Thursday, October 28, 2010

Awesome Cloth Napkins

It was important to me to have cloth napkins at our fall dinner party. There is something about cloth napkins that screams... "I've got no kids tonight so lets go all out!" Of course, I wanted something that I could make for free using only what I had on hand (and I did by only about 2 yards of thread left!) No patterns! No tutorials! Just me and free... Here we go!

Step 1: Gather Supplies.
Sharp scissors, squaring tool, pencil, two contrasting fabrics (I was originally going to do brown canvass type of pockets but later decided that was too heavy to be used as an everyday napkin.)

Step 2: Measure and Cut.
I chose to make 22 inch squares for two reasons... 1) My main fabric (a full white sheet I snagged at Goodwill for a buck!) folded into quarters, minus hems, was about a 22 inch length and 2) I found that if I took a 22 inch square and folded it on the diagonal it would work as a bib. And since at this dinner party, most of the eating is done with your hands, a big napkin/bib sounded awesome!

Step 3: Iron rough edging, top and bottom.
Fold down about a fingerwidth of fabric and follow with a hot iron, being super careful not to burn yourself. When you get to the end, let the seam cool.

Fold down again another fingerwidth of fabric and iron. Doing this makes sure that there are no rough edges exposed which could fray with constant use and washing. It also makes the napkin look really finished and professional.

Step 4: Sew top and bottom.
Using a straight stitch, stitch the fold. You could make this look any way you want by substituting a contrasting thread color or using a zig-zag stitch.

Step 5: Iron rough edging, sides.
See step 3...

Step 6: Sew sides
See step 4.

(so basically you double fold all the way around the square then straight stitch.)

You have something like this now...

Step 7: *Optional*
I created a pocket for silverware by sewing the contrasting fabric onto a eighth section of the napkin. You can either fold and iron the unfinished edges of the pocket or leave it and have a more deconstructed look.

I cut a 4.5 X 6 inch rectangle, folded the "top" of the pocket about 3/4 of an inch and straight stitched it.

Then I folded and ironed the sides and bottom of the pocket. (You don't have to sew this time. When you stitch the pocket to the napkin, it eliminates the need to sew before.)

The pockets ended up all different sizes. Doesn't bother me a bit. I then folded the napkin into eights to determine where I wanted the pocket. I decided I wanted a neat napkin with no edges.

I lined the pocket up on the napkin where I wanted it and marked with my pencil where the two bottom corners met the napkin. Not one placement did I measure, just approximate. Afterall, homemade is all about imperfection! When I went to my sewing machine, I began at the right top corner of the napkin, stictched down the side as close to the seam as possible. When I got to the bottom, I left my needle in the napkin but lifted the presser foot up and turned my project so that I could now stitch the bottom of the pocket. Set the presser foot back down and continue to sew until you reach the next corner. Set your needle in the fabric, lift presser foot and turn you project so you now can stitch the last side. Set the presser foot back down and stitch the last side. Backstitch at the end.

So simple and yet so impressive!
A set for parties, a set for family suppers and a set as a gift!

A napkin seems so boring until you think of all the combinations of fabric and styles out there... what is yours going to look like?

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