Friday, April 30, 2010

Sewing Up Some More Napkins

I've been making my own cloth napkins for almost a year now.  I have a basket full of cloth napkins ready to use by the kitchen table.  So far it's been very nice to have it around.  I have a 1 year old and a 3 year old so meals and snacks get very messy and sometimes a paper napkins does not cut it.  Even with the cloth napkins, we sometimes go through 2 napkins per kid - it really adds up$.

Basket of napkins and bibs.  When all the napkins are washed and folded this whole basket is more than full.

A quick snapshot of my napkin basket.  It's usually very full of only napkins.

I made about 40 napkins so far - some has gotten pretty used and some as disappeared.  So I'm on a mission to make more. I thought about making some fancier ones with different patterns or patchwork but I'll wait until the kids abuse them a little less.  For now, these simple one-ply cloth napkins will do just fine.  Here's a quick rundown of how I make my napkins.

What you need: Scissors Measuring board/tape/ruler Sewing Machine Cloth - prewashed and ironed (I use a 100% cotton cloth normally used for quilting, but any kind of cloth would work depending on preference)

Time Needed:
About 3-5 minutes to make one (cutting and sewing). I cutted up 20 squares the other night, and sewing them as I need them.

Step 1:
Cut cloth into squares. I cut 18x18 inch squares, but any dimension will work depending on preference.  I usually use whatever fabric is cheap but still durable and looks nice.  My napkins don't watch and I don't really make a point of trying to get the same cloth every time :).  Up to you.  You may want to make a huge batch at one time to always have the same fabric on your napkins.

Step 2:
Sew all four edges. I folded over the edges twice and sewed it down. The corners are simple square corners.

Fold over twice and sew.

Sewing the corner.

Step 3:
Fold or just throw into a basket and use when needed :). I fold it up and put it with Silas' bibs right on the dining room table.

How to Clean:
I just throw them in a basket with the kitchen towels and baby bibs (slightly rinse beforehand if there's too much caked on stuff) and wash it in hot water in the washing machine about once a week or whenever the basket gets full.

Reasons why I love having cloth napkins:
  • It's been quite convenient because they are super easy to wash up and reuse.
  • More durable than paper napkins
  • Since I usually wash all my kitchen linens once a week anyways, these napkins just gets thrown in the same wash so no extra wash necessary
  • Saves $$ by not having to by disposables constantly.  Again since these are washed in the same wash as the regular kitchen linens, it doesn't cost any more money to wash the cloth napkins.  Well maybe a little bit of extra money because it takes longer for the dryer to dry since there's more things in it now.
  • Teaches the kids about conserving and reusing.
  • Always a conversation piece when we have guest over.  I thought people wouldn't want to use our re-used (over and over again) cloth napkins, but people absolutely do not mind.  They always think it's a great idea.
 Though cloth napkins are working wonderfully for our household it may not work for yours.  But I do recommend that people at least try it.  Buy or make a couple per person in your household.  If you don't have enough linens to complete a wash, try throwing it with your normal laundry.  Keep track of how many disposable napkins you're saving each day and decide for yourself if you prefer the cloth over paper.


Deanna said...

We use cloth napkins, too. I did mine using the rolled hem foot on my machine. It was good practice learning rolled hems and other than the corners they look pretty good. At our house people seem to think the cloth napkins are a step up and they are being treated like special guests. Works for me.

ohiostar5 said...

We have used cloth napkins for years. When I first got my serger I think I must have made 70 or more napkins.I look for fabric on sale, and if it has a little polyester in it they look better when washed. No ironing.

Q said...

Deanna - I guess cloth napkins are kind of a 'step up' huh? They're in nice restaurants at least ;). I'm thinking about making some 'fancier' ones for guests.

ohiostar5 - A little polyester? I guess that would help the wrinkle problem. For our used ones, the edges start to start rolling up a little. It's no big deal, just a cosmetic thing. Maybe I'll look into polyester. I'm a quilter so I usually just stick with 100% cotton for my work. BTW, I don't bother ironing - haha but maybe I will for the 'fancier' ones.

anng said...

been using cloth napkins for almost 12 years now! Started, when my almost 2 year old (now 13!) started by grabbing bunches and bunches of paper napkins and throwing them in the trash can! he thought it was so funny. Will never go back to paper napkins for my household, why buy over and over! My napkins are finally starting to look a little worn, so thanks for sharing, I'll have to make up some new ones!


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