Wednesday, February 10, 2010

napkin fever and a feeler

You guys are the best..thanks for sharing all your thoughts and ideas on my last post.  I've gleaned some great tips for reducing our paper towel usage. Sounds like so many of you use cloth napkins regularly or want to. 
So I was thinking ahead to my next post and I was going share my thoughts on how to survive a blizzard.  We're under a blizzard warning today and we've already got over 2 feet of snow piled up out there. 
However, several of you asked for directions on how I sew my cloth napkins so I thought that might be a better post instead.  And besides, if you're inside during a blizzard it will help you pass the time.  (two birds with one stone!)  Here are 3 quick ways to whip up your own set of cloth napkins.

For all the versions,  You will need cotton or linen fabric.  Your should be something easy to launder and something you'd want on your table.  You can cut your fabric to the size that works for you and your family.  Standard cloth napkins come in a variety of sizes...12, 14 or 16 inch square seem to be the most popular. 

Version one:
This is the one I use almost exclusively.   You'll use one piece of  fabric for each napkin.  Cut your fabric to the size you prefer and iron under all edges 1/4 of an inch. 
Then go back and iron them all again folding them over another 1/4 of an inch.  (This hides your raw edge inside the seam.). 
 Using your sewing machine sew all the way around; pivoting at each corner. 
 (If you want a really sharp, professional mitered corner then follow the directions on this tutorial.) Press and enjoy. 

Version two:
This version yields a thicker, reversible napkin.  This is how Larissa made the napkins that she sent me.  Cut two pieces of fabric the same size.  You'll be using two pieces for each napkin.  With right sides together, pin around the edges.  Sew 1/4 inch seam all the way around leaving an opening for turning.
Clip your corners and turn right side out.  Press, rolling your seams to get them flat.  Now, topstitch around the edges closing your opening as you go. 
Press and enjoy.   

Version three:
This version is the one my mom made and used when I was growing up.  It takes a bit more time but it looks really nice once you've finished.  For this version, a woven fabric such as a homespun works really well.
 In order to tell if you have a woven fabric look at both should look the same on both sides.  Most cotton prints have one side that is the obvious right side.  With homespuns, both sides are identical because the design is in the color of the thread so both sides are the same.  Homespuns are also woven more loosely and they fray better.  Cut your fabric for the size napkin that you desire. You'll only be using one piece for each napkin. 
Sew all the way around your piece about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch with a straight stitch. The bigger the seam allowance, the more fringe you'll get.  
Now, using a straight pin, start fraying the edges removing the horizontal threads.  (Grab a comfy seat...this part takes a while)  Fray until all four edges are done...this results in a great edge that won't come undone because your stitching holds the remaining fibers in place. 
Now that you're done, use those beautiful napkins!!!  I just throw mine in the wash with my towels and fold them when they come out of the dryer. I don't even bother with pressing them...we just load them back in the drawer for the next meal. 
So here's where I want to see what you guys think...there's been some interest in doing a cloth napkin swap.  Courtney and I've been talking about it so, I'm putting a feeler out there to see who else is interested.  I'm thinking that swapping sets of 6 handmade cloth napkins would be pretty practical.  Let me know what your thoughts are...are you interested?    Once I see what the interest is, I'll post that here and we'll go from there....sound good?

And enjoy your week...however snowy or clear it turns out to be.


Heather said...

This is great Lisa! Thank you so much for sharing. I love making napkins for each season, and I might change it up a bit and try a few of your techniques.
Stay warm and safe in the blizzard. It is crazy, because 40 inches of snow here in Colorado in nothing, so we have the equipment, etc, but watching what this is doing to all of you out there is a bit scary. Thoughts are with you

Meg said...

Love the napkin swap idea! I cut a gingham thrifted sheet up to make napkins, and I think I'm going to use your third method for them. They're red and white, so if I can stop shoveling snow long enough to work on them, I could have them ready for Valentine's day.

I hope you're coping well with the snow!

Emme said...

Napkin swap? That would be so exciting!

From All Stitched Up said...

I've never been part of a swap so I think that might be good fun! We too are having lots of snow - not quite as much as you but certainly enough for me!!! While I was writing this we lost a very big branch from our magnolia !

