Rust-dyed Table Runner

Rust-dyed Table Runner

Crafting Time:
  • 3-5 Hours
Skill Level:
  • Intermediate
Project Courtesy of: Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores
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Additional Information



  • 1 yd white or off-white fabric to be rusted — cotton is recommended
  • 1/4 yd total of solid-colored fabrics to coordinate with rust color — black, brown, tan, etc.
  • 6" fabric for border
  • 1/2 yd fabric for backing
  • 15"x41" piece of batting
  • Water
  • White vinegar
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • Steel wool and/or various rusted objects — shovels, pipes, horseshoes, nails, washers, wire, etc.
  • Garbage bags
  • Rubber or latex gloves
  • Rotary cutter, ruler & mat
  • Sewing machine
  • Denim sewing machine needle, recommended
  • Basic Sewing Supplies
  • Iron and pressing surface

Use 1/4" seam allowance. RST= right sides together; WST=wrong sides together. Rust dyeing is not recommended for use on heirloom-quality projects.

1. Wash and dry the fabric to be rusted; DO NOT use fabric softener.
2. Cover work surface with garbage bags.
3. In a bowl, mix a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water.
4. Wearing gloves, put the fabric to be rusted in the vinegar and water. Squeeze out excess liquid so the fabric does not drip.
5. Smooth out the wet fabric onto the garbage bags.
6. Shred the steel wool and arrange it and any rusted objects on the fabric. Tip: For large items like pipes or shovels, wrap the fabric around the objects.
7. Roll the fabric up to enclose the metal objects. Place the rolled-up fabric in a garbage bag. Do not close the garbage bag tightly as air needs to get in to oxidize the metal.
8. Let the fabric rust for 24 hours.
9. Remove the metal objects from the fabric. Neutralize the rusting process by soaking the fabric in a salt water solution for about 15 minutes (1/4 cup salt in 4 gallons of water). Wash the fabric in soapy water and let dry.

1. Cut the backing fabric to 14"x40".
2. Cut the border fabric into two 15"x2" strips, and two 41"x2" strips.
3. Cut the rusted fabric into strips that are about 18" long. The widths of the strips should vary for visual interest, and can range from 1½" to 3½" wide.
4. Sew a strip of fabric, right side up, to a short side of the batting.
5. Place the next fabric strip on top of the first, RST. Sew this strip to the first fabric’s raw edge. Press the fabric open.
6. Continue sewing the strips to the batting in this manner until the batting is completely covered with fabric. The seams can all be straight across, or sew some strips onto the batting at an angle to form wedges.
7. With the rotary cutter and ruler, square up and size the table runner to 14"x40".
8. Measure in from a short end of the table runner 1½" and pin a short border fabric strip RST along this line. Sew the strip to the table runner and press the border strip open. Trim the border to be even with the batting edge. Do the same on the opposite side.
9. Repeat the process for the long sides of the project using the long border fabric strips.
10. Place the backing fabric on top of the table runner, RST. Sew along all 4 sides of the project, leaving a 6" opening for turning. Clip corners, turn, and press.
11. Whipstitch the opening closed.