Here at our house, we make messes…
I don’t know if that is the case with every house (surely we aren’t the only ones, right?). My husband is as bad as the kids! Am I the only one that doesn’t leave a billion crumbs when we eat dinner? Or have stains all over my shirt by the time we are done eating? Anyway…
I wanted to create a way to lessen our paper towel use. We have a disposable minded society; we love to throw things away. What happened to the days of people using actual cloth napkins and just washing them? Why in the past few decades have we gone to such a wasteful lifestyle? Once I started thinking of ways we could slowly change our impact on our environment, I started seeing “unpaper towels” and “unpaper napkins”, ect. Why call them “unpaper”? I just call them napkins and towels. That’s what they are (nothing against those of you who call them that!).
Anyway, I wanted to make some for myself. They are super easy, and if you have a sewing machine, you can do it too; you probably have everything you need lying around your house. No need to even buy fabric! The tutorial shows that I bought a pack of cheap washcloths at our local store, but for my original napkins, I just upcycled some old dishtowels and pretty cotton. The decorative cotton can be upcycled from all kinds of things you probably have lying around. I will be showing you examples of what I have upcycled!
What you will need:
100% quilting cotton (this will be your decorative side)
Terry cloth (old dish cloth, towel, etc)
Matching thread (I used 100% cotton, but polyester will work too)
Let’s get to it!
So, find your extra towels, dishtowels, napkins, anything terry cloth, really. Find the decorative cotton that you want to make them pretty. For my vintage style napkins, I had a whole set of quilting squares I had bought at a garage sale LONG ago and stock piled.
Yes, I have a fabric stock pile…. Don’t judge me… But they are the perfect size! If you want to make it super duper easy, you can buy them like this at walmart, hobby lobby, or Joanns (just remember, we are trying to upcycle things, but ultimately it is up to you). You can find this type of fabric in your house by using old pillow cases, flat sheets, quilts, shirts (just make sure there is no stretch, this will make things more difficult for you), ect..
If you have precut quilting fabric like I did, all you have to do is lay one of your pretty squares on top of your terry cloth material. If you are upcycling from something else, just measure and cut out a 5×5 inch square of your cotton fabric and lay it on top of your terry fabric and cut around the edge of it to make a matching square. This will be all the fabric for your first napkin!
Next, you have a few options.. What I did with my vintage style prints was just set the fabric pretty sides out (how you will want your napkin to look when it’s done) and sewed them together with a straight stitch.
BUT if you don’t like the frayed look like I do, you can put the wrong sides together and sew them, leaving a small gap unsewn. Turn your fabric inside out through that hole you left, and do a top stitch all the way around, closing that gap. Here I have a comparisons of what each of them look like.
See how one looks unfinished and the other has a cleaner look? I personally like the frayed, zigzag look because I’m more of a shabby decor type person. Plus, it is way easier than turning your fabric inside out and top stitching.
Warning, if you choose the unfinished, shabby look, they will fray. But only for the first few washes, this stops after the extra terry cloth meets the seam line. I just cut the extra fabric off when they come out of the dryer and they look good again!
Ways you can mix it up: I recently bought a set of 18 colored dishcloths from our local H.E.B. for $4 and coordinated some with these farm print napkins. Aren’t they adorable? I have also made larger ones that are more “paper towel size”. You can also do a prettier stitch than just a straight stitch like the ones posted. Sewing machines have endless ways to personalize things!
So just play with it! There are so many things you can do when upcycling fabric!
I put these napkins in a decorative bowl on the table and we grab them when we need them. They can even be reused for a few meals if they don’t get too dirty. We just leave our little napkin at our spot at the table and come back to it meal after meal. When it’s dirty, I have a bag hanging in the kitchen next to the laundry room where I put the soiled napkins. When the bag gets full, I dump it in with the next load of laundry!
Super easy, and super cheap! Another small way we can change our impact on the environment. One paper towel at a time!
If you love the thought of cloth, have you checked out our store? There are lots of ways to get started on your cloth journey! Check out our cloth wipe selection and pick out some prints to love, they make great face wipes, cleaning cloths, or baby wipes. The versatility is endless!
Here is a good pin for your DIY pinterest board!