Finding the Right Size Tablecloth for Your Rectangle Table
In order to determine what size tablecloth is best for you, the first thing to do is measure the table!! You should measure the width of the table and the length. If your table has a wavy edge, measure from the widest point.
Generally, the width of a standard tablecloth is not a problem. Standard tables usually are between 42" and 46" wide. Standard tablecloths are between 67" and 72" wide. Therefore, if your table is 44" wide and the tablecloth is 72" wide - you will have a 14" "drop" or overhang on both long sides of the table. (44" + 14" + 14" = 72" ).
Standard rectangle tablecloth lengths are:
98"-100" Fits a table seating 6-8
118"-120" Fits a table seating 8-10
128"-130" Fits a table seating 10-12
144"-148" Fits a table seating 12-14
So, if you have a 72" long table, a 98" long tablecloth will provide a 13" drop at the host and hostess chairs.
(72" +13" + 13" = 98").
Thus, if your table measures 44" x 72" and you purchase a tablecloth 72" x 98", you will have a 14" drop on the long sides of your table and a 13" drop at the host and hostess chairs.
Of course, the drop is seldom consistent around the entire table with a standard tablecloth but as long as it does not look skimpy or lopsided, it should work just fine.
A longer drop creates a more formal and luxurious feeling. A 12"-18" drop is preferred for most formal settings. A 12" drop usually meets the seat of a dining room chair and is thus recommended most frequently. However, many people do not want a drop that sits on the lap of a guest and a shorter - 10" - drop. A drop of 8" is acceptable, however, this is generally the shortest drop recommended.
In order to determine your preferred or acceptable drop, we suggest sitting at the table and experimenting with a cloth napkin. Ultimately, if you want to use a standard cloth, the acceptable drop might just depend on the tablecloth that you simply must have! Keep in mind that some tablecloths, may shrink a bit, depending on how you wash them. This not a problem with polyester cloths, but some (not all) cottons may shrink 3-5%, depending on whether you machine dry or not.
Another consideration is whether you can extend your table with boards or "leaves" that drop into the table. It is very common to have 2-3 leaves to extend your table when you are expecting a larger number of guests. It is sometimes possible to use one size tablecloth for 2 length sizes of your table. When the smaller size table is used, you may have more of a drop on the host and hostess seats and less of a drop when the larger size table is used.
Ultimately, it is your "eye" that must be satisfied with the look!