This blog will not be adding more posts but will remain open for you to access the information that will remain here.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Family napkins

by Francesca

family napkins 7

In my family we use cloth napkins at meals. I grew up using cloth napkins, and having my parents remind me and my siblings, to fold and put away our napkins at the end of each meal, each inside its own little "napkin case" - which were envelopes crocheted by my grandmother. My parents still use those crocheted cases, and neatly fold and stow away their napkins after at each meal. My mother even irons them, as she always has. How did my mother find the time to raise four children, have a part-time job and iron napkins? I honestly don't know, and in my own family, we skip several steps when it comes to napkins: no ironing, and no napkin cases. Instead, we simply use cloth napkins of different colors.

However, recently I made a batch of new ones, using a piece of old sheet which was white. So color-coding was impossible and I didn't want to make crochet cases either (which I really don't have any room for). Instead, I decided to personalize the napkins with some simple free hand embroidery. My kids loved this idea, and each came up with grand plans for their own napkin, some of which I promptly scaled back to realm of reality - embroidering on a napkin "Viva Roger Federer!", for instance, was not on the cards.

family napkins 1

Once I embroidered the decorations, I used this excellent tutorial published last week by Design Sponge, to make nice metered corners. So easy to do, once you know how! The tutorial also explains that - unlike what I did - you first make the hems, and then you embroider, which makes total sense. Ahem!

family napkins 4

And the best part? My daughter embroidered her own napkin. I was a little skeptical at first, I'd pictured a very simple and quick napkin project, and having already managed to escape embroidering "Viva Roger Federer!", I wasn't too sure I wanted to teach my not-quite-4-year-old the art of embroidery. But she amazed me, and with very little guidance she embroidered a flower (you can see the napkins I embroidered here).

family napkins 2

Watching her confidently holding the embroidery hoop with her little hands, and stitch through the fabric, I realized that she knew already the basics from watching me embroider - just as I learned from watching my own mother. She's very proud of her embroidered napkin these days, and whereas I don't know whether she and her brothers will skip some steps in their own families when it comes to using napkins at meals, I believe they'll continue the fundamentals: they've watched us.


Anonymous said...

We have Windsor-style chairs and just loosely knot our napkins on the back rail of each person's chair. Your daughter is so sweet!

The Little List said...

They're so beautiful. I imagine, years from now, another generation will be tenderly passing these from one set of hands to another telling stories about how these came to be and the memories made around your table. I've been wanting to make cloth napkins for awhile but haven't found the time. Perhaps this is a good way to welcome the new year. I'd love for you to link up with { i n h a b i t}. This post is perfectly themed. Wishing you a warm weekend...

Kathryn said...

My family did not use cloth napkins, but my hubby and i do. But i've been buying old napkins from the thrift stores. I already have too many, and have to make myself stop looking! There are so many lovely, delicately embroidered napkins at the thrift and consignment stores. Our every day napkins i don't iron, but those for company i do.

What was funniest was i bought some lovely place mats and napkins (old, used, but in wonderful shape) and sent them to my niece last Christmas. She thanked me for the towels! I think the younger generation hasn't a clue.

I have made some "every day" paper towel replacements from flour sack cloth. I just cut the flour sack towel in quarters and zig zag the edges. Then, when i have something that i would grab a paper towel for in the past, i get one of these towels instead.

I remember being about your daughter's age and doing simple embroidery. But i didn't do anything that i would see every day. She did a lovely job, and will get to see her work every day. :)

Rose said...

Thanks for the inspiratio, lovely to see you daughter's confidence.

Mrs. J said...

That is such a cute idea! I've been contemplating a way to tell everyone's towels apart. I think a unique embroidery on the edge might just do the trick. Thank you for sharing! You should be proud of your daughter.

emilysincerely said...

What a wonderful project. We use cloth napkins, some of which I have made, others have been passed down in the family and some I found at thrift stores & garage sales. I think we could each use a new napkin everyday for 30 days without using the same one twice! Yet I still make more. THANK YOU for the tutorial link. I had an idea of how to do the corner that way, but it was still a bit different from what that great tutorial showed. I am also very attracted to embroidery. I have done a lot of beadwork in my time, mostly jewelry, but I know someday I will try some embroidery.

I like the comment by Kathryn about making simple "paper towels". I have a stack of old washcloths by the sink for that purpose, but I like her idea of making some simple ones from other more thin fabric. I have some old sheets that will be perfect just for that. thanks. Sincerely, Emily

Joyce said...

I knew it was a matter of time she would pick up her momma's talent. This sweet little napkin is a keeper! xo

P.S. We too use cloth napkins.

Simply Green said...

That is just too precious. I hope that your lovely daughter continues on this path, as it seems that she will really love it. I wish I had gotten more into handcrafting when I was younger, it would be easier to stick with it. Good on you.

eatclosetohome said...

In my best friend's family, each person has her own unique napkin ring.

Anonymous said...

We had napkin rings to contain our napkins, and I got one for my husband as well, shortly after we married. My grandmother embroidered identifying marks on her twins' clothes - a bird for one, and a butterfly for the other.