Sunday, March 16, 2008

On being a little more Green...

A while back a quilty friend Tami mentioned on her blog about her efforts at being a little more Green - more energy efficient - less wasteful - a little easier on the earth. She pictured a basket in that post with her cloth napkins.

That picture made me go up and unpack my cloth napkins. On a shopping trip a week or two later I picked up a woven napkin holder for myself. It's actually a napkin holder made for paper napkins... (we won't even go into how lame and useless paper napkins have become) but the all cotton napkins I made several years ago fit pretty well thank you. These are the ones hanging out in there right now... all made probably 6 or 8 years ago, they've seen hundreds of slices of pizza, many pans of nachos, countless bowls of soup, a fair number of burgers and hot dogs as well as any number of other everyday meals. They have been washed over and over again. Nothing special to it - just throw them in with all the other towels getting washed.
So in the interest of being a little more Green: Here is a quick primer on making your own Everyday Napkins. Trust me - once you start using these napkins you'll never like using paper napkins again. The more you wash these cotton napkins the softer they get - if you are having a special event feel free to iron them to spiff them up a bit - otherwise enjoy the cozy softness of them as they are. Oh and as it is with towels... don't use fabric softener in the washer or dryer - it will make them less absorbent over time. Oh and don't be tempted to get any poly/cotton fabric... it always feels rough and isn't as absorbent as 100% cotton.

Here is how I'd get 9 napkins out of 1.25 yards of cotton fabric.

Several years ago when I made my napkins I used my serger to finish the edges. Since I was going to be trimming as I added my woolly nylon rolled edge I would tear my fabric into 13.5" squares. If you prefer to cut - go right ahead. Tearing at 13.5" gave me a little to trim off all around.

If you are turning under your edge and making a regular stitched down hem (double fold) - you might plan to cut at 14 inches to allow a little more for the hem.

I went up and whacked the edges off an old napkin I have that has a rip in it... so here's a quick primer on turning under an edge - it isn't perfect but hey it's my first whack at doing it this way.

I started my stitching in the middle of an edge - this way when I get all the way around all the corners will be finished off nicely. Just turn it under about a quarter of an inch and fold it again. I wouldn't bother trying to iron it because you'll just burn your fingers and it won't be any fun.
Stitch the edge down right off the end... well OK I did miss on those last couple stitches but I'm turning those under anyway... so pretend you don't see those - OK?Pull it out from under the needle and fold the next edged down - OK yeah I need a manicure but who has time or money for that? LOL - what I need to do is go back to using my lotion more often. Don't be distracted by my dry hands and ragged cuticles...
I usually put the needle down so that I'm starting to sew about 1/8 of an inch down and I BACK STITCH to the top edge and then go forward - this helps to lock in the stitches. I also learned something here I want to pass along to you. It ain't easy stitching this folded corner... and after fussing with it a couple times - I stuck a piece of paper under the edge and the machine then had a bit more to grab hold of and I had something to hold onto as well to help guide it.
Then you just pull the paper off. Cool huh?

Ta Da! OK - my corners aren't perfect - but ya know what - the more that I would do like this the better I'd get at doing them. This is my very first folded hem napkin... so I'm thinking you can do it too. I'll bet you could have a cornucopia of napkins if you went through your bin for any 14 inch leftovers from quilting projects. Yeah wouldn't those be fun to use.


smiledarlin said...

AND if you sew them using your treadle- you would REALLY be green!!
NO Electricity needed!!

We use our cloth napkins ALL the time.(the ones you sold) Makes a pretty table- Kinda silly eating off a Halloween napkin at Easter! :)

Anonymous said...


I love cloth napkins, as well. I also like making matching napkins and table cloths. I got that idea when the kids used to wipe their mouth on corner of the tablecloth. Just doesn't take me very long, to catch on, in this adventure called LIFE.... LOL


tami said...

I was so surprised when I read my name in your blog. :cD Great tutorial on the napkins. I hope everyone starts using cloth napkins. Every little bit helps.

Bon said...

Hmmm, maybe I should make some to use. That would freak out my company. LOL

One thing, did I miss the link to how you cut?

Howdy said...

Lori - if you are using Halloween napkins now then you didn't buy enough other ones! LOL

Neen - that paper is only a pull tab to help the corner through - you don't have to line up anything... I Promise!

Tami - sometimes we all need a little nudge and your post that day was my nudge to go get my napkins out of the box.

Bon - yep just above the pictures of the hem process - 13.5" if you are serging and 14" if you are hemming.

Gizmo said...

I'll give them a try. I've used Lori's, and they really are GREAT!! My kids love em! Thanks for the tutorial - can't wait to see the next one. :)
Email me your address - I'll send you some goat's milk soap for your dry skin. :)