Monday, March 6, 2017

Keepers at Home & Menu Monday: A Word on Napkins

Welcome to another installment of Keepers and Menus!  Last week I promised to share a piece on napkins in response to a similar article and challenge on Making A House A Home. (Be sure to pop over and tell her "Hi"!)

About 14 years ago I inherited a passel of cloth napkins.  They were amazingly economically helpful and sturdy in the face of a family of six. Then, about eight-or-so years ago, I thought I would push their limits and use them for draining fried food and... well... um... not a good idea!  Matters got worse when I washed them with the regular dish towels and all that grease sort of ruined everything!  Talk about a lesson hard-learned!

This past year my husband commented how he missed our cloth napkins and wished we had more.  He enjoyed their durability and the fact that ONE usually did the trick where a small stack of paper ones left a lot to be desired.  So, for Christmas, my labor of love was to make him a set!  He was ever so grateful.

This weekend I decided to get my sewing to-do bin out and whip out some more.  Partly because the set of six I made hubby for the holidays get used up fast and partly so I could photo-shoot and share the process here.  Good ideas should always be shared!  For me, like menu planning and meal making, I like the shortest, simplest route to a task which can also still yield GREAT results and this napkin-making plan is just-that...

I'm not a fabric guru.  All of my pieces are either garage sale finds or gifts from other's left-overs.  From my collection I picked sturdy fabrics that were also soft and semi-absorbent.  Pre-washing and ironing is ideal.
I used the cardboard piece out of a 12x12 scrapbook paper pad as my template.

I rolling cutter makes quick work but you can use a fabric pencil, trace, and then cut out with regular scissors.

All ready to go!

I sewed about 1 machine foot width from the edge as you can see above.  I used a straight stitch on these because I forgot I had used zig-zag at Christmas!
Notice the edge of the zig-zag napkin is fluffed, this happens in the wash (I was hoping it would... the fluff adds character to the edges).  I did have to trim stray threads off the first few times I washed them.  The more I wash them, though, the less trimming I need to do and they look positively refined!

I love using them at dinner, but I also love using them when I have a peeled orange because the juice doesn't really leak through AND I can still clean my hands with the napkin when I'm done! 

Because we homeschool and I get tiered of trying to stash our pens and misc. needs when we shift between eating and schooling at our table I decided just to combine!  It works for us.

Do you use cloth napkins?  If so, I would love to see pictures and hear how they bless your home!  Be sure to share a link below if you do and I will hop over and visit!

Food from last week...

 This may look weird but it was sooooo good. Chicken Fettuccine over Baked Spaghetti Squash.  (I think I will officially try to grow some in the garden this year!!)  I had some leftover Baby Bellas from a salad supreme hubby and I had over the weekend. I sliced and stir-fried them with fresh garlic and threw them into my home-made fettuccine sauce.  The whole meal took a few more steps and time then I typically take in meal prep but it was worth it and, if I had planned ahead a bit better, I might have had the whole thing done, start to finish, within about an hour.

Do differently?  Prepare the squash ahead of time and let cool completely before doing my mixture.
Do quicker?  Use pre-made fettuccine sauce.

Roast and veggies with a side-salad and feta.  I got a wild hair to record the process I discussed last week...

veggies in bottom of pot

sear on ALL sides

onion soup mix on top, water to about middle of roast

I didn't make gravy this time because hubby and I are watching carbs and the kids usually just use ranch.  It is sooooo easy and delicious.  Be sure to check last week's Keepers and Menus post for the full recipe and directions

Menu for this week...

- cereal and blueberries
- eggs
- fresh bread with butter and jam

hubby: sausage and rice
me and kids: leftovers, grilled sandwiches, grilled tuna sandwiches, mac-n-cheese


Cheeseburger Salad
Salad with ground beef, cheese, green onions and ranch


Chicken Stir Fry
I do this the same way as Pork Stir Fry but without the eggs and I usually trade out the peas and carrots vegies for brocoli, cauliflower and green beans (or some other pre-mix frozen stir fry veggies)

Chicken and Cheese Chimichangas with Salad
Pot Pie

Burgers with Sun Chips


What are you doing and cooking this week?




  1. I love the fact that you don't need to hem these! The frayed look is darling! Thank you for sharing with us at the Art of Home-Making Mondays at Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth! :)

    1. Thanks for stopping by Jes, I always love 'seeing' you :-) I made some with a hem in the past and didn't like them very much because they seemed bulky on the edges. Can't beat classy and easy! ;-)

  2. These are BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!! And this tutorial makes me think that even I could do this!! I ADORE the edges that are ruffled, too! Is it easier to sew that way since you don't have to fold any edges down? (I'm such a newbie to sewing and am probably using all the wrong terms!!!)

    1. You're doing great! I'm a novice, I like easy and these are as easy as it looks. I've made ones with edges folded under before and they aren't impossible but they do require more steps like ironing and pinning and then they seem a bit bulky on the edges.

      With these, you just stitch right on down the sides, and you are DONE! I made around 9 in under 30 minutes.... maybe an hour if you count cutting them out too. After you wash them they will fringe and there will also be straggling fringes you'll want to trim and that just takes a minute or so with a good pair of scissors. The more you wash them, the less stragglers there are and eventually you shouldn't have to trim at all.

      I hope this helps!

  3. I hope you don't mind, I HAD to share a link to this on my FB page!! LOVE this tutorial!!

  4. We keep our pencils on the table for homeschool as well☺

  5. Good morning! Just a little note to let you know that this post has been *FEATURED* today on the Art of Home-Making Mondays at Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth! Have a lovely week and we hope to see you at this week's link up! :)

    1. Oh, wow, thank you Jes! I missed this week's link-up due to a major migraine that lasted for 2 days :-( I had my post almost ready to go and then I couldn't handle looking at computer screens again until Wednesday. I look forward to linking back up next week though. Blessings!

  6. I've been picking up stray cloth napkins here and there at thrift stores. I plan to put them into action soon!

  7. I love your napkins, and your food looks so good, but I absolutely love what you did with your napkins, salt and pepper, pens and pencils basket. That is such a great idea, and yes, it works for you!

  8. These are beautiful. A regular machine wash is enough for all the stains?

    1. Thank you. Actually, I use darker fabrics to 'hide' the stains! Even the lighter rooster fabric seems to blend well. Basic use washes out well unless we get reds on there like Kool-Aid or strawberry. I'm not the laundress who scrubs stains... tho have been in the past and I know I still should be! I imagine typical stain removing techniques could work on these though.

  9. This is a timely post. I have been thinking about making cloth napkins, but the hem just overwhelmed me. Yours look lovely with the frayed edge! I must add this to my to do list. I found you over at Strangers and Pilgrims.

    1. I'm blessed to know this could inspire you. Have fun making them!

  10. I tried doing cloth napkins, and it worked really well for awhile. Then they started getting misplaced. Your post inspires me to try to 'gather the flock' and try again. :-)

  11. These are so cute! They look very easy. Do you just use any kind of fabric and it frays like that?

    1. I wish I understood fabrics better, I'm awfully novice! I do know not just any fabric will fringe. These are more of a woven type of fabric. If you click on the pictures above you can get a closer view. Sorry I can't help with more than that! They are super easy :-)

    2. I have used cloth napkins for years. They are the only napkins we use for all meals. It started when I found a bag of dark green napkins at a garage sale more than 15 years ago. There were about 20 in the bag for $1.00. Since then I have bought some new and plenty of others at thrift stores. They real save money and are so "green".

    3. Awesome! I love handy thrift finds... especially ones that save long-term money! Thanks for sharing :-)

  12. this idea! Much simpler than with the hem!
    Also, glad you shared about NOT using cloth napkins to drain grease. I was sort of thinking about doing that....;-)

    1. For sure! Back then I wanted to go total rustic and be resourceful! My heart was in the right place, but my cloth napkins (and much of the laundry) paid the price! Glad the experience could help you!!