Monday, November 29, 2010

It's DIY . . . Now wipe your Mouth!

One of the first major projects that I decided to tackle for our reception was making napkins. Why make napkins? Truth be told I could just as easily use paper napkins (I mean hello! You wipe your mouth and hands on them) or we could have probably swung it and rented cloth napkins. They are not that expensive to rent in the grand scheme of things.

But no! Some part of my brain says, “the napkins must be unique, the napkins must be homemade, and surely doing it ourselves will save tons of money!”
Well, hmm, brain, I hate to break it to ya, but I think we spent way more money on the fabric than it would have cost just to rent the darn things. But unique? Check! Homemade? Most definitely! I think they will add such an elegant and colorful addition to our table décor. Because in wedding world napkins morph from utilitarian to “décor”, right? Of course, duh. . .
Only one problem: I had no idea how to make napkins. Let me give you a little background here. I was really into theater in high school. I spent a lot of time. . .correction. . I ate, slept, and basically LIVED in our theater in high school. On stage diva extraordinaire? No, not this chick. I was the black wearing, headphone sporting, paint on my face backstage girl. I worked the sound booth, the lighting, had a stint as Student Director and spent many, many (did I say many, cause it was a lot) hours constructing sets and costumes. I got pretty familiar with my mom’s sewing machine during those years. It too took up residence in our tech theater department during our tech theater costume finals. It’s not exactly a new model, so it takes some finesse to work. Here it is!

Totally kidding, the machine is in fact, not that old. Ok for realz this time:

Personal Photo
Hello napkin making new best friend, yes it probably knows I am buttering it up so it will be nice to me during our napkin making adventure. It was time to get friendly with the Singer again.
It took me an hour just to re-learn how to thread the machine. . . there were definitely grumblings heard from the dining room during this process.
After a quick trip to Hobby Lobby for supplies (ha! Lies, the lady at the fabric counter knows me by name because I spent so long in there) I returned home to set up napkin making base camp. Can you see the explosion of crap behind the sewing machine? Yep, our dining room aka “base camp”.
I found a great tutorial online for how to make one sided napkins. I needed to know how to do two sided though, so I winged it (wung it? darn you grammar!). You see, when you use a nice pretty non-cotton fabric on the front, it essentially becomes, as Nate observed, a pretty lap decoration and nothing more. In order to actually serve the function of a grease and liquid absorbing napkin, it has to have a cotton-esque or linen fabric on the back. Linen = holy cow batman that's expensive! So I went with good old cotton.
Here's the skinny on making the napkins!
The supplies:
Above Pictured: Large cutting mat, yard stick, rotary cuter (seriously, make the investment, buy this, it will save time and your sanity), scissors, pins, thread, and seam ripper (cause mistakes happen)
First: cut your fabric into the square size of your choice. I wanted my napkins to be around 12" and since I was going to have a 1/2" edge around my seam, I cut my squares at 13". Your fabric, your choice.

Second: Line up your front and back fabric squares. Make sure the "fronts" are facing each other, cause you will eventually turn the fabric inside out.

See the threads hanging? yeah, backside out, like I said

Three: Pin the fabric in place! Make sure your pins won't get in the way of your sewing machine foot when you are running it through, you may have to test this out to get the right width.

Four: Sew Sew sew! You want to sew around 3 sides of the fabric leaving about a 2 inch gap on the fourth side. It's like sewing a pillow case! Only . . . no pillow. . .

Five: Reach in and pull the fabric inside out and end up with a wonky looking blob like this

Six. . oh jeeze you can count never mind. Use the blunt end of a pencil, or other stick object to straighten out the corners of your fabric. I went with a wooden grill skewer.

Once you have all the corners poked out and nice and straight, run the napkin back through the machine to sew the 2 inch opening shut, then iron and admire the results!

Sage green front with useful cotton backing!

These napkins are going to provide a great pop of color on our ivory linens and I think they will fit right in with our southern affair with a pride and prejudice twist.

So I have appr. 65 more of these to go, but hey, Nate won't mind not being able to use our table for the next 2 months, right?. . .right?

What DIY projects have you tackled lately? Were your efforts met with success?

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