Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cloth Napkins

As of today we are no longer throwing away paper napkins. Little by little I've transitioned to cloth in the house. It all started with cloth diapers when my oldest was six months old. Then I thought I might as well use cloth wipes. From that point using cloth pads was just the next step. Before you say, "ewww!" let me just mention that my cycle is much less painful and long with this change alone. Ahem.

Then I spotted some bundles of microfiber towels in the car section at BJs and those have become wonderful paper towels for everything kitchen related. Another color of microfiber towel lives in the bathrooms for cleanups. But something kept bugging me and if you've ever seen a child use a paper napkin you'll know. They use one tip of the corner and the napkin is deemed too dirty to continue using. Then for post meal cleanup the paper napkin just didn't do the job. So about three years ago I bought this fabric for making double sided napkins. I got sidetracked. Then I got pregnant and let's just ring the bell that the napkins are finally made and have taken their maiden voyage!

Yes, they are beige flannel with a white on beige floral cotton - more than 40 napkins - just enough to last us about 3-4 days. When I'm making batches of things to use together I tend to go for uniformity - my OCD side I guess. Plus I figured these would be getting washed on hot so often with the kitchen linens that I wasn't about to use any vibrant prints which would look faded in no time. I cut the napkins about 11"x11" and after squaring off, then finishing them off with a rolled hem they're about 10"x10". Being double sided though they work great yet not too big for a child.

Since my napkins are double layered the rolled hem isn't as pronounced as it would have been on a single layer. Below is a mini tutorial on turning square corners using a serger.

First I set down the flannel one layer, then I smooth on the second fabric layer.

Square off the edges because for some reason straight cuts even with a ruler elude me.

On three of the four sides, make a cut about 2" long and 1/4" wide. Later this will be important for turning the corners.

Set your serger for a rolled hem and begin feeding the napkin on the side where you didn't make a slit cut. Yes, my serger is full of fuzz. This weekend I'm going to vacuum and oil her very well.

Continue sewing until you reach the end of the first side. Try to stop right at the edge of the fabric or a stitch past that. You might need to use the handwheel to get that last stitch. It's important to stop with the needle in the raised position.

Lift up the presser foot and remove the fabric from the stitch finger unhooking the stitches from the machine. Then turn the napking 90 degrees to position the second side.

Position the second side directly in front of the needle and the upper looper. Also, before putting down the presser foot, tug on each thread near the cone so that the stitch tightens up and you don't have any loose threads on the corner.

In the previous picture and the next you see why those slit cuts are necessary. When you turn the napkin to do the next side there is a portion of the fabric under the presser foot that is too far back for the serger knife to trim. Now, put down the presser foot and begin serging the second side.

Continue in the same way with the third side and finally with the fourth. When you reach the end of the napkin on the fourth side just serge all the way to the end off the napkin, cutting the beginning thread tail.

Voila! Done. Here's the final corner.

Finally thread a darning needle with the serger tail and tuck it into the rolled hem. Apply a dot of fray block on each corner as well as where the serger tail peeks out of the rolled hem. Clip the serger tail. Fold and use!

Oh my that's a lot of beige! Here's a bit of color for you. Some socks to turn into babylegs for the baby. I just love the orange argyle pair.


Anonymous said...

Ok, I think I will do my napkins T&T because I don't know how to do it your way lol
Beautiful. What fabrics can be used? I don't like the way microfiber feels so I want something else.

Marielle said...

Nah, I remember reading this method a few years ago and it didn't make sense until I was sitting in front of the serger. But T&T will work too and I think look beautiful, I'm just lazy and was cutting it close with the yardage.

I used one side a regular quilter's cotton and on the other side double napped flannel to make it very absorbent. I've seen linen used and definitely if you want them single layered using natural fibers like cotton, hemp and linen would make them more absorbent.

Anonymous said...

I did some and I like how they came out. Lets just wait to see if they last in the wash LOL. I have no idea what a darning needle is and I don't have fray block LOL

Anonymous said...

Another question. What do you do with them when they are dirty? Where do you place them until laundry day?

Marielle said...

Yasmel I love yours! I'm a fan of sherpa too. Here's a darning needle. It's just a metal or plastic needle with a large eye for thread yarn or serger tails and tucking them in.

For the dirties I have a small plastic bin in the kitchen. Like a trashcan with no lid. I put my used kitchen microfiber towels (our paperless towel) so I toss the napkins in there too. If a napkin or microfiber towel is wet from use we hang it off the side edge of the bin. By the time we put another one I toss the dried ones off the edge. We wash about once or twice a week.

The trick is to let the wet ones dry before tossing them inside the bin to avoid mold. Ours get washed on a super hot sanitary cycle in the front loader.

Anonymous said...

Awesome. Thank you. I will make more in the coming days so I can go completely to cloth.
I will have to check out JF for one of those needles and of course I will be asking you questions once I get it LOL

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