Thursday, April 10, 2014

Make your own Cloth Napkins :)

Hello all!

Have you ever felt guilty about going through 13 paper napkins every time you eat chicken wings at home? 
(Not that I ever eat unhealthy foods like chicken wings.... just saying, hypothetically....)

Well, after one such hypothetical meal, my husband actually brought up the idea of cloth napkins.  However, after checking prices, I decided that destroying the earth with paper napkins was preferable. :)

That is, until a friend gave me the idea to make cloth napkins!

This little project is incredibly easy and fun, not to mention you'll celebrating Earth Day every time you wipe your face!

 First, you'll need to purchase your fabrics. (My FAVORITE part.)
I chose some heavy-weight cotton fabrics, since they'll need to be able to stand up to some serious wiping. (We enjoy our fair share of BBQ in this household.)

The prints and colors are completely up to you!!  

Does your heart want polka-dot napkins that don't even come close to matching the colors in your kitchen?  Do it.  :) 
(PS- If you're shopping at JoAnn Fabric, don't forget to use your JoAnn Fabric app for some sweet coupons!)

Once you have your fabric home, give it a spin in the washer and dryer. 
(Don't be afraid.  I know it's scary.  Yes, it will fray... but it needs to fray!  Any fabric you'll use for something that will be washed later, like clothes or napkins, needs to be washed beforehand.  Just think of it as telling your fabric to get all of its naughtiness out of its system before you use it.) :)


Ok, after the wash, I cut some of the crazy threads and ran the fabrics through the dryer.

Now, you're ready to get started!

The size of these napkins is up to you.  You can use a fabric napkin you already have as a sizing guide, or you can measure it to your liking.

Whatever size you'd like, factor in one additional inch for each dimension.  Each of the four sides of your fabric will need an extra 1/2", (for two 1/4" folds.)

I wanted the most napkins per yard. 
For one yard of fabric, I was able to squeeze out 6 napkins.  You could make 4 larger napkins out of one yard too... it's up to you!

I "measured" the yard into three equal widths; (you usually get a couple extra inches beyond the expected 36", depending on who is cutting your fabric for you.)

Then, I folded the fabric in half, cut out the three lengths of fabric, and cut each in half.  This made 6 pieces.

Now, get the iron handy.
I tried three different methods, trying to find the best short-cuts, and this is what worked best.

I know it's not fun, but one ironing step will save you some heartache later!

Use the iron to make 1/4 inch folds on each side of your fabric.

(Apologies for the sad green nail polish.) ;)

Once you've  ironed the creases, get your sewing machine ready.

Pick a side to start sewing, and fold the 1/4" crease, (that you made with the iron), over itself to make a fold with a finished edge.  Check your corner to make sure  it is even. :)

Secure the twice-folded corner under the presser foot of the machine, and get ready to sew!

Using a topstitch, sew close to the inside edge of the fold.  

Stop about 3/4 of the way down the seam.  

As you pause here, take a moment to fold in the next side's seam, just like you did for the first seam.
(This will allow you to turn the corner and continue sewing around the perimeter of the napkin.)

Now keep sewing until you sew into the next corner.

With your needle in the down position, lift the presser foot and turn the fabric to start sewing the next side.

This was kind of hard to explain, so here is a little video to show you how to turn the corner. (I hope it works!)

Repeat for the next two sides.

As you approach the final corner, (which is the same corner where you started), the only difference is that you won't need to make a new fold.
Just sew to the corner and backstitch to secure your stitch.

Cut the thread and you're done!


Now, lather, rinse, and repeat!

Just think of the possibilities!  You can make napkins for everyday, birthdays, special parties, holidays, whatever!  Fabric can be really inexpensive, especially if you're wanting a solid color.  Scope out the clearance rack at your favorite fabric shop and have fun. :)
If you're feeling really crazy, you can embroider them or embellish them to personalize them... maybe as a gift?  
At the end of the day, you have something beautiful and reusable that you can use to wipe your face!  Not bad, eh?

Go make some napkins, and celebrate with a picnic this weekend!!
Thanks for reading!

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