Stella said...

I loved this article! While I've never sewn my own, in a past catering life I had to fold them. Really pretty on the table if you ask me. I had a whole book on it at one point, but a quick search just turned up similar stuff at Enjoy!

Jessica said...

Know what I'm doing this weekend---making napkins!!! I hope the snow lets up for you!

Anonymous said...

You are getting the same amount we are getting :)

And yes, I used my time inside for cooking and some sewing also...a napkin swap sounds like fun :)

They are so easy to make aren't they?



Stephanie said...

We are also in a blizzard here as well. I need to get to Joann's for some supplies to finish some sewing, so I've been knitting instead. Now I just need my mail to get here, so I can watch my netflix movies, don't know when the mail will come again :(

Stay warm!

Kristina said...

I think a napkin swap would be a lot of fun!

~ The Jolly Bee ~ said...

Count me in....My first swap. I loved your tutorial. You make it look simple. I think I'll give it a whirl this weekend. Thanks so much Lisa!

larissa said...

Wow that is a lot of snow. are you able to get out? Please do share how you're surviving - while keeping the kiddos entertained. we only got 4 inches today.

If you're hosting a napkin swap, i'm in. I once made a scarf using the technique you used in version #3 but i didn't stitch it. stay safe and warm and bake and eat plenty of treats. can't stop thinking about you girlfriend.

The WoodLand School said...

Great tutorial and photos!
Can't wait for this swap!!!

Kristyn Knits said...

after reading your tutorial, I think I can now make my own cloth napkins! and napkins for others, so I'm in! how fun and generous of you to host!

Ann said...

Just about to start some sewing and you have inspired me to use up all those bits of fabric - napkins for everyone.
Thanks and enjoy the snow.

Tracy said...

A really excellent tutorial Lisa! I especially love the fringed/frayed napkins. I've not done a fringe like that in a while--thanks for the inspiration! WOW--that's a lot of snow you've had! Be safe, keep warm... and wishing you & yours a very sweet Valentine Weekend ahead :o) ((HUGS))

At Home Mommy Knits said...

Fantastic tutorials! Thank you so much for sharing them. Good luck with the blizzard :)

knittinbrit_in_wi said...

That would be super fun! One of the things I love about swaps is that it makes you do something that you want to do, but often don't get around to.

Anonymous said...

haha miss Lisa u are amazing. =D those napkins are beautiful. haha i remember when i was at ur house for maggies party and i had my chocolate mustache and i was going to take it off but all i saw was those cloth napkins...haha...and u were like emily u can use the napkin. haha and i was like "ohh i didnt know if those were just for decoration or not" hahaha =D i felt so bad making it all dirty with chocolate hahaha =D but i know now that they are not for decoration hahaha =D =D =D the napkins are beautiful and....ohhh my the snow. its beautiful....its fun....but i want it to GO AWAY!!! hahahaha =D love you!!! <3
emily =D

Leah said...

I just found your blog yesterday. The funny thing is I'm working on some cloth napkins myself! I'd love to join your swap! :)

nanaofnc said...

Thank you for your instructions. I found myself cutting out square for napkins last night and can't wait to get home to sew them up. We're going to feel so classy! ;) xo,

Ruth said...

Love those great ideas for the napkins. I need to make some more to use here.

We were supposed to get 10-15 inches of snow here this week but only had about 7. We aren't complaining. The last couple of days have been warm and most of it has melted.


Grasshopper said...

would love to be part of a cloth napkin swap. whay a lovely idea!

Meadow Walk said...

Reading your blog makes me wish I had a sewing machine and knew how to sew! Also I would need a dining room table to use these on, and a washing machine at home bc I don't want to haul extra laundry down the stairs and to the laundromat.

I can't wait to see the napkins you get in your swap!

Sigrun said...

Your frayed napkins bring back memories from my childhood, but my mom taught me many sewing skills while making utilitarian items. I also stitched the fringes by hand in small clumps. For fancier occasions we also pulled threads farther in and stitched them into fancy stitches. ☺

momcnl said...

I would love to participate in a cltoh napkin swap. It would be a ton of fun. I have just recieved my vintage swap bundle and I now have some really nice napkin fabric.
Looking forward to hearing the deatails.