"It is better to have looked and tossed than never to have looked at all."
~~ The Salvage Sisters
I always look at the linens at second hand stores, but afraid I've not been very adventurous in thinking "what else could I do with that fabric?" Last week I found one lonely drape panel in a great print and it dawned on me that my search for new cloth napkins was over!
First step is to wash and dry the fabric before doing any cutting. Best to find out early about nasty habits like shrinking, fading, needing too much maintenance (like ironing).
My panel washed and dried fine, so off to cutting out the napkins. I measured the napkins we have and decided to make mine about 12 inches x 15inches. You can make them smaller or larger, depending on your preference and how much fabric you have. Remember to allow an extra 1/2 inch all around for the hem.
I made a pattern so I didn't need to measure each one individually. Not being very good at precise measurements, this assured all the napkins would be (nearly) the same size! Be sure to cut along the straight edge of the fabric (near the side hems) so your napkins edges are on the straight grain of the fabric. I didn't take out the hemmed edges in case the fabric had worn a bit along that crease.
Next, make the hemmed edge - start by turning the right side of the fabric in about 1/4 inch, then turn it in another 1/4 inch so you have a neat edge with no fabric to unravel. Sew this hemmed edge about 1/4 inch from the edge of the hem. I don't usually pin the hem, but if you're worried about it, pin it to make sure everything stays together as you sew. I sew the two opposite edges first, then the other two edges. This gives a nice little criss-cross in the corner and is much easier than mitering the corner.
This is a simple sewing project, no special skills required. It's a quick and easy and by using thrifted fabric, pretty darn cheap. You could, of course, make these out of new fabric (I assume that's what normal people do)! Either way, they'd make great gifts - add a floppy bow and a tag and you've got a thoughtful gift. However, I am keeping mine!
As I was putting my new napkins away, these old standbys looked like they could use some spiffing up. I used some acrylic paint to add some pattern and color. The stamping worked better when I spread out a thin layer of paint on a paper plate and stamped into it, rather than applying the paint to the stamp with a brush. Let the acrylic paint dry completely for a day or so, then iron (set the iron as hot as your fabric can tolerate) to permanently set the paint and make it washable.
What have you made out of thrifted fabric?