Words by Kelly: Custom Tablecloths and Table Runners

January 7, 2015

I started a business over Christmas. Accidentally. That’s the only way I know how to describe what happened.

Mitch and Katie Cloth2

A few years ago, I made a tablecloth for my dining table using a canvas drop cloth and some Sharpie markers. I found the inspiration on Pinterest when I pinned some kid-decorated drop cloth curtains. I’ve made these table cloths as gifts for family members and friends over the years. Why? Because I’m always on a budget. And I like to doodle. Every time I made one, my friends would encourage me to start a business.

And I would shrug them off.

“It’s canvas drop cloth and Sharpie markers. That’s not a business.”

“I’m not a salesperson.”

“Why would anyone pay me to make one of these? It doesn’t cost much to make one.”

I would roll my eyes at the absurdity of starting a business with something so … silly.


Back in November, my friend Jami called to ask if I might be able to make something using my hand lettering as gifts for two of our mentors, Yvonne and Menielle. Jami and I had just finished taking Yvonne and Menielle’s Bible class, and Jami wanted to give them a special gift at our last class.

Jami said, “Maybe a throw pillow with one of the verses from class on it?” I said, “I could make them tablecloths. It wouldn’t take me that long.” Jami gasped, “Seriously?! You could make TWO of them?! Over the weekend?” I replied, “It really doesn’t take me that long. It’s not a big deal.”

She texted back later, “Seriously, You are so awesome. I know this sounds odd, but I was just saying the other day that Kelly has the most awesome handwriting. This is so your gift – giving thoughtful gifts!”

When I read her text, I rolled my eyes. Jami exaggerates. This is really not that big of a deal.

I worked on the tablecloths over the weekend and wrapped them up before our last Bible class. When Yvonne and Menielle opened their gifts, they both teared up. They hugged and cried with us. They both sent me a thank you note, telling me how much the tablecloths meant to them. Yvonne showed everyone in her neighborhood, her bridge club, and even made her landscaper (I know!) come inside to look at her new tablecloth.

I started to see that maybe my little tablecloths weren’t so silly. They were meaningful. And I needed to stop short-changing my talents.

square cloth

Then, in December, I made a table runner for a Christmas Gift Exchange party. I needed to bring a $10 gift. My van was in the shop, and I didn’t have time to go shopping once Tyler came home from work. So, I took some canvas drop cloth, hemmed it with heat bonding, and hand lettered Christmas song lyrics onto it. Voila! A gift that didn’t cost me a cent and fits in at a Christmas party.

During the gift exchange, my runner was “stolen” three times. Tugging was involved. And name calling. Good Christian women were fighting over something I made.

After the party, I had several friends request a runner of their own. They were all so complimentary, and I would say, “Guys! This didn’t cost me anything! I made it because I couldn’t go shopping.” To which my friends would reply, “Kelly! This is amazing! I write like a serial killer! You could make $100 a piece off of these.”

Reluctantly, at the encouragement of my closest friends, I posted a couple of pictures on Facebook with some price quotes, and within a couple of weeks, I had 14 orders with the promise of more to come. As I started making and delivering these tablecloths and runners, I began to see how this silly little talent of mine was actually a gift to others.

Friends Runner

When I delivered a runner to one of my dearest friends, she cried as she touched each of the names of her children and grandchildren. She read over each passage of scripture, choking back tears. We hugged and cried together. My friend Jami asked me to make another tablecloth for her grandparents full of treasured memories from all of her cousins, and Jami texted me pictures of her family hugging and crying over each memory.

Through this process, I’ve remembered something I say all the time to my kids:

Words are Powerful.

They are. And this little tablecloth business of mine with my hobby doodlings and imperfect seams has turned into meaningful gifts for my friends and family. And I’m no longer saying, “It’s just some fabric and Sharpie markers.”

If you would like to order something from me, please contact me through this link.

Kelly Wiggains

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Kelly Wiggains, a high school English teacher turned homeschooling mom, likes to surround herself with good literature, beautiful things, and big ideas, and she wants her home to reflect those things, too. Here at KellyWiggains.com she talks about everything From Literature to Living.
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12 responses to Words by Kelly: Custom Tablecloths and Table Runners

  1. Oh, Kelly! I am so happy to see you are starting to take your incredible gifts seriously. You are so talented and an amazing person. I am over the moon about my tablecloth. It is beautiful and meaningful. Thank you to Carla, my sister, for ordering it for me. And thank you to you for sharing your talents and making something so…just…wow! Wishing you all the best for your business!

  2. I just read your post and I have tears in my eyes!! I am so proud of your “words”! Most times the most powerful things are simple❤️BTW I love seeing all the different cloths.

  3. friend of Ellen’s, would love a table runner with the all the names of Jesus for my daughters dining table. Please email me so I can order one! Thanks! Pam Bennett

  4. And your new Etsy website is…? :)

    • In the works. I’m slowly adding to it because I’ve got plenty of orders now just with word of mouth. Still have that whole “Teaching my kids to read” thing going down.

  5. I can identify with Susan’s response, and I’ve never even seen a live one!! I want to place an order!

  6. “I write like a serial killer!”

    I love you.

  7. Wow! What a talent! I’d love to place an order for some items. Is that possible?

    • Nancy,

      Yes! Here’s what you need to do:

      If you are interested in ordering a tablecloth or table runner, please contact me at this link
      . I will let you know how long it would take to get one made, and we can start working on design ideas.

      Include your ideas for what you want your tablecloth or runner to say:

      A runner needs about 5-10 sayings (more if you are using names and words), a square tablecloth about 15, and a full size table cloth needs about 50 phrases/names or 20 quotations, depending on the length.

      My only request for quotations is that you type out the entire quotation (For example, instead of just writing John 3:16, type out “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”). I may only use a portion of each quote, but having a typed out list saves me lots of time.

      I can help you decide if you are unsure. I will also need to know the length you need for a table runner or square table cloth. The full size tablecloths are only available in 6×9′ size.

      I charge $8 flat shipping for runners. Full size and square table cloths will cost $10 to ship. I’m currently only sending shipments in the United States (Unless you say pretty please and pay more for shipping.)

  8. Please let me know if you are ever making 52 x 70 tablecloths. Your work is inspiring.