I am really trying not to buy disposable products. It also occurred to me when I was looking for cloth napkins that they were ridiculously expensive. This is how I made my new cloth napkins.
You will need:
Cloth of some sort. I used a black twin sized 100% cotton sheet.
I also used some iron on stars for decorations. You could skip that part, or do something else.
Disclaimer: I am using a really old digital camera, so all the red tones are insane when compared to the reality I normally view.
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Step 1: Cut Fabric to Size
When I looked up sites that offered cloth napkins, the sizes ranged from 16 to 20 inches square. Since I am using a flat sheet, I found I could fold the sheet in half length wise, and get two 15 inch squares out of that. So that's four across, and however many down I want.
It's your napkin, so make it as big or as small as you need. My whim was motivated by my fabric size.
I just used my rotary cutter, a yardstick, and a cutting mat on the floor. I suppose you could cut or tear the fabric in any fashion. That almost frightens me, as on this site it's not hard to imagine that someone could be using all manner of insane devices to cut the fabric. Experimental use of cutting torches, high power water jets, and whatnot could be employed, and probably are no more dangerous than a rotary cutter in my clumsy hands.
Step 2: Deal With the Cat
You might be able to skip this step if you either a) don't have a cat, or b) have one that is less of an impediment to your projects. I have yet to find a fool proof way to keep him out of what I am doing short of locking him in another room. Unfortunately, he is around fifteen pounds giving him an ungodly ability to howl when locked up which is more distracting than just petting him.
Step 3: Ironing the Edges
When deciding how to do the edges of the napkins I had three options.
The first was to just iron the edges over by a quarter of an inch, and then iron them over a second time by a quarter of an inch, then sew a zig zag stitch.
The second was to use a little roll over seam foot for my sewing machine that a friend of mine (Hi Ashcake!) lent me. I tested it, and found it was fiddly, and irritating. More irritating than ironing.
The third option was to get the husband to agree that I needed a serger, and serge the edges.
It turns out the husband was not quite enamored of a new sewing machine quite yet, and the borrowed foot was more irritating than the cat. That leaves me with my first option of ironing. I am still working on the serger, but the husband has to graduate from his university first. I have made a note to try and get rid of that nagging bit of common sense, so as to get a new serger faster.
Step 4: Sewing the Edges
This step is pretty easily done. You could use a straight stitch or a zig zag stitch. I chose a zig zag stitch.
You could conceivably hand sew these, but for someone that is as impatient as I am couldn't possibly give up that much video game time to do that.
Step 5: Iron on Stars
I thought the black napkins were rather plain, and decided on iron on stars.
A note on the stars:
I got my iron on stars from two brands. The 'Wrights' brand, and the 'Patch Ems' brand. They are iron on appliqué's. The Patch Ems say to just iron on, and the Wright's says for a permanent placement you need to sew them after ironing them down.
My personal feeling is that the entire iron on patch industry feeds on the hopes of those that are trying to avoid sewing. It's a deceptive game, and leads to frustration as the ironed appliqué's eventually peal off in the wash. If they say you only need to iron them on, then they are dirty filthy liars. I no longer listen to the silver tongued directions that promise me iron on bliss. I just sew the nasty little things down regardless. Just remember that they lie, and you will be okay.
Anyways, I digress. Just iron the stars on per the directions. I ironed mine on from the front to stick it a little, then really pressed and ironed them on from the back.
Step 6: Sew Down the Deceptive Stars.
I then sewed on the stars. You might want to take your machine into account. I have owned an awful lot of machines, and some of the cheaper ones are not very happy to sew through iron on appliqué. This is why I bought the Husqvarna Viking. Part of the demo was that the sales lady sewed straight through a yardstick, and the machine was fine. Of course, this means it can sew through my finger and keep tension, as well, but with the kinds of hell I put my machine through, it only seems fair.
I also used a heavy duty denim needle for this. You may break the lighter ones if you don't. Nothing says fun like flying needle shards.
The machine is threaded with red top thread, to match the stars, and black bottom thread to match the napkins.
Just go slow, and zig zag around the star. It's a lot of stop and go, raising the presser foot, turning, and going again.
Step 7: Finished Napkins
Now you have nice finished napkins to replace those disposable one. I made up 16 of this kind. We have two humanoids in our household, and I like to have enough on hand so they go in the wash loads with everything else. I figure they don't add much to my laundry, that I do once a week.
They were so nice, I think I am going to make up another set.