Decor idea and some sewing I’ve been doing

I’m often mistaken for a creative person – I apparently have the appearance but none of the talent of an artist – but I’m really not creative. So when I do have a creative idea, you guys are gonna hear about it. I’ve been sewing up a storm on the trusty 15-91 this weekend. One of the things I made was napkins. That’s not the creative thing. I’d probably have made napkins sooner or later because I love cloth napkins, but the truth is I had plenty of them to begin with. But I saw Clotilde’s recent post on Chocolate and Zucchini about making napkins from fat quarters and had to make them much sooner than later because I have an ever-growing fat quarter obsession collection.

You see, both my mother, who can actually sew (unlike me), and I agree that the best part about sewing is picking out fabric. Until I bought my 15-91, it was the only part of sewing I liked. There is a lot of really neat fabric out there. The problem is I don’t have anything to do with most of it. I’m not going to wear it; I’ve been wearing black every day since the ’80s and I’m not about to stop now. So I buy fat quarters with hazy plans of making a quilt – the world’s largest quilt at this rate – when I’m 60. (A fat quarter, for those of you who are wondering, is a quarter yard of fabric, but one that’s been cut as a corner of the yard instead of a strip. So say a particular fabric is 44″ wide. If you went to the fabric store and requested a quarter yard of it, they’d cut you a piece that was 9″ x 44″. But a fat quarter, which is a “quilter’s cut”, would be 18″ x 22″. It’s always 18″ wide, but the height will vary. Fabric stores will often have fat quarters for $1, and there are tons of them on etsy, usually for $2 or $2.50.)

Soooo, inspired by Clotilde’s post, I raided my fat quarter stash and made some napkins. Where I got creative was in how to store them. They’re so pretty I want to look at them, so I got the idea to hang them up on a faux clothesline. It’s just some kitchen twine strung between two nails. Might not work for everyone, but our house is very casual. I didn’t need to figure out where the hell to put something else in my over-stuffed kitchen AND I can gaze admiringly at my pretty fabric when I’m not gazing admiringly at my sewing machine!

What do you think? I’m thinking it will be fun to tell guests to choose their own napkin and unpin it.

I could pretty easily be talked into doing a napkin tutorial, by the way, although it would be almost identical to the one Clotilde linked to. They’re just about the easiest possible thing to sew; it’d be a great project for kids, or a really great housewarming gift.

I also made oilcloth placemats although this picture makes them look terribly wrinkly. The oilcloth came all folded up and you can’t iron it so I’m just waiting for it to de-crease. I think maybe the chalkboard-everything craze is a bit 2009 (not that I follow trends very much), but I made these because if left to his own devices after finishing his meal during a dinner party, Mark becomes either very destructive or very creative. I hope to encourage creativity. Unlike me, Mark is extremely creative and very artistic. We do also very occasionally serve children and I suspect they may like them nearly as much as Mark.

One of the cats walked on this placement just after I wiped it clean and Mark chose to immortalize the paw prints. I very quickly found myself questioning the intelligence of this whole placement idea.

This is what the back of the placemats look like. Mark says they are hideous!

Finally, I made an improved lunch bag. Some time ago I made a very basic cloth lunch bag, which has been okay, but I’ve been a bit harder on it than I anticipated. I’ve been putting holes in it by dropping forks and knives into it, I’ve been spilling things in it, and I’ve been putting a heavier load than I thought in it, partially because I switched to a smaller laptop bag and have been putting a book to read during lunch in my lunch bag, and sometimes I read huge books. So I took the same concept but used canvas, which is sturdy, for the exterior and laminated cotton, which wipes clean, for the interior. I made it slightly larger, and I made a small, matching silverware holder to go inside. I managed to find the same exact fabric as the canvas in regular cotton, so I used that to make a matching napkin.

Here it is all packed up:


  1. Josiane Said,

    February 12, 2012 @ 10:42 pm

    Your napkins, placemats, lunch bag – and, of course, your napkins’ clothesline! – I love them all! In my opinion, you are much more creative than you give yourself credit for (or it may be that I have a broader definition of creativity). I was already in love with that corner of your dining room with the beans in vintage Mason jars and now, with that fantastic clothesline, it’s gotten even better. Love! Also, I had no idea that chalkboard fabric existed. How neat! I need to find some! I knew about chalkboard paint, but in some cases, fabric would be much better (as with those placemats, which is a brilliant idea).

    Coincidentally, your post appeared at just the right time to be extra inspiring for me! The sewing machine that my grandma had bought in the early 50’s (first project she used it for: sewing my dad’s diapers!) is now mine and is, as of *today*, living in my house. I’m really excited about it! I’ve learned to sew on that machine, but it was ages ago and haven’t done any sewing since then; napkins would be a great project to get reacquainted with it.

  2. Zoa Said,

    February 13, 2012 @ 12:00 am

    A-dorable! Exactly my type of sewing project; however, I would never have thought of showcasing it as creatively as you have done with your napkins. Really super-sweet.

  3. susan Said,

    February 13, 2012 @ 9:29 am

    Some peoples ideas of “not crafty” are very different. Gorgeous, I’d buy that set in a store!

  4. KTBuns Said,

    February 13, 2012 @ 5:54 pm

    I absolutely love the print on your lunchbag… want!

  5. renae Said,

    February 14, 2012 @ 11:40 am

    KTBuns, It’s Farmer’s Market by Alexander Henry if you’re interested. You can find both the quilter’s weight and decorator’s weight on etsy.

  6. Jes Said,

    February 14, 2012 @ 3:05 pm

    Love that napkin clothesline!! It’s darn cute & useful too. Plus you made the napkins, which is even cooler. You might say you’re not crafty, but darn, you’re crafting a storm around me 🙂

  7. clotilde Said,

    February 25, 2012 @ 2:02 pm

    Your napkins look so pretty, well done! ^_^

  8. Maggie Said,

    March 3, 2012 @ 7:43 am

    Two things:
    1- That napking’s set looks absolutely amazing and stlylish, I love the fabrics and how they look in that spot 🙂 Congratz!
    2- The lunch bag looks so well made, you’re a genius!
    3- (oh, yeah, sorry, they were 3 things :P)
    How can you say you are not creative!!!!!!! For christ sake, I being following your blog for some time now and nothing about your posts say you’re not creative. Trust me, you have no idea what no-creative is! 😛

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