Think of the feeling you get when you sit down at a fancy restaurant for a special meal, and the table is set with china on fine white linens… It makes you sit up straighter, dust off ye old manners, and savor each sip, slurp, or bite like it was meant to be enjoyed slowly.
The elegance and charm of a good “old-fashioned” cloth napkin is hard to deny. It says, “This meal matters. It was prepared FOR YOU.” Every meal should feel like that!
When we were first married, we used paper napkins at every meal (and often paper plates for at least one meal a day). Then the waste and dollar cost became evident, and I started looking around for cloth napkins.
Our first batch came from Savers, a huge thrift store like Salvation Army. They were white, mismatched, and exactly what I was looking for.
As we got used to using them, I realized how often we’d used napkins without needing to, and then thrown them away. How much $$$ were we spending on flimsy, scratchy paper squares that ended up in the garbage, along with the plastic wrap that would not decompose in a landfill within our lifetime?
It was a GREAT, easy, and frugal change to make. Now that I have more time for sewing, I’ve been making all kinds of napkins and having so much fun doing it! We’re saving quite a bit of money by doing this (especially by using gift cards and coupons for fabric). And our table setting looks BEAUTIFUL, even if all I’m serving is eggs.
The easiest have been self-finishing: types of cloth that will fray right down to the stitching, which means I don’t have to carefully pin, iron, and hem the edges. Here they are, pre-trimming:
A little lazy to do self-fraying? You bet!
A little extra work beyond throwing a big plastic package in the shopping cart? Yup. But I want to have things around the house that were built to last. This is not a thing of the past.
Now I have the chance to hone a skill that should NOT become a lost art form.
Even I, the queen of squiggly lines, can sew – and the more I make, the better I get at it.
My goal is to have an enormous collection that gets used at every meal, all year round, with special fabrics for holidays, seasons, and even birthdays. It’s an economical way to decorate and a space-saver for those who can’t stash away lots of holiday decorations.
These are pasta napkins.
I sewed them after I heard several people say “I CAN’T WIPE MY MOUTH WITH that!” when I presented them with a crisp white cloth napkin and a steaming plate of pasta and bright red sauce. Understandable.
And these are so country-ish it’s awesome. Makes me want steak and eggs.
The best part? Freedom and creativity! There’s no limit! No art teacher telling you which colors are “right” – your table, your imagination, your picnics, your feasts.
Our napkins even get used at the end of the meal for wiping a small mouth and hands before they can smear food on our shoulders.
If you don’t sew, or the idea of buying cloth anything from a thrift/second-hand store makes you gulp loudly, I’d be willing to bet you would still save money by purchasing a set from Target, Walmart, etc. Do the math: Compare your one-time purchase of a few yards of fabric or a set of ready-mades to the cost of buying paper napkins for a year.
You’re on the hunt! There’s so many options out there. Have fun 🙂
Send an invitation without saying a word: Home matters, and you’re part of it. Come sit, linger, and savor.
Have you made the switch from paper to cloth, or are you considering it? Please comment!