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Cloth napkins

I grew up using cloth napkins and have meant for a long time to get around to making some for myself.  We tend to use paper towels as napkins and I always feel slightly guilty every time I toss one away.  During my parents’ recent visit I took Mom and Dad downtown to the fabric district with the idea in mind that it was time to buy some fabric for napkins.  Mom was looking for napkin fabric, too and we hit a couple of $1 a yard storesn  looking for 100% cotton.  Of course, the $1 a yard stores suck you in with the intial promise but often you end up liking something that is not $1 a yard.  I picked a fabric with orange circles and Mom picked a calico.  I think my fabric selections startle my mother sometimes because her taste is more sweet and mine is more bold.  She’ll say something neutral in a quiet little voice such as,”That looks like you,” or, “It’s not my thing, but if YOU like it.”

I also found some Amy Butler fabric on sale for $6 a yard.  I was pretty excited because I really like Amy Butler’s designs and the fabric is great quality cotton and often pretty pricey by my cheapskate standards.

Amy Butler fabric napkins

Both fabrics yielded 6 napkins that are 16″ x 16″.  I hemmed them pretty simply around the edges.  That should be enough to get us started using cloth napkins!  My mother gave me an interesting tip.  She was shopping at an antique mall and saw a booth with beautiful vintage linens that were absolutely spotless.  She asked the seller how she got the linens so clean and the woman told her she soaked them in water mixed with Tide, sometimes for up to 3 days.  She just keeps checking them until the stains have all come out.  Apparently Tide is stronger than other detergents.  I plan on keeping this tip in mind for baby clothes, too!

Here is how I hemmed the napkins:

Press about 1/4" on two opposite sides.

Tuck the raw edge of the fabric under toward the crease you pressed and stitch down.

Now that you've stitched the first two sides, press down the two remaining raw edges in the same fashion

Clip or "miter" the corners a little before you stitch these sides to reduce bulk in the corner of the napkins. I only did this on the Amy Butler fabric because it was a heavier weight. The other fabric didn't need it.

Now you have hemmed all four edges and your napkins are done.  I tend to do this kind of work in assembly-line fashion.  I did two sides on all six napkins first, then did step two on the napkins all at the same time.  Clip any stray threads and you are done!

This is the other set of napkins I made!

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