Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cloth Napkins

My family uses an obscene amount of paper towels---sometimes as many as 12 rolls a week. In an effort to stop being so wasteful in this area, about six months ago I started to buy cloth napkins. Then about five and a half months ago, I stopped. Because cloth napkins, even when bought on sale, are not cheap. It killed me to spend money on a square of cloth that my family was just going to use to wipe their piggy faces.

As far as I can tell there is nothing special about the fabric used to make cloth napkins. It's not exceptionally thick or absorbent. Here are some napkins that I bought on clearance(less than $10 for a set of six) at Pottery Barn:The sunflower ones are 15% linen, so they are a bit thicker, but the other set is just 100% cotton. Nothing fancy.

Inside the box of fabric scraps that I found over the weekend, was quite a bit of fabric in great condition but it just didn't excite me. Nevertheless, I washed and ironed it, and then put it in my ever-growing stash of fabric.

As I was cleaning out my sewing area yesterday, I got the idea of turning the less-than-pretty fabric into cloth napkins. So I measured the fabric against the napkins I already had, adding an inch more on each side to make neat hems. Then I ironed and stitched the hems. Voila! Cloth Napkins. The main difference between my napkins and the store bought ones is that the Pottery Barn napkins have neater corners:Whereas, my edges are just folded under and sewn. (Maybe one day I'll learn that neat corner thing.)

Obviously, this wasn't brain surgery. I didn't put a whole lot of time or effort into this project. If you look closely, you can tell that I didn't even choose matching thread, I just used the beige thread that was already in my machine. For what it's worth, I'm pretty sure that beige thread is going to be stained a spaghetti sauce red in a few days anyway.

I know this is nothing fancy or all that impressive, but projects like this are my main motivation in learning to sew. I love turning trash into something useful, and in the meantime reducing my impact on the environment a little bit.

14 comments:

Cathy said...

wow, I hadn't realized napkins were so easy. I always think of the fancy ones from my mom's holiday tables. we tend to use cheap dishcloths for spills etc, and paper towels for napkins on the rare occasion running to the bathroom real quick isn't acceptable. (we're a barbarian household)
Awesome creativity

Tammie said...

thanks cathy. honestly, we are quite barbarian too, which was why i hated buying cloth napkins. i'd cringe when i'd see one of my kids spill milk on the floor, drop one of my fancy napkins on the spill, and then rub it clean with their foot. ugh!

Nowheymama said...

Ah, yes, one of the many things on my "to do" list. :)

BloomingAlmond said...

Oh man... i don't have a single cloth napkin... can you believe it?! :| how not eco friendly is that?!

Mari said...

Great idea Tammie! I'm going to pull mine out of storage and start using them again...thanks!

Tammie said...

nowhey: it's still on my list as well. i've only made the two so far.

tania: shame on you. ;)

mari: no prob. that's what i'm here for.

Posey said...

Wow! Just think of the money you are saving by making your own cloth napkins. I wouldn't worry about the corners, I would probably just use the fancy Pottery Barn napkins when we have dinner guest. I'm going to have a try making some.

Layrayski said...

mmmm... in our house we don't usually use napkins, clothe or paper. So I can't relate.

But I like how you find new ways in practising your sewing. I know the time will soon come where this blog will turn into an on-line boutique made with your creations ;)

Bridge said...

we use cloth, everyone should try to!
these are great Tammie!

DysFUNctional Mom said...

I'm still trippin' that y'all have used 12 rolls of paper towels in one week! I get grouchy if ONE roll doesn't last a full week. I buy Viva (they're super-soft), choose-a-size and if they take more than one small sheet, I get grouchy again.
But napkins are a much better idea, and I read somewhere that a lot of restaurants are turning to cloth napkins because even with paying to have them laundered, they're cheaper than paper napkins.

Tammie said...

cyndy: i know. the time we went through 12 rolls i wanted to scream. technically they were single rolls, not double, but that doesnt make it ok.

Aimie said...

This is such a brilliant idea! Great for my girls who are learning to sew as well! The November holiday vacation is coming and this will be perfect to chase away the " What can we do now, I'm bored" bug that always seems to hit us. Thanks for the great idea! (It might make a great teacher gift this year as well!)

Tammie said...

what a good thought aimie...my son is always wanting to play around with the sewing machin..i should just put him to making napkins.

Not Hannah said...

I cut down a fall tablecloth whose dimensions I DRASTICALLY overestimated last year. I plan on making the remnants into napkins. I figure I can get six out of them. It occurs to me that buying tablecloths for this purpose (while on sale, of course) might be really economical. (Conversely, it might swell my fabric pile to such proportions that I never get it back under control.)