner
All you need to do to make a start is get hold of the fabric you want and either a sewing machine or a needle and thread. Your local haberdashery will have plenty of fabrics to choose from, but you can also get off-cuts from curtain shops.
Measure your table to work out the necessary length and then decide how wide you want your finished runner. Then, add around 2.5cm to both measurements to account for hemming.
Next, make a hem about 1.5cm wide all the way around your runner and sew the edges down - iron them flat first if you find it easier. All you need to do is trim the threads and your runner is finished.
The above instructions are great for thick and heavy fabrics, but you could also follow an alternative method and purchase fabric that's double the width you need if it's a bit lighter. Fold it in half so the pattern is on the inside and then sew almost the entire way down the open edges before turning everything the right way up and finishing off your stitching up.
What colours to go for?
There's no right or wrong answer to this, as it's your project; feel free to go for whatever colours and patterns that appeal to you and that you'd like to see in your home.
If you need a little guidance, Pantone's colour of the year is Marsala and so that's very on-trend at the moment, plus the rich and earthy red will suit this time of year that's still wintry but post-Christmas. Similarly rich colours like purple and emerald will be ideal too.
You can then swap them around and make more runners when spring arrives - mint green, peach and daffodil yellow are lovely hues to use in time for Easter and the reawakening of nature.
Good centrepieces for table runners
Your dinner crockery won't be out all the time, so you might want to think about putting a nice centrepiece on your runner to help it pack even more of a punch. A nice vase of flowers will never go amiss, while an ornament like a crisp white Grecian figure is sure to look elegant in a classically decorated dining room.
You could even go for a free-standing rustic chalkboard, which will have the added benefit of being able to keep your family memos in one place.
And of course, don't forget one of our favourites - a candlescape that will present the flames at different heights for a comforting and warming feel (just don't forget to put them on a heatproof plate or mirror tile to prevent damage to your carefully-made runner).
Why not get your crafty bits out and see what you can achieve this winter?