Fabric for handmade table napkins

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I'd like to save a few bucks and save the environment at the same time. We spend quite a bit on paper table napkins and I'd like to make some durable cloth ones to use. Can someone recommend a certain type of cloth and guestimate what size works well for you? Thanks

-- Charleen in WNY (harperhill@eznet.net), September 27, 2001


I have sewn for about 40 years. I worked for several years at a place where we made tableclothes and napkins. We used cotton cloth most. You can but linen but it's expensive. I also worked for an interior design store, the most usable size is 18"x18" finished.

-- ruby (mcfays451@aol.com), September 27, 2001.

Fingertip or small guest towels work nicely. Better yet, they can often be found at garage sales in new condition.

-- Barbara Fischer (bfischer42@hotmail.com), September 27, 2001.

When my children were small, I started using terrycloth hand towels for napkins and we still use them now. I buy the ones that are mainly white that I can bleach! They are perfect--you can clean up spills, wipe face and hands and throw them in the washer!!!You can buy them for less that a dollar each. I have nice cloth napkins (linen) for guests and holidays but I will never go back to paper napkins again!

-- Debbie T in N.C. (rdtyner@mindspring.com), September 27, 2001.

If you have a nice cotton sheet thats worn through the middle, the edges make nice everyday napkins-cotton really is the best-I made some once that were a cotton-poly blend, but those generally only get used when the others are in the Wash-they do hold up (probably becase noone like to use them) I think they make terrific Christmas/housewarming gifts.

-- Kelly in KY (Markelly@scrtc.com), September 27, 2001.

If you're going to buy fabric, I'd recommend 100% cotton muslin. Readily available, usually reasonably priced (try to find it on sale), comes in "natural" and white most often.

I've seen bandanas useds as napkins too. I don't know if you can find 100% cotton bandanas anymore though. Maybe in a farm store?

-- Joy F [in So. Wisconsin] (CatFlunky@excite.com), September 27, 2001.

I buy flour sack towels (so cheap) and stencil or sponge paint each corner and they make great big napkins. You could cut them in fours and have smaller napkins, too, just finish the edges. Great Christmas gifts, too, eh? Jennifer

-- Jennifer MO (none@none.com), September 27, 2001.

Hi ladies. I have napkins that we use every day that are 20 yrs old made out of gingham. I bleach them every time I wash them and they just last forever. They are a whole bunch of different colors. I've found nice linen ones at junk stores that we use for company but they have to be ironed to look nice. The gingham doesnt and bleaching them every time doesnt fade the colors. Blessings Peggy

-- peggy (peggyan2@msn.com), September 28, 2001.

This is a little off the subject, but I keep a stack of terrycloth rags in my kitchen and we use them instead of paper toweling. I took old towels and ran them through my serger in various sizes...mostly washcloth size and smaller. We use them, throw them in the laundry and reuse. I do have paper toweling too, but we rarely use it. It certainly saves money!

-- Ardie from WI (ardie54965@hotmail.com), September 28, 2001.

I just picked up some beautiful homespun 100% cotton fabric (plaids) at WalMart for $2.00 a yard...lots of different colors. Since they always seem to give a up to an inch more when cutting, you can just about get four 18x18 inch napkins out of a yard...using a small rolled machine stiched hem. Making this .50 cents per napkin...you really do save using cloth instead of paper. The plaids would hide any small stains (sauce, etc) if washing couldn't get it out...I DON'T use bleach since it kills the much needed bacteria in the septic field. I do use color safe bleach that is recommended...there was a great article on taking care of septics in one of CountrySide's Magazine.

-- Sherrill in Washington (cabininthewoodsfarm@yahoo.com), September 28, 2001.

I use cloth napkins too. I like the cotton ones best, linen ones are a little fussy for this family, and I have special christmas napkins I made probably 10 years ago and get out in Dec for the month. We have alot of mismatched oned for every day, and most of them are the 18 by 18" size. Some are over 10 years old. I make a few any time I have some nice absorbent cotton fabric extra from a project. I do have a "set" of plaid napkins all the same (I think there are 8 or10_ that I try to remember to use when we have company...but mostly ours are all different. The kids fight over who gets which one. We have one with red gingham and huge ants printed on the fabric that the love the best. I think it does save alot over paper napkins!

-- Jenny Pipes (Auntjenny6@aol.com), September 28, 2001.

Hi charleen,

I remember making my napkins for everyday use. I also went down to Wal-mart (since it is the only fabric store in our town) I got all different plaids in there $2.00 section. Our company that comes over all think it is a cute idea. Hodge-podge is the new style nowadays. I never have the heart to tell them I'm just thrifty.(cheap)

-- Toni in Utah (tmevans66@hotmail.com), September 28, 2001.

Dishtowels work great too! I use dark colors, since stains don't show and they last for years. I never buy anything that is white if I can help it. This includes towels, washcloths, clothing, anything for that matter. One stain and it is usually ruined. Whereas something dark will look nice for years.

-- Melissa (cmnorris@1st.net), September 28, 2001.

Your local thrift store is a fine place to find a variety of fabrics. SOmetimes they actually have yard goods (if someone's donated their craft supplies), but you can get wonderful stuff out of sheets, curtains, clothes and so on. All very cheap.

-- Soni (thomkilroy@hotmail.com), September 28, 2001.

Look for the local cleaners who rent out linens to companies like hotels, and ask them what they do with their old linens. For one dollar, I can buy 10 napkins 18"x18" made of high quality real linen. I currently have pink and white. They recently had some gold ones, but I had too many already.

-- daffodyllady (daffodyllady@yahoo.com), September 28, 2001.

Interesting-when I was a welfare mother back in the 70's, I thought I had invented the idea of using cloth napkins to save money. !!

-- Mitzi Giles (Egiles2@prodigy.net), September 30, 2001.

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