Saturday, November 13, 2010

the napkin project - a cloth napkin tutorial

Disclaimer:  I really have no business posting a sewing tutorial, given that I just learned how to thread the bobbin a few weeks back.  Yet here I am, posting a tutorial. 

I am a newcomer to sewing.  I can't do fancy things with my sewing machine.  I can only sew straight lines, sometimes not even that.  And if my machine starts acting up I throw up my hands in defeat and whine to Michael until he fixes it.  Until a few weeks ago he was also threading the bobbin, threading the needle, replacing the thread, and anything else I needed help with.  All because I was frustrated reading the manual.  I hate reading manuals.  So I decided I needed to learn a few things and get in some more practice time on the sewing machine.  And thus began the napkin project.

Up until the napkin project began our family was using paper towels as napkins at meals (go ahead and rap my knuckles with a ruler).  The waste was really bothering me, and our family is always looking for ways to be more green in our everyday lives.  I decided to take all of the scraps of fabric, remnants, and fat quarters that I had been saving and do something productive with them:  make cloth napkins.  My talented friend Amy has been making cloth napkins, and they are oh so cute, and she made it seem so effortless and easy.  But then again she makes all sewing projects seem effortless, and she knew how to tinker with and fix her machine long before me!  But this time she was right, cloth napkins are pretty easy to make.

So our napkin collection now consists of a hodgepodge of designs that are bright and colorful, and many of them have sentinmental value.  There are napkins made from the same fabric I used to make quilts for the kids (ahem, 2 of the 4 children's quilts, 2 are still in progress), and fabric from skirts I made Ella, or pj's for the boys.  Now I have cleaned out the fabric collection, helped our family be a bit more green & learned a few things about my sewing machine and sewing in general.

While working on these napkins I was able to practice basic sewing techniques which helped me become a more independent seamstress (Michael is sighing in releif as I type this).  I'm not saying I can sew anything intricate now, I'm still doing the straight lines, but I am much more confident in my skills.  I think this is a great beginner sewer project, so I am sharing with you!  

So here it is, the napkin tutorial.  Hopefully it will help some other newbie sewer like myself.  And if you have a good beginner's pattern I could try please share!

The Napkin Project - Cloth Napkin Tutorial
1.  Select Fabric -- this is a great project for remnants, or you could even repurpose fabric: cut up some clothes that just don't fit anymore.

2.  Cut squares to desired size.  Just a note -- you can make these any size, but I made 6 inch squares for the kids & for lunch packing and I made 9 inch squares for dinner. This may seem small, but I figured if we were using the half size paper towels before this project, then we could use 9" napkins.  We have larger cloth napkins for fancy affairs.


Save your scraps!  This is our scrap basket, the kids find all kinds of uses for these bits & pieces, such as: collars for their pets, blankets for their dolls, capes for their action figures, scraps for gluing, and more. 

3.  Place your squares together, right sides facing each other, as shown above.  If you feel the need to pin the fabrics to keep them together then do so now, although the pieces are so small, they don't really need pinning.  Here's where it gets interesting, because I don't know the proper lingo to be using.  Sew the two squares together (wrong side of fabric facing out), leaving a 1.5 inch gap in which to turn the fabric right side out.  Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end to reinforce your seams.  Leave 1/4 inch between the seam and the edge of the fabric.  After you complete the seam (don't forget to leave a hole!) then snip off the four corners and turn the fabric right side out.  I use a crochet hook to help me do this, and to push out the corners (gently).

4.  Iron the napkin. 

5.  Sew a seam along the entire edge of the napkin (1/8 inch), closing the gap.  Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end to reinforce the seam.  

Then have your 3 year old fold and organized the new napkins. 
  
Ta-da!  That's it, you are finished.  Begin again on the next one, and before you know it you will have a whole collection of cloth napkins. 

Please leave a comment below telling me what you think of this tutorial, and share your favorite easy peasy sewing pattern! 

1 comment:

RoseMamie said...

Thank you for your very sweet words! And great tutorial!! Your way is even easier than mine and they are so cute!