Friday, June 19, 2009

The Cloth Napkin Project

I am suddenly hellbent on making cloth napkins--not just a set, but a whole friggin buttload of them. And why not? I mean, we can lessen our paper towel useage, and cloth napkins are so much lovelier. They are what our grandparents used growing up, are friendlier to our earth, and are so, so much lovelier. So, I have this plan to make cloth napkins all summer--different materials, different styles, some simple, some a bit embellished. And this is where I began...I chose reproduction 1930's feedsack patterns (many of them from the Aunt Grace line--you can find some fabrics from this collection at Reprodepot--found here)--and ric-rac for the edges. I wanted something that actually did remind me of my Grandma Keller and all of her sweet sisters. I also chose to back these with some white muslin--just to give them a nice heft, and to make them a little sturdier which could be good for picnic use.And while I love the look of ric-rac, I also hate working on it because I always seem to sew it in wopperjawed. But this is the solution I found:
  1. First, I bought all fat quarters for these (and cut the muslin to fit each). I sewed the rickrack on the front side of the fabric, a half inch from the edge, all the way around.
  2. Then I pinned the muslin and the patterned fabrics together, right sides facing in, and sewed them together along the stitching where I sewed in the rickrack--leaving a 4 inch slot open so I could turn it right side out.
  3. Then I turned it right side out, pressed it all neat and flat, and sewed around the edge again, about 1/2 inch in. Napkin done.

So, I have one set of 8 napkins complete...my plan is to make about 30 or so more so we can use our napkins with wild abandon and not worry about doing laundry every second. Yeah, I am serious about this cloth napkin business...

17 comments:

amy said...

The rickrack is the perfect touch! I love tucking handmade cloth napkins in my girls' lunches. :)

{kimmymade} said...

Something must be in the air ... I've made my daughter four recently (though not with your supersweet touch of ric rac), all from different vintage fabrics in keeping with the recycling theme. She loves them, going through her little vintage sewing box on her little vintage kitchen table to pick which one to use with breakfast. (I'm on a vintage kick here, in case you can't tell!)

elbereth said...

These are darling! Excellent idea to use the ric-rac!

Meggan said...

My husband's mother has a ton of vaguely mis-matched cloth napkins like this and I LOVE them! It's such a neat idea. She finds hers at thrift stores, I think, but has also made her own.

I really like how you sandwiched the ric-rac between the fabric layers!

Holly said...

Thanks everyone for the kind comments about the napkins--I did not expect even this many comments about the napkins as I thought everyone would find it sort of boring--but I love what you ohave shared. I am planning a new batch for this weekend--sans ric-rac though. These are going to be straight-up single layer, hemmed napkins...I love the idea abou tucking one in the lunch bag--do find that you lose them along the way as a result?

Carol said...

Holly, I love the rick rack on your napkins! Good tip for sewing it on! I just did an apron using rick rack, haven't sew with it in years, and that's just what I ended up doing! I think I'll make some like yours, they are sooo cute!

christi said...

i love them! we only use cloth napkins and love love love it! they are so fun and easy to make too!

RovingWeaver said...

Just found your blog through a link on Facebook - I LOVE the napkins! Am going to make a ton of napkins for myself, and napkins for all my family for Christmas! Will try to do some embroidered and appliqued ones for everyone, but I love the simple ones - this way I may actually get them done. :-)

Becky said...

Holly, I adore your napkins! I usually set aside largish scraps to make napkins. I have a pile that I need to attack soon. Your ric-rac version is inspiring!

Thanks for sharing!

Lani Robertson said...

i love them, the rick rack is so perfect and the vintage fabrics are wonderful! :)

Nan said...

I tried one of these right away and it's awesome I love the look and thank you for posting. I now have two sets of 4 fat quarters in blues and greens, muslin, and some orange rick rack I'm going to sew some sets up for gifts.

Holly said...

Hey thanks to everyone for the comments on these napkins--these are some of my favorites for their simplicity and vintage-look sweetness. Also, I think they must have struck some balance with me of being easy enough to make but inspiring enough to look at that it allowed me to maintain motivation to make the 32 napkins that came after these...best of luck to everyone on their napkin creation. I would love to see photos--makes me wonder if I should start a FLickr group on napkins or something...is that going overboard?

Max California said...

this is a fantastic idea! I need to do this + make matching bibs for my son. ((I feel like I never have any clean))

Although My husband may not agree with Vincent wearing floral bibs with ricrac for dinner...

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Cody said...

I was looking for napkin patterns and came across yours, they are lovely!! Is the fabric you used cotton or cotton blend.

Anonymous said...

The napkins are fabulous! I found your sight searching for a solution to some runny jam, and coincedentally I have been on a cloth napkin kick. I love the idea of using fat quarters. And the "eat" napkins, yummy, yummy! Now back to my runny jam...

Scarlet & Sophia said...

I had thought about making cloth napkins for awhile but my sewing skills are very very basic and I don't have a serger. Your post inspired me, however, and I made 20 adorable napkins. Truly, this is the easiest sewing project EVER. I didn't have rickrack, but I used contrasting material and they turned out really cute. Thanks for the idea and your blog is lovely!