Cappers Farmer

Improvising When You Live in the Middle of Nowhere

By Nana

When my husband and I invited a dozen friends to ride their motorcycles up to our ranch for a ministry meeting and lunch, I wasn’t thinking about adding the final leaf to the table or about the fact that I’ve never had a tablecloth big enough to cover the behemoth.

Just a day before the event, as my husband and I were getting the house ready, I realized none of my tablecloths were going to work. I immediately turned to Plan B: Make One.

Step 1. Build a fire and boil water. With electricity so expensive, the only way to boil a lot of water efficiently is to do it over a fire. I built a nice one and let it burn down a bit before adding a couple of pots of water.

Step 2. Because we live so far from a city where we can buy things, I keep odd materials on hand. I have an assortment of Rit dyes and yards and yards of cotton fabric. The first step in making the tablecloth was choosing a dye color. My husband decided on Dark Green. Next, I got my white fabric and laid it along the length of the table, letting it hang over on each end the same amount as it was on the sides (the selvage edges provided a hem of sorts). I snipped and ripped the fabric in the right place and left enough fabric in case I decide to hem it in the future. For now, I simply pulled all the loose strings off both ends and called it DONE.

Step 3. Wash new fabric to remove any finishes or residues. This is always a good idea. The dye takes to the fabric better if it’s wet to begin with.

Step 4. Following Rit Dye directions, I put a few gallons of boiling water in a large tub (it will stain plastic), added 1 cup of salt and a single packet of Rit Dye. I stirred it with an old, clean mop – which I will never use on my floors again.

Step 5. Add fabric to dye mixture and stir, adding enough boiling water to cover. Stir for 30 minutes or until your fabric is the right color. It will be darker when it’s wet. I stirred off and on, added a few other items I wanted to dye, and let it soak for a long time between stirrings. As a result, I have a shirt that looks kind of tie-dye. I think my fabric was in the dye bath for around 2 hours.

Step 6. Drain and rinse according to directions on the box.

Step 7. Wash with soap in a washing machine then dry either on a line or in a dryer. I didn’t have time to let it hang dry. Because I used 100% cotton fabric, I had a chore ahead of me trying to iron out the wrinkles.

Step 8. Put your new tablecloth on your table and set it. I had to pull a couple of stray strings off each end but it wasn’t bad. My cloth has a nice, tight weave.

My suggestion is that you always keep different colors of Rit Dye on hand and, if possible, keep some 100% cotton fabrics you can use for various projects like this. I wish I’d thrown in another yard or so of fabric to make matching cloth napkins because I prefer them over paper towels or napkins.

When I put the tablecloth in the washing machine, I felt terrible about letting the fire go to waste. I decided it was as good a time as any to have a marshmallow roast.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this visit to Nana’s Ranch. God bless.


  • Published on Mar 24, 2014
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