From the cottage of Maud and Claude

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Don't buy generic cloth napkins! Sew your own!

Christmas is next week, so why not start a Christmas sewing project over this past weekend, right?  This at a time my Christmas shopping was not fully finished.  And it's still not, though the sewing project is done, so there's that triumphant accomplishment! (Post Script:  Now my Christmas shopping is officially finished. Thank you Target.com.)

It's an exciting Christmas this year!  For those who don't know, our very small family is spread among 4 states.  My brother and his significant other, Jessica, live in New York.  His daughter lives in Arkansas.  My dad lives in Illinois and we live in Kansas.  When my mother was alive, Christmas mostly centered around the family home in Illinois.  It was a "come if you can" type thing, but since her stroke and death, we've only had two family Christmases; one in Arkansas the year after my mother's stroke in 2005 where it was such a torn feeling to be happy we were all together and so burdened, at the same time, that mother was up in a nursing home in Illinois lying in vegetative coma; especially since Christmas was her favorite time of the year.  The second Christmas was a few years ago when we all made the trek to Illinois.  This was under the assumption that my grandmother was doing poorly.  Thankfully she is still with us, though that was a difficult Christmas, too.

However, this Christmas will be at the lake.  My brother and Jessica are flying out to Missouri and picking up his daughter in Arkansas and then coming up to Delavan Cottage.  My dad is coming down from Illinois and we will all be together for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, at least.  Hopefully longer!  This is the first time Delavan Cottage will really get a workout as a "guest cottage!"  It will be nice to spread out among the two cottages, just as I always envisioned!

There is no sadness this year just a complete nuclear family together at a place that I hold so near and dear!  I cannot wait!  So, as I've blogged before, I purchased an antique farm table for Delavan Cottage.  Though the cottage has mostly a mariner theme, I still like to incorporate vintage touches, especially through linens.  I have antique quilts folded in the cabinet that I hope will be used to keep everyone warm as we relax and visit with each other.  For the Christmas table, I was looking at using cloth napkins.  After shopping online, I decided I'd rather just sew up my own napkins.

When I go to auctions in the warmer months, I'm always scoping out feed sacks and grain/seed sacks. I just love the graphics, the advertising, the stains and the different material of each sack.  Even though you may find multiples of the same sack, they are never quite the same depending on the wear and the worn graphics.  Oftentimes, I have to bid on a large stack of sacks to get the perfect one I wanted which means I have a collection of worn sacks of all types.

Some of the better sacks I've turned into pillows and sold.  A few sacks are in my own collection, but when it came time to sew up some double-sided napkins, I turned to my more worn seed sacks because I knew I was going to use them and I wanted to see how they'd turn out before I actually cut up perfectly good sacks.

I also needed backing fabric.  It might have been last year or the year before when I had Spoonflower print up a yard of fabric each from an old 1930's advertisement from our lake neighborhood at the Lake of the Ozarks.  One of our part-time neighbors at the lake has the original advertisement which is a 3-fold ad.  I scanned both the front of the ad as well as the inside and sent the files to Spoonflower.  So two napkins have one part of the advertisement as the backing material and 2 other napkins have the other side.  The last 2 napkins have a sweet vintage calico print.

Now, before I show pictures, I want to reiterate that I chose the sacks that were in the poorest condition since I'm using them myself and I won't go postal if anyone gets a stain on the napkin!  Ha-ha!  And, since it's cloudy outside and my dining room table is full of Christmas gifts that need to be wrapped, I grabbed an antique tablecloth to drape over my cutting table for the pictures.  My camera needed to use the flash so the stains look worse in the pictures than in reality and the pictures aren't my finest work, but I wanted to get this blogged before I take the napkins down to the cottage this week.

Each napkin is double-sided and has a good weight, which I like in a cloth napkin.  They were fairly easy to sew by measuring the fabric to 18" X 18" and sewing right sides together with a 1/4" seam before turning right- side out and top-stitching both the seam and the entire napkin.

They fold nicely and look substantial:




I used a sugar sack for this napkin:




This clover sack is delightful with the yellow and red:



The Morton Hybrids sack is interesting because it's just black and white which I thought paired beautifully with the black and white 1930's advertisement of our lake neighborhood on the back fabric.  This pattern was the front page of the advertisement.  I love turning something that was paper into fabric and then using it in a meaningful way!






Of course I had to use a DeKalb sack!  This is the only sorghum sack I've come across.  It had a hole in the material, so I cut out a heart using bumblebee fabric (of course) and appliqu├ęd it over the hole. Bees like sorghum, right?  ;)





Let's face it, there's something charming about flying ears of corn.  DeKalb has the greatest logo of all time until I came across this ear of corn airplane.  I mean, c'mon!  Isn't this the greatest design ever?  (Don't tell the DeKalb folks I said that. I'd never be let inside the DeKalb, Illinois city limits again!  ha-ha!)

This napkin is backed with what was the inside of the 1930's Lakeview Height's advertisement.






And lastly is this delightful corn seed sack.  I especially like the award-winning ribbon!





I love the idea of having two-sided cloth napkins.  You can reverse the design for a different looking table setting.  After the holidays are over, I may dig into my good seed sack collection and sew up more napkins and perhaps put some in my Etsy shop.

This was a super-fun project